Did you know? Eighteen is turning their All That’s Left zine into a novel with full audio book accompaniment. The original zine stories will be expanded and joined by several new tales of post-binary dystopian cyborg drama. But what is All That’s Left?
ALL THAT’S LEFT? IT’S A ZINE ABOUT PEOPLE. A NON-LINEAR PIECEMEAL DRAMA. AN OBSESSION WITH THE PRESENT DAY FROM THE FUTURE PAST, AND ALL THE DYSTOPIAN MOVIES, COMICS, AND ANIME OF THE 1980S-90S AND RELATED PERIODS. ALL THAT’S LEFT IS ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH TECHNOLOGY; THE INTIMATE/SEXUALIZED AND TENDER/RELIANT RELATIONSHIPS WE DEVELOP OUT OF OUR PROSTHETICS. ALL THAT’S LEFT MUSES: SEX IS A FREEDOM, PRESENTATION DEMANDS EFFORT; POWER IS WHAT YOU MAKE FROM THE SCRAPS OF THE MATERIAL-HOARDING, SPIRIT-THWARTING AFFLUENT. ALL THAT’S LEFT IS SAD. ALL THAT’S LEFT IS WISTFUL.ALL THAT’S LEFT IS STILL STRUGGLING. ALL THAT’S LEFT IS ABOUT CYBORGS, WHICH IS REALLY ABOUT TECHNOLOGY, WHICH REALLY MEANS TOOL USE, WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION: HOW DO WE SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM OUR TOOLS? ALL THAT’S LEFT IS YOU AND ME.
Follow Eighteen’s tumblr or twitter for angry tirades against cyberpunk (among many other topics), as well as updates.
Under these streets, under these, under the train tracks, the shit that goes on in the woods, the shit that goes on while this train is driving by above our heads, the things that go on, on these streets at night when the lights go off, are the kind of things that, that, that people can only dream about, that people can only, it just amazes, it would amaze a normal person, it, it would, it would totally amaze a normal person. Me, myself, like I came down on the train and I got stuck and I been here for 10 years. 10 years I been down here.
The passage above reads like something from a dystopian comic book. Instead, it’s real life under the El along Kensington Ave here in Philly.
If you don’t live by the El in North Philly or if you don’t ride SEPTA outside of Center City, you probably only hear about what goes on under the El when Action News decides to run a passing blurb about some brutal drug-related event where they show a clip of cop cars at night flashing the red and blue. We don’t hear about the history of economics, the lacking access to resources, post-industrial blight and poverty, the relationships between those events and subsequent drug addiction and violence, and least of all, the people living these realities.
Meanwhile graphic novel after television series after movie comes out depicting brutally violent dystopian post-apocalypses, cyberpunk fictions of complete corporate takeover and total abandonment of The People for The Riches (Governor Corbett, are you there?), the destruction of the environment for terminally capitalistic surveillance states, the scramble for humanity to survive in the zombie apocalypse. . .
Jeffrey Stockbridge shows his chronicle of the living through an ongoing release of photography, audio, and interviews. By his media we get a straightforward glimpse of daily life for those who have not much else available to them but what they can hustle that day. In his own words:
Kensington Blues focuses on the men, women and children who live along Kensington Ave in North Philadelphia. Shadowed by an elevated train, known as the El, the Ave runs approx 3 miles into North East Philly. Under the El, drug use and prostitution are widespread. Many residents are caught in a loosing battle with their drug addiction and live day-to-day to supply their habit and avoid dope-sickness. This drama unfolds every day on the Ave as if it were a stage and the rush of El train above, its curtain. Using photography, audio recordings and journal entries my work explores the state of mind of those who struggle to survive the neighborhood and themselves. By utilizing first person story telling, my goal is to tap into the hearts and minds of my subjects and viewers equally, drawing forth the human condition and encouraging compassion for one another despite the vast differences between us.
It’s been a minute now since there’s been a project that doesn’t just photograph the lives of poor, unfortunate souls for us better-off folks to voyeuristically remark upon––Kensington Blues goes to the great trouble of interviewing people. And I say great trouble because getting people to talk to you about their personal experiences, spending time with them while they write it down, transcribing tape recordings––all that takes time. And in our society today, the adage “time is money” prevents a huge majority of us from doing work like this, even empathizing with work like this.
It should certainly be said that Kensington Blues largely depicts white people. Perhaps that is the result of the artist’s own skin tone and cultural race identity (or appearance thereof), and his subsequent ability to approach willing subjects. Perhaps it’s what you get in old European emigrated working class neighborhoods after the decline of industry in a white supremacist country (where crimes against brown people are routinely devalued and ignored while crimes against white people receive attention and action). Either way, Kensington Blues is real. Sci-fi and speculative fiction often depict dark futures where survivors are abandoned to their own devices, but so do projects like these. In fiction, we’re invited to imagine ways out of these desolate premonitions. What do we do about reality?
Read and listen to first-person stories and see photographs of Kensington Blues at length here. Or check out more from Jeffrey Stockbridge at his professional website here.
The following is an interview excerpt reproduced from Cluster Magazine (with permission) with Philly resident cyborg, Maggie Eighteen, author of All That’s Left. Originally posted March 30, 2012.
by Cluster Mag Editor-in-Chief Max Pearl.
Number Eighteen constructs a world where the distinctions between the technological and the organic appear absurd, where prosthetics and body-modification have made almost every body a cyborg.
All That’s Left is a sci-fi zine that follows a group of friends living borg lives in the hood, surviving as high-tech foot soldiers in the urban periphery while the ruling classes party it up in sequestered communities called ‘the domes.’ And borders between the technological and the organic are not the only permeable, shifting boundaries. Characters in this post-apocalyptic drama perform gender according to mood and immersive, web-based sex allows users to grow organs or lose them mid-act. It becomes clear that while All That’s Left is a sci-fi narrative, its pessimistic prophecies and its utopian dreams are in some ways real for us already. The wealth gap is fucked, global warming is here, and with the amount of time we spend attached to our smartphones, we’re pretty much already cyborgs.
The zine itself was printed on dumpstered paper dug out from around the Penn campus in West Philadelphia- ‘the domes,’ anyone? The stories themselves are also available in audio form on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.
Cluster Mag interviewed Eighteen about what it means to be part machine, whether we spend too much time on the internet, and when exactly sex is going to catch up with technology.
Cluster Mag: So in All That’s Left, you set the story in these peripheral, militarized slums controlled by gangs and armies of genderqueer cyborgs. What other narratives, genres, or bodies of work inspired and informed you in building this world?
Number Eighteen: Wow! Well, there are dozens of information flows that inform my fantasy dystopia, but in the zine I mention 1990s cyberpunk anime as being an inspiration. I feel like anyone who is a fan of Ghost in the Shell can find obvious influences in my stories. But also there are the worlds of GUNNM (Battle Angel Alita in the U.S.), Appleseed (another Masamune Shirow creation), and Akira (duh) that serve up such gorgeously detailed world settings, technological relationships, and dystopian states. I get frustrated when people—especially sci-fi fans—haven’t given those series the time of day. They’re classics of anime for a reason.
The visual sci-fi of the 80s, 90s, and early 00s (my formative years) are also deep with futurevision; They Live, The Big O, No Escape, Demolition Man, etc—these pulpy “low art” productions are passed over for their perceived campiness, and yet all these series are about power and the oppressed in dystopias of “terminal capitalism” and corporate domination by old straight white motherfuckers who still think their “hard work” is what got them to where they are today. What do you think the #Occupy shit and every other social justice movement is about right now? Humans are humans are humans, and motherfuckers say that money is god, that God founded this country, and that white is right. Fuck that. You know who every villainous motherfucker is in all these series always is? An old white corporate guy.
Eighteen will be reading at this month’s Laser Life OCT 19, along with other friends of METROPOLARITY: Ras Mashramani, Shane Jenkins, and Alex Smith, Laser Life’s founder and curator.