Negativland by Dean Belder


I’ve been a fan of Negativland for nearly twenty years now, hearing them for the first time shortly after graduating from high school in the mid-1990s, I initially didn’t know what to think. I was really into electronic music at the time, but most of what I enjoyed was dependent on a beat, which was completely lacking in Negativland’s output.

I persisted, and Negativland became a major influence in the way my own artistic endeavors would shape up, especially when it came to appropriation and copyright. 

I wasn’t surprised when I saw them in this year’s Bumbershoot lineup, they fit with the arts and culture that the festival has been promoting for the last 44 years, but they were sandwiched between two artists on a stage set up for specifically for EDM artists.

Shortly before the set began, a group of kids, expecting more traditional ‘music’ began chanting for the DJ, at which point Mark Hosler responded with “you guys aren’t going to last ten minutes, you’re not going to like us”. 

He was right. The kids left before the first ‘song’ ended, along with several others. There were some people there who knew what to expect and were genuinely excited.  Negativland didn’t disappoint. As irreverent as ever, they brought their brand of sonic collage, and social commentary, not missing an opportunity to dig on Chipotle one of the festival’s corporate sponsors. 

I enjoyed seeing the group, perform, and in many ways brought my own journey full circle, knowing that one of the reasons I am here is because of the influence they had on me in my youth.