Indie rockers Grandaddy have returned from a 10-year hiatus with a single that traces the posthuman as it emerges trance-like from the digital landscape.
At first listen, A Lost Machine points to a bleak, dividuated future. Upon closer scrutiny, however, the video showcases what might also be the present – a scene that distinguishes humans as digital puffs, appearing and disappearing out of time, scale and sequence, no longer rooted to three-dimensional space. In their electronic and dreamy melancholic tone, A Lost Machine describes a world in which surveillance video recorders are left in dried up creeks, airplane stations are abandoned and photos of celebrities have become antiques. The collective ‘we’ and ‘us’ are described as lost machines and far away dreams. The spectre of Marx does not lurk in the digital, and certainly not in future forests where our species being has extinguished.
Grandaddy are media archaeologists. Not only do they mine old technologies for new sounds but they reference them in songs like A Lost Machine, Jed the Humanoid and Broken Household Appliance National Forest Lyrics. The human, for Grandaddy, has always emerged at the intersection of bodies and technologies – their music celebrates this. Yet in A Lost Machine they point towards landscapes where the human has been overrun by its technological drive towards efficiency, productivity and exclusive utopia. Like scientists and other artists, they have been warning us for decades. However, what separates Grandaddy’s reading is that they explore the humanity within these seemingly dystopian futures, which makes their work all the more compelling.
This blog post was written with Cam Bishop.