members: Mark Hosler, Don Joyce, David Wills, Chris Grigg (former). Peter Conheim (since 1997)

We can only do an injustice in describing briefly the myriad works of Negativland. From their earliest work in Concord, California in 1979, their project can be characterized as one of head-on satirical confrontation. But since their first self-titled album in 1980, this group have consistently pushed the boundaries, legally and creatively. Their excellent website will provide you with a whole afternoon of enlightenment and amusement.


Nothing is sacred for Negativland, be it the technology they themselves use or pop icons. For example, in their live performances (circa 94) such personages as Casey Casem would be vampled, looped and mixed up on different monitors, and interjected intermittently within the music unveiling the rot behind the veil of spectacle. They are pioneers in confronting the proprietary questions revolving around audio and video sampling in theory and in practice. Here's were the excellent term "culture jamming" is at its most apt. It describes the act of transforming existing mass media to produce commentary about itself, the "detournement" of pop iconography, the resistance to a perceived "hegemony of popular culture, based on the ideas of 'guerrilla communication'."(wikipedia)

Around the time Emergency Broadcast Network "collaborated" with U2 on their Zoo tour, Negativland was sued by the band. In 1991, Negativland released a single with the title "U2" displayed in very large type on the front of the packaging, and "Negativland" in a smaller typeface. U2 came down like a ton of bricks. This David and Goliath story is best conveyed in form and content in Craig Baldwin's incredible documentary and exercise in found footage collage and detournement "Sonic Outlaws". And the Negativland website is an invaluable resource for anyone worried about getting sued! Onward.