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About block9

block9 is focused on the development and operation of blockchain platforms.

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2-5-6 Kotokida, Chiyoda-ku

Tokyo,

Japan

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'Drop Instagram and engage': Block9's next Glastonbury stage takes shape

May 3, 2019

Creators of festival’s hedonistic hub work on 65ft ‘deconstructed gig venue’ called IICON Fri 3 May 2019 08.31 EDT Last modified on Fri 3 May 2019 09.33 EDT Block9’s 2017 Glastonbury festival offering, ‘Block9’.Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian In the middle of a huge warehouse in Silvertown docklands in east London , the founders of Glastonbury’s raucous after-hours playground, Block9, are building the centrepiece of their 2019 offering. Remnants of IICON – a 65ft video-mapped “anonymised head” – are strewn around the cavernous workspace. Individual pieces of the neck and cranium stand two metres tall. It is the most ambitious project yet for the production outfit, which has worked with Glastonbury as Block9 since 2007 and also created stage sets for the likes of Dua Lipa, Gorillaz and Skrillex. Stephen Gallagher, the Block9 co-founder, said: “It’s an alternative version of a big outdoor music arena. There are all the component parts of that type of thing, but it’s deconstructed. We are asking people to look at the world in a slightly different way.” Gallagher and his co-founder, Gideon Berger, hope IICON will not only provide an impressive backdrop to late-night hedonism in a Somerset field next month, but will help revolutionise how we consume culture. Gideon Berger and Stephen Gallagher. Photograph: Block9 “What we want to do is open the lid, turn the light on and let people re-examine the music they love but really don’t know anything about, so they become empowered to do something,” said Berger. “It’s kind of a call to arms: stop messing around on Instagram and actually engage with the world around you.” The debut at Glastonbury this summer is only the first part of Block9’s plan. The second element is a peripatetic arts space where Block9 will – with live music and specially commissioned pieces – tell “musical stories”, such as the evolution of Iranian music after the 1979 revolution, the Ethiopian royal families’ embrace of an Armenian brass band, and how Viktor Ullmann wrote his opera The Emperor of Atlantis while in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt. “All of these things are massively empowering,” said Berger. “You’re not going to leave depressed. You’ll leave inspired. We’re saying: yes, things are pretty messed up now, but look at what we as a species have come through. Gallagher said: “It’ll be part-gig, part-club. It’s a music venue, which is like being inside an artwork. Nothing is what it seems.” Block9 has evolved from being in one small corner of the Glastonbury site, with a budget of about £2,000, into its own late-night kingdom that hosts thousands of visitors and some of the biggest names in dance music in its NYC Downlow and Genosys areas. Gallagher and Berger started making stage sets together in a disused tyre factory in Canning Town before becoming in-demand set designers who constructed the castle at Banksy’s Weston-super-Mare “theme park” Dismaland in 2015. IICON, which is part of a new 15,000-person space adjacent to the usual Block9 stages, will appear first as an external stage only and then is scheduled to start touring with as a venue after next year’s Glastonbury festival, with events being negotiated for London, New York, Shanghai, Los Angeles and Sydney. Inspired in part by the work of the Korean-born German philosopher Byung-Chul Han and his meditation on control in the digital age – Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power – it is described as “a pseudo-religious monument to the terrifying new realities emerging in our digital, data-driven, post-truth age”, by its founders. Gallagher said the high-concept venue was a natural fit in the complex digital world of 2019. “Everyone is being watched by everyone else the whole time, so therefore you conform and are self-regulating. It’s the perfect control mechanism,” he said. Berger said: “IICON is our monument to the new power system. It represents the controlling forces on one hand but it also represents us: the consumers. It will be a giant art meets architecture hybrid which arrives in your city and creates a crazy musical experience.” Then Gallagher gives his slightly more pragmatic final word: “And you’ll have an amazing night out.” Topics

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