LEGENDARY ELECTRONIC MUSIC PIONEER DISCUSSES ART AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, REDISCOVERING NORTH AMERICA PLUS OTHER MATTERS
OF TYPICALLY EPIC SCOPE BY JOHN COLLINGE
“IT’S IMPORTANT THAT WE WATCH THOSE WHO ARE WATCHING US!”
This cautionary statement from Jean-Michel Jarre during the fabled French synthesist’s worldwide Electronica Tour introduces a concert segment lauding the controversial crusade of American CIA whistleblower/refugee Edward Snowden.
Mulling music’s complex societal bond, Jarre says electronic artists working on the cutting edge of technology understand its potential for widespread abuse. Acting on that knowledge is a matter of conscience, the maestro reasons.
“One of the recurrent themes of [2015–2016 albums] Electronica 1 and Electronica 2 is the ambiguous relationship we have with technology,” he explains. “On one side we have the world in our pocket with our smartphones, on the other side the world is spying on us constantly.
“I was touched by the story of Edward Snowden. He reminded me of my mother, who was a key figure in the [World War II] French Resistance at the same age. Snowden became a modern hero—not by saying ‘stop,’ but simply by saying ‘be careful, be aware’ of possible abuse of technology. Our future needs whistle-blowers like him.”
In 2013, former CIA employee Snowden copied classified information from U.S. and British governmental sources and distributed it publicly. His actions revealed the level at which individual privacy was being monitored by the West, leading him to seek asylum in Russia while fleeing prosecution.
Contacting Snowden through a secured network, Jarre journeyed to Moscow to record and film him: “Edward and I collaborated on a piece called ‘Exit’ on Electronica 2. We created a techno track symbolizing the constant and hectic quest for more and more information and data.” A video message from Snowden screened during Jarre’s concerts conveys their shared concern over possible misuse of private data collected from unwitting citizens through connected networks.
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