Survival Research Laboratories

It’s Funny the things you begin to find once you explore a certain subject. And I have been thinking more and more about this as it pertains to learning on the web, versus the kind of radically open (yet in many ways traditional) models that are on everyone’s mind as of late. I’ve been out of love with the course model these days, rather I have been consumed by all things survivalist for the last month or so. This is not based on any class, nor is it rooted in a theory or extensive research. Rather it’s an idea cum metaphor that Brian Lamb (once again) inspired while we were having an unwieldy conversation about our COSL conference demonstration. It’s born of a kind of creative compulsion to imagine narratives for the work we do, and it is at it’s core fun.

So with that preface out of the way (which is the basis of a much longer post I have brewing), I just wanted to share something I recently discovered via UBUWEB in my incessant search for all things related to Survivalism. This one is tangential, yet central at the same time. The Survival Research Labs (SRL)

…has operated as an organization of creative technicians dedicated to re-directing the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry, science, and the military away from their typical manifestations in practicality, product or warfare. Since 1979, SRL has staged over 45 mechanized presentations in the United States and Europe. Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices, employed in developing themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators.

I love the whole concept, and the video below, Virtues of Negative Fascination “is a documentary covering the performance activities of Survival Research Laboratories, Mark Pauline, Matt Heckert and Eric Werner, from 1985-1986.” It features a number of these mechanized presentations as well as an incisive look into the political logic behind such a group. Yet, another gem from UBUWEB, and more fuel for the survivalist fire. Enjoy.

Download Virtues of Negative Fascination

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Survival Research Laboratories

  1. Reverend says:


    I like that, the British add punk and a party to the mix, making for some wild relations to all of this. And now I know that they are based in Rimini, Italy, I may have to see if there is a party the next time I’m there.

    What’s wild about this is the way these groups self-organize and create. A kind of passion centered groups, so much of which frames the intersection of the social, personal, and intellectual, yet the framework and notions of overhead accreditation, etc. seem meaningless. The logic of research and publication is in many ways choking off the possibility of creative revolutions that seem to happen elsewhere, and I guess with good reason. But when I think about how much of the logic we frame echoes it own conditions of necessity, I begin to wonder.

  2. Alan Levine says:

    FYI, you’ve got some domain leakage – http://radicalresuse./ lands at

  3. Reverend says:

    Thanks Alan,

    A misspelled URL led me to that sorry state. It’s now good.

  4. Freek says:

    I agree.

    Hear here! (&c. etc. and cetera)

  5. Reverend says:


    I want to take your class. What a great advertising campaign!

  6. Freek says:

    Tell your friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.