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‘Incredibly strange’: Unlimiting RE/Search

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This article explores the construction by RE/Search of the category of the ‘incredibly strange’. Focusing mainly on the discussion and definitions in The RE/Search Guide to Incredibly Strange Music Volume 1 (Juno and Vale 1993), it outlines and scrutinizes the category and the processes of definition employed. Comparing this to uses of similar concepts in avant-garde aesthetic practice (specifically that of surrealism) and in recent American art theory (notably Hal Foster’s The Return of the Real [1996]), the article seeks to situate the RE/Search conception of the ‘incredibly strange’, and explore the resonances of the term (and particularly the notion of the ‘strange’), in relation to those elements of contemporary cultural practice – the collecting and ‘rediscovery’ of obscure popular musical recordings – on which this issue of RE/Search focuses. It argues that RE/Search deploys the category of the ‘incredibly strange’ in ways that can be understood, when read in relation to avant-garde histories, as conventional, thus rendering the category itself both problematic and productively dynamic.

Keywords: Hal Foster; RE/Search; avant-garde; incredibly strange; popular music; surrealism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Manchester Metropolitan University

Publication date: August 30, 2011

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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