Don Joyce, a longtime member of culture-jamming avant garde outfit Negativland, passed away yesterday (July 22), the band reports. He died in Oakland, CA of heart failure. He was 71 years old.
The group confirmed the news today (July 23) over Facebook, where they posted a lengthy tribute to their fallen friend. Of its many praises, the obituary notes that it was Joyce who came up with the term “culture jamming,” and that he was a master at sound collage.
“It was Don who took the idea of reshaping previously recorded words – in a pre-sampling age – and ran with it to an extent and depth never before heard, and never equalled,” the band noted. “‘Recontextualization’ became his weapon, with the 1/4″ tape machine and razor blade his ammunition, and the radio ‘cart player’ – an entirely forgotten piece of broadcast history using endless-loop tape cartridges, which he used until he death – his delivery system.”
They compared Joyce’s editing style to dada humanism, noting that he was “able to wring unforgettable sentiments and statements out of material which originally spoke something entirely different.” Of the many works he produced with the band, they said Escape from Noise‘s “Time Zones” and No Business number “Piece of Pie” were a couple particularly potent pieces he’d prepped. Joyce had worked on “nearly 30 Negativland albums,” among other projects.
Joyce had stopped touring with Negativland in 2010, but wished for the project to continue on. “He had made it clear to the group as recently as a few weeks ago that he was happy and satisfied with what he had been able to achieve in his life, and were he not able to continue to work, his life would feel as good as over,” the band added.
Joyce was born in Keene, NH, and had earned a masters degree in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. In the ’60s, he dodged the draft and spent time in Toronto before moving to Northern California. In addition to performing with Negativland, Joyce had hosted the “Over the Edge” radio program for Berkeley, CA’s KPFA FM since 1981.
He is survived by his sister and brother, and, as Negativland playfully pointed out, “a spider plant which thrived on a window sill through decades of choking cigarette smoke.”
Sadly, this is the second death in the Negativland family this year. Onetime member Ian Allen died due to complications from a heart surgery last January.