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REBLOG: Elektra Digest, by Rhiannon Vogl

Image source: Elektra Festival

Text source: Vague Terrain

Last week, I headed to Montréal for the 11th incarnation of the Elektra International Digital Arts Festival in Montréal. The five day event attracted artists and industry professionals from as far away as Dakar, Seoul, Istanbul and Shanghai, as well as various countries across Europe and North America, to the cosmopolitan Québeqois city, which is quickly, as many of us already knew, establishing a name for itself as THE creative hotbed for electronic arts. There was much to take in each day, and while it can’t all be discussed here, this post represents a compendium of the most interesting, evocative and stimulating experiences from my time there.

The Conferences

For those presenting at the International Marketplace for Digital Arts, the future, in the (wink) words of Chip Douglas, is very much now. The “professional rendez-vous” as it was dubbed by Elektra’s organizers, was a two-day blitz of presentations, debates and dialogues, given by over 30 international artists, producers, agents, broadcasters, curators, institutional directors and event organizers. While the format of the conference itself could be described as both a massive speed dating session and networking boot camp, leaving not quite enough space for attendees to fully digest all that was being offered, the conceptual framework of the event – arranged as a space to foster collaborations and to develop new, cross-border distribution networks, was clearly taken advantage of by all observers and presenters alike.

Read the entire entry at Vague Terrain

Mixr for the iPad

From the Mixr site: “DJ App for iPad. Feels & functions like authentic turntables. Mixr gives you a DJ experience unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Beautiful interface, professional mixing.”

Parts One and Two of Re*- Lecture: “Remix[ing]. The Three Chronological Stages of Sampling” by Eduardo Navas

The following is a presentation separated into two parts; it was produced for the conference Re*-Recycling_Sampling_Jamming, which took place in Berlin during February 2009.

Part One: Remix[ing]. The Three Chronological Stages of Sampling

Part One (above) introduces the three chronological stages of Remix, while part two (below) defines how the three chronological stages are linked to the concept of Authorship, as defined by Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault.  Also see my previous entry “The Author Function in Remix” which is a written excerpt of the theory proposed in part two.

Part Two: Remix[ing]. The Three Chronological Stages of Sampling

Below is the abstract that summarizes the content of the two videos.  Total running time is around fifteen minutes.

———–

Text originally published on Re*- on February 2009:

SAMSTAG_28.02.2009_SEKTION IV_15-20 UHR

12_15:00 Remix[ing]. The Three Chronological Stages of Sampling
Eduardo Navas, Künstler und Medienwissenschaftler, University of California in San Diego (USA)

Sampling is the key element that makes the act of remixing possible. In order for Remix to take effect, an originating source must be sampled in part or as a whole. Sampling is often associated with music; however, this text will show that sampling has roots in mechanical reproduction, initially explored in visual culture with photography. A theory of sampling will be presented which consists of three stages: The first took place in the nineteenth century with the development of photography and film, along with sound recording. In this first stage, the world sampled itself. The second stage took place at the beginning of the twentieth century, once mechanical recording became conventionalized, and early forms of cutting and pasting were explored. This is the time of collage and photo-montage. And the third stage is found in new media in which the two previous stages are combined at a meta-level, giving users the option to cut or copy (the current most popular form of sampling) based on aesthetics, rather than limitations of media. This is not to say that new media does not have limitations, but exactly what these limitations may be is what will be entertained at greater length.The analysis of the three stages of sampling that inform Remix as discourse is framed by critical theory. A particular focus is placed on how the role of the author in contemporary media practice is being redefined in content production due to the tendency to share and collaborate. The theories on authorship by Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault are entertained in direct relation to the complexities that sampling has brought forth since it became ubiquitous in popular activities of global media, such as social networking and blogging.

Sampling Theory 101

Figure 1: A function f and its Fourier transform F(f). Both the function and its Fourier transform are complex-valued, but in graphs like this only the magnitudes of the functions are shown.

Image source; http://idav.ucdavis.edu/~okreylos/PhDStudies/
Winter2000/SamplingTheory.html

Note: An online page I discovered, which was last updated, apparently in Winter of 2000.  It provides a good introduction to the theoretical aspects of sampling.

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This document is a short overview of some aspects of sampling theory which are essential for understanding the problems of Volume Rendering, which can be viewed as nothing but resampling a data set obtained from sampling some unknown function.

Prerequisite for this document is a basic understanding of Fourier Analysis on an intuitive level. You have to know that a function f(x) in the spatial (or time) domain has a counterpart F(f) in the frequency domain. Any function satisfying some simple properties can be written as a weighed sum of harmonic functions (shifted and scaled sine curves), and (F(f))(s), called the Fourier transform or spectrum of f, gives the weight of the harmonic function of frequency s in f.

Read the entire text

Notes on Cultural Analytics Seminar, December 16-17, 2009, Calit2, San Diego, by Eduardo Navas

Jeremy Douglass (left) and Lev Manovich (far right) demonstrate how to analyze data on the Hyper Wall at Calit2.

The Cultural Analytics seminar took place at Calit2 on December 16 and 17 of 2009.  The event brought together researchers and students from Bergen University and University of California San Diego.  The two day event consisted of research presentations and demos of software tools.

Part One of Hyper Wall Demonstration during Cultural Analytics Seminar at Calit2, San Diego, December 16-17, 2009.  Introduction to principles of Cultural Analytics.

I will not spend much time in this entry defining Cultural Analytics.  This subject has been well covered by excellent blogs such as Open Reflections.  For this reason, at the end of this entry I include a number of links to resources that focus on Cultural Analytics.  Instead, I will briefly share what I believe Cultural Analytics offers to researchers in the humanities.

Part Two of Hyper Wall Demonstration during Cultural Analytics Seminar at Calit2, San Diego, December 16-17, 2009.  Analysis of Vertov’s motion in scenes from Man with a Movie Camera.

This emerging field can be defined as a hybrid practice that utilizes tools of quantitative analysis often found in the hard sciences for the enhancing of qualitative analysis in the humanities.  The official definition of the term follows:

Cultural analytics refers to a range of quantitive and analytical methodologies drawn from the natural and social sciences for the study of aesthetics, cultural artifacts and cultural change. The methods include data visualization techniques, the statistical analysis of large data sets, the use of image processing software to extract data from still and moving video, and so forth. Despite its use of empirical methodologies, the goals of cultural analytics generally align with those of the humanities.

One thing that separates the humanities from the hard sciences is the emphasis of qualitative over quantitative analysis.  In very general terms qualitative analysis is often used to evaluate the how and why of particular case studies, while quantitative analysis focuses on patterns and trends, that may not always be concerned with social or political implications.

Part Three of Hyper Wall Demonstration during Cultural Analytics Seminar at Calit2, San Diego, December 16-17, 2009. Jeremy Douglass analyzes comic books.

What Cultural Analytics is doing, in my view, is bringing together qualitative and quantitative analysis for the interests of the humanities.  In a way Cultural Analytics could be seen as a bridge between specialized fields that in the past have not always communicated well.

Consequently, when new ground is being explored, questions of purpose are bound to emerge, which is exactly what happened during seminar conversations.  As the videos that accompany this brief entry will demonstrate, the real challenge is for researchers in the humanities to engage not only with Cultural Analytics tools and envision how such tools can enhance their practice, but to actually embrace new philosophical approaches that blur the lines between the hard sciences and the humanities.

Part Four of Hyper Wall Demonstration during Cultural Analytics Seminar at Calit2, San Diego, December 16-17, 2009. Cicero Da Silva explains his collaborative project, Macro.

To be specific on the possibilities that Cultural Analytics offers to the humanities, I will cite two demonstrations by Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass.

Lev Manovich at one point presented Hamlet by William Shakespeare in its entirety on Calit2’s Hyper Wall, which consists of several screens that enable users to navigate data at a very high resolution.

When seeing the entire text at once, one is likely to realize that this methodology is more like mapping.  To this effect, soon after, we were shown a version of the text in which Manovich had isolated the repetition of certain words throughout the literary work.

This approach could be used by a literature scholar to study certain linguistic strategies, such as sentence structure, by an author.  Let’s take this a step further and say that it has been agreed that a contemporary author is influenced by a canonical writer.  How this supposed influence takes effect can be evaluated by studying certain patterns of sentences from both authors by isolating parts of literary texts for direct comparison. One could then evaluate if the supposed influence is formal, conceptual or both: perhaps the contemporary author might make ideological references that are clearly linked to the canonical author, but which are not necessarily influenced at a formal level; or it could be the other way around, or both.  In this case, quantitative and qualitative analysis are combined to evaluate a case study.  In other words, pattern comparison is used to understand the similarities and differences between two or more works of literature.

To this effect, Jeremy Douglass’s presentation of a comic book is important.  He explained how by seeing an entire publication of a comic book story one can study how certain patterns in the narrative come to define the aesthetics for the reader.

While the reader may be able to experience the story in time, by actually reading it,  the visualization of the comic book in grid-like fashion–as a structural map–allows the researcher to apply analysis of patterns and trends that may be more common in flows of networks to an actual narrative.  Again, in this case we find quantitative and qualitative analysis complementing each other.

As noted at the end of the article “Culture is Data” (also provided below) from Open Reflections, it appears that Manovich is at times understood to argue that one should privilege quantitative over qualitative analysis.  This proposition implies an either or mentality by certain researchers that needs to be reevaluated.  Janneke Adema explains his answer better than I ever could:

But, on the other hand, won’t we loose a sense of meaning if we analyze culture like a thing? Manovich argues that this is of course a complementary method, we should not throw away our other ways of establishing meaning. It is a way of expanding them. And it is also an important expansion, for how is one going to ask about the meaning of large datasets? We need to combine the traditionally [sic]humanities approach of interpretation with digital techniques to find out more. And again, meaning is not the only thing to look at. It is also about creating an experience. Patterns are the new real of our society.

The most important thing to understand when evaluating the videos available with this entry is that one need not have a hyper wall to do research with Cultural Analytics methodologies; many of the tools can run on a personal computer.  It’s more about adopting an attitude and willingness to do research by way of combining quantitative and qualitative analysis.  At the moment I am evaluating the implementation of Cultural Analytics in my research on Remix.

References worth perusing:

Cultural Analytics Seminar Schedule: http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2009/11/cultural-analytics-seminar-software.html

Software Studies, Website: http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2008/09/cultural-analytics.html

“Culture is Data,” article: http://openreflections.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/culture-is-data/

Culture Vis, Website: http://culturevis.com/cultural_analytics.html

“Cultural Analytics,” Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_analytics

“The Next Big Thing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science Computing: Cultural Analytics,” article: http://www.hpcwire.com/features/The_Next_Big_Thing_in_Humanities_Arts_and_Social_Science_Computing_Cultural_Analytics.html

“Lev Manovich: Studying Culture With Search Algorithms,” article: http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/query/tag/cultural-analytics/

“Cultural Analytics: a new field that combines arts, media and IT,” article: http://knowledge.smu.edu.sg/article.cfm?articleid=1201

REPOST: The ‘Mash Up’ Culture, Teens Use Technology To Mix, Match And Create Their Spheres, by Scott Conroy

Image source: CBS 60 Minutes

Revising my evaluation of mashups led me to this journalistic piece from June 13, 2006 by Scott Conroy from 60 minutes.  It is mentioned here mainly for historical purposes, as some things discussed have obviously changed since the feature was produced.

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Teens don’t have to work very hard to be entertained anymore. Rather than trekking to the record store, they can buy their favorite music with a few clicks — and maybe try out something new while they’re at it. Reality TV, the preferred genre of many, is always on the air. They don’t even have to get up from their chairs to share photographs and gossip with friends.

American society has been assigning all-encompassing labels to generations of young people for a long time. The tendency to pigeonhole a diverse group of individuals is, in some respects, dishonest — not every Flower Child spent the ’60s tiptoeing through tulips, and many members of Generation X surely thought flannel best confined to the realm of the lumberjack.

Read the entire feature at 60 minutes.

A Visit to Mejan Labs: Notes on Sweden’s Approach to Art and Exhibitions, by Eduardo Navas

Image source: sasosedlacek.com

“Space Junk Spotting, by Saso Sedlacek, Software Mashup of Google Earth and a NASA database of space debris.

As part of my residence at the Swedish Traveling Exhibitions, on November 6 I visited Mejan Labs, an art space dedicated to supporting projects that critically reflect on diverse forms of technology.  The art space is located in the heart of the city of Stockholm.  Director Peter Hagdahl and Curator Björn Norberg greeted me upon my arrival.  We spent sometime discussing the history of media, and how Mejan Labs is part of the ongoing development of new media art practice.  In just three years, Mejan Labs has become an exhibition space worth noting outside of Sweden.  I learned about it almost as soon as its first exhibition was launched.  It was quite a treat to be able to visit it and meet  its founders in person.

At the time of my visit, Mejan Labs featured three works that focused on Astronomy, or on the earth in some abstract form.  “Earth and Above” on view from November 5, 2009 to January 12, 2010, presents the works of three artists, “A Space Exodus” (2008) by Larissa Sansour, “No Closer to the Source” (July 20, 1969) by Lisa Oppenheim, and “Space Junk Spotting” by Saso Sedlacek.

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A Visit to Magasin 3: Notes on Sweden’s Approach to Art and Exhibitions, by Eduardo Navas

”Wall Drawing #715”, February 1993
On a black wall, pencil scribbles to maximum density. Pencil.
Courtesy Estate of Sol LeWitt
First installation: Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
First drawn by: S. Abugov, S. Cathcart, A. Dittmer, F. Dittmer, L. Fan, C. Hejtmanek, S. Hellmuth, D.
Johnson, A. Moger, A. Myers, J. Noble, G. Reynolds, A. Ross, A. Sansotta, J. Wrobel. (Varnished by
John Hogan)

Image courtesy of Magasin 3

On November 5, as Correspondent in Residence for the Swedish Traveling Exhibitions, I visited Magasin 3, located in Frihamnen (freeport), Stockholm.  Curator Tessa Praun took the time to discuss with me the history of the Konsthall (art space) which opened in 1987, and has since then developed an extensive collection of contemporary art.

In the tradition of appropriation, Magasin 3 takes its name after the building’s original function as a sea port storage facility.  The space is hard to find, and one must make a definite commitment to visit it.  I was no exception.  I first took the subway then a bus to the end of the line, then walked and (as is probably common for first time visitors) got a bit lost, but finally found the space.

The Konsthall has a low-key facade, and retains the look of an industrial space.  Its name is no different than the other storage facilities in the area  (there are magasin 1, 2, 4, 5, and more); because of this, it is unlikely that a casual passerby will enter the premises.  This exclusivity gives Magasin 3 an elegance defined with minimal aesthetics. Appropriately enough, at the time of my visit, the konsthall featured minimal drawing installations by Sol LeWitt, curated by Elisabeth Millqvist.  The Sol LeWitt exhibition opened on October 2nd 2009 and will close June 6, 2010.  In what follows, I discuss LeWitt’s work as well as two video installations by british based Israeli artist Smadar Dreyfus, curated by Tessa Praun. (more…)

After Media (Hot and Cold), by Eduardo Navas

Image capture, July 11, 2009, http://hulu.com

The following text was originally published during the month of August, 2009 as part of Drain‘s Cold issue.  The journal is a refereed online journal published bi-annually.  The text is republished in full on Remix Theory with permission.  Drain’s copyright agreement allows for 25% of the essay to be reblogged or reposted on other sites with proper citation and linkage to the journal at http://www.drainmag.com/.  I ask that their agreement be respected by the online community.

In 1964 Marshal McLuhan published his essay “Media Hot and Cold,” in one of his most influential books, Understanding Media.[1] The essay considers the concepts of hot and cold as metaphors to define how people before and during the sixties related to the ongoing development of media, not only in Canada and the United States but also throughout the world.[2] Since the sixties, the terms hot and cold have become constant points of reference in media studies. However, these principles, as defined by McLuhan, have changed since he first introduced them. What follows is a reflection on such changes during the development of media in 2009.

McLuhan is quick to note that media is defined according to context. His essay begins with a citation of “The Rise of the Waltz” by Curt Sachsk, which he uses to explain the social construction behind hot and cold media. He argues that the Waltz during the eighteenth century was considered hot, and that this fact might be overlooked by people who lived in the century of Jazz (McLuhan’s own time period). Even though McLuhan does not follow up on this observation, his implicit statement is that how hot and cold are perceived in the twentieth century is different from the eighteenth. Because of this implication, his essay is best read historically. This interpretation makes the reader aware of how considering a particular medium as hot or cold is a social act, informed by the politics of culture. McLuhan’s first example demonstrates that, while media may become hot or cold, or be hot at one time and cold at another, according to context, the terms, themselves, are not questioned, but rather taken as monolithic points of reference. To make sense of this point, McLuhan’s concepts must be defined.

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Nick vs. Nic at Transitio MX, by Eduardo Navas

A performative confrontation between hardware and software.  Nick Collins vs. Nick Collins: hardware vs. Software, Old School vs. New School.  One of the hightlights of the concert series organized as part of “Bifurcaciones Sonoras” (Aural Bifurcations) for Transitio MX 03.

I was able to attend most concerts that took place nightly at Fonoteca, during Transitio MX, except for the last night of Thursday the 8th.  While there were many highlights, one that I found worth sharing on my blog is the performance of Nick vs. Nic.  A playful sound hacking performance by Nick Collins (USA) vs. Nick Collins (England).  The younger Collins (English) improvised in code, while the more seasoned Collins proved why he is one of the pioneers in circuit bending.  The sound was appropriately distributed and mixed on left and right sides of the stage, allowing the audience to evaluate how software and hardware hacking can be complementary, thus creating a performative mashup:  a meeting between the old school and the new school of experimental sound could not be better.

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