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Archive by October, 2007

MACHINE SOUL: A History Of Techno, by Jon Savage

DJ Blush on the decks

Image source: Bubblefunk

Text source: Hyperreal.org

[This article originally appeared in The Village Voice Summer 1993 “Rock & Roll Quarterly” insert.]

Oooh oooh Techno city
Hope you enjoy your stay
Welcome to Techno city
You will never want to go away

–Cybotron, “Techno City” (1984)

“The ‘soul’ of the machines has always been a part of our music. Trance always belongs to repetition, and everybody is looking for trance in life… in sex, in the emotional, in pleasure, in anything… so, the machines produce an absolutely perfec t trance.”
–Ralf Hütter, 1991, quoted in Kraftwerk: Man Machine and Music, Pascal Bussy

“It’s like a cry for survival,” a panicked male voice calls out. The beat pauses, but the dancers do not. Then Orbital throw us back into the maelstrom: into a blasting Terry Riley sample, into the relentless machine rhythm, into a total environment of light and sound. We forget about the fact that we’re tired, that the person in front of us is invading our space with his flailing arms. Then, suddenly, we’re there: locked into the trance, the higher energy. It does happen, just like everybody always says: along with thousands of others, we lift off.



Image: Valéry Grancher: 24h00, 1999
interactive Web project sponsored by BAM

Image and text source: BAM/PFA

RIP.MIX.BURN.BAM.PFA celebrates the cultural and artistic practice of remix, inviting guest artists to “rip, mix, and burn” elements from two digital-media works in the museum’s collection—Ken Goldberg’s Ouija 2000 and Valéry Grancher’s 24h00 (both 1999)—resulting in new artistic creations. Drawing from the open-source software tradition, with the permission of artists Goldberg and Grancher, the remix artists may alter or revise original code or media files from the source works, or they may choose to take a more conceptual route, remixing some of the methods or behaviors of the originals into their own new works. Ouija 2000 and 24h00 will be exhibited along with new works by Michael Joaquin Grey, Alison Sant, Jonathon Keats, and Nathaniel Wojtalik and Iris Piers. On view in BAM’s Bancroft lobby and stairwell gallery, the artworks will also be available via the exhibition website at bampfa.berkeley.edu/ripmixburn for the public to download and remix.

Graphic Design Is Immaterial, by Matt Soar

Image source: Amazon.com

Text source: AIGA

Originally published: September 06, 2006

From a short talk presented at the AIGA FutureHistory conference (Chicago, October 16-17, 2004).

If we were to take a snapshot of writing and thinking about graphic design in North America right now—and here I mean the kind of graphic design “criticism,” “journalism” or “history” that we find in a wealth of books, journals, magazines, edited collections, conference papers, discussions and weblogs—I think we would find that there are several recurrent themes that can, in some senses, be considered as characteristic (if not quite definitive) of this outpouring; this “discourse.” [1]

When designers and invested observers pause to reflect on the state of this profession—or “practice,” as some would have it—the kind of hand-wringing that ensues has much to do with an abiding sense that: (a) graphic design is important, goddamn it; (b) as hard as “they” try, “they” don’t understand who we are and what we do; and (c) if only our importance was recognized by the wider world—for the right reasons, of course—then everyone would somehow be better off. Alas, this insularity is not so much imposed as self-inflicted.


Modern Culture Mash-Ups, by William Hanley (Reblog)

Image and text source: Rhizome.org

The brainchild of artist Gursoy Dogtas, Matt Magazine bills itself as “a synthesis between a fanzine and a current affairs magazine,” but while it comments on contemporary political and social issues with a zine-style combination of appropriated material and original content, it has a more restrained take on the cut-and-paste aesthetic than the average D.I.Y. publication. Crossing subjects and historical moments, each story combines a previously published text–typically classics on subjects ranging from philosophy to natural science–from a single source with images from another origin to create telling pairings. Every issue also has a similarly two-part theme: the first issue focused on ‘Freizeit und Konsum’ (leisure and consumption), and the second, which was released on October 10th with an opening and short-running exhibition at Les Complices in Zurich, tackles ‘Mobility and Surveillance’ with a series of five stories. The issue opens with Duncan Campbell’s investigation of a global surveillance system, ‘Inside Echelon,’ accompanied by photos from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert. Other pieces branch out to include ‘Attacks on Civil Aviation’ by Ariel Merari set against stills from a video work by Natalie Jeremijenko in which she attempts to board a plane wearing rollerskates, and Carl Schmitt on ‘The Theory of the Partisan’ matched to images of the Surveillance Camera Players. Dogtas’s own photography is offset by both selections from Carl von Clausewitz’s ‘On War’ and an essay by geographic theorist Tim Cresswell. Every piece in the issue sketches the sometimes enabling, sometimes conflicting relationship between two phenomena that increasingly frame modern life.

Map Mashups Get Personal

Image and text source: Wired

Originally published: March 26, 2006

A women named “Paiges” recalls hearing the band Portishead for the first time at a spot in New York’s Upper West Side, while she was meeting a man with whom she was having a torrid affair. “I was in NYC, your wife was out of town,” she writes. “We were in the bathroom and Portishead was playing. I remember being terrified that we would get caught.” She bought the album on her way home, and 12 years later still associates it with seeing her lover in that place.

That intimate memory isn’t locked in a diary or shared on a blog. It’s pinned to a spot near the intersection of West End Avenue and 104th Street on a new and growing community site called Platial that’s spreading a decidedly personal layer of geographic data atop the familiar terrain of online mapping.

Read the entire article at Wired

TV Torrents: When ‘piracy’ is easier than legal purchase, by Chris Soghoian (Reblog)

Screenshot of Miro media player
(Credit: Miro)

Image and text source: CNet, State of Surveilance Blog

NBC’s recent withdraw from the iTunes store leaves the millions of users of Apple iPods without a legitimate way to purchase and watch NBC’s content. Could this be the push that brings easy-to-use ‘piracy’ to the masses? This article discusses the issues, and then provides step-by-step instructions to setup a computer to automatically download any of hundreds of TV shows as soon as they are broadcast and put online.

With Apple’s recent lovers’s spat with NBC making the headlines, it seems like a good opportunity to examine the state of the online TV downloads, be they paid or ‘pirated’. The end result of the dispute between the companies is that NBC’s shows, which currently count for approximately one third of iTunes’ TV show sales will no longer be available for sale at Apple’s iTunes store. Customers wishing to purchase NBC’s shows will now need to go through Amazon’s Unbox service. While Unbox supports users of Windows and TiVo, Mac users, as well as those millions of iPod users are left out in the cold. Linux geeks, and those customers who have purchased divx/avi capable portable music players are also excluded, but this small subset of the market were equally ignored by Apple. (more…)

Exploring the Right to Share, Mix and Burn, by David Carr

Lawrence Lessig, left, a law professor, spoke at “Who Owns Culture?,” a talk moderated by Steven Johnson, an editor at Wired magazine.

Image and text source: NY Times
Published: April 9, 2005

he tickets for the event Thursday sold out in five minutes on the Internet, and on the evening itself the lines stretched down the block. The reverent young fans might as well have been holding cellphones aloft as totems of their fealty.

Then again, this was the New York Public Library, a place of very high ceilings and even higher cultural aspirations, so the rock concert vibe created some dissonance. Inside, things became clearer as two high priests of very different tribes came together to address the question of “Who Owns Culture?” – a discussion of digital file-sharing sponsored by Wired magazine, part of a library series called “Live From the NYPL.”

Read the article at  NY Times

Mixing, Not Mincing his Words

Photo: Jon Reid

Image and text source: Fairfax Digital

Originally published on February 4, 2005
Socially and culturally aware, this DJ is the harbinger of change, writes Ashley Crawford.

He travels to Trinidad and Istanbul, Paris and Jakarta, Moscow and New Orleans. He hangs out with Yoko Ono, Merce Cunningham, Sonic Youth and Wu-Tang Clan. He tosses off cultural references from James Joyce to Gertrude Stein, Jean Baudrillard to Mikhail Bakhtin, and he writes for a range of journals and magazines from Artforum to The Village Voice.

He is in Australia to promote his new book, Rhythm Science (published by the prestigious MIT Press) – a meditation on the “flow of patterns in sound and culture”, and he has just screened Rebirth of a Nation, his re-mix of D. W. Griffith’s 1915 film classic, Birth of a Nation, at the Sydney Festival.


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