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The Defeat of Time at Sonic Acts: Pitch Police says “Respect the Hertz!”

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The drone. An unmanned aircraft, flying over enemy territory by itself. Secretly photographing enemy targets. Session moderator Mike Harding vividly explains to the audience at De Balie, during Sonic Acts XII, the properties of the drone, which is, in the first place, this information based weapon system. The drone now has numerous references in modern culture, of which drone music is one.

Harding pours out a hard to find drone of the midshipman fish, courtesy of BBC, which finds its source in the animal kingdom. It is what Harding calls a ‘true drone from the animal kingdom’. It is a continuous sound that doesn’t change much, but Harding is ‘not content with that definition. A sound can change radically but still retain drone qualities. There are no temporal limits on a drone, how short can a drone be? A starting point for a drone could perhaps be, that it is longer than your natural breath.’But drones are not just that. The role of the drone can also be to ‘underpin, or underscore, a composition an an essential part of the orchestra’. A drone can also be a part of a musical instrument in itself, as is evident in Leif Elggren’s Royal Organ.

Von Hausswolff
Definitions of drone music are still fluid, a member of the audience for example pointed that throat singers can not be forgotten in the discourse. But what is drone music according to its musicians? Carl Michael von Hausswolff says: ‘It is silent and beautiful, it can make you stop skiing in the middle of a forest and in that moment you achieve a certain kind of rest. A state that you would like to be in for a long time. You lose a lot of the separation that can stand between yourself as human being and nature. There are no cars rushing by and its a personal dialogue. if you want to use it as a tool for practical living: It helps me understand the processes of life and being alive’.

Von Hausswollf also mentions a connection with Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: ‘There is no start, no end. A kind of eternity. You become aware of a flood in your life. It is really stimulating and perhaps a positive way of trying to… well… live’. According to Von Hausswollf, this even applies to a live performance situation, where faders tend to remind you of time. Harding responds by asking if it is perhaps a kind of metastate. Von Hausswollf: ‘If you look at a concept such as transcendental meditation. Perhaps I could do it too, but I’m too western… And I’m too f*cked up to be able to list myself. I try to find other methods to achieve this kind of calm, or… whatever’.

Nordwall
Joachim Nordwall tends to touch upon the other side of the drone music spectrum. Nordwall: ‘How do you make drone? The drone is an illusion of safety for mankind, I like to recreate a certain feeling I had when growing up. The only fun thing of growing up for me was: cheap drugs and some place me and my friend could experiment with analogue synthesizers. There was this mix of drugs and analogue drones. In my work I have realized that I wanted to recreate that room where we grew up. Yesterday (during the Paradiso performance, ed.), I wanted to fill the room with the sound. A drone is convenient to fill up the room, and filling up the room creates a kind of safety. And moreover, that specific room where life was in front of me’.

During live shows, according to Nordwall, a ‘loud volume is important and the physical aspect of the drone is very interesting. To physically feel a change can be more interesting than the mental change. You get a feeling in the stomach. You can feel some parts of the body that sometimes do not exist’. Nordwall mentions Sunn as an example of a band that is enormously loud: ‘It has an effect that will get stuck in your bones for days after’.

In the discussion afterwards, volume levels at live performances sparked an interesting discussion. Is the artist responsible for exposing people to that kind of volume? Undoubtedly, there are physical consequences of sound. However, these consequences are largely unknown to the artist. The Pitch Police says: RESPECT THE HERTZ!

Links
Crossposted at Masters of Media and Sonic Acts XII Blog
Photography by Roos Menkman – http://www.flickr.com/photos/r00s

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Written by newmw

February 26, 2008 at 11:56 am

The Diorama Revisited: Erkki Huhtamo at Sonic Acts

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Erkki Huhtamo’s recent work deals with media archeology, an emerging approach he, according to his website, ‘has pioneered (together with others, like Siegfried Zielinski) since the early 1990’s’. At this edition of Sonic Acts, Huhtamo, together with the audience, revisited the concept of the Diorama. The keynote proved to be a valuable trip down memory lane with Huhtamo showing many examples and elaborating on their cultural context.

The Diorama was invented by Jacques Louis Mande Daguerre and Charles Marie Bouton and consisted of fast paintings, which were ‘slightly larger than an iMac screen’. Moreover, paintings were made in such a way that parts were translucent. In the early days, these diorama’s had to be visited and therefore it became a new element of urban landscape. Huhtamo mentions the Paris Diorama in this regard.

http://flickr.com/photos/shutenochdown/

But why would the diorama be interesting for us, now, Huhtamo asks himself. Bruce Sterling mentioned the concept of “dead media”, Huhtamo however does not believe media is capable of dying: ‘I believe that it is more a transformation and adaptation. My research deals with understanding the materiality, discursive manifestations and how these layers coexist in culture, as the culture changes and evolves’. One of Huhtamo’s big inspirations to venture into the realm of media archeology, is the fact that artists sometimes seem to be aware of the traditions, go back to these ideas and draw inspiration from them.

In its purely mechanical form, The Diorama is a large viewing machine, an actorless optical illusion theatre, comprised of two main features, being firstly giant translucent and transforming paintings and secondly a mechnically rotating auditorium. Culturally the Diorama provided the world with a new word, a neologism, that many of these new spectacles had. The Diorama is no different, combining “dio” (transparent/through) and “rama” (view). Because it is actorless, Huhtamo sees a valuable connection between the rise of CGI possibilities and the Diorama: ‘Actors are more in the scenery’.

“rama-mania”
Continuing on the linguistics of the Diorama, Huhtamo mentions Balzac, who picked up a linguistic pattern from the hair salons and the cafes of Paris. Balzac provided his own list of “ramas”, including health-o-rama, frozenrama, soupe-au-rama and the goriorama. Images shown by Huhtamo of various Diorama’s and Daguerre’s paintings are available at R. D. Wood’s MIDLEY essays on the History of early Photography. An interesting development is the portable diorama, like the “desktop” version of the computer, the ‘huge and gigantic’ is eventually brought to the desktop.

http://flickr.com/photos/aandnota/

Now, Huhtamo continues, ‘we are in the beginning of this dioramic transformation I’m trying to sketch’. Most important for this transformation is that ‘reality is not conceived as given, but as a construct. Reality as a product of new spectacles such as the diorama, panorama, wax museums, paris morgue, etc. This is the culture from which the diorama appears. In turn, Diorama’s themselves start to appear in painting’.

New Spaces and Urban Mobility
The Diorama in an urban context is ‘not like a home, but also not like the city screen outside. It is a place for the flaneur and movement in new spectacles’. Huhtamo mentions various examples of these flaneur-like places, such as the cosmorama. All share that they are about a mobile mode of spectatorship. Huhtamo: ‘The only way of viewing the panorama is to keep on walking / moving. Being physically in motion was taken over by cinema, however, the motion becomes virtual.

The audience is virtually moving with the scenes seen in the cinema’. Huhtamo sees a return to physical movement in the advent of portable devices. Interesting in the mixture of Diorama and movement is also the the idea of the “trottoir roulant”, the moving walkway, which was presented as a novelty in that time at the Paris world fair.It turned Paris into panoramic scene, the platform is enough to define the surroundings and change the identity of the surroundings

The Diorama even shaped its own popstar. Albert Smith travelled around with the moving diorama. His “hit” was ‘The Ascent of Mont Blanc’ which was shown an astonishing 2000 times. Objects used to create a reality effect include dogs and a Swiss chalet. In later years, various people played with the idea of the diorama. Examples of these include the 1939 Futurama by General Motors, which exhibited GM’s utopian vision of the world with streamlined buildings and, of course, as Huhtamo mentions, GM cars. In the futurama, the audience is traveling through the show. It is not static, like the diorama by Daguerre. The Diorama has been revisited.

Links
Crossposted at Masters of Media and Sonic Acts XII Blog
Photography by flickr.com/photos/shutenochdown

Written by newmw

February 25, 2008 at 8:17 pm

Warming up for Picnic ’07

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Picnic ’07, Amsterdam’s annual event organized by the Cross Media Week Foundation focusing on creativity in cross media content and technology, is only a month away and the list of speakers is nearly finished. Between the 25th and 29th of September, Amsterdam’s Westergastfabriek will once again host the event after the succes of last year’s edition. But with such a diverse and wide-ranging programme, where will you go? In order to get into the mood and warm up for the event, it is worthwhile to highlight some of the fascinating speakers and take a more in-depth look at what they are all about.

Reuben Steiger (Former Linden Labs Evangelist and founder/CEO Millions of Us)
scion2ndlifeAt Picnic ’06 Philip Rosedale of Linden Labs / Second Life presented his take on ‘the empowerment offered by Second Life of the average citizen to not only create but monetize their own content and design’. This year former Linden Labs Evangelist Reuben Steiger will take the stage at Picnic’s Virtual Worlds, which is all about virtual worlds becoming central to the future of marketing, technology, entertainment and brand-building. After his work at Linden Labs, Steiger founded and became CEO of Millions of Us, a company dedicated to helping businesses understand and harness the power of virtual worlds. An example is the Toyota Scion car in Second Life.

Being an evangelist and clearly someone who believes in the power of virtual worlds, Steiger fights of recent criticism of Second Life as a branding tool at influxinsights.com by saying that ‘some of the criticism is partially warranted, but a lot of it is poorly contextualized and opportunistic, in the sense that pundits love to tear down technologies that have ridden a wave of hype. IT analyst firm Gartner calls this the hype cycle – new technologies spark a wave of initial excitement, expectations inflate, the technology is found to be imperfect in some ways, and there is a backlash – but in the long term, a good technology will overcome the hype cycle and enjoy long-term adoption.’ Are virtual worlds all that Steiger says they are, or just a big bubble? Are you a skeptic or an enthusiast? Not sure? You can find out at Virtual Worlds. In the video below Steiger answers questions on his personal interest in Second Life and if virtual worlds are a response to alienation in real-life.

When? 27th September 14.00 – 17.00
Where? WesterUnie
What? Virtual Worlds at Picnic ’07

Cory Doctorow (SF novelist, blogger, technology activist)
doctorow overclocked Cory Doctorow, co-editor of popular weblog BoingBoing and contributor to the likes of New York Times and Wired, explores the benefits and consequences of online systems in his latest (fictional) book Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present (free download). This provocative collection of six previously released stories shows Doctorow extrapolating todays user experiences towards a futuristic vision and creating fascinating stories in doing so. An extensive review can be found at The Uberreview. For his writings, Doctorow has already been compaired to ‘Cyberspace’ godfather William Gibson by Entertainment Weekly. In the Authors@Google series Cory Doctorow himself presents and discusses the book, if any questions remain be sure to go see Doctorow at Fab, or the personal fabrication revolution.

When? 28th September
Where? WesterLiefde
What? FAB, or the personal fabrication revolution

Pablos/Paul Holman (Futurist, IT security expert, notorious hacker)
From an interview with Pablos “Paul” Holman at DLD ’07, shown in video below, comes the following provocative quote on creativity in companies: ‘Especially large companies tend to be poor at doing new things. They have lots of resources, lots of people and a lot of infrastructure . But all that gets in the way of when you’re trying to be creative. […] Ideally for me, I’d be able to wake up in the morning and dream up something I’ve been dreaming about. Then go build it by lunchtime, launch it in the afternoon and see if people like it. And then maybe fix some bugs by dinner.’

hackerbotpablosContrary to Doctorow, Holman does not read science fiction because he doesn’t want to be accused of plagiarism. His views however are, as the Picnic website also mentions, unique. With his design studio Komposite he ‘consults on bizarre invention and design projects that assimilate new technologies’. To give you an idea: Among his projects is the Hackerbot, a WiFi seeking robot that can find you when you’re using a wireless network – and drive up to show you your password on its screen. According to the Hackerbot website, the robot is really quite friendly and tries not to show your passwords to anyone else. Interested? Be sure to check out Holman at Picnic ’07, also if you’re interested in salsa dancing!

When? TBA
Where? TBA
What? Pablos Holman

Stefan Sagmeister (Graphic designer and typographer)
sagmeisterYou might have seen Stefan Sagmeister‘s design in your local record shop on the covers of Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Talking Heads recordings. The Picnic website mentions that just as film, art, music and literature have the power to move people, Stefan Sagmeister’s innovative work shows that graphic design, too, can cut to the emotional core. An in-depth interview with Sagmeister can found at designboom.com. The image is courtesy of Grafik-freunde Stuttgart.

In 2004 Sagmeister spoke in Monterey, California about how design can make us happy and more specifically design that made him happy on a personal level. Telling stories ranging from billboards and museum exhibitions to pictorial language, Sagmeister is able to show how design can touch a nerve. Design never felt more personal while listening to Sagmeister’s presentation and his words seem far removed from corporate thought. Anyone intested in the emotional side of creativity, and creative industries in general, should see Sagmeister at Creative Genius: Things I Have Learned So Far at Picnic ’07.

When? 27th September 16.50 – 17.20
Where? Zuivering West
What? Creative Genius: Things I Have Learned So Far – Stefan Sagmeister

Various Meetings and (Un)Common Ground
Like last year, Picnic also hosts various meetings such as Virtueel Platform’s (Un)common Ground II: An expert meeting that brings together all the top thinkers in the industry. This year the sub-title is Scale and Intimacy. At the meeting experts will take a close look at the complex issues arising when practices and models of collaboration move across different scales. Like Stefan Sagmeister in his presentation, questions such as ‘how to maintain the emotional connection that people make to the ideas that are promoted or the services or products that it delivered’, are asked. Although the meeting is ‘invitation only’, be sure to check out Virtueel Platform’s publication (Un)common ground. Creative encounters across sectors and disciplines for more information.

For information on all Picnic ’07 events (25th – 29th of September) go to the Picnic network website. Oh… and did I mention Andrew Keen (see my previous post) will also be there?

Dispatches from the City: Examples from MyCreativity

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mclogoTogether with the Masters of Media crew, I have been covering the MyCreativity convention. An initiative by Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter. I covered the last part of the convention and this featured some great examples of the upcoming Creative Industries around Europe.

The closing session of MyCreativity continued the previous session on dispatches from the city: Examples of the Creative Industry -or insert preffered term here- from around Europe. The first session covered Vienna, Dublin, Barcelona and Basel. In this second session we’re venturing into London, Helsinki, Berlin and with Rotterdam we’re bringing MyCreativity back home to the Netherlands. What follows are my observations, thoughts and questions on the presentations.

London by Anthony Davies
“The Evil Empire” of the Creative Industries as Davies introduced his country and city to the audience. He describes the process as being curiosity driven, or “knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” In his quite theoretical presentation Davies highlighted two examples from London; firstly the cooperation of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and Cap Gemini, secondly an example from the University of Arts London (UAL). The first is illustrative for the second, so I will explain the first a bit more detailed below.

The ICA is a publicly funded instution and has since the late 90s been looking into cooperations with companies and a new way of financing culture. If we take a look at what both institutions are about, we can see where the two can meet, the ICA is an arts institute and the Cap Gemini the world’s leading management consulting and computer services firm. Business seemed to need creativity at the end of the twentieth century.

creativelondonThis also resulted in certain ‘Clubs’ or networks, including for example Channel 4, Cap Gemini and the ICA. Network culture seems to have quite a lot of ties with the Creative Industries. Networking and cooperating seems to be on of the essences of the new industry, creating cultural entrepeneurs scouting the markets. And through these networks companies can also scout the best of breed and the ICA -for example- becomes a best of breed provider.

This way there is a massive boost in educational funds and literally billions of euros are spent on these contracts. And in the end Cap Gemini of course also gets rewarded for their investment, by being leader of the creative pack in their field. In this light Davies mentioned the adaptibility of the discourse around the Creative Industry.

One thing that I got out of these two examples personally, is the fact that for example medical studies are heavily subsided by companies but that art and creative studies still mostly have to be untied and publicly funded only. Remains of a 70s hippie culture, or an essence of art?

Reading
Davies, Anthony. ‘The Surge to Merge Culture with the Economy.’ Presentation from Copenhagen Free University. 2001.
Davies, Anthony. ‘Basic Instinct: trauma and retrenchment 2000-4.
Davies, Anthony and Ford, Simon. ‘Culture Clubs.’
Davies, Anthony and Ford, Simon. ‘Art Capital.’

Helsinki by Minna Tarkka
Tarkka takes us on a “walk through Helsinki”, showing us mostly images of what changed the creativity of Helsinki in the recent history. Such as the impressive fire which destroyed the Makasiinit -or the VR Warehouses in English according to the Wikipedia entry– the center of Helsinki that marked the end of an era. To get an account of the event, follow this google search link: makasiinit fire.

firehelsinki

This end of an era created the openess for new visions for the future of creativity in Helsinki. An interesting project Tarkka mentioned was Helsinki 2015. Tarkka questioned if in 2015 there would even be bigger enterprises? And she is anxious to see what will happen in the media landscape in the future of Finland, since it was very regulated and now there is new space opening up. An account of Finland looking to the future can be found at this short explanation of Finnsight 2015.

More and more Finland is looking for opportunities to brand itself on the international market. The Eurovision songfestival is seen as a great opportunity to present the new creative possibilities of Finland to Europe, although it is debatable if the previous Finnish winner Lordi is a good example for trustworthy business, but it sure was a creative act.

Reading
Tarkka, Minna. ‘Labours of location. Acting in the pervasive media space.’, Species of Spaces, ed. Giles Lane. Diffusion eBook Series. London: Proboscis. 2005.
Sivonen, Henri. ‘Makasiinit fire coverage

Berlin by Sebastian Luetgert
The critical theory comes back in the presentation from Luetgert called ‘Capital of Failures’; he wants to explain how creative initiatives did NOT work in Berlin. Armed with a whole range of great terms and thoughts he gives a very interesting presentation. What to think of ‘Easy-jettification’ for example, a term he used for the increasing cheap flights in Germany. But also an official slogan of the city of Berlin ‘Poor, but sexy.’ And what to think of ‘Islands of Excellence, Oceans of Dementia’ which refers to the deserting of the countryside in Germany.

simberlinLets take a look at the negative examples he gives of the city of Berlin. To begin with, the city of Berlin has an estimate debt of 60.000.000 euro’s, that is 20.000 per inhabitant. Luetgert compared this with playing Sim City with a constant debet (without the ability to cheat, I’d add). The destruction in the 1950s of the hardly damaged buildings from WWII is another negative, this was part of a plan to actually limit the amount of houses in Berlin to set up a better real estate market. Also the dot.com boom in Berlin started when it was already over in the world, so Berlin only experienced the downfall of it.
What is interesting is that Luetgert gives us a lot of things to think about, but not very concrete answers.

We have to fill in the dots ourselves on the question if being positively f*cked makes us creative. And if there is the capital of failures that actually helps us. Luetgert himself mentioned that the situation will be financially grimm for the next 20/30 years, but personally I really like Berlin for its broken, melancholic feel (amazingly portrayed in the film ‘Der Himmel Uber Berlin’). And the might just be the contradiction in ourselves Luetgert is talking about.

Reading
Luetgert, Sebastian. ‘An Introduction to a True History of the Internet.’
Luetgert, Sebastian. ‘Roaming Producers.’

Rotterdam by BAVO
This presentation started with its conclusion involving a Medea allegory; kill creativity to protect it (like Medea killed her children to protect them).

rdamOne example from Rotterdam I’d like to highlight here a bit, is called the ‘Poetic Freedom Project’, more information in Dutch is available from SEV.nl: De Dichterlijke Vrijheid. In this project the buyers of the houses renovate the whole block themselves together with an architect subsidised by Rotterdam itself. What is interesting about this, is the flow of money around the various networks (buyers, Rotterdam, architects) to create a new creative enviroment to work in.

More information about the work of BAVO architect-philosophers Gideon Boie and Matthias Pauwels can be found at www.bavo.biz. A site that is definitely worth checking out for its content.

Reading
BAVO. ‘Plea for an uncreative city (First draft of a yet to be finalized manuscript)‘. August 2006.
BAVO. ‘Enjoy the Right not to Enjoy!
Boie, Gideon. ‘Design Intelligence.’

Yahoo! Timecapsule: What would you like to say to the future?

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timeYahoo! launched a new subpage called Timecapsule at timecapsule.yahoo.com. Although not very popular in the Netherlands, a timecapsule can be put in the ground with some stuff you think are important to you at that time, you dig it up fifty years later and you can look back at all those memories.

Jonathan Harris, the man behind Yahoo! Timecapsule, thought this would be a great idea to try out on the web. And so we now have a digital timecapsule. Accessible to the whole world to put in their messages of Faith, Sorrow, Fun, Anger and lots more. In a personal note on the website, Harris states: “Yahoo! Time Capsule sets out to collect a portrait of the world – a single global image composed of millions of individual contributions. This time capsule is defined not by the few items a curator decides to include, but by the items submitted by every human on earth who wishes to participate.”

A few days after the start though, Michael Krumboltz from Yahoo! Timecapsule writes on the Encapsuled blog that the Anger category seemed to draw the most text submissions. Interesting stuff, because I think this Timecapsule is a reflection of a whole group of people (Yahoo! users). It’s even mass psychology maybe.

So what do we want others to think of us in 2020? Because that is when the Timecapsule will be opened, at Yahoo!’s 25th anniversary: “After 30 days, time capsule content will be saved onto a digital archive and sealed, to be opened at Yahoo! corporate headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. on the company’s 25th anniversary in the year 2020. In addition, copies of this content will be presented to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archives in Washington, DC to be preserved, studied and shared with future generations.”

Written by newmw

October 13, 2006 at 6:00 pm