Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Nam June Paik Dead

Nam June Paik, (July 20, 1932 – January 29, 2006).

Paik studied music history, art history, and philosophy at the University of Tokyo, where he graduated with a dissertation on Arnold Schoenberg. He went to Germany in 1956 to continue the study of music history at the University of Munich. In Germany he met composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage, who inspired Paik to go into electronic art. Paik worked with Stockhausen in a studio for Electronic Music. He also became involved with the post neo-Dada art movement Fluxus, founded by George Maciunas. He was a frequent collaborator with cellist Charlotte Moorman.

He began working with modified television sets in 1963 and bought his first video camera in 1965, returning to Japan to conduct experiments with electromagnets and color television alongside electronic engineer Shuya Abe. He was known for using rapid cuts and fast motion in his videos. He also claimed to have coined the term "information superhighway" in a paper written in 1974.

He will be remembered as a founding father of video art and will continue to influence the younger generation of artists. A space rock unit known as Paik is named in his honour.

"Art is just fraud. You just have to do something nobody else has done before", he famously declared during an interview with a Korean newspaper, and this has now become a popular quote.

He died on January 29, 2006, at his apartment in Miami, Florida, of natural causes.

In Memoriam George Maciunas, 1982
3-sided LP, Edition Block, Germany, GR-EB 113/14, 1982 Klavierduett: Joseph Beuys & Nam June Paik Fluxus-Soiree der Galerie Rene Block in der Aula der Staatlichen Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf Frietag, 7.Juli 1978, 20 Uhr

Monday, January 30, 2006

Digital TV on Demand

Channel 4 in England is distributing its new sitcom called The IT Crowd online. You can download the 5 episodes each week from the website:

"The high-rise towers of Reynholm Industries are full of go-getters, success stories, and winners... apart from in the basement.

While their beautiful colleagues work in fantastic surroundings, Jen, Roy and Moss lurk below ground, scorned and mocked by their co-workers as geeky losers, doomed never to make it back into normal society."

HUMlab is also in a basement. I wonder when I will make it to normal society. I never really thought about it before. The computer geek cliché I would have thought as a bit tired by now.

Speaking of now, distributing on demand is also doing strange things to time:

"Why wait until next week to watch the next episode of The IT Crowd? This week you can watch the next episode a week before everyone else, so CTRL + ALT + DEL your TV and watch The IT Crowd online NOW!"

Does that mean that next weeks episode is this weeks? Will there be a next weeks episode? Will it always just be NOW?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Power of Search

Yesterday I was working in the lab and we happened to use the ol Google search to find examples of Pygmy art. Surely there must be something. The word "Pygmy" returns a crazy mix sites about everything from a mysterious race of small people who may have once lived in North America to the breeding association of pygmy goats (once again North American). Among this collection are a few sites about the indigenous peoples of central Africa. The more specific "Pygmy People" returns sites on the Mbuti and Baka Pygmies and there are several excellent sites providing information on these people from the perspective that they must be "helped" (subjects in need).
Looking for "Pygmy Art" is another matter altogether. While there are masses of sites about the vast collection of people called "Pygmy" (1 290 000 returns on Google) they seem to be almost entirely from the outsiders perspective (I have looked at the first 10 Google pages). The number 1 site for Google on Pygmy art returns a text site that explains briefly some of the contexts of the art of the Pygmy and then links to this site:

"Homo floresiensis ("Man of Flores") is a species in the genus Homo, remarkable for its small body, small brain, and survival until relatively recent times."

So now I am starting to get annoyed! Then comes the image search on Google. The number one image returned by Google for a general pygmy search is a picture taken in 1967 of a towering male American worker from the United States Agency for International Development. This image looks like it could have come from a Brave Sons of the Empire annual of the 1800's.

Following this I read in this months Time magazine an article of irritated tone about the proposed new so-called European search engine Quaero (Such is the power of the new search engine that the website about it can only be accessed by password!!). The article begins proposing Quaero as a multimedia search engine and ends with it as an attempt to challenge Google. The Time article is dismissive of the attempt citing several problems any such proposal would have to confront. All of these problems are actually forms of United States based resistance to such an attempt. What I thought was interesting is the emerging ideology of a search engine.
There is in my mind as well the recent scandals from team Google concerning cutting off access to information from the general media (Google snubs tech news outlet) when the company disagrees with coverage of its activities. As well the news this week that Google co operates with Chinese government censors. Interesting from Blogdial:
Google Image search Tianmen
Google Image search Tiannmen in China
As Irdial states "what would you do? Let M$ run you out of China, or establish a foothold now with a reduced /censored service knowing that maybe in ten years China will open up completely." Of course I don't think anyone is banking on a free China, just a lot of rich customers.
It is clear from my brief struggle with the antiquated term "Pygmy" that every question already contains the parameters of the answer within it. Those who supply access to knowledge can dictate the contexts that knowledge takes and how it is applied to real world situations. In light of this I say, the more search engines the better:

Ask Jeeves
Telephone directory Sweden
Telephone Directory United Kingdom
Guide to Academic Search Engines
wayback machine
ixquick Swedish search engine
Literary Resources on the Net
Mamma Metasearch
Scholarly Online Journals
ACM Portal
The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies
Vivisimo Clustering Software
Search 197,940 del.icio.us bookmarks
Australian Search engine
Global Marketing and Business search
Galatea Image search
Online Video Aggregator
Fire Ant TV

Finally an article on searching...Always searchin:
Finding Information on the Free World Wide Web

"We propose that a solution for the academic community might be a metaÂ?search engine which would allow search queries to be sent to several specialty search engines that are most relevant for the information needs of the academic community. The basic premise is that since the material indexed in the repositories of specialty search engines is usually controlled, it is more reliable and of better quality."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

babel vs. escha

At last someone denies interactivity! Urbanalities:

what is it?
a cross between a short story, a poem, an animated comic and a musical. the text is
generated randomly as you watch, so you will never see exactly the same story twice.

because the web is short of mini-multimedia-musical-stories, or maybe because it
just turned out that way. also, babel and escha drink too much tea and coffee,

babel vs. escha?
babel and escha have been collaborating via 391.org and the 404 since 2004. their
"versus" collaboration is different to an "and" collaboration because it is a series
of antagonistic remixes rather than a jointly conceived creation.

391.org / ("but this isn't dada!")
"dada has 391 different attitudes and colours according to the sex of the president"
- tristan tzara

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Teaching Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be teaching my first university class which is part of a course that students gain credits for (Technical English, 5 Credit Points) as opposed to short courses and being a visiting teacher. This is both exciting and a bit scary. There are around 65 students in two groups and I am teaching the spoken language part of the course. I realize that I have not much time (65 minutes for each group, that's 2 minutes for each student!!) so I want to provide both resources and skills that can use in their own time if they are serious about the course. So I am looking at introducing them to Podcasts (when I asked last week about 15 of them said they did not know what they were) and have made a handout describing the podcasts available from the NASA website (being a technical language course). There is of course a danger that if a try to include unsupported materials, such as online podcasts, that it may be more difficult for some students to gain access and benefit from them. I will start and see how it goes. There is always the tried and tested material I have inherited/gained from the previous teacher of the course (bless him) and this will be the basis for my teaching as well. I am looking forward to it.....

Tristram on Film

This could be good. Last year I read The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and it was definitely an experience. Afterwards I felt like I enjoyed it. At times during it I felt like I was under the influence of something other than the genius of Lawrence Sterne. In a way it is hard to believe it was written in the 1760's as it really does spin your head trying to keep track of what is going on, if anything is actually going on or if it is some sort of gross exaggeration. I wonder how it will be translated as a film? The website promoting the film is another use of web media to promote a film in a parallel sense with a email browser window opening on what looks like a desktop graphic (think Requiem for a Dream). There is a sound file of a worried sounding female voice who says that everyone seems to have access to her emails from the office. Such ironic content may be an attempt to capture something of the satire of Sterne's work or the self-reflexivity of it all but then maybe it is just trying to be "crazy" (the Nike trainers of the only human figure in the picture also point in this direction). If you have the patience and the attitude try the book first:

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sick Sunday Blues

I have been ill today. Some sort of vicious head cold with fever and aches but having lay in bed all day at 1am this morning I awoke without fever and only a slight headache. I seemed to have turned the corner.
At out place we have a Sunday morning ritual....well it is my ritual anyway. I listen to Klingan. This morning they had an audio piece based on traveling around Tokyo. The last 7 shows are streamed online and although they are commentated in Swedish, music is the universal language. I noticed they have changed the description of the show from "world music" to "music of the world". This is a good thing I think with far too much exotica and tourism in the tired 1980's discourse of "world music".

Thursday, January 19, 2006


When we made the Jokkmokk2004 blog we used a small chat window on the blog that anyone who was viewing the page could chat in real time to other views or the authors if they were online at the time. I have now installed such a device here on this blog (see the icons on the the right of the screen). Blobber.com is from Digitalspace Commons who do many things that I find very interesting.
UPDATE: I took the bobber down after a day for a couple of reasons. It changed the boarders on the page being the main one. As well it did slow the page load down somewhat although not as much as the older version of the blobber. It is a neat tool and I think I will have it back here in the future. Probably when I move this blog onto my own domain.......yea..it will happen this year!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Example of Back Remediation

"At the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Sungho Son, a graduate student in industrial design at Purdue University, took home the Judge's Award [read: Microsoft] for a prototype "bookshelf" computer, which uses interchangeable components roughly the shape and size of a hardbound book to simplify management of digital content and copyrights."

Interesting that back remediation is being utilized to re-address digital rights management and copyright issues in hardware design:

"The winners received top marks from the judges because they directly addressed challenges faced by the PC industry and users, making intangible concepts such as digital copyrights more concrete for the average user.

The prototype PC developed by Son and his advisor Scott Shim, IDSA, an assistant professor of industrial design at Purdue, allows users to add hard-disk drive (HDD) attachments to a shelf-like enclosure with a central processing unit. To watch movies, listen to music or play a computer game, people would purchase, borrow or rent secure hardware attachments with preloaded content-management functions. Digital content could be downloaded from a provider's server - but not transferred to - a compatible PC by slipping the attachment into the expandable shelf unit."

from the Industrial Designers of America (IDSA)website.

Lawrence Lessig wrote in Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace that the one 100% certain method for content control in digital media is through hardware development. I wonder if anyone will buy it??????

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Indeterminacy of Blogging....

It has been over week since I blogged anything here. I have managed one entry on the HUMlab blog, concerning a very exciting project that I am helping out with there and other meetings that I had during the week. It has been a week of intense experiences; at home a sick 5 year old and a sick mother who is breast feeding a four month old who does not sleep until 2 or 3am some nights, plus my continued struggle with the first chapter of the thesis (struggle continues but I feel I am making progress so that's cool), and the weather being sort of....DARK (although today we really saw the sun full over the horizon....Oh happy days!!). One tends to feel a little stressed at times but after 10 hours sleep today and a day spent repotting house plants and re-arranging the loungeroom I feel more connected to reality. I still work on the weekend but only reading mostly. I finished some essays in Close Reading New Media by Van Looy and Baetens, which I actually have some issues with although some of the analysis is good. As well there is Miall, D. S. (2002). Literary Discourse. In Handbook of Discourse Processes, which was very interesting and discusses a mixed analytical approach moving between empirical research and stylistics in the reading of "literature" (what that actually may be is another major theme in the essay). Finally I am trying to really develop the concept of the Polyvalence Convention (hence the Miall essay) and it seems that Jacques Derrida wrote an essay in 1972 called Plato's Pharmacy, which deals with it. I have ordered the book it is in from the library (they only have it in French!) so until then I have been reading Intentionality, Originality, and the "Always Already" In Derrida and Gans by Tobias Foshay, which is interesting.
That's it at the moment....as Derrida may have agreed with, there is much more I could write but I can't right now as there is no time and who would really understand anyway?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Free Music: Come in....the water's fine!

The amount of free music on the net that is (mostly) neither illegal to download or copyright restricted is blossoming.
I bring these gems (according to my taste anyway) for consideration:

Polymorphic Music
Internet Archive List of Netlabels (the link of the week)
Rummage Through the Crevices
Secret Sounds
Generator Sound Art Inc.
Foxy Digitalis Podcasts
Just For a Day
Library of Vinyl Experience
Between Thought and Expression
Mystery and Misery
Digital Cutup Lounge
The Art of the Mix

Have a good weekend!!!!!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Preparing for the Revolution

I find this interesting, exciting and inspiring. Suggests to me HUMlab:

"The university may need to reorganize itself quite differently, stressing forms of pedagogy and extracurricular experiences to nurture and teach the art and skill of creativity and innovation. This would probably imply a shift away from highly specialized disciplines and degree programs to programs placing more emphasis on integrating knowledge. To this end, perhaps it is time to integrate the educational mission of the university with the research and service activities of the faculty by ripping instruction out of the classroom—or at least the lecture hall—and placing it instead in the discovery environment of the laboratory or studio or the experiential environment of professional practice."

Envisioning a Transformed University by JAMES J. DUDERSTADT, WM. A. WULF, ROBERT ZEMSKY

More on preparing for the revolution: Information Technology and the Future of the Research University (2002)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

3 Rs: Reading Reading Reading

Read this? Frozen Niki: "In due course Nikolaj's cranium will be stabilized at the -20°C mark and data transmission to the Bajkanur server will be initiated and fed immediately via the Internet to Nikolaj's personal blog."

I don't want this to get to much of a theme but really there is not much else of interest in my mind at the moment. Once again I am talking about reading. I continue my struggle to write of an academic standard about reading and it is not easy, but it does make me think. Today I got an email from the super-visor and it was not flattering. This thesis is as slippery as an eel. I have half an idea of what I want to say but saying is almost beyond me. Reading.....mmmm....."I enjoy it". Is that enough?
That which distinguishes reading of printed literature from digital forms seems redundant as a topic, so why do I keep getting tangled up with it? It seems so much easier to just give examples (see above image) and leave it at that, but that is show-and-tell (my favorite activity in primary school) and something I suspect has no place in a PhD (damn!!). So I need to awaken my own frozen cranium (too much raving in the 90's maybe) and get this tight and concise....shape up or ship out...pull your socks up, your finger out and get to work Barrett!!!! Ahhhh

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2006: Hit the Ground Running

Pigalle Morning

Today is the first day back at work officially but I have been reading when able to do so amid the rush and thunder of the Xmas/New Year Saturnalia. Managed to finish two books and start several others. Of interest is Sarah Sloane's Digital Fictions which I first found on Google Print and then requested my university library to buy, which they did. Why is it such a problem for big publishers to have their products online when it really is so much easier to buy the text if it is needed.
As well I borrowed Teaching at University: A Guide for Postgraduates and Researchers by Kate Morss and Rowena Murray which I thought may help prepare me for teaching a technical English course to engineering students beginning 19 January 2006. This will be the first time I teach a ongoing course at university level. I hope it is not the last;-)
Finally what I originally intended to blog here, this first entry of 2006, was this:
In August 2004 my family and I spent 10 days in Paris. It was great with galleries, cafe's, bookshops, music shops, drifting through the streets and just hanging out. I took a mass of photos on a digital camera (since deceased....melted at the 1st May bonfires) and loaded them up to my home computer when we came back to Sweden. I also gave a CD copy of the pictures to my mother, who met us in Paris. A month after we arrived back the hard drive on my computer fried itself and all the pictures were lost. I knew there was a copy in Australia but my mother is not very (to say the least) computer orientated person and she gave the CD to my sister as she has a computer at home. My sister lives in Darwin in the far north of Australia (my mother lives in Toowoomba). Finally the CD returned to us here in the north of Sweden yesterday and I could once again load up the images and video from Paris 2004 to my new(ish) harddrive on our home computer. The power of networked information has saved me once again. Thank you file sharing!
This time I have put many of the best out on the net:

Surrealism and Paris (6 videos)

Paris 2004 (slideshow)

What is ahead from me this year. Much!
The big news is in April I have been given a place at the Terrastock 6 table. Along with other Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood I hope to be playing at the Terrastock 6 festival in Providence Rhode Is. USA April 21-23 2006. Ohh la la.

My family is a source of much inspiration and strength. This year my oldest son starts school....should be interesting for all of us. The younger will probably begin daycare around the same time (September) as both mommy and daddy have much to do.

I present the first chapter of my thesis in February as a seminar: "The Interactive Reader: Reading and the Electronic Text" should be an intense experience.

I turn 37 years old........

nuff said.

One last last thing. A interesting article on grassroots media in the not so grass roots NYT:

"Even when subjects of news stories felt they had been misunderstood or badly treated, they were unlikely to take on reporters or publishers, believing that the power of the press gave the press the final word. The Internet, and especially the amplifying power of blogs, is changing that. Unhappy subjects discovered a decade ago that they could use their Web sites to correct the record or deconstruct articles to expose what they perceived as a journalist's bias or wrongheaded narration."
Answering Back to the News Media, Using the Internet By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
Published: January 2, 2006