Monday, April 30, 2007


Allen Ginsberg: The Last Day on Earth

Ten years ago. It is April 1997 and I had just returned from 8 months in India and Thailand. My travels had been partly inspired by poet Allen Ginsberg's 1970 publication of his Indian Journals. In New York Ginsberg lies dying in his apartment surrounded by friends and family. Some Tibetan Buddhist monks are chanting the text of the Bardo Thodol to free Ginsberg's spirit as it begins it 40 days on the after death plain before choosing a rebirth or liberation from the cycle of Maya. Ginsberg died on 5th April 1997 in what appeared to be a model for a peaceful and harmonious death. The image above is taken from Jonas Mekas' film Allen's Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit (1997) which is now streamed online at UBUWEB. Watching the film yesterday I was touched by the whole scene played out in Ginsberg apartment as he peacefully approached the end. The group of Tibetans in attendance chant the Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State and friends and family move about as if they were just dropping by to say hello (or is goodbye).
Inspired by this I have posted a special audio recording to the Internet Archive. Part of a recording I made of a three day Yama Durga Puja at Diskit Gompa in the north east of Ladakh (part of India) in the Nubra Valley. Diskit Gompa is a monastery of the Dge-lugs-pa or Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The ceremony took place in September 1996. Diskit Gompa was built by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, a disciple of Tsong-kha-pa, the Diskit Gompa dates back to the 14th century. In this recording there are around 70 monks chanting in the main hall of the monastery. Bowls of butter tea and sampa can be heard occasionally sliding along the benches as some monks take a break and others step forward to take their place. The chanting went late into the night from very early in the morning for three days. The first few seconds is audio from one of the many irrigation channels that direct the snow melt from the mountains down to the cultivated valleys in Ladakh.

Diskit Gompa Ladakh

The Text we Live in

There was an interesting documentary on the national Swedish Television Network tonight. "Varumärkt för livet" (Branded for Life: streamed for those who prata svenska) is about word of mouth advertising or buzzing and 'Brand ambassadors'. Many people are probably already aware of this sort-of-new advertising ecology(I suppose you could say as it is not really a single thing but rather a "landscape" as one of its practitioners states in the doco): I found it interesting as it is one way of describing the networks of text we live in. How do you know that the person you are talking to at the bar is not working when they fill you in on how amazing their new BLAH BLAH is? Or that really nice shirt on that interesting looking character is by who? It really gets fascinating when we meet Julia Frej who is being 'made' into a brand ambassador. The job is about being desired by the target group and then getting them to tune into what you want them to buy. Is anything real?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Podcasts from Media in Transition 5

I am so glad there is a thing called podcasting. Media in Transition 5 started today at MIT (a long way from where I am at the moment) and THEY HAVE PODCATS OF EACH SESSION ONLINE NOW..ALREADY...SO QUCIK THEY ARE!!!

The sessions from today:
Plenary 1: Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures (4/27) podcast
Plenary 2: Collaboration and Collective Intelligence (4/27) podcast

Tomorrow (and therefore no podcasts yet)
Plenary 3: Copyright, Fair Use and the Cultural Commons (4/28) podcast
Plenary 4: Learning through Remixing (4/28) podcast

Blogging from the event at Jill.txt and GTA.

Ceci n'est pas une pipe (unless you are a picture)

I am not sure but I think I have had a revelation. Not a divine one. Rather about how to write my thesis. The paragraph is where its at. I need to make clear paragraphs (subject sentence and so on) and if i get enough of them I will have a page and then two and god knows where it will end. Once I get a bunch of pages with paragraphs on them I will move them around until they make sense. This bit could require another revelation.
Anyone who does not already know about it (from 2001), Semiotics for Beginners by Daniel Chandler is entirely online and really is a great introduction to the subject. Lots of stuff on visuality, address, methodology and rhetoric. Lovely.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Castles Made of Sand

After my seminar presentation on Wednesday I have returned to the draft chapter I presented. Although I am making progress with the thesis it is so so difficult. I got lots of constructive feedback in the session and it is now a matter of rewriting the entire chapter, starting from scratch. The writing and rewriting of a thesis reminds me of when I was a kid on the beach in Australia. I would spend hours making a world in sand and then the tide would come in and wash it away. There was nothing I, my sister or brother could do but start again further up the beach. This new structure would be washed away also after a while or blown by the wind if the sand was too dry (because we moved too far from the dangers of the tide water). We always kept building but.

I am now going to see Phil drive a nail through his finished thesis in a traditional 'spiking' ceremony that preceeds the defence of a PhD here in Sweden. It comes down from the nailing of the 95 theses to the Castle Church in Wittenberg by Luther in 1517. We nail our texts to a tree stump in the main undergrad library. Congratulations Phil, I know it is a hard road to a finished thesis.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cancer in Second Life

The Swedish Children's Cancer Fund (Barncancerfonden) will be holding a fundraising gala in Second Life this weekend. This Saturday 28th April at 7pm (CET) the festivities will begin in Second Sweden. A news report in Swedish is HERE. This is the first time fundraising of this type has been conducted in Second Life.

The Art of Lving in Second Life

Although it is 1:30am I am enjoying the presentations from The Art of Living in Second Life from Boston. This is an image of my screen; SL, video stream and Google page for my searches. Just listened to James Lu from Game Notes. Some good points made. back to the seminar.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Today is ANZAC day in Australia

I hate it when they say, 'He gave his life for his country'. They don't die for the honour and glory of their country. We kill them."
- Rear-AdmiralGene R. LaRocque

Today is ANZAC day in Australia. The rememberence or celebration of war is somthing I do not miss about my homeland. Reading the quotes from the defence minister Brendan Nelson's speech at the dawn service on the Gallipoli peninsula (which I visited myself as a 12 year old very Australian lad) I was very disturbed:

"To understand what happened here, to feel a connection with this place, is to be fully Australian," he said.

What about the Turkish descendents of those tens of thousands who died there? They must feel a connection to the place. Are they also "fully Australian"? What a ridiculous statement, but wait there's more:

"No group of Australians has given more, nor worked harder to shape and define our identity than those who have worn and now wear the uniform of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force."

How can this be so? Australian identity should not be defined by the military. This is the situation in North Korea, not in a democratic state. Australia as a nation, at its best, is the product of millions of peaceful individuals pursuing a way of life that is based on freedom, respect and a "fair go". Few of these values are represented in warfare.

"Precious Australians who lie here and in distant places of the world do so as silent witnesses to the future that they have given us," he said.

The Gallipoli campaign was a disaster. Coming from a military family myself I know that the soldier's (and army nurse's and sapper's) lot was a miserable one where mistakes and bad planning were as common as effective military actions. Those Australians killed at Gallipoli and in all military campaigns on foreign soil are the victims of those that sent them there. Even as volunteers the loss of so many so young should never be glorified in any way.

"We honour them by the way that we use our lives and shape our nation."

This is true. For this reason ANZAC day should be a day for the condemnation of all military spending, planning and deployment. In its name money should be made available for international youth exchanges between conflicting states. Peace and conflict studies should be taught in high school. Australian defence spending (currently around 2 per cent) should be tied to the overseas development aid budget (currently at 0.30 per cent), whereby no more than the percentage that is spent on aid can be spent on weapons and war.

This is how the diggers should be remembered.

I despair of the direction that public opinion seems to be taking in Australia in recent years. Everywhere is a provincial jingoistic nationalism that celebrates a one dimensional version of the nation’s history and culture/s.

Manovich: What Comes After Remix?

Manovich writes on Remix:

What Comes After Remix? by Lev Manovich
It is a truism to day that we live in a “remix culture.” Today, many of cultural and lifestyle arenas - music, fashion, design, art, web applications, user created media, food - are governed by remixes, fusions, collages, or mash-ups. If post-modernism defined 1980s, remix definitely dominates 2000s, and it will probably continue to rule the next decade as well. (For an expanding resource on remix culture, visit by Eduardo Navas.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Code 2.0 Flash Movie

Its not often that a book is presented like a movie in a flash film online. Code 2.0 by Lessig is that sort of book (I have it sitting on my desk but have not yet started it). Check it out HERE.

And the blurb:
There’s a common belief that cyberspace cannot be regulated—that it is immune from the government’s (or anyone else’s) control. Under the influence of commerce, cyberspace is becoming a highly regulable space, where behavior is much more tightly controlled than in real space. We can—we must—choose what kind of cyberspace we want and what freedoms we will guarantee. This second edition of Code, or Version 2.0, has been prepared through the author’s wiki, a web site that allows readers to edit the text, making this the first reader-edited revision of a popular book.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ahh...I see

When I finally realized that I did not have to do the xml myself and it was just a matter of creating the widgets in the window made for widget creation then things got a lot faster. All the stuff I wanted to keep is on now. Comments are proving tricky as the haloscan widget program wiped out everything on the blog. Will try again when I hear back from the haloscan people.
Over the coming weeks I will tune and modify things. Some of the color schemes look a bit dodgy. Need to organise the links better and the tracker is not working.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

Just going through a complete change here. The new google formats have forced me to make some adjustments to this blog and they are not going as straight foward as I hoped they would. The template rewrite will take a few days but I hope to get everything back as it was and with lots of extras........

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Some YoYo Stuff: An observation of the observations of Don Van Vliet by Anton Corbijn. (download) 1993

From the UBUWEB gods comes:

Some YoYo Stuff: An observation of the observations of Don Van Vliet by Anton Corbijn. (download) 1993
Don van Vliet, alias "Captain Beefheart", is one of the most influential, misunderstood, talked about, admired, copied, treasured, loved and quoted musicians and yet he is still an obscure and mysterious artist. His quite abrupt artistic transformation from working with a microphone to a paintbrush in 1982 and his consequent move from the desert to the ocean meant even less direct contact with the outside world than before. Subsequently there is very little information about Don from this time onwards and this short black-and-white film made in 1993 is an unique opportunity to see and hear this unique man. The film is approximately 13 minutes long, directed and photographed in black and white.

It is streamed on the UBUWEB site HERE.

The Art of Living a Second Life

The Art of Living a Second Life
Emerson College, New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc./, and the Museum of Science present OurFloatingPoints 4: The Art of living a Second Life :: DATE: April 25, 7 pm :: VENUE: Museum of Science, Cahners Theater, Boston :: STREAMED LIVE online and BROADCAST TO SECOND LIFE :: FREE AND OPEN TO ALL!
A panel discussion with Wagner James Au (aka Hamlet Linden), John Lester (aka Pathfinder Linden), and John (Craig) Freeman (aka JC Freemont); moderated by Eric Gordon (aka Boston Borst).
Called "the biggest digital art installation in the world" (Warren Ellis), Second Life is a highly imaginative, online, 3-D rendered environment populated with avatars (graphic representations of people). In Second Life you can teleport, fly, live in a house, go to clubs, take classes, make and view art, or just "hang out." You cannot drown and you do not age. Spanning more than 42,000 acres in real-world scale--larger than metropolitan Boston--Second Life is second home to over 2 million "residents," many of whom collaboratively create its content. It is a place where real business is conducted using virtual dollars that can also be traded in the real world. Join us during the Boston Cyberarts Festival for a discussion about the creative, social and economic implications of Second Life. For more information, go to the Museum of Science.

Friday, April 20, 2007

UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day

Monday 23rd April is UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day. Do you agree with the sentiment of Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, when he claims:

Lastly, as there can be no book development without copyright, the celebration of the Day has always been closely associated, from its inception and throughout all these years, with an awareness of the importance of the moral and heritage protection afforded to works of the human spirit and their creators.

Really?? "there can be no book development without copyright" I concur. There was no copyright in China from the 6th to the 12 century when thousands of texts were produced. The library at Alexandria did not have to pay millions for access to electronic journals. Was the Vatican library or the Biblioteca Sansoviniana assembled within the system of copyright? The sages of the Vedas and Upanishads did not know anything of copyright. Did Petrarch have to deal with copyright as he scoured Europe rebuiling the ancient texts?
What of the situation today? The poor of Africa, South America and Asia need books but does copyright provide for these people? Meanwhile there are books being made available online for the use of millions, without the restrictions and market rationalization of copyright. Here are a few in various (free) forms (Happy Copyright day):

Deleuze Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image
New Media Art - Nothing - Mark Tribe - Brown University Wiki
Henri Lefebvre The Production of Space - Google Books
Computer Lib/Dream Machines, Ted Nelson
Hypertext DigitalTheory Hypermedia
We Media
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Derrida Dissemination
Codev2:Lawrence Lessig
Mark ROTHKO - presentation par Geneviève Vidal
eBook Downloads - Get eBooks - eBookMall
Medieval Sourcebook: Full Text Sources
Internet Sacred Text Archive Home
superbunker » i feel better after i type to you
Global Text Project
The Libri of Aleister Crowley
Wireless Networking in the Developing World
Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts
The Agrippa Files
Language and the Internet - Google Print
Soft Skull: Home
Handbook for Boggers and Cyber-dissidents
Gen Hex
SparkNotes: Busted
The Kalevala Index
Eternalicious - the Magic of the Naths!
My Most Memorable Teacher (or Trainer) - FREE Digital Book!
Free e-books
Home Page - Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
:: Antiquities of the Illuminati :: Grey Lodge Occult Review :: IDX ::
Edison's Eve
Mechanical Bodies, Computational Minds : Artificial Intelligence from Automata to Cyborgs
Digital Poetics by Loss Pequeno Glazier- R A I N T A X I o n l i n e
Sabotage -- Emile Pouget tr. Arturo Giovannitti
Egyptological texts
Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh: Table of Contents
Annotated ancient Egyptian texts
Babbage, Ninth Bridgewater Treatise
Google Print

WIP Seminar

Just repeating the details for the seminar next Tuesday with the added information that I will be presenting my chapter first, during the morning session. This is due to the seminar Guds ord på nätet? En digital generation möter en religiös auktoritet (Gods Word on the Net: The Digital Generation meets a Religious Authority) by Anders Sjöborg from Uppsala universitet in HUMlab at 13:15 the same day.

Work in Progress Seminar
April 24 at 10.15-12.00; 13.15-15.00
Jim Barrett: WIP
Hilda Härgestam: WIP
The Conference Room at the end of the E Corridor in the Humanities Building
Umeå University
All are welcome
The texts are available in E202 from April 17


Declassified March 2007


Working Party on the Information Economy OECD
The concept of the participative web is based on an Internet increasingly influenced by intelligent web services that empower the user to contribute to developing, rating, collaborating on and distributing Internet content and customising Internet applications. As the Internet is more embedded in people's lives, users draw on new Internet applications to express themselves through .user-created content. (UCC).
This study describes the rapid growth of UCC, its increasing role in worldwide communication and draws out implications for policy. Questions addressed include: What is user-created content? What are its key drivers, its scope and different forms? What are new value chains and business models? What are the extent and form of social, cultural and economic opportunities and impacts? What are associated challenges? Is there a government role and what form could it take?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New Media Art (book) Wiki

New Media Art, a book written by Mark Tribe and ReenaJana (published by Taschen in 2006) is now available online as an open-source wikibook. This version of the book is not meant to be a substitute or replacement for theprint version, but rather an expandable and revisable online educational resource.

How Borat Tells a Story

I have not sent the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (I love a short title) but this morning following a link on video piracy on the internet (Google Powering Some Pirate Sites) I caught an episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s character in action on YouTVPC (taken it appears from a British Channel 4 series). The man is a gifted performer but what struck me was the material depth he is prepared to go to in order to deliver the comedy, parody and satire. Grainy washed out film stock rolls behind 1970’s animated text in (presumably Russian script), a whole village gathers around Cohen and falls in behind his bizarre English monologue delivered in a stilted accent. The visual pace of the narrative is impressive with gags relying entirely on cut shots as Cohen continues in his monotone delivery. Then we are transported to England, which is dismantled in seconds by Cohen’s stereotypical still shots of him engaging with the ‘Englishness’ of tourism (The guards at the palace, bowler hats and The Times, red payphone booth, fish and chips, ‘naughty’ video shop in Soho, double decker busses and tepid beer etc. etc. etc.), all in over exposed yellowing film with dodgy text overs. Then the adventure starts as Cohen stumbles in a badly fitted suit through the TV lifestyle chat genre. The empty space of Borat’s ignorance is filled with the bigotry, cultural xenophobia and oddness of those who are willing to speak to him (often treating him like a child, the unaware foreigner). Attending the Henley Royal Regatta, Borat is the blank slate for a form of reverse anthropology (see Jean Rouch) where the decrepit traditions of the Empire (regatta, the hunt) reveal themselves through European subjects made Other.

Cohen/Borat delivers the message in the long shadows of McLuhan and Surrealism with a huge debt to the remix cultures powered so much by digital technologies and the Psycho-geography of the Situationists. The materials of media is how Cohen invites the viewer into the premise of the text (the opening scenes in the ridiculous village or the grainy tourists shots of Borat stumbling around London) and the next shot is filled with Borat straight to camera (viewers gaze). We take up the media stance projected by one of the most common sequences on TV, the piece to camera where a witness as reporter informs us of the event (it is interesting that we see so little of this format in relation to the carnage in Iraq, the field abandoned by the witness and – here in Sweden at least – the graphics are most often crowd scenes after bomb attacks and soldiers ‘in place’).

When we laugh at Cohen we are laughing at ourselves. As he has said himself, the joke is that many of those who came into contact with the character actually believed that the Kazakhstan of Borat has some basis in reality . Presumably the same goes for the millions of viewers of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan who understand enough of the premises behind the film to find it funny. The joke is on the West and the brilliance is how carefully constructed the pseudo-documentary genre of Cohen’s comedy is.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

‘Remix’ and ‘Mashup’

Let’s talk terms. ‘Remix’ and ‘Mashup’ both interest me. But what is the difference. According to the great wiki:

A remix is an alternative version of a song, different from the original version. A remixer uses audio mixing to compose an alternate master of a song, adding or subtracting elements, or simply changing the equalization, dynamics, pitch, tempo, playing time, or almost any other aspect of the various musical components. Usually, a remix will involve substantial changes to the arrangement of a recorded work; lyrics may be added or removed, such alterations are not a necessity. A song may be remixed to give a song that wasn't popular a second chance at radio and club play, or to alter a song to suit a specific music genre or radio format.


Mashup (or mash it up) is a Jamaican Creole term meaning to destroy. In the context of reggae or ska music, it can take on a positive connotation and mean an exceptional performance or event. The term has also been used in hip-hop, especially in cities such as New York that have a high Jamaican population.

Mashup, or bootleg, is a musical genre which, in its purest form, consists of the combination (usually by digital means) of the music from one song with the a cappella from another. Typically, the music and vocals belong to completely different genres. At their best, bastard pop songs strive for musical epiphanies that add up to considerably more than the sum of their parts.

Differences? Remix has cool white connotations of high tech interventions. Mashup is Creole (read black), with a hot edge of violence (to destroy) and also termed ‘bastard pop’. Remix is attributable to ‘a remixer’, whereby the artist as genius lives on within the new technology. Mashup is a process (as is Remix actually) that confuses boundaries while striving for a constellation that is only “considerably more than the sum of their parts” but never a new thing. But remix creates a song with “substantial changes” and “a second [coming??] chance”. Remix exists in the production of commodity culture while mashups subvert the values of that culture. Originality is supposed in the remix while it is erased in the mashup.

The cutting edge of mashup culture

The cutting edge of mashup culture (with free downloads of full albums):

Never before has a band taken as many chances in the studio as The Kleptones. These guys are apparently very sensitive. Then again, we wouldn't have it any other way. Most of the time, The Kleptones can't shake their reputation. Call it a tragical history tour.
There's plenty of lyrical mumbo-jumbo about the group confronting its demons and pretending to be a pirate. Underneath their antics lies a compelling artistic maturity that reveals how they have grown since they were young punks. Imagine the aching walls of sound of Bob Seger's "Night Moves" grafted, as if by a mad scientist from the bayou, to the crass hip-hop assault of the No Limit Tank Soldiers, and you haven't even come close.
Their sonic assault has made them the heroes of a whole new generation. Does anyone over the age of 15 like this stuff? The Kleptones is not so much a band, but an exercise in marketing. Do these guys really need more money? I liked it better when it was called "Pearl Jam's Greatest Hits".

Guns Kill People......

Images and words describing the violence at Virginia Tech University are everywhere. I went to my campus yesterday, had lunch in a crowded cafeteria, walked halls filled with sweet living breathing people and spoke with colleagues. All this with the images of broken bloody bodies being dragged over low stone walls and green lawns still fresh in my mind. To fathom such cruel pandemonium as took place in Virginia is to step to the edge of human understanding. On the same day in Japan the mayor of Nagasaki was shot dead in the street and a U.S Secret Service agent shot two other agents inside the grounds of the White House in Washington D.C (while President Bush was ironically attending a memorial service for the Virginia Tech victims!!). Coming from rural Australia I grew up with guns and began using them myself already at the age of about 10 or 11. I actually wanted to be a gunsmith for several years when I was young as I appreciated the aesthetic appeal of finely crafted weapons (especially very old ones). But today I feel a general sense of revulsion in the whole weapons industry. In April 1996 I arrived in Tasmania the day after Martin Bryant had killed 35 people and injured 37 at the convict ruins of Port Arthur, a tourist attraction on the east coast of the island state. Over the coming month I and a friend spent a month in Hobart busking music every day in the streets. We met several 'street people' who had known Bryant. They all said he was an outsider even among the outsiders of the streets. During our three months of travels around Tasmania the pall of the tragedy was everywhere in the state which has seen so much violence in its history.
I find it strange that some advocates of the right to bear arms equate it with individual self expression. Even at its most abstract the manufacture, ownership and use of weapons falls far short of what I would call creative. The idea of self defence or protection is also given as a reason to bear arms, but this is an eye for an eye situation where what one is actually trying to resist is the other people who are also bearing arms (probably in fear of yourself). The concept that having a gun makes one free is insane. Free from what? Intimate social contacts and a relaxed co operative atmosphere where people are able to make choices and pursue their desires without the intimidation that comes from the threat of physical violence. Perhaps.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Grey Lodge review #18

Grey Lodge Review #18 is online and what a beautiful piece of work it is. The following are just some of what is downloadable from the site:
* Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning is a psychedelic roadtrip across the highways of the modern collective unconscious. It's a world where just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you, where the things you dream about can come back to haunt you when you wake, and where the end of this world is just the beginning of another.
* Ultraculture Journal One collects under one cover the most volatile and direct magickal writing currently available in the English language. It will change you at the cellular level. You have been forewarned.
* Hatred of Capitalism: A Semiotext(e) Reader (PDF) What an anthology. Over 400 pages packed with the likes of Kathy Acker, George Bataille, Jean Baudrillard, William Burroughs, John Cage, Gilles Deleuze, Bob Flanagan, Michel Foucault, Felix Guattari, J-F Lyotard, Ulrike Meinhof, Kate Millet, Cookie Mueller, David Rattray, Ann Rower, Assata Shakur, Michelle Tea, Lynne Tillman, Paul Virilia and many, many more. Twenty-five years of some of the finest writing to come out of America, France, and beyond.
* Derrida: Dissemination (PDF) 'Who is it that is addressing you? Since it is not an author, a narrator, or a deus ex machina, it is an I that is both part of the spectacle and part of the audience, an I that, a bit like you, undergoes its own incessant violent reinscription within the arithmetical machinery. An I that functioning as a pure passageway for operations of substitution is not some singular and irreplaceable existence, some subject or life. But only rather moves between life and death, between reality and fiction. An I that is a mere function or phantom.
* Paul Virilio: The Vision Machine (PDF)"It is a war of images and sounds, rather than objects and things, in which winning is simply a matter of not losing sight of the opposition. The will to see all, to know all, at every moment, everywhere, the will to universalised illumination: a scientific permutation on the eye of God which would forever rule out the surprise, the accident, the irruption of the unforeseen."
* BANKSY X 3- Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall"Nearly a hundred pictures are featured here. Each and every one of them a pathetic cry for help" -The Guardian

Should I go on.....Really need I say more?

Work in Progress Seminar

Work in Progress Seminar

April 24 at 10.15-12.00; 13.15-15.00

Hilda Härgestam: WIP

Jim Barrett: WIP

The Conference Room at the end of the E Corridor in the Humanities Building
Umeå University

All are welcome

The texts are available in E202 from April 17

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Creative Remix

The Creative Remix, with host Benjamen Walker, is an hour-long “lawyer free” examination of the art, culture, and history of the remix. The hour kicks off with a musical analysis of DJ Dangermouse’s infamous remix of the Beatles and Jay-Z. Then we go back in time to check out the ancient Roman art of the poetry mash-up, or the Cento. Then we rewind to the 18th century to check out the birth of copyright and how it effected writers like Alexander Pope; and the early 20th century when the visual artist Marcel Duchamp used the remix to reinvent everything. We also take a field trip to the Mass Mocca museum of modern art to check out the exhibit “Yankee Remix.” Walker brings along a few grad students and a pair of curmudgeonly New England antique collectors to investigate different attitudes towards remixing.

In the second part of the program Benjamen Walker speaks with three unique remix artists: The historical novelist Matthew Pearl, Gideon D’arcangelo the walkman buster, and Cory Arcangel, a Nintendo hacker and one of the youngest representatives at this year’s Whitney Biennial.
The Creative Remix was produced by Benjamen Walker with funding from Creative Commons and the CPB Open Studios project.

Listen Now
Part 1 (65Mb mp2 file) Part 2 (44Mb mp2 file)

From Creative Commons Radio

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The maths of piracy

According to Sabiene Heindl, the General Manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations Pty Ltd (MIPI), "Australians illegally download about one billion songs every year." With a population of around 20 million people that is 50 songs each for every living child and adult in the country. Not impossible, but with broadband coverage reaching only 2,785,000 people (June 2006) in Australia its seems a fantastic figure. For the 2,785,000 people with broadband to have downloaded the 1 billion songs (that's one thousand million, 1 000 000 000 songs!!) each broadband subscriber would have to download 359.066427 songs in the year. Considering many of the broadband connections listed in the OECD figures would be companies and places of business then the figure for downloads per user would be higher. This seems a tenuous claim. But it may scare people into allowing ISPs to disconnect those that download files as the MIPI is trying to gain the rights to do from the Internet industry association. The first casualty of war is truth:

"The Australian music industry would prefer not to sue individuals who are engaged in illegal file sharing, That said, it may well be that at some stage in the future we will have no option but to take those measures. At this stage we think that this is a proposal that will be effective and provide an effective deterrent.":- Sabiene Heindl

Happy Birthday Silas

Happy Birthday Silas!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What I learnt Today....

Today I led a course in HUMlab on Copyright Creativity and the Commons. It went well, although I think I spoke too much and should have given more time to the participants. Despite this I did manage to learn quite a few things from those (5) that took the course. First there is the Nine Inch Nails release of the new album on the 17th April. This is interesting as it seems to be developing as an Alternate Reality Game (called YZ AGR). My informant in the short course today spoke of portable hard drives being left in bathrooms of venues where NIN play and clues being sent out on T-shirts and secret websites. The whole Year Zero album is already downloadable in low quality format and is streamed on the Internet (HERE). The buzz that all this seems to be building in sure to assist Trent in earning some money and doing it in an interesting way.
There other cultural scrap that was tossed my way today was Tales from the Afternow:

Tales From the Afternow is a Cyberpunk Internet radio serial drama started by Sean Kennedy in July 2002. The show is portrayed as a series of audio diary entries made from a future Dystopia, in which copyright legislation has been applied to all areas of life, adversely affecting the civil rights of the protagonist. The show is notable for creating the concept of the Internet deified as Server, a theme often referred to by Kennedy. (wikipedia)

This sounds interesting ("copyright legislation has been applied to all areas of life"...oh my god!!!)and I will be downloading some episodes of this ASAP. This is why I enjoy teaching as it is a great way to learn. I also got some good feedback on the situation for libraries and teachers in Sweden regarding copyright restrictions (not easy but it is about the same ridiculous situation as everywhere else in the post industrialised world). On my way out today from university I picked up from the library The Aesthetics of Net Literature, edited by Peter Gendolla and Jörgen Schafer. I have just read the preface and some of the biographies and it looks very good. Finally I managed to get a page down on the thesis chapter with only 4 days left before deadline. I am now doing a section on how interactivity is represented in the preface offering help in a digital text. It feels like I am in the home stretch as to this first draft but I know there will be considerable rewriting. A day of much learning..........back to the thesis chapter now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Script for Copyright Creativity and the Commons

Copyright Creativity and the Commons
Short Course in HUMlab
9:00-12:00 Thursday 12 April 2007

Some Background:

“We cannot, indeed, foresee to what extent the modes of production may be altered, or the productiveness of labour increased, by future extensions of our knowledge of the laws of nature, suggesting new processes of industry of which we have at present no conception. But howsoever we may succeed in making for ourselves more space within the limits set by the constitution of things we know that there must be limits.”
John Stuart Mill (1848)

Copyright is a set of exclusive rights regulating the use of a particular expression of an idea or information. At its most general, it is literally "the right to copy" an original creation. In most cases, these rights are of limited duration. The symbol for copyright is ©, and in some jurisdictions may alternatively be written as either (c) or (C).
Copyright may subsist in a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms or "works". These include poems, theses, plays, and other literary works, movies, choreographic works (dances, ballets, etc.), musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television broadcasts of live and other performances, and, in some jurisdictions, industrial designs. Designs or industrial designs may have separate or overlapping laws applied to them in some jurisdictions. Copyright is one of the laws covered by the umbrella term 'intellectual property'.
Copyright law covers only the form or manner in which ideas or information have been manifested, the "form of material expression". It is not designed or intended to cover the actual idea, concepts, facts, styles, or techniques which may be embodied in or represented by the copyright work. For example, the copyright which subsists in relation to a Mickey Mouse cartoon prohibits unauthorized parties from distributing copies of the cartoon or creating derivative works which copy or mimic Disney's particular anthropomorphic mouse, but does not prohibit the creation of artistic works about anthropomorphic mice in general, so long as they are sufficiently different to not be deemed imitative of the original. In some jurisdictions, copyright law provides scope for satirical or interpretive works which themselves may be copyrighted. Other laws may impose legal restrictions on reproduction or use where copyright does not - such as trademarks and patents.
Copyright laws are standardized through international conventions such as the Berne Convention in some countries and are required by international organizations such as European Union or World Trade Organization from their member states.
From the Wikipedia

Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes

“Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations” emerging from the World Intellectual Property Organization at the UN Internet Governance Forum in Athens Greece
More on the proposed Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations

Mining Lobby Silencing Community Comment

Lawrence Lessig

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks

Basic Structures of International Copyright Regulations and Practices
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Berne Convention (1996):
Behind Technology: Sampling, Copyleft, Wikipedia, and Transformation of Authorship and Culture in Digital Media by Sachiko Hayashi
A manifesto on WIPO and the future of intellectual property

How can the creative digital individual use the technology available today and still live within the present system of law?

Fair use is a doctrine ONLY in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as use for scholarship or review. In Sweden teachers and researchers are allowed to reproduce limited numbers of extracts from a copyrighted work for use only in teaching. Libraries and archives that have three of four examples of a work are allowed to publish descriptions of the work but NOT software. Copyright in Sweden exists up to 70 years after the copyright holder’s death

File sharing:
- not illegal in itself and a technology that is a necessary tool in today’s information economy
- as a tool for dissemination of information P2P protocols are perhaps the most pervasive and flexible yet devised.

The Public Sector (one example): The Library "There are many supporters of strong intellectual property rights today. Media companies and their trade associations view ever increased rights for copyright owners as the best way to maximize their potential revenue. It is somewhat harder, however, to find equally prominent defenders of the other half of the copyright balance, namely the needs of the public to have reasonable legitimate access to copyright material. This can be attributed to some degree to the fact that many advocates of stronger rights for copyright owners have a financial interest in such an outcome. The wider public interest in being able to access this material is more diffuse and usually has no direct economic motive and so is less likely to attract professional advocates. The library sector, however, is proud to view itself as a custodian of the public interest in this regard.”
The Shifted Librarian

Google Books:

Parody Satire Comment and Critique:
An important function of language and democracy is to be able to take the words and expressive forms of others and be able to use them to either comment upon them or to expand ones own understanding.
Language functions as a joining technology. I have to be able to take on the language of others in order to produce my own. Art also functions in a similar way; the student learns (steals) from the master and then produces their own works. Parody and satire are protected under many copyright legislations but not all:

Creative Commons (CC) system of licenses
What are they and how do they work?
Creative Commons is an alternative to traditional copyright, developed by a nonprofit organization of the same name. By default, most original works are protected by copyright, which confers specific rights regarding use and distribution. Creative Commons allows copyright owners to release some of those rights while retaining others, with the goal of increasing access to and sharing of intellectual property.
7 Things You Should Know About Creative Commons

Creative Commons: Share, reuse, and remix — legally.
Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."

Remix phenomenon
What is it? How does it work?

“A remix may also refer to a non-linear re-interpretation of a given work or media other than audio. Such as a hybridizing process combining fragments of various works. The process of combining and re-contextualizing will often produce unique results independent of the intentions and vision of the original designer/artist. Thus the concept of a remix can be applied to visual or video arts, and even things farther afield. The disjointed novel House of Leaves has been compared by some to the remix concept.”

We live in a remix culture. Our modes of communication are, to some extent, predetermined by software and interfaces that presuppose a tendency to copy and paste. Musicians' remixes are often released simultaneous to the original track, now, and even the word 'remix' has attached itself to the name of soft drinks, food products, cinematic sequels, and other cultural artifacts. Arguably, this condition has been perpetuated by digital artists, from pioneering DJ's to filmmakers, to net artists.

Tools and examples of creative remixing
Jumpcut video remix

Creative Archive at the BBC

Freesound Project



Internet Archive.

Headline Bandit

Our Lives in the Bush of Disquiet
A dozen remixes (2006) of Brian Eno and David Byrne's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Week Ahead

Although tomorrow is another holiday (not sure what exactly but part of the Easter thing) I have a busy week ahead of me. First there is the slowly coming together chapter, now simply titled; The Preface and Implied Respondent of the Digital Text (Ill think of something better when I do the rewrite after the seminar). The chapter will be a constant activity up until the 17th (Deadline). Then there is the visit by Steina Vasulka to HUMlab on Tuesday and Wednesday:

Steina will be giving a seminar in HUMlab on Tuesday 11 April at 15:00 with the title The Artist and Her Tools with a possible performance of Violin Power as well (yes please…). The seminar will be live streamed as is usual for HUMlab and will be
available from HERE
a few minutes before the given seminar time. (from the HUMlab blog)

Then on Thursday I will be giving a short course in Copyright Creativity and Commons....9am in HUMlab:

This short course introduces some of the basic structures of international copyright regulations and practices. How can the creative digital individual use the technology available today and still live within the present system of law?
One way to do this it the Creative Commons (CC) system of licences. What are they and how do they work? Finally, the Remix/Mash-up phenomenon is fast becoming a part of mainstream cultural production. What is it? How does it work? What does it mean for media in the future?By looking at both academic sources and practical examples, including some of the tools used, we will spend three hours exploring Copyright, Commons and Creativity. Kursen hålls på engelska men det går utmärkt att ställa frågor på svenska.
Register HERE.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Second Life as Capitalist Playpen

Bling bling....Second Life calling

Step One: Assemble a Public with enough disposable capital to justify assembling them.
Step two: Begin doing market research on the Public you have assembled.
Step three: Try and keep up with the enormous amount of information flowing into and out of the Public.
Step four: Start selling the information.

Today I stumbled upon the UK's Kzero, which "specialises in branding, advertising and digital marketing consultancy". They do a lot of demographic and marketing work in Second Life and it really is fascinating stuff. In a way it makes perfect sense, such a resource as represented by the who knows how many millions of people, bots, companies, and so on that have signed on to SL would be a market research mother load. I suppose I am feeling a bit of a community inspired winse of pain when I read:

At a base level, everyone likes something for free
If you’re seen by residents as simply a company that’s opened up an office (for example) in SL, you’re likely to be seen as overtly commercial
Giving things for free shows you’re interested in the community and WANT to give them something

is not really my idea of community. But then again how can one have any other sort of community than business when the neighbourhood looks like this:

Does it sound like I am forming some sort of stereotyped opinion about SL?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Art and Space Second Life on TV and The Port

The virtuality of television attempts to explain the virtuality of Second Life. The Swedish national broadcaster SVT has been sending a weekly 1/2 hour arts program called (very imaginative) Arty. This week they have a nice episode on art architecture and public/private spaces (streamed and much of it in English). There is not a lot of detail in this very broad concept (not a lot of time in 30 minutes) and I get the impression the program is an attempt to expose more people to art that may not have the opportunity or the time to interact themselves with it (like hard working PhDs with kids). What interested me from this week's Arty was the work of The Port artists Simon Goldin & Jakob Senneby. They move around the (tricky) dictotomy of virtual and real producing art on both sides of the screen. The Port is their space in Second Life where artists can meet and participate in events. There is a short film in the Arty clip of their opening of The Port in a public park with screens set up. This is an interesting concept; the blending of spaces, and presumably time/s as well. Arty begins chatting Second Life at the 16:42 mins mark on the video stream. The Port (busy busy busy) also operates the magazine and wikki Flack Attack. Also check out Goldin and Senneby's Objects of Virtual Desire:

This project explores immaterial production in a virtual world, and if and
how this can be transferred into an economy of material production. We have collected a series of objects produced and owned by inhabitants in the online world Second Life and will sell physical reproductions of these objects via our web shop.
Each chosen object has a strong sentimental value for the avatar (a persons virtual identity) who made or owned it. We have acquired (copies of) these objects, along with their owner’s personal story, within the in-world economy of Second Life.

My best friend is now my online Thesaurus

My best friend is now my online Thesaurus:

a propos, absorb, abstract, acceptable, according to Hoyle, accroach, ad rem, adapted, admissible, adopt, advantageous, advisable, agreeable, allocate, allot, and, annex, appertaining, applicable, applying, appoint, apportion, apposite, appropriate, appropriate to, apropos, apt, arrogate, assign, assign to, assimilate, assume, auspicious, bag, banausic, becoming, befitting, belonging, beneficial, boost, borrow, characteristic, civil, claim, colonize, comely, commandeer, commodious, condign, confiscate, congruous, conquer, conscript, convenient, cop, copy, correct, crib, decent, decorous, defraud, derive from, deserved, desirable, desired, despoil, destine, detail, devote, digest, distinctive, distinguished, dovetailing, draft, due, earmark, eligible, embezzle, employable, encroach, enjoyable, enslave, entitled, exact, expedient, expropriate, extort, fai

Prefaces and the Implied Respondent in the Digital Text

The continuing saga of a thesis chapter. I will not be blogging so much over the next 12 days (17 April deadline) as panic has set in (always a good motivator).....I think if I hold my self together I may just make it. Here is the opening page as it stands at the moment (a Work in Progress is there ever was one):

Prefaces and the Implied Respondent in the Digital Text

A digital text is situated in contexts of storage and distribution. Even before a particular text is opened it has to be located and installed on a computer. The process of text location and installation is framed by the figure of the implied respondent as much as the perceived center or ‘inside’ of the text. Pre-texts, such as the systems of copyright applied to the text attempt to compel a particular set of responses to the text. Foundations for the implied respondent as an interactive agent are present in the pre-texts. Such pre-texts I shall refer to collectively as the preface. The preface of the digital text implies separation by treating the narrative (the ‘interior’ or ‘center’ of the text) as its subject, but at the same time the preface qualifies and joins the ‘main’ text.
The storage and distribution of the text contributes towards the form of the implied respondent. The implied respondent in text storage and distribution exists under conditions of use such as being stored on the World Wide Web or the rights asserted by the publisher of the text. The legal claims made upon the text are prevalent at this stage of reception and I take up copyright and the responses to the text asserted by its legal prefaces. The more overt preface forms, such as author’s introduction, that comment on and qualify the text are then discussed. A summary of cultural values will be made using the attributes of the implied respondent/s in the corpus texts based on their response orientated dialogues. A critical model of addressivity is used to determine what responses are appropriate to the text. The author-writer-reader arrangement and the interactive relations of the text will be clarified here using the figure of the implied respondent. As well it is evident that spatial tropes (metaphor, allegory, and metonymy) in address are relied upon for the figure of the implied respondent in relation to the text. The implied respondent of the preface will be compared to the implied respondent of the ‘main’ narrative texts in the following chapter.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Bounty of UBUWEB

I have been ill for the last two days and the two days before that I was caring for the rest of my family that were similarly infected. I rise this morning after two days of fevered dreams and find so much of interest around me. The day seems clear and colors bright. And UBUWEB is publishing:

The complete works of Maya Deren (1917-1961) streamed online
A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945)
At Land (1944)
Meditation on Violence (1948)
Ritual In Transfigured Time (1946)
Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
The Very Eye of Night (1958)
Witch's Cradle (1943)
Divine Horsemen 1985
Original footage shot by Deren (1947-1951). Reconstruction by Teiji & Cherel Ito

Joseph Bueys Filz TV (1970)
Beuys turns up the bottom left corner of the felt, revealing a glimpse of the faulty TV picture. The voice of a TV reporter, who is talking about current milk and meat prices, is still audible. Beuys declares he has 'undertaken a gradual elimination' by 'filtering away' the picture first while leaving the sound, 'but when the picture has gone, the sound becomes absurd.'

Samuel Becketts' complete dramatic works
Including Krapp's Last Tape (1960) a brilliant study in technology and presence. Also Embers in Swedish!!

World Mixes from National Geographic

National geographic has moved into offering online remixes for download. A nice collection at a reasonable price (99cents each but no info on what controls are on the downloads). From the website:

These assembled tracks reflect all the weird and wild mutations that urban music has undergone on its global travels. From remixes of Roma (gypsy) bear-training songs to African rappers, to German laptop-salsa, this music obliterates borders and boundaries to achieve a global groove.

Jobbs Christ??

Apple CEO Steve Jobs (left), poses with EMI Group CEO Eric Nicoli during a photocall at EMI's offices in London.

This iconic image accompanies the news that EMI has made the break and is putting its entire catalogue online without Digital Rights Management encoded protection (non copyable, limited playback). This is cool but I could not help but smile at the press conference image above. Who does he think he is????

Sounds Surround Us

We live in a remix culture. Our modes of communication are, to some extent, predetermined by software and interfaces that presuppose a tendency to copy and paste. Musicians' remixes are often released simultaneous to the original track, now, and even the word 'remix' has attached itself to the name of soft drinks, food products, cinematic sequels, and other cultural artifacts. Arguably, this condition has been perpetuated by digital artists, from pioneering DJ's to filmmakers, to net artists. The conditions of remix culture form the basis of the SOUND//BYTES_ exhibition on view through April 15 at the Edith Russ Site for Media Art, in Oldenburg, Germany. The show features installations, performances, presentations, acoustic walks and interventions in the City of Oldenburg which 'offer the visitor manifold possibilities to question echoes, sounds, rhythms, frequencies and electro-magnetic fields and to perceive everyday situations acoustically in a new way.' The artists' works help us to rethink what constitutes a unit of sound, and the ontologies, politics, and aesthetics of the ways in which these 'sound bytes' work together. Jens Brand, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Yunchul Kim, Thomas Koner, Christina Kubisch, Akitsugu Maebayashi, Kaffee Matthews, micromusic, and Annina Rust present projects that employ laptops, gameboys, electromagnetic fields, record players, GPS readers, radar, ASCII code, radar, a metronome, and other devices to capture and transmit sonic phenomena often overlooked and under-recorded. Together they not only rethink acoustic space, they also contribute to a new environment in which to consider the social life of sound. - Marisa Olson