Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ingmar Bergman 1918-2007

Death Plays Chess, Täby Church, Sweden (1480s)

Igmar Bergman died yesterday. It is everywhere here in Sweden with most newspapers devoting the entire edition today to him. Television stations have reprogrammed viewing for the next few days showing films and specials on him. I was here when Astrid Lindgren died and this was marked as the passing of a figure of national consciousness. The death of Bergman seems to be moving in the same direction and while the man himself was somewhat critical of Swedish society (as he was of almost everything) he also seems to have defined so much of its image abroad. Looking at the database on Bergman the output is unbelievable (even if one lives to be 89). He is described in the national daily Dagens Nyheter as the "poet of the screen" and this is as good a term as I can think of for him. Although I have only seen two of his films, they struck me as some of the most visually striking and innovative pieces of cinema I have ever seen. Det sjunde inseglet/The Seventh Seal (1957) is exactly what one would expect from 'visual poetry'. The other Bergman is In The Silence (Swedish: Tystnaden) (1963) which blew me away with its use of light and dark and the intensity of the characters.
While he was an old man it disturbs me Bergman is gone. I do, however look forward to seeing more of his films.

The Scientific Research Potential of Virtual Worlds

If you have access (it costs) the latest edition of Science has an article by William Sims Bainbridge The Scientific Research Potential of Virtual Worlds:

Online virtual worlds, electronic environments where people can work and interact in a somewhat realistic manner, have great potential as sites for research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, as well as in human-centered computer science. This article uses Second Life and World of Warcraft as two very different examples of current virtual worlds that foreshadow future developments, introducing a number of research methodologies that scientists are now exploring, including formal experimentation, observational ethnography, and quantitative analysis of economic markets or social networks.

Full Text

Monday, July 30, 2007


Ever wanted to start your own radio station..Now you can:

ubroadcast allows anyone to easily set up an Internet radio broadcast and begin transmitting almost instantly from any location with ubroadcast's software and an Internet connection. ubroadcast represents a major venue for listeners to find the type of content they seek, and for broadcasters to air opinions, promote products and services or increase exposure for themselves, their company or organization. For more information, please visit www.ubroadcast.com.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I have picked up Debora J Halbert's Resisting Intellectual Property Rights again after a week of Self-ish pleasure reading a novel. Reading Halbert has raised a few thoughts of the IPRED2 proposal I wrote about a few days ago. This quote from Halbert

"The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is Congress' attempt to apply copyright to the Internet. The DCMA makes it illegal to link to a site that may violate copyright. Thus server providers may be prosecuted for copyright infringement if they allow pirated materials to appear on their sites. The DCMA provides "safe harbor" protection for "unknowing" infringers, a phrase that became important in the Napster litigation. Critics contend that the DCMA ignores the public interest and is another step towards privatizing the Internet and allowing copyright to be used as a tool for censorship." (Halbert 73).

From my readings of IPRED2 there seems to be a marked degree of harmony between the EU Directive proposing the "attempting, aiding or abetting and inciting such infringements, are treated as criminal offences" and the DMCA, which is now law in the USA, making the committing of an act that allows for copyright infringement an offence in itself. The threat of possible infringement increases the power of copyright holders as they can threaten with a cease and desist order and then avoid the test provided by a court case. An atmosphere of fear builds upon the threat of litigation.

There is a petition online:

We believe that IPRED2's new criminal sanctions pose a risk to legitimate business and respect for individual freedoms in the EU.

We ask that the European Parliament approve amendments that would remove the new crimes of "aiding, abetting, or inciting" and limit the directive to combat only trademark counterfeiting and true commercial-scale copyright piracy.


In the Name of the Father

The Book of Dave by Will Self (2006)

The Father, State, King and God are each subject for extensive narrative reworking or remix in Will Self’s epic The Book of Dave from 2006, published by Viking. Metalepsis is the key to The Book of Dave, where words take the reader down long tunnels of associations and in affect stitch the several parallel stories of the novel together. At the beginnings of The Book of Dave it is somewhat difficult to hang with narrative, due to the use of dialect and the invented language of Mokni; a phonetically spelt derivative of hip hop slang, text chat, cockney rhyming and the terminology of London taxi drivers (cabbies). The last of these is The Knowledge, a complex wrote leaned system of ‘runs’ that each London cab driver learns if they are obtain a licence to drive in the chaos overseen by the Public Carriage Office (PCO). In a way that reminded me of Irving Welsh's Trainspotting (1993), the language of The Book of Dave colonizes your head and after a while u can c it in ze “mirra. Uz iz lookin awl ve tym wit dem – Dave iz lookin in ve mirra á uz, an lookin froo ve screen 4 ve Loss Boy. An uppabuv im, mi luv, uppabuv im vairs ve Flyin I, an ee sees all ve wirl.” (22). Patience that’s all it takes to get into the style, but is it worth it?
It goes like this:

“It tells the story of an angry and mentally-ill Cockney London taxi driver named Dave Rudman, who writes and has printed on metal a book of his rantings against women and thoughts on custody rights for fathers. These stem from his anger with his ex-wife, Michelle, who he believes is unfairly keeping him from his son. Equally influential in Dave's book is The Knowledge -- the intimate familiarity with the city of London required of its cabbies.
Dave buries the book he has made of metal plates at great expense. The text is discovered centuries later and used as the sacred text for a misogynistic religion that takes hold in the remnants of southern England and London following catastrophic flooding. The future portions of The Book of Dave are set over 500 years after the metal text is discovered.”

That’s the basic story from the Wikipedia. The ‘Hamsters’ Those living on the isolated Isle of Ham (all that remains of Hampstead Heath centuries into the future from Dave’s London of the decade split either side of the year 2000) worship Dave, as does most of the population of Ing, all that remains of England. They follow his book; the changeover, child support, the PCO, calling out the runs, fear and hate the evil ‘Chelle’ and the Drivers (priests) dominates an agrarian society of violence, surveillance and inequality (especially for women who are treated as animals). Crimes are punished by spectacular acts of ritual violence and heresy is such a crime. Basically the alternating chapters of The Book of Dave that are set in the dystopian future reminded me a lot of what I have read about life in Elizabethan London (1533-1603); spy networks, poverty (disfigured, diseased and often drunk) and enormous wealth (also disfigured and often diseased) pass each other on the crowded streets (the sewers of which were open channels of putrid waste) as well as secret societies and forbidden knowledge. The majority of the population work until they drop, often in rural labour, while the rich impose a faith based system of control upon them. Two great texts on the time are Elizabeth Hanson, Discovering the Subject in Renaissance England (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (Vintage, 2002).
Those chapters set in the recent present are a narrative study in male anger and the role of ‘The Father’ in society. Imagine The Handmaid’s Tale meets Waterworld. The review in The Guardian made comparisons with The Book of Dave to the worlds of Jonathan Swift, presumably due to the humor of the passages where Dave the man is still on earth ("Self's satire is Swiftian in its casually sneering manner and fondness for misanthropy.") I found them extremely shameful but poignant, although without the depth of Swift, as Dave attempts to work out who the hell he is underneath a thick strata of anger, hate, feelings of betrayal (that seem to begin with his own Father, a cab driver who Dave worshipped but really had little contact with) and his own perceived inadequacies. The final aspect of the character is epitomized in his struggle with baldness; he travels to France to undergo radical hair transplants with donor hair taken from his own scrotum. For weeks he lives life with a thick thatch of fuzzy pubic hair crowning his blistered dome before he admits defeat and pays a large sum to have the pubes removed, wearing a baseball cap from then on. It is about the same time that Dave starts bashing his wife. We never do really learn who is Dave.........
Alone the Dave story would be another depressing account of a contemporary man not able to accept his ‘mummyself’ to quote the heretics of Ing. But without this very contemporary lens through which to look at the misogynistic orgy of the future land of Ing the present social relevance of The Book of Dave would fall away. Like The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985), The Book of Dave has many dark truths below its surfaces that are not so difficult to recognize in our own cultures of ‘The Father’.
“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man.” Nicene Creed 325 A.D.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Vali Myers A Memoir

Australian artist, Vali Myers (1930-2003), was a legend in her own time. Première danseuse of the Melbourne Modern Ballet at seventeen, she left home and spent ten years in Post WWII Paris, much of the time on the streets of the Latin Quarter, while never ceasing to draw. There she met Tennessee Williams, Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet. Ed van der Elsken featured her on the cover of his Love on the Left Bank, the manifesto of Paris in the 1950’s, and George Plimpton praised her work in his Paris Review. Eventually finding Paris depressing, Vali went to Italy, where she found a “paradise” in the verdant valley near Positano and spent the next forty years of semi-seclusion in this wild canyon; she continued producing her intricate, mystical, and passionate drawings and paintings, each one taking from six months to two years to complete. Vali also came to NYC from time to time, holding a salon in her room at the Chelsea Hotel; until finally she returned to her native Australia, in 1992, recognized as an artist sui generis.
In this frank and fascinating memoir Gianni Menichetti unforgettably gives us Vali’s art, times, and personality; for thirty years the author lived with Vali in the wild canyon of ‘Il Porto’— first as lover and willing slave, ultimately as friend, confidant, and protector.

Gianni Menichetti is an artist and poet, whose work is represented in private collections in Europe, America and Australia. Recipient of three distinguished awards at the International ‘Gypsy Friend’ Arts Competition, Lanciano, Italy, his books include The Land of Kali, A Tree of Tatters, and Poems to the Gypsies, as well as ‘Il Porto,’ storia di un canyon selvaggio, (in English and Italian) and Storie di cani (in Italian). He still lives in Il Porto, in the little Moorish pavilion he shared with Vali for so many years.

Vali Myers: A Memoir by Gianni Menichetti (2007) Available HERE.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Because its Friday Downstreams

This week went fast...really I barely noticed it was Friday until about an hour ago. So here are some media goodies from the vastness of cyberspace:

Liberation (2005)
A video collage in the style of the Guerrilla News Network that examines how we in the postindustrial west live as a society;
The western 'way of life' is at the cost of too much waste; The war in Iraq is about economic control and oil. This military war will not be won. The people are not being liberated, what is going to happen ?

Not a cheerful topic but an important one. This video is well produced with a great soundtrack and you can download it (8.1 MB).

William Burroughs on French television (1990)
This is an interesting interview although it is overdubbed in French you can make out what Burroughs is saying underneath. A sort of collage/cutup that gives it a depth. For those who speak French (not me)..non problem. Burroughs speaks a lot about his life as a nomad; living and travelling in North, Middle and South America, North Africa and Europe. Includes an interview with Paul Bowles and footage of a long haired Brion Gysin (speaking French) is also included.

Hidria Spacefolk: Kaneh Bosm and HDRSF-1: Author's edition - their first EP
Hidria Spacefolk is a Finnish folk-influenced progressive / psychedelic rock band. The group's space rock sound is often compared to Kingston Wall and Ozric Tentacles. The band uses many different instruments such as cello, violin, flute, didgeridoo, marimba, mandolin, sitar and vibraphone.

Grong Grong - Mosman Hotel Sydney 7th October 1984 (43 MB)
Salamander Jim - Chevron Hotel 3rd June 1985 (45MB)
This week I discovered the Black Eye Records Jukebox Blog:

Black Eye Records Jukebox: The purpose of this Blog is to share some MP3's from the legendary Black Eye Records, Aberrant and Gracelands music scene from Sydney Australia from the mid to late 80's.

It was a magic time in Australian music. Although I only made it to Sydney in 1991 for the first time, I and my circle listened hard to the products of the Black Eye; Lubricated Goat; Thug, Grong Grong, Salamander Jim, The Beasts of Bourbon, Kim Salmon and the Surrealists, The Scientists, Feedtime, Monroes Fur and Box the Jesuit to name a few. Many Mp3s from these groups are available on the Black Eye Records Jukebox.

Rainbow Family of Living Light
This is music from the "2003 Rainbow Family Circus and Tribal Zoo" CDs compiled by Tenali from recordings made at the rainbow family gathering of the tribes that took place in Utah for a time around the 4th of July, 2003 where people came together by many paths for a time becoming one in harmony celebrating love in spirit manifesting visions of peace and healing our mother earth.

mushroom ceremony of the mazatec indians of Mexico (folkways, 1957)
Folkways Records FR 8975, this is a US pressing of the impossible to find "Mushroom Ceremony Of the Mazatec Indians Of Mexico" This recording, made by Gordon Wasson in 1956, attempts to chronicle a religious ceremony involving the ingestation of psychedelic mushrooms by Indians who are attempting to communicate with the Divine Spirit. Lots of wild, hallucinatory chanting and the like, which might even appeal to fans of phonetic sound poems or dadaist utterings. Another unusual historical document that only Folkways would have released. The originals came out in 1957 with a blue cover and this press has the tan cover from 1966.

Trip is a Bastard.

TRIP: Ah! Cathy, I'm being a bad host -- you need a drink.
TRIP: And you'll be happy to know I just fully loaded the bar with the highest-quality spirits money -- (interrupted)
CATHY: I’m pregnant with Trip's child
TRIP: Uh -- well, um, we should drink.
TRIP: What -- what can I get you?
TRIP: How about a martini?
TRIP: It's what we drink at these high-class poker games I go to with the execs at work.

Where is life'??

This image was taken during the first 10 minutes of Second House of Sweden, the Swedish embassy in Second Life being open to the public. I thought to put it here after the discussion I was part of last night while having dinner with colleagues. We spoke about SL and what makes it "different". It is a tricky thing really as I am not so sure it is that different from other virtual world platforms and I have difficulty defining what it is that has made it into such a international media topic (newspapers, TV, radio and magazines all run content about it). Last night we spoke about about presence, affordances and the relationships of space to content. The depiction, representation or simulation of space is of particular interest to me. We also raised the long vexed issue of mediation and reality; in a sense all this is mediated even waking up and opening your eyes and looking around. The problems of 'Real' is something that concerned Plato and it has been going on since. I don't want to 'champion' SL as of course it is a commodity and it exists in networks of capital exchange. From such relations comes much of the hype of SL; "7 MILLION USERS!!!" and so on.

In research calm detachment helps I suppose, a curious interest in what is actually happening, what people are doing using 3D media platforms and how we construct communication and representation in them. Something that Henry Jenkins said in his HUMlab seminar, of which Patrik reminded me of once, that it is not so much about the future, the speculation over where this is taking us and what glorious possibilities await. Rather it is about what is happening NOW. What does media like SL mean and what can be done with it? That's what I am interested in.

I did enjoy the conversation last night.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Clifford Possum is Now Investable

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri Warlugulong 1977 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 385x220cm
I met Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri once. In the street in Redfern in 1999 where he was buying clothes before catching a plane to New York (or some such 'overseas' place). I was living in a warehouse space in the inner city suburb when one day the lady who worked downstairs in the clothes shop raced into our studio space yelling "Clifford Possum is downstairs right now!!". We feld down the long staircase and waited outside the shop until he had made his purchase. We approached him like one would a rock star. He was cheerful while his minder looked on as I presented The Art of Clifford Possum Tjapltjarri for him to sign. He said he didnt know writing so good. I said anything he wanted to mark the page with was alright with me so he scrawled his name , missing out the O in both Clifford and Possum. He did not use his tribal name. I thanked him for the mark and for his art, which when one spends some time with is really stunning. He mummbled that he did not need thanks and climed into the Volvo sedan that waited for him on the curb. And that was it. He left us in 2002 after a life of what we call art but he called stories. And now, five years later the cash registers are ringing.
Last week Warugulong (above) sold in Melbourne for 2.1 million US dollars to the National Gallery of Australia (nice that it stays in the country). Clifford Possum sold it for $1000 in 1977. While it is wonderful that Australian Aboriginal art has hit this level of monetary investment it makes me a bit sad whe I think about the communities that this art emerges from. Although there are many sorry stories to be told from indigenous communities in Australia when I was there recently there was a story about artists in the Kimberley using their work to fund a renal dialysis machine. Such a DIY approach is one example of what can be done.
The social and cultural benefits of Indigenous visual arts as per section (b) of the Inquiry into Australia’s Indigenous visual arts sector’s terms of reference is a paper from 2006 produced from a Senate inquiry into Indigenous visual arts and their role in communities. The spirit of Clifford Possum should be remember for the power of his art and the role it played in the collective knowledge of his people, rather than for the money that his work now fetches.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Miranda Likes Big Books

"Contrary to what the Board of Studies seems to think, a 'text' is not 'anything'. The term implies something in a written format, poetry, drama or prose. Not an image or a film clip. Similarly, Shakespeare was a playwright, Coleridge a poet and Huxley an author. They were not 'composers' … We are … readers or viewers, not 'responders'."
Roland Brennan, Australian Year 12 student
Quoted by Miranda Divine,
Sydney Morning Herald.
Miranda Divine writes a column for the Sydney Morning Herald. She was also part of the Australian Government's National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy from 2004 to 2005. I read Miranda's texts just to see what she will say next as it is usually pretty irate. Today's piece is titled At sea in junk, but classics ahoy and describes the sorry state of an education system that would teach "Films, websites and various multimedia offerings". Miranda laments the lack of "big books" in the proposed syllabus, that I blogged about recently. The "big books" seem to be those that pass the 300 page mark as those of 213, 216 and 291 don't make it. BUT the 304 pages of Patrick White's The Aunt's Story is described as a "gem". Miranda implies that Harry Potter is also good as the latest is 607 pages! It does get more bizarre.
Divine goes on to quote at length (above) the essay of a final year student who is a product of the system that is supposedly so hopeless. His one dimensional concepts of text, authorship, and criticism seem to fit the prejudices of Miranda. He feels cheated because:
"King Lear … has now been deconstructed and rebuilt within the framework of modern theories such as feminism, Marxism and existentialism."
This is strange stuff. How are we supposed to read King Lear, as a Londoner in 1606 would have? How is that possible? There are so many ways of reading a text as complicated and as historically situated as King Lear? When I read it I thought the passages at the cliffs were about the simulacra of mediated reality.....but that's just me, perhaps I am one of those 'lost at sea'. So much so that I would not consider Marxism or existentialism particularly modern (my grandfather was communist).
However, there is a light at the end of our ignorance. The youngsters who manage to survive the postmodern hell of high school, suddenly demand "the classics" when the get to university:
"There is hope, Spurr says, as the students he sees in first-year university are increasingly demanding to be taught the classics, hungry for real literature and fed up with incoherent jargon."
Maybe they are so afraid of failing courses that they are now paying thousands of dollars for that they are happy to be told what to think, knowing that it will get them a pass and then they can get through the university with the smallest debt possible.

I Oppose IPRED2

Today I was surprised to receive a personal email from Erik at the newly opened European office of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The contents of the mail were not so pleasing.

The IPRED2, the second "Intellectual Property" Rights Enforcement Directive, passed its first reading in the European Parliament on the 25th May ( Implementations and Amendments are here). IPRED 1 was adopted in 2004. The Free Software Association of Europe prefers to term IPRED something else:

This directive is often called "IPRED2", however we recommend not using terms that talk about "Intellectual Property" as this leads to confusions that make our work more difficult. Instead, it can be called "The Criminalisation Directive".

While many Europeans this summer are either battling to survive extreme weather conditions or on holidays the EU Parliament is setting up to introduce laws that will make many of us criminals, and not just a slap on the wrist and cop a fine type criminal, this is serious. To quote from the Directive:

"Member States shall ensure that all intentional infringements of an intellectual property right on a commercial scale, and attempting, aiding or abetting and inciting such infringements, are treated as criminal offences."
(Article 3. Page 6 of the dossier: com(2005)276)

So any attempt to circumvent intellectual properly (NOTE: IP is not defined in the directive but in prior legislation IP in Europe includes copyright, patents, topographies of semiconductor products, plant breeders' rights, plant variety rights, industrial design rights, supplementary protection certificates for pharmaceutical products, database rights, authorship, trademarks, design and trade secrets) is punishable by "permanent bans on doing business, seizure of assets, criminal records, and fines of up to €100,000." An example of such an infringement could be the manufacturing of CD-R music releases of your own music on CDs that are not licenced to the Phillips Corporation. It could include providing support for the work of NGOs in supplying generic medicines to those living with HIV/AIDS in sub Saharan Africa. It seems like it could include operating a website that allows users to exchange favorite URLs.

To criminalise incitement to infringement (aiding and abetting) is to impose restrictions on the freedom of speech. Those that will be criminalised by IPRED2 include open source coders, media-sharing sites like YouTube, social network sites, podcasters and bloggers, intranets attached to universities, and ISPs that refuse to block P2P services. In order to avoid possible infringement ISP and networks will restrict content and access fo everyone, not just minors. As well it seems to me that sites such as del.icio.us would be liable if they share links to sites that infringe IPRED2. Businesses who unwittingly supply any type of service to someone during the act of infringement may be liable themselves to legal prosecution.

Anyone who is working in education, particularly higher education, is aware of the difficulties imposed upon teaching by the laws of intellectual property. It is not possible to show films in the classroom, to provide students with reproductions of texts, to play copyrighted audio material in a classroom or distribute study material electronically. Much of this situation is a result of IPRED1 from 2004. As a result of IPRED2 it will be a criminal offence to suggest sources for study materials that are not protected by current copyright. What this means in reality is that only sources that cost money can be legally used in the classroom. I myself am in the process of writing a conference paper that analyses 6 digital texts, all of which incorporate older texts (films, audio, novels and images) into their own texts. Does my arguing that current copyright law fails to recognise the affordances of digital media and how people are actually using such media constitute "the aiding or abetting and inciting such infringements"?

Finally what about emerging forms of creative expression which will effectively be made illegal by IPRED2. I am particularly thinking of machinima film making. Machinima is a great way for young people who are interested in film to start out as all they need is a computer and some sound and screen capture software. Machinima is also a growing industry with a capital worth. Presumably sites that host machinima films, festivals that show them, people who make them and even the TV networks who send them into millions of people's homes would all be made criminals by IPRED2.

For these reasons and more I do not support the "Intellectual Property" Rights Enforcement Directive 2. Please join me in doing so.

More information about the 'Criminalisation Directive' can be found here:

Copy Crime

fsfe Criminalisation of trademark and copyright infringement

Proposed directive on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights

To lobby an EU politician:

Margot Wallström
Vice-President of the European Commission
B-1049 Brussels
Email from Here

Other EC Commissioners who blog

Pick one of your local MEPs from those listed for your country or region, and note his or her contact details:


Monday, July 23, 2007

Mashups From the Other Side of Star Trek


A film testament to the passions of Kirk and Spok. Music from Nine Inch Nails.

White Rabbit on the Holodeck

Feed Your Head. Space takes on a whole new meaning. Music by Jefferson Airplane.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Family Jam

The Family Jams. Last Friday we spent the day playing 'music' at home. I was inspired by a couple of visits to the house of friends in Australia recently.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Reading List for the Higher School Certificate English

The new texts featured on a draft list for the Higher School Certificate English reading list to be taught in New South Wales (Australia) schools from 2009 have been published. It is interesting to see what is being considered as important for young people in Australia in terms of English. Teaching the Wikipedia would be interesting; as a critical exercise it could be brilliant. I heard a lot of Romulus My Father read on ABC Radio national each lunchtime when I was there recently- a fine text although I did not get the full drift of it as I drove around in a hire car performing family duties (ironic is it not). While not revolutionary this looks like an interesting list:


The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri; Rainbow's End by Jane Harrison; Romulus, My Father by Raimond Gaita; The Penguin Banjo Paterson: Collected Verse by A.B. Paterson; The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon; A Man With Five Children by Nick Enright ; The Story Of Tom Brennan by J.C. Burke; Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung; The Aunt's Story by Patrick White; Swallow The Air by Tara June Winch; Wit by Margaret Edson; Sonnets From The Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Sixty Lights by Gail Jones; The Orchard by Drusilla Modjeska; The Invention Of Solitude by Paul Auster; Neuromancer by William Gibson; Orlando by Virginia Woolf.


Run, Lola, Run by Tom Tykwer; Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock; 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick; Wag The Dog by Barry Levinson; Looking For Richard by Al Pacino; Ten Canoes by Rolf de Heer.


Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia, www.wikipedia.org; Making Multicultural Australia, www.multiculturalaustralia.edu.au; September 11: Bearing Witness To History, an online resource about the 9/11 attacks, www.americanhistory.si.edu/september11.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Friday Downstreams

Today's downstreams are a mixed bag. Such a collection reflects the season; summer holidays, the streets of our student quarter are deserted, we keep irregular hours and work is performed at a leisurely pace. Let's begin with a gem from the Buddha Machines:

Layering Buddha Machines
"The track here is a stereo recording of the very first Layering Buddha six channel performance, recorded on January 31 2007 at Maria am Ufer during the Club Transmediale events in Berlin" by Robert Henke. An outstanding excursion into layers of sonic tones, drones and bell like frequencies.

Brian Jonestown Massacre
The complete discography of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, includes interviews, concerts and radio appearances. This week I saw the documentary DIG, about The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. The music to the film. mostly from live concerts seems to me to the best of the Massacre as the one studio album I have downloaded so far (Thank God for Mental Illness) is a pleasant listen, but it contains no surprises and covers ground that was dealt with in 1966 by the Velvets and associates. For a band to release their entire catalogue online for free is a noble thing and I intend to spend more time with their music; as background to the activities of daily living probably.

Acid Mother Temple live at The Empty Bottle May 13, 2006
Continuing the psychedelic theme. These 3 discs worth of the Acid Mothers Temple will wake you up after the pleasant ditties of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Kawabata Makoto, the groups leader and guitarist has a philosophy and he is willing to share it with you.

The Public Record (Free Music Now)
In an increasingly conservative climate within electronic music and the audio arts, Public Record remains committed to releasing projects that do more than make political claims or represent political ideas. Like the Ultra-red organization itself, Public Record provides a space for exchange between artists and audiences of art directly engaging the political.
The German art critic Walter Benjamin once rebuked the Surrealists, demanding that artists who assume the mantle of revolutionaries would do better engaging actual political struggles than promoting their individual artistic careers. Benjamin challenges artists to pursue sustained and committed relationships with social movements.

Angus MacLise, The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda
Angus MacLise is best known as the original drummer of the Velvet Underground, although he dropped out of the lineup before they had made any records. His brief stint in the Velvet Underground, however, was just one stop on a lengthy career in experimental music and films that was more diverse and extensive than most realize. As a percussionist, MacLise merged the avant-garde and world music, particularly Asian music, and was a significant collaborator with avant-garde musician La Monte Young and several experimental filmmakers. The nature of his contributions has been difficult to assess in light of the scarce availability of recordings in which he participated, a situation that changed with the release of a compilation of his work, The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, in 1999.

Illegal Art Exhibit collection
These songs are from the Illegal Art Exhibit, which documents the impact of copyright law on freedom of expression. Many of these tracks have been censored due to intellectual property law. For background on the particular tracks and the cases involved, see: http://www.illegal-art.org/audio/

Police Radio Trafic
Nearly-continuous recordings of radio scanner traffic in Hamtramck, Michigan (42.404631, -83.057438) for June of 2006. Ideal for strange samples on the homemade CD experiment.

Microscopic Fungus Process by Pythagora & Metek
From Malmo, Sweden. This 2006 album is about stones, stones, stones, stones...
in a harsh nature. Mycophillic tentacles in the dark, dark soil. Rocks exposed by erosion, temperature, water and pressure. Oh yes... Deep stuff like that. We r from Malmo in Sweden. We like noise ...

Melinda - Audio Letter (44:55)
The entire content of an audio letter found, back in the 1980s or so, on a cassette retrieved from a dumpster by a certain Matthew Jasper.

Avarus Live
Live recorded works of the experimental Finnish psych-folk collective Avarus. Their mysterious improvisation for about 30 minutes. Recorded in Tulliklubi, Tampere, Finland in 2004.

Pelt For Michael Hannahs
This was a very limited release made up for the completed Pelt 1997 US tour. Nice droning music with acoustic instruments mostly,very meditative and eastern influenced.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Resisting Intellectual Property Law

If you only read one book on intellectual property (a huge area that includes copyright, patents, authorship, commons, trademarks, and trade secrets) it should be Debora J Halbert's Resisting Intellectual Property Law (Routledge; 2005) (links to the Introduction). Halbert's text is clearly written, extremely well researched and provides clear examples of the mess into which unbridled property rights has delivered us in the early 21st century.
Resisting Intellectual Property Law attempts to build a theoretical base for the commons. In doing this Halbert develops a strong critique of Habermasian public spheres. I have long been suspicious of Habermas' modernist and bourgeois obsessions and Halbert articulates these "anti-democratic tendencies" (24) far better than I can.
The text goes on to look at End User Licence Agreements versus Open Source. The realities of digital music distribution, and the morality of patents and medicine. Interestingly, the illegal distribution of media is so often portrayed in moral terms by those parties attempting to enforce copyright to texts. Finally the patenting of genetic materials (i.e. the human body) and the ownership of traditional or indigenous knowledge is discussed.
I am only a 1/4 of the way into the text, but not since my first encounter with the works of Lawrence Lessig have I read such an accessible and compellingly argued book on intellectual property. The contents are:

-- Theorizing the public domain: copyright and the development of a cultural Commons
-- Licensing and the politics of ownership: end user licensing agreements versus open source
-- I want my MP3’s: the changing face of music in an electronic age
-- Moralized discourses: South Africa’s fight for access to AIDS drugs
-- Ownership of the body: resisting the commodification of the human
-- Traditional knowledge and intellectual property: seeking alternatives.


This image is taken from the blog BLU, which is part of blublu. I found this site after seeing some grafitti that said "Paint your own town" and then had URL at the bottom of the page. It seems to be the site of a nomadic street artist who also makes animation and books. Really some amazing stuff!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Next Six Months

What am I doing?
I am working on:
1. A paper for the 3M conference in Stockholm in September. My abstract "Prefacing Interaction: Copyright and Remix in Online Digital Literature" was accepted and now I have to write it.
2. I have started writing an outline for a course I will be teaching in the Spring Term 2008. Under the brilliant guidance of Pat Shrimpton (now retiring!!) it was called British Realia; examining the culture and institutions of the British Isles. I have ambitions to develop a Commonwealth of English module, looking at how English and cultural institutions have spread beyond the British Isles and have developed lives of their own. I plan to concentrate on Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa. However, it is only a small course so I should be careful about what I try to fit in. I think I will stick to a list of four or five institutions and follow some of their threads about the Commonwealth.
3. The HUMlab Island in Second Life. I have not yet ventured into SL since being back in Sweden but I need to soon. I was taking a critical eye to the architecture around me while I was travelling and I have a rough idea of what might suit the island in terms of structures. I need to make some drawings.
4. The HUMlab wiki. This is going to be a learning experience. HUMlab needs a wiki and I am going to build one.

Along with two chapters for my thesis this is is the plan for the next six months of my life. Busy times ahead.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Net Arts

JavaMuseum - Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art is starting its 2nd phase by releasing an open call focussing on the question whether blogs and/or blogging can be tools for creating a new type of net based art.

The launch of this new project is planned to be in October 2007 also the occasion for re-launching JavaMuseum after a phase of re-structuring since 2005.
The new show "a + b = ba ? [art + blog = blogart?]" will be presented in sequence on divers festivals.
JavaMuseum - Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art, founded in 2000, realized during the 1st phase (2001-2005) 18 show cases focussing on Internet based art in a global context, including more than 350 artists from 40 countries.

For "a + b = ba ? [art + blog = blogart?]" JavaMuseum is inviting artists to submit such an art project in form of a blog. The entry details, regulations and entry form can be found on http://www.nmartproject.net/netex/?p=7

Related to JavaMusuem quest and questions is the now online paper by Karin Wagner; Internet Art and the Archive at HumanIT:

Abstract: Internet art is ephemeral by nature and several initiatives have been taken to preserve it for the future. Apart from formal archives holding art of this kind, there are also artworks which exist outside these web based institutions. In what way can they be regarded as archived? In the article, criteria are suggested which can be used to judge whether an artwork is active or archived and these criteria are applied in the analysis of twelve different artworks. Different kinds of dating are important for how the status of a work is perceived by the visitor. The concepts of explicit and implicit archiving are used to characterize archiving of Internet art, where works can be "dead" and "alive" at the same time.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

vague terrain 07: sample culture

The latest edition of the Toronto based digital arts quarterly vagueterrain.net is now live. The issue, vague terrain 07: sample culture is a provocative exploration of contemporary sampling of sound, image and information. This body of work examines the remix as a critical practice while addressing broader issues of ownership and intellectual property.

Vague terrain 07: sample culture contains work from: brad collard, christian marc schmidt, defasten, des cailloux et du carbone, [dNASAb], eduardo navas, eskaei, freida abtan, jakob thiesen, jennifer a. machiorlatti, jeremy rotsztain, noah pred, ortiz, rebekah farrugia, and an interview with ezekiel honig conducted by evan saskin.

For more information please see http://www.vagueterrain.net

Kiva is Microfinance in Action

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.
Kiva partners with existing microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified borrowers. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva.org, our partners upload their borrower profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them.
Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform for the poor. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle. The above diagram shows briefly how money gets from you to a third-world borrower, and back!
Kiva is using the power of the internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Child sponsorship has always been a high overhead business. Kiva creates a similar interpersonal connection at much lower costs due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery.

2K Blogs

2k Bloggers
The final list for the 2000 bloggers project is online. A drop in the ocean really but an interesting one.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Because its Friday Downstreams

The first Friday back from travels. Summer is in full swing again after a month of Australian winter. I will be from now on recommending not just downloads (hence the tag 'Downstreams') but all types of online media artifacts of interest each Friday. As I go through my RSS and email for the last month I am finding a lot of stuff to put here so....

Daniel Higgs (Lungfish)
I read about Dan in this month's Wire magazine and was affected by his knowledge and attitude. This is a recording of him playing electric harmonium over a telephone to Brown University student radio BSR88 (check out their archive while you are on the site).

Joe Musgrove
I have known Joe for quite a while (since the early 1990s). He has evolved into a perveyor of intense drone psychedelic soundscapes peforming in numerous incarnations (Biffplex, Flew Creeking, Diaspora). Here are some pieces by Joe:

Excerpt from the new CD "In The Valley Everyday There Is A Window Broken"

Live performance at "Fair Laundrette" in Brisbane Australia February 2007

Joe Musgrove - music for solo turntable (July2003)

Lots of other goodies are available for download at the Half/Theory site--- get in there!

Contempoaray Chinese Experimental Music
When I spent a few days in Hong Kong on the way to and back from Oz I was very taken by the place. I like Hong Kong...a lot! While there I visited White Noise Records and purchased two Buddha Machines and a handful of local sounds. I did not even know what the CDs were I just asked for recomendations from the man at the counter and walked away with 8 CDs. I will be working my way through them over the next few weeks. I include here ten pieces of Contempoaray Chinese Experimental Music from the UBUWEB site.

Filmmaker: Matsuo Ohno
Running time: 102 minutes
Year: 1973

Taj Mahal Travellers, a psychedelic-rock group that played lengthy improvised jams that can be summarized in three principles: a Far-eastern approach to music as a living organism, an intense electronic processing of instruments and voices, a semi-mathematical overlapping of frequencies. Basically: LaMonte Young on acid. Taj Mahal Travellers was on the road between 1971 and 1972, traveling in a Volkswagen minibus from Holland to the Taj Mahal itself. Two albums were made out of that experience.

Fursaxa: Freedom
Fursaxa is the musical outlet of Tara Burke, who is also involved in Anahita, Tau Emerald, and The Valerie Project. Gentle trance from the alchemy of wood.

The Birthday Party Interview
Singer Nick Cave and guitarist Rowland S. Howard are interviewed and demos for two songs that would appear on 1981's 'Prayers on Fire' album are heard—"Figure of Fun" in full and "Yard" in part.

Brightblack Morning Light: Everybody Daylight

Slow down and enjoy the play of light upon the leaves as the breeze moves gently through the trees.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Have You Got the Time?

"In the Amazon you could say that every grove is a university library. The Amazon is full of fully qualified doctors of PhD students in their own way. Its full of art, its full of music its full of metaphor...The deforestation of the Amazon is actually a deforestation of mind, of human mind and human culture because to me those two things are not opposites. You know nature is not the opposite of culture and in the Amazon it could not be clearer. When we deforest the Amazon it is as if we took a Shakespeare and tied his hands behind his back with razor wire." Jay Griffiths 2007.

I first encountered the words of Jay Griffiths (pictured) while I was in Australia. Griffiths is the author of Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time and Wild: An Elemental Journey. Both books examine what is Time from a cultural and social perspective. How Time is represented in narratives is of particular interest to me. I agree with the assertion of Griffiths that Time is a locus of power and the Time of pre-industrial cultures has the potential to be a subversive and liberating instrument of resistance in increasingly monitored and commodity orientated cultures. According to Griffiths our most accessible source of this rebellious Time is our children, although she spent seven years researching her second book, Wild: An Elemental Journey in the Amazon, in Australia, West Papua, the Arctic and with Roma Peoples. In the radio broadcast I heard(Available as a podcast with Griffiths speaking from 33:35 mins) the term 'ludic revolution' is used. I have ordered the book and look forward to reading it. More from Jay Griffiths can be found HERE (Colonising the Night) and HERE (Art as Weapon of Protest),HERE (Ruled by Time)

Everything You Have Wanted to Know About UBUWEB

But were too busy looking at UBUWEB to ask....

Artist, critic, poet, writer, and Web provocateur Kenneth Goldsmith is one of those rare individuals who create their own gravity. The breadth of interests and activities that have characterized his twenty-three year career alone is enough to command respect, but perhaps chief among Goldsmith's accomplishments is the creation of the online avant-garde archive UbuWeb. Founded in 1996 as a sort of experimental destination and laboratory for various forms of poetry, UbuWeb has blossomed into a premiere educational resource and essential location for all forms related to the avant-garde. The most striking component of UbuWeb as an online institution is that it seeks to create an environment based on the Web's inherent utopian ideal: the free and unfettered access to information.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Commitment to Poetry

While I was in Australia I spent a lot of my time sorting through my father's large library as he has moved into a serviced flat in an aged care hostel. I had also a time capsule stored in his garage of my own possessions left with him in 1996 when I left Australia for world travel. It was an intense experience as I delved back through his past and some of my own childhood reading and memories. One of the main things I got from this experience was a reawakening of my commitment to poetry, something that drove me very hard in my early twenties and late teenage years. Poetry is a source of energy, inspiration and hope for the future for me.
Resonating with this, whilst I was in Australia I heard an address by Miles Franklin Award winner Alexis Wright; A Question of Fear (PDF Transcript), where Wright stated

I want to talk a little bit about poetry because it is the art of defining essential things worth remembering about ourselves. This idea can be found anywhere in the world where people describe the soul of who they are in their stories. Irish poet Seamus Heaney described Joycean ideas in Finnegan’s Wake as ‘eddying with the vowels of all rivers,’ remembering everything at the level of the unconscious, because there is much amnesia in people that they do not learn from their own history.

I have tasted some of my own history over the last few weeks, not always an entirely pleasant experience but very well worth it. More on the Australian trip over coming days.

Some Airport Reflections

I am currently stuck in Arlanda Airport outside Stockholm waiting 6 hours (with 2 kids and tired wife) for a connecting flight back to Umeå after 4 weeks in Australia and Hong Kong. I feel like my brain has been pureed and had sand added to it after 3 days of movement between Brisbane, Hong Kong, London and here. This experience has prompted me to make a list of the 5 worst airports I have experienced during my years or travel....and at number five is:

5. Cairns, Australia: It is always good to be arriving in Oz but Cairns is a two room airport with 3 security checks between them....Why?
4. Charles De Gaulle, Paris: While De Gaulle has the added feature of feeling like some some huge atomic fallout shelter populated by those who escaped the blast (there seem to actually be people living there) it is the ugliest airport I have ever seen and it is a trauma to navigate through, especially if you are late for a flight.
3.Leh Ladakh, India: When I was here in 1998 this was a concrete buiding in the middle of an Indian military base at 3400 metres above sea level. Soldiers overrun the place and Kashmiri touts wait at the door leading to the desolate carpark. The amazing Ladakhi culture is under tremendous pressure and the Leh airport is a symbol of the horror of it all.
2. Arlanda Stockholm, Sweden: My present prison. Why are there no places to sit in this huge glass, stone, steel and timber place? The Internet conection is great and I recommend the Radison Gym and sauna (150 crowns), but why is there nowhere to sit outside the cafes, let alone sleep. No rows of comfy armchairs or couches, now nooks between pillars to curl up in. Just sunlight steel cement and glass.
1.Darussalam, Brunei: I once spent 9 hours here and my god does time drag in Brunei. There is one gift shop and one cafe in the tiny terminal. The only thing to do is take the free bus tour of the Sultan's building projects in Darussalam, something I declined to do. While Royal Brunei Airways does do a cheap ticket between Singapore and Darwin, the wait in Darussalam is a dear price to pay for it.

With that Ill just say I'm back online and will be blogging again as soon as the jet lag psychosis lifts.