Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cultures of Web 2.0

Cultures of Web 2.0:
This is a brief summary of some of the most interesting and perhaps obvious cultural practices associated with the "Web 2.0" concept. I do not really feel completely comfortable with the term Web 2.0 but it is useful to push certain agendas, such as participation and a more horizontal arrangement when it comes to media production. The slides are for a class I am leading tomorrow for Culture Analysis students from Culture and Media Studies. Should be fun.

Will Peer to Peer Networks Save the Internet?

I am preparing to teach a session on Web 2.0 cultures tomorrow. The image above comes from a 2007 study on connectivity between nodes on the internet:

Three distinct regions are apparent: an inner core of highly connected nodes, an outer periphery of isolated networks, and a mantle-like mass of peer-connected nodes. The bigger the node, the more connections it has. Those nodes that are closest to the center are connected to more well-connected nodes than are those on the periphery. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Interesting. A review of the study in The Technology Review summarized the findings as; "Routing traffic through peer-to-peer networks could stave off Internet congestion, according to a new study." Very interesting. But now, in light of recent developments in Europe regarding the P2P situation (prosecuting the users of Torrent trackers, obtaining IP numbers and so on), such a study becomes much more relevant to not only how the internet functions, but how the interests of a relatively few people (some musicians and artists and most of those that sell their works) may affect how the internet is actually structured.
Just imagine if the nodes in the above image were centered around the organizations or people who had the rights to distribute intellectual property (publishing houses, recording companies, media empires, movies studios) and not those that had the knowledge, skill and desire/interest to do so (no matter what people are doing on the net, just the idea that the law dictates the technological stuctures). I would think that the nodes of the center would be larger, the overall structure would be more like a wheel with a narrow rim, and the "mantle-like mass of peer-connected nodes" would be thin and fragile (if not non-existent). The entire weight of information transfer networks would be focused on the center. This is a dangerous situation in many ways. Such old fashion concepts as democratic rights and freedom of expression are relevant, however what about the technical capabilities of the system to deal with a centralized arrangement? A project we ran in the northern Swedish Sami community of Jokkmokk in 2004 showed us that centralizing internet channels is a big mistake. The 20 000 mobile phone users that were in the tiny town of Jokkmokk (pop. 5000) for the annual winter market festival crashed the internet router that led to the town from the coast. The entire of southern Lapland (a very big geographic space) was without mobile phones, internet, ATM or electronic cash for 3 days.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The World's First Flash Mob?

Did the the world's first Flash Mob take place in 1838 at the Cascades Female Factory ( a prison and workhouse for female convicts) in Hobart, Australia? The governor of Van Diemens Land visited the factory and attended a service in the chapel. Entertaining the governor was the Reverend William Bedford; a morals campaigner whose hypocrisy had elicited the lady's scorn. Keen to impress the governor with a fine speech, the Reverend addressed the women from an elevated dais, then:

"the three hundred women turned right around and at one impulse pulled up their clothes showing their naked posteriors which they simultaneously smacked with their hands making a loud and not very musical noise. This was the work of a moment, and although constables, warders etc. were there in plenty, yet 300 women could not well be all arrested and tried for such an offence and when all did the same act the ringleaders could not be picked out."

This cheeky behaviour 'horrified and astounded' the Governor and the male members of the party. As for the ladies in the Governor's party, it was said, in a rare moment of collusion with the Convict women, 'could not control their laughter'. From Female Factories

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Continuing Saga of P2P and Sweden

The fog has not lifted on the situation concerning peer to peer (P2P) file sharing and Swedish law. Today the main stories in the news are:

1. The European Court of Justice ruled in regard to disclosure of ISP numbers:

"Community law does not require the Member States, in order to ensure the effective protection of copyright, to lay down an obligation to disclose personal data in the context of civil proceedings" Full Ruling (3 pages PDF) here.

So basically nothing changes there.

2. The public prosecutor found no copyrighted material on the Pirate Bay servers that were seized by Police and Anti-Pirate Beuaure officials in May 2006. Therefore in the case that is being prepared at the moment, with summons for 5 Pirate Bay identities expected to be issued, there will be a call to forbid the linking to copyrighted material. In Australia this has already been tried in the High Court as "secondary copyright infringement" with a successful conviction. More on that HERE. Since there is no way of paying royalties for a link to copyrighted material, the issue of linking as "secondary copyright infringement" seems tenuous. This was found to be so in Oklahama in July 2007 in Capitol Record v. Debbie Foster, where the RIAA sued an Oklahoma woman over copyright infringement. The case was dissmissed with prejudice:

"The Copyright Act does not expressly render anyone liable for infringement committed by another. Rather, the doctrine of secondary liability emerged from common law principles," wrote Judge Lee. "Under those common law principles, one infringes a copyright contributorily by intentionally inducing or encouraging a direct infringement."

3. Finally the Pirate Bay is expanding and plans to launch a P2P video network similar to YouTube in the near future. They are also hiring two new people to work at the organisation.

Interesting times......

The Lyric of (Second) Life

Duran Duran have made a song about the online world Second Life. Not a big deal in itself, but I was wondering about how such things happened in pre-digital times? Consider the spatial and temporal references in this verse of their song Zoom In:

Now she arrives
In a flaming crash
Like a falling star
Heading straight for the dive
Gonna make some cash
With the avatar

Would have such lyrics made sense when Duran Duran were the 80s superstars that they were? I have often thought about the reflexive effect of Second Life; providing a symbolic environment to play out the altering of normative gender, sexuality, space, and time concepts. One cannot help but think about a meeting or event that occurred in Second Life when not online and providing it with some sort of (presumably) logical context in daily life. In the same way that a book can change thought and even society, Second Life is doing the same thing. That a group of middle aged English pop stars have chosen Second Life as the subject for a song goes towards showing that it is not marginal culture but mainstream. Rather the social and subjective dialogues emanating from SL are now beginning to be noticed by those not related directly to the 3D online world. Of course the dialogue around form, time, space and so on flows in multiple directions and the world outside SL informs it of how meaning is constructed using clothing, architecture, gender and so on.

What is also interesting that while Second Life is not really a fictional genre (more like a simulation but its complicated and that's what my thesis is about), there is a long tradition of artists writing songs about literary characters in the past:

"Ahab" by MC Lars retells the story of Moby Dick from the perspective of Captain Ahab
"Alone" by Green Carnation based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe of the same title.
"Alone" by Arcturus based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe of the same title.
"Altair-4" by Blind Guardian is about The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
"All is Not Well" by Hannah Fury is based on the romance of Elphaba and Fiyero from the novel Wicked (novel) by Gregory Maguire.
"Among the Living" by Anthrax is about Stephen King's The Stand
"And Then There Was Silence" by Blind Guardian is based on Homer's Iliad.
"And Your Little Dog Too" by Hannah Fury is told from the point of view of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West.
"A Man for All Seasons" by Al Stewart (on the album Time Passages) was based on Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons.
"A Picture of Dorian Gray" by the Television Personalities is about Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.
"Animal in Man" by dead prez from Let's Get Free is a retelling of George Orwell's Animal Farm.
"Animals" is an album by Pink Floyd which is very loosely based on George Orwell's Animal Farm.
"Animal Farm" by Hazel O'Connor also re-tells the Orwell novel.
"Annabel Lee" by Tiger Army based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe of the same title.
"A Rose for Emily" by The Zombies is inspired by the title of William Faulkner's short story A Rose for Emily.
"Arctic Death" by Virginia Astley is inspired by the William Butler Yeats poem "An airman forecasts his own death"

And the list goes on and on........

We can now add digital worlds to the literary lyric.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Some Notices

The next issue of Foreign Policy Magazine will feature a short piece on the Second Life Liberation Army's attacks within Second Life. I have contributed an image for the story following a request from the magazine. Its nice to be noticed :-)

As well, has anyone else noticed Oamos? It is a search engine and an art engine. Using keyword searches:

Oamos questions search engines for uptodate news, images, synonyms, music and videos in relation to your topics. The content are streamed audiovisually more or less objective or entertaining, with or without sound, with or without links.

I recommend Oamos as a lateral space extension for relevant query based knowledge infusions (its trippy).

What is Stealing?

The situation for peer to peer file sharing in Sweden (apparently its quite popular here) is about to get more interesting. Firstly the application for summons is going to be delivered by prosecutor Håkan Roswall to the public prosecutors office this week after a 20 month investigation into the organisation. It will probably result in some sort of legal action against the Pirate Bay (currently hosting 1 million torrents and 10 million seeders) but spokespeople for the Bay have already said they are prepared to take it all the way to the European Court so it will be years before any binding decision is made. Even Håkan Roswall does not believe the Pirate Bay can be stopped with a case mounted in Sweden and according to the driving force behind the case against the Bay, IFPI "Internationally there are 20 illegal downloads of music for every legal one". The situation seems difficult for the anti-pirates, however that does not stop them.
Liza Marklund (who ironically runs a publishing company called Piratforlaget - The Pirate Publishing House) published a column in the Expressen newspaper ("Stop Complaining Net Pirates"), which was a hard attack against not only the act of illegal downloading, but the ideology of those who propose that the laws surrounding publishing rights need to be changed. The final sentence in Marklunds diatribe attempts to summarise those in the Pirate Party (which actually is a very separate organization from the Pirate Bay and the Pirate Bureau):

Vi är ett gäng lata, snåla nättjuvar som snyltar på andras arbete.
("We are a gang of lazy, stingy net thieves who sponge on the work of others.")

Marklund must have been having a bad day when she wrote this as it seems to have little to do with the situation that is P2P sharing technology and law today. Wheather or not those that download share their own materials that they have themselves created (and I am sure many do) is not really the point. There are over 450 comments on the article which summarize a number of positions in relation to it (if you can read Swedish). However, I wanted to comment also on the article but the comments have been closed off now, so I thought to add something here. From Techcrunch:

The era of paid music downloads is coming to an end (despite the fact that online sales are growing).

Qtrax, which has signed all four major labels (EMI, SonyBMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group), launched yesterday with 25 million songs (compared to around 3 m for Amazon and 6 m for iTunes). Note: See update below.

It isn’t pretty - the downloaded songs are not compatible with iPods and have to be played via a proprietary player built on the Songbird platform. Ads are displayed during playback, even on music devices. For now the service is Windows only, so Mac users are left out. And right now the service is down completely from all the attention it’s getting.

For most people, BitTorrent and the music search engines are all they need for their illegal-but-highly-convenient music needs. Any additional hurdles means not a ton of usage. And since services like Imeem and provide free on demand streaming music with ads, there is already real competition out there for Qtrax.

I really do not think that Marklund and those she represents understand what is going on here. Calling people names is not going to solve the problems of new technology colliding with old industry. A legal result (and it is at least 5 years away if the Pirate Bay take the upcoming case to the European Court) may make some difference to the situation, but with access to the law dependent upon financial and political power it seems that the result will just contribute to the already bi-polar situation we have at the moment. Many people no longer see culture as property but rather experience has become the commodity they are prepared to pay for. A concert, festival, exhibition, reading will be well attended and make money. Distributing the products of an artist introduces the public to the work of the artist. They will pay to experience the work of the artist but not to have a track on an Mp3 player or some images from a film. Once people realize that the cultural ecomony we are now living in is not the same as that one that existed even 10 years ago then we can begin to set up a new system where artists are rewarded for their work. Holding out for a return to the past is only depriving artists of income and the support they need to make new works. Insisting on payment for every megabyte is dumb.

UPDATE: Tomorrow at 9:30 am the European Court of Justice will deliver a decision making it possible or not for Internet Service Providers to be obliged to provide police with ISP numbers of those who download large amounts of information over the internet. The details of the case are:

Reference for a preliminary ruling - Juzgado de lo Mercantil no 5, Madrid, Spain - Interpretation of Articles 15 (2) and 18 of Directive 2001/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (OJ 2000 L 178, p. 1), Article 8 (1) and (2) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (OJ 2001 L 167, p.10) and Article 8 of Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (OJ 2004 L 157, p. 45) - Treatment of data generated by communications made in the context of the supply of an information society service - Duty of operators of electronic communications networks and services, providers of telecommunications network access and providers of data storage services to retain and make available such data - Not where civil proceedings are concerned.
Advocate General : Kokott

Of course Sweden will have to comply with the ruling of the court. Professor of Media Technology at the Royal Technical College in Stockholm, Roger Wallis describes the rational behind ISP surviellance for P2P file sharing as:

Sverige är nästan längst fram i världen när det gäller små företag i mediebranschen som utvecklar nya affärsmodeller som går ihop med internet och fildelning. Det ses som ett jättehot från de stora skivbolagen som satsar allt mer pengar på allt färre artister, och de har inte råd med en flopp.

("Sweden is almost foremost in the world when it comes to small companies in the media industry which develops new business models that include internet and file sharing. That is seen as a huge threat by the big record labels which devote more and more money to fewer and fewer artists, and they cannot afford to produce a flop")

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Downstreams ( A New Play)

While I am going to try and post more essays type entries on the blog from now on I am still a download whore when it comes the the ocean of material that is available (much of it legally) on the net. So this is the link side of the blog coming to the fore. Shall we begin:

Sydney: The Face of Tomorrow
What is the face of London, New York, Paris? What does a Londoner, a New Yorker, a Parisian look like?
The Face of Tomorrow is a concept for a series of photographs that addresses the effects of globalization on identity.
The large metropolises of the world are magnets for migrants from all parts of the planet resulting in new mixtures of peoples. What might a typical inhabitant of this new metropolis look like in one or two hundred years if they were to become more integrated?
With 4.3 million people, Sydney is the largest city and financial capital of Australia. Sydney was founded by the British as a penal settlement in the late 18th Century and today boasts one of the most multicultural populations in the world.
The city’s population is primarily of European extraction (British, Irish, Italian, Greek and Maltese) with about 15% being of Asian origin (Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai and Indian). There are also sizeable communities of Pacific Islanders, New Zealanders, Lebanese, Turks and South Africans. The official language is English but the government, as part of its proactively multicultural approach, recognizes some 30 “community languages” and government services are also available in these. 35% of Sydney’s population were born outside Australia and in downtown Sydney this number rises to 70%.
Sydney continues to be first port of call for the 120,000 odd migrants to Australia each year, attracting some 40% of all newcomers. The makeup of the migrants tends to reflect global politics. In the 1970s Lebanese and Vietnamese fleeing war, in the 1980s South Africans and Hong Kongers worried about political change, in the 1990s Croatians and Bosnians fleeing civil war and most recently Iraqis, Somalis and Rwandans.

Chaosradio Podcast Network » Camp 2007 Video Recording

The Chaos Communication Camp 2007 took place from August 8th to August 12th 2007 in Finowfurt, Germany. This channel offers the complete set of available video recordings of the Camp 2007 lectures. Most lectures are in english, some in german. The videos are being offered in an iPod-compatible encoding (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 with AAC, 640x480).

Chicago '82: A Dip in the Lake

Label: Les Disques Du Crépuscule
Catalog#: TWI 116
Format: Cassette
Country: Belgium
Released: 1983
Genre: Electronic, Rock
Style: Abstract, Experimental, Minimal, Avantgarde
Notes: A live report by Wim Mertens on the New Musical Festival in Chicago, July 1982, featuring music and interviews (by Mertens). Dedicated to John Cage, and intended to be released on his 70th birthday, 5 September 1982.

N i g h t S w e a t s No Night Sweats: Sydney's Post-Punk Bands

t the beginning of 2000, it became obvious that interest in Australian post-punk music was on the increase. This came as a complete surprise to myself and many other members of these long dead bands but, at least on my part, it was a welcome surprise.
So, initially, I simply set about creating the pages on this web site to bring a personal historical perspective to the whole confusing era.
At the same time, I tried to collect all available tapes, cassettes and vinyl that I could find (on the bands in which I played some part) with the intent of ensuring that they didn't completely crumble to dust under the weight of time. I was also sent or given many cassettes containing material from other bands. In many cases these are good quality first generation dubs from studio recorded 2 track master tapes whilst most of the rest are copies of Tim Vandenberg's fantastic 2-Tapes archive of live recordings.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the 2 track reel-to-reel tapes have vanished. This was due, in most part, to an almost complete disregard for the finished product - very post-punk in many ways. It didn't help that almost all of the recordings were done either independantly or for minuscule companies who didn't have space for an archive, let alone the interest to archive anything that wasn't actually created by the owners.
Listed below is the currently archived material for each band. Whenever I mention 'digitising' below I'm referring to simply transferring the songs from cassette or vinyl to a CD-R using a Philips CDR775 Audio CD Recorder without applying any remastering techniques like noise reduction, compression or EQ balancing.

Lectures from Danube Telelecture REMIXING CINEMA

The DEPARTMENT FOR IMAGE SCIENCE & DATABASE OF VIRTUAL ART present: ::danube telelecture REMIXING CINEMA : Future and Past of Moving Images = with Lev MANOVICH and Sean CUBITT - stream now available ::
Sarat MAHARAJ and Machiko KUSAHARA: Does the West still exist?
Gunalan NADARAJAN and Jens HAUSER: Pygmalion Tendencies: Bioart and its = Precursors
Christiane PAUL and Paul SERMON: Myths of Immateriality: Curating and = Archiving Media Art
Lev MANOVICH and Sean CUBITT: Remixing Cinema: Future and Past of Moving = Images

Peace and Sounds.......

The Russian Story Teller

Today I attended a lecture by Natalja Tolstaja, Associate Professor in Nordic Languages at the University of St. Petersburg in Russia (I suppose most people know where St. Petersburg is....either Minneapolis or Russia and with a name like Tolstaja it seems obvious I suppose.) The topic of the lecture was Living and Writing in Russia Today, and it was a fascinating if somewhat formal two hours.
Tolstaja is a story teller in the old tradition, the scene is set and the characters painted before we are skilfully led through a history that defies fiction in extremity and pathos. The main focus for Tolstaja's story world is her homeland, mainly St Petersburg and Moscow and she describes the vast tracts of rural Russia as "dead". Those that have talent and youth escape the tedium of the provinces to take their chances for "a place under the sun" in the two biggest cities. Those young people that stay in the provinces share their communities with the old that populate the farms, living at a subsistence level. Often alcohol is a trap for young people in the provinces and they often die young.
The situation in St. Petersburg is somewhat different. It is hyper expensive to rent a flat, anything can be brought in one of the many new supermarkets that have sprung up in the last 8 years, cars are relatively cheap. Tolstaja said that many of her students drive to university. Housing is another matter however, to buy a small room in the outskirts of St Petersburg coast at least $75 000. Meanwhile the "largest ice skating rink in Europe" has been built in St. Petersburg’s Palace Square. This bought a reaction from the director of the Hermitage, but he did not get much attention in his pleas to keep the St. Petersburg’s Palace Square a historical site. Now a high-rise is planned for the area and UNESCO has threatened to withdraw St. Petersburg's heritage status if it goes ahead. Nobody in St Petersburg seems to be overly concerned with the idea of losing the UNESCO stamp of approval. However St Petersburg is "another planet" when compared to Moscow. The example given by Tolstaja of the difference is that if an academic article is published in a St Petersburg journal the author is paid about 18 Euros. If the same article is published in a Moscow journal the author will receive the equivalent of 250 American dollars. St Petersburg residents see themselves as educated, cosmopolitan, poor and the heirs to the culture of the old Russia (the many Russians: the imperial and the soviet). The popular image of the Moscow resident held by those in St Petersburg is of lower education, crass, rich and elitist.
The future as painted by Tolstaja is a bit scary and a bit exciting. Money seems to be what matters in Russia today, and considering the history of deprivation that the nation has lived through (illustrated in a story by Tolstaja of her 92 year old former English teacher recounting how it was to be living in St. Petersburg in 1941 when starvation was a reality) it is not surprising that Russians have embraced conspicuous consumption with the fever they have.
I asked a question about bohemianism in St Petersburg, if there were artists who were not interested so much in making money, but rather made art for art's sake. Tolstaja replied there were but they received little attention outside their own circle of associates. She went on to say that television under Yeltsin was very free with lots of direct sending of debate programs. Today there is nothing like this, rather stand up comedy of a very low state is popular as well as other low grade programs (sounds familiar). I think Tolstaja was moving in the direction of media critique taken up by so many in the west, but perhaps best encapsulated by Noam Chomsky around the Manufacturing Consent period. Although Tolstoya points out the dangerous and failings in the new Russia of Putin and Gazprom etc, she seems to keep her critique on a fairly broad social plain. I got the impression that being culturally unsophisticated (like preferring ice skating to heritage monuments or the shops to the Hermitage) is a greater failing in Russia today than the murder of journalists or the abandonment of large demographic groups of the population. Despite the preference for critical caution and a fascination with traditional bourgeois cultural values Tolstaja really does tell a great story. She is a skilled speaker and brings her characters to life with an attention to detail and a love of irony.
Natalja Tolstaja is the author of Ensam ("Alone") which is about to published in Swedish, she is a Knight of the Order of the North Star , is a lecturer and translator and a very gifted story teller.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

On Blogging and Pamphlets

Blogging is an interesting field (is it a genre, medium, or style??). I am glad it is being researched and it should be taken seriously. In recent weeks I have noticed that my own writing on this blog has become lists and links. I send out signs of what I like and what I think will be of interest to those with whom I like to identify. I have been doing this because I want to attract readers but at the same time I am very busy with research and writing, teaching and what we used to call when I was a nurse (my previous life), the Activities of Daily Living. Today at lunch, which was also a pause in hectic day of packing and moving my office (during a snow storm as well), we discussed blogging. It was not a deep philosophical discussion and we did not attempt to answer any of the big questions, but we did discuss content and method. How one publishes a blog and why. I found this interesting and I thought about it afterwards; my writing on this blog is an activity I perform as part of the mutliple activities I do each day; reading, writing, speaking, teaching, meetings, family, shopping, my life in online 3D worlds and so on. This blog is almost 5 years old and has become a record of my development (or lack thereof) as a PhD researcher. I really enjoy keeping a blog, but I realised today that I have become a reactive rather than an active blogger.
I watch other blog's content (The RSS feed is my guide), I collect links to place on my blog (basically what is for but with a social narrative attached on the blog that you don't find with, I do not really follow up posts or follow topics beyond the generic classifications of the tags. If I was an Elizabethan pamphleteer I would be the guy sitting at the back of St Paul's yard watching what was selling on other peoples stalls and then printing some of them. The following the herd is exactly what pamphleting is/was against and why it is/was so interesting. I have decidied to take a more pamphalet apporach to this blog, I will continue with the Friday Downstreams but will try to write more stuff of substance and see where it takes me.

Pamphlet: Non-periodic printed publication of at least 5 but not more than 48 pages exclusive of the cover pages, published in the country and made available to the public. UNESCO

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Umeå Live

The town I live and work in is called Umeå. The population is around 100 000 people and considering it is a town of that size it is really quite a dynamic and diverse environment in which to live. Recently a book was published called which is about the IT scene in Umeå. It's 40 pages long, written in Swedish but it has lots of pictures and there is one which includes me (Page 14). It can be downloaded as a PDF.

Umeå Live is a collaborative project between Umeå University, Umeå County and Vinnova. It will be opening a website soon as well as announcing more exciting projects.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Announcing: is an online exhibition and call for participation to artists, designers, architects or other interested creative individuals to propose concepts for the creation of memorials to the many thousands of Iraqi civilians killed in the War in Iraq. The project is an open call for and a repository of memorial concepts dedicated to the memory of the estimated 80,000 to over 655,000 deaths in Iraq of non-combatants as a consequence of “Operation Iraqi Freedom”.

Artists from all over the world are invited to participate in this project. The website is available in both English and Arabic language versions. The project site features a growing online exhibition of artist’s proposals featuring media ranging from traditional sculptural monuments and installations to experimental works utilizing performance, digital technologies and sound.

As a user generated content site, the project will continue to be realized dependant upon the participation of artists. New memorial proposals will be uploaded as they are received. The public is invited to view and rate the proposals on the site.

The submitted proposals may never be realized - the intent is to facilitate a process that allows for the expression of concepts as a collective, networked, creative act of remembrance that takes place in the present tense.

Participating artists include:
Tony Allard-USA, Carla Drago-Australia, Al Fadhil-Germany, Song He, China, James Hutchinson-UK, Bakh Ismail, UK, James Johnson-Perkins-UK, Sabine Kacunko-Germany, Suzanne Kanatsiz-USA, Lynn Marie Kirby-USA, Erik Krikortz-Sweden, Patrick Lichty-USA, Maria Paschalidou-Greece, John Quinn-UK, Kate Sicchio, UK, Jack Toolin-USA.

Jurors include:
Dr. Nadje Al-Ali, University of London, UK, Yaelle Amir, Curator and Writer, New York City, USA, Dr Bernadette Buckley, Goldsmiths University of London, UK, Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta, The Raqs Media Collective, Delhi, India, Dr. David Simpson, University of California Davis, USA, John David Spiak, Curator, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, USA, Dr. Marjorie Vecchio, Director/Curator, Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery, University of Nevada, Reno, USA

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Anton Corbijn's First Film

The film Control by Anton Corbijn has finally reached Sweden and it is being advertised as Corbijn's 'debut' as a film director in the national press. This is not true with the famous photographer having made a short film in 1993 (which I have blogged about before here) called Some YoYo Stuff: An Observation on the Observations of Don Van Vliet, otherwise more widely known as Captain Beefheart:

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

Some YoYo Stuff is online and available free as a streamed video or as a download.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Downstreams (Packed with Woodness)

Been a busy week with teaching, essay supervising, writing and family but a few pieces of online media have passed by me that are worthy of the weekly Friday recommended. Here in the far north the snow has melted and birds are not so much as singing as sitting in the bare trees wondering why it is so warm but there is no sunshine. I lot of writings this week and art. We beginning with the "world's largest canvas" (Banksy) or if you are in the Isreali army, the "separation (hafrada) fence":

Banksy on the West Bank.

Love–and art–Conquers (W)all

Justice Fabric mix
Justice is a couple of French youngsters who make grinding trance rhythms with mad samples from raw electricity. It seems to be what the young are doing today, and if I was young Id be doing it to. This is a mix from Justice that was rejected by their label ("mainly weird disco tracks and French novelty acts,").

01 Sparks: "Tryouts for the Human Race"02 Rondo Veneziano: "La Serenissima"03 Goblin: "Tenebrae"04 Daft Punk: "Ouverture"05 Surkin: "Next of Kin"06 Symbolone: "Love Juice"07 Korgis: "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes"08 Midnight Juggernauts: "Ending of an Era"09 The Paradise: "In Love With You [ft. Romauld]"10 Justice: "TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY (Acapella)"11 Chic: "Everybody Dance"12 Frankie Valli: "Who Loves You"13 Das Pop: "Underground"14 Julien Clerc: "Quand Je Joue"15 Daniel Balavoine: "Vivre Ou Survivre"16 Richard Sanderson: "Reality"17 Zoot Woman: "Grey Day"18 Fucking Champs: "Thor Is Like Immortal"19 The Rave: "Mother"20 Fancy: "You Never Know"21 Frank Stallone: "Far From Over"22 Sheila: "Misery"23 Todd Rundgren: "International Feel".

The Improvisor (Articles and Essays)
The Improvisor is a resource for musicians & composers of free improvisation, to share music, ideas, articles, reviews, scores, and links to interesting sites...your gig dates... information... travel journals, poetry, inspirations and more...

Evolution Control Committee
The Evolution Control Committee (The ECC) is an experimental music band from Columbus, Ohio founded by Mark Gunderson (a.k.a. TradeMark G.) in 1987. It typically uses uncleared and illegal samples from various sources as a form of protest against copyright law. The ECC also produces numerous audio experiments, such as the disfiguring of compact discs, and has produced a few video works as well, ranging from re-edited 50's corporate shorts to a Teddy Ruxpin reciting the works of William S. Burroughs. Other activities include culture jamming. The ECC website contains a lot of things you need.

Two Activist Online Games

Harpooned: Japanese Cetacean Research Simulator
At the moment in the Pacific a Japanese so-called whaling research fleet is hunting whales. Australian anti-whaling activists are hunting the Japanese fleet and the Australian navy and coast guard are watching the whole thing. And someone has made a computer game.

Fatworld is a video game about the politics of nutrition. It explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics in the contemporary U.S. The game's goal is not to tell people what to eat or how to exercise, but to demonstrate the complex, interwoven relationships between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies, and regulations. Existing approaches to nutrition advocacy fail to communicate the aggregate effect of everyday health practices. It's one thing to explain that daily exercise and nutrition are important, but people, young and old, have a very hard time wrapping their heads around outcomes five, 10, 50 years away.

The Fatworld Crew:

Persuasive Games
Game Design - Dr. Ian Bogost
Production - Gerard LaFond
Programming - Alejandro Quarto
Art Direction - Nicolas Massi
Research - Amanda Day

ITVS Interactive
Senior Producer - Cathy R. Fischer
Producer - Jen Kaczor
Marketing Coordinator - Imad Salloum
Resources - Elizabeth Meyer
Publicity - Voleine Amilcar

Lynn Hershman-Leeson - Strange Culture (2007)
The surreal nightmare of internationally-acclaimed artist and professor Steve Kurtz began when his wife Hope died in her sleep of heart failure. Police who responded to Kurtz’s 911 call deemed Kurtz’s art suspicious and called the FBI. Within hours the artist was detained as a suspected "bioterrorist" as dozens of federal agents in Hazmat suits sifted through his work and impounded his computers, manuscripts, books, his cat, and even his wife’s body. Today Kurtz and his long-time collaborator Dr. Robert Ferrell, Professor of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, await a trial date.

Public Domain Movie Torrents
Download Movies - Classic Movies and B-Movies For FREE.

Tellus #9 - Music with Memory
Nicolas Collins - Devil Music (13:33)
John Driscoll - Stall (16:15)
Brenda Hutchinson - Interlude from Voices of Reason (8:12)
Ron Kuivila - Parodicals (7:05)
Ron Kuivila - Cannon Y for C.N. (3:51)
Paul De Marinis - Eenie Meenie Chillie Beenie (4:21)
Paul De Marinis - Yellow Yankee (6:08)

My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World by Julian Dibbell
Online book (1673 KB). Part memoir and part ethnography, My Tiny Life is about the social life of the online, text-based virtual world LambdaMOO and my own brief encounter with it in the early '90s. Andrew Leonard, in Salon, called it “the best book yet on the meaning of online life.”

The Future of Ideas: The Fate of Commons in a Connected World (PDF Book 368 pages 1.24 MB)
In The Future of Ideas, Lawrence Lessig explains how the Internet revolution has produced a counterrevolution of devastating power and effect. The explosion of innovation we have seen in the environment of the Internet was not conjured from some new, previously unimagined technological magic; instead, it came from an ideal as old as the nation. Creativity flourished there because the Internet protected an innovation commons. The Internet’s very design built a neutral platform upon which the widest range of creators could experiment. The legal architecture surrounding it protected this free space so that culture and information–the ideas of our era–could flow freely and inspire an unprecedented breadth of expression. But this structural design is changing–both legally and technically.
This shift will destroy the opportunities for creativity and innovation that the Internet originally engendered. The cultural dinosaurs of our recent past are moving to quickly remake cyberspace so that they can better protect their interests against the future. Powerful conglomerates are swiftly using both law and technology to "tame" the Internet, transforming it from an open forum for ideas into nothing more than cable television on speed. Innovation, once again, will be directed from the top down, increasingly controlled by owners of the networks, holders of the largest patent portfolios, and, most invidiously, hoarders of copyrights.

The UChannel (also known as the University Channel) makes videos of academic lectures and events from all over the world available to the public. It is a place where academics can air their ideas and present research in a full-length, uncut format. Contributors with greater video production capabilities can submit original productions.
The UChannel presents ideas in a way commercial news or public affairs programming cannot. Because it is neither constrained by time nor dependent upon commercial feedback, the UChannel's video content can be broad and flexible enough to cover the full gamut of academic investigation.
While it has unlimited potential, the UChannel begins with a focus on public and international affairs, because this is an area which lends itself most naturally to a many-sided discussion. Perhaps of greatest advantage to universities who seek to expand their dialog with overseas institutions and international affairs, the UChannel can "go global" and become a truly international forum.

Gene Youngblood "Expanded Cinema" (1970) [PDF, 4.6 mb].
From the original back jacket copy:

"Today when one speaks of cinema, one implies a metamorphosis in human perception," writes the author of this extraordinary book. "Just s the term 'man' is coming to mean man / plant / machine, so the definition of cinema must be expanded to include videotronics, computer science, and atomic light."

In a brilliant and far-ranging study, Gene Youngblood traces the evolution of cinematic language to the end of fiction, drama, and realism. New technological extensions of the medium have become necessary. Thus he concentrates on the advanced image-making technologies of computer films, television experiments, laser movies, and multiple-projection environments, laser movies, and multiple-projection environments. Outstanding works in each field are analyzed in detail. Methods of production are meticulously described, including interviews with artists and technologists. Expanded Cinema is filled with provocative post-McLuhan philosophical probes into :"the Paleocybernetic Age," "the videosphere," and "the new nostalgia," all in the context of what the author calls "the global intermedia network." In "Image-Exchange and the Post-Mass Audience Age," Mr. Youngblood discusses the revolutionary implications of videotape cassettes and cable television as educational tools. His observations are placed in a comprehensive perspective by an inspiring introduction written by R. Buckmister Fuller. Vast in scope, both philosophical and technical, Expanded Cinema will be invaluable to all who are concerned with the audio-visual extensions of man, the technologies that are reshaping the nature of human communication.

Thank you and goodnight...sweet dreams.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Juxtaposition by Google

Does anyone detect a certain juxtaposition of ironic tragedy in the placing of the above story with the promise of "a Fun Packed Hassle Free Holiday" from Ads by Google?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lynn Hershman-Leeson - Strange Culture (2007)

Better than Sunday TV:

Lynn Hershman-Leeson - Strange Culture (2007)
Documentary Film 76 mins.
The surreal nightmare of internationally-acclaimed artist and professor Steve Kurtz began when his wife Hope died in her sleep of heart failure. Police who responded to Kurtz’s 911 call deemed Kurtz’s art suspicious and called the FBI. Within hours the artist was detained as a suspected "bioterrorist" as dozens of federal agents in Hazmat suits sifted through his work and impounded his computers, manuscripts, books, his cat, and even his wife’s body. Today Kurtz and his long-time collaborator Dr. Robert Ferrell, Professor of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, await a trial date.

Get it while the Torrent is hot (like very very fast at the moment) at Art Torrents.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Downstreams (back with a vengence)

A week of a sneaky cold that does not make me feel so bad, until I try to do something. I have been forced to rest to try and shake it off but it is a persistent slow strain of some hideous swamp virus. This one is a long one as there has been a lot of time online this week...working as hard as the body allows..Here lies the treasures of the weak:

EARLY CHRISTIANS (Audio Stream Real Media 53 mins)
Wisononsin Public Radio presents a series of discussions on early gnostic christianity, which was rather a different set of beliefs and practices than those followed by the major churches today (check out the psychedlic wonder of the Gospel of Thomas). The final speaker in the series is musician Tori Amos who talks "about reclaiming representatives of the sacred feminine tradition who weren't afraid of their own sexuality."

Arthur Magazine
Can I praise this zine enough? No. It's brilliant. Arthur Issue #27 You can download the complete 64-page magazine as a PDF in three parts. This issue includes:
Photographer Abby Banks drove across America, visiting spaces occupied by groups of youngish refuseniks who've left behind America's grey gridlife. An exclusive excerpt from her new book, PUNK HOUSE...
Erik Davis catches up with SIR RICHARD BISHOP--gypsy picatrix, ex-Sun City Girl and guitarist extraordinaire. Illustration by John Coulthart.
PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE on three new histories from Process Media: Eye Mind: The Saga of the 13th Floor Elevators, the Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound by Paul Drummond, Moondog: The Viking of 6th Avenue by Robert Scotto and The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and The Source Family by Isis Aquarian.
Bull Tongue" columnists BYRON COLEY & THURSTON MOORE review the latest emanations from the deep underground...


The Bob Dylan Radio Show
Welcome to the all new Dylan Radio Page here at MP3@3pm.
Theme Time Radio Hour has started once again for it's second outing. From September 19th onwards, the shows will be firing out one per week as before and, as before, you will find each episode posted here within a day of the airing on radio in the US.
I hope you continue to enjoy the shows.
Theme Time Radio Hour reflects Bob Dylan's, and very probably producer Eddie Gorodetsky's, deep interest in and knowledge of music. Each episode is an eclectic brew of blues, rockabilly, soul music, bebop, rock-and-roll and pop music, centred around a "theme," with songs from artists as diverse as Patti Page to LL Cool J. Interspersed between the music segments are email readings (scripted rather than mail from actual listeners); old radio station i.d.'s, promos, and jingles; "def poet" poetry recitations; and thoughts from Dylan on the music and musicians, as well as food and drink recipes and other miscellanea related to the themes.

UC Berkley Online Video Archive
Hundreds of lectures from UCB online and free to all-
The University of California, Berkeley is the preeminent public research and teaching institution in the nation. From classic literature to emerging technologies, the curricula of our 130 academic departments span the wide world of thought and knowledge. Supported by the people of California, the university has embraced public service as an essential part of its mission since 1868.

The Parallels Amanac
I havn't been thought this yet but it looks great from the first few screens.

Nanofix machinima
Entire award winning machinima videos for download. Pus stuff about robot experiments, Mars and a blog.

Big Think
The Youtube of people who still read books. Videos on Faith & Beliefs, Identity, Personal History, Inspiration, Life & Death, Love & Happiness, Outlook & the Future, Truth & Justice, Wisdom, Physical, Arts & Culture, Architecture & Design, Art, Dance, Literature, Music, Theater & Film, Business & Economics, History, Media & the Press, Philanthropy, Policy & Politics,2008 Elections, Education, Energy Policy, Foreign Policy, Healthcare, Iraq, Rest & Diversions, Food, Science & Technology, Medicine & Biology, Space & Time, The Environment, The Internet and The World.

Prog not Frog. A Site dedicated to Non-mainstream Music from all over the world.
A new Mp3 blog (well new for me). Lots of things, more than you probably need but I recommend The Third Eye - "A Tibetan Initiation" {World} [2000] (Folk New Age) and Some folk and pop music from {Burma-Tibet-Bhutan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan}. Prog not Frog has been under some sort of online harassment for some weeks now. It seems to be some sort of obsessive act against the owners of the blog, who as far as I can see are supplying culture at a time when a very troubled world needs it most.

Beezy Two CDs
Dubstep is big in London at the moment I have heard. Here is a video about Dubstep:

Beezy makes grime and dubstep and gives it away for free:

Beezy - A day in the life
This is the first album ever released from Beezy. Still a wicked album with tunes such as Battle of Religions and Mind of a Serial Killer - all produced by top names in the Grime Scene.
"Welcome to Beezy's space. It's a dark and dirty environment: angry, twisted and morally corrupt, what stands out about it is how vivid it is." - Blackdown

Beezy - A day in the life
Welcome to the second helping from meself, Beezy, "A Day In The Life". I titled it this 'cos as much as the experiences and stories I shared on this project are consistent with my life "they are with yours".
We all go through it as it's the transition of living, pain, joy, neglect, and forgiveness etc - the list is endless. We all encounter the emotions on a daily bop through this walk of life.
We didn't choose it but were giving it. It's a gift some say... well... "fuck that", not me. So if you ave' some spare time on your hands and wanna hear someone elses perspective on things, then feel free to download this album, 'cos as much as I made it for myself, it's also for you, as we all go through "a day in the life".

Johnny Chung Lee > Projects > Wii
Videos of mad experiments with the Wii:
As of September 2007, Nintendo has sold over 13 million Wii game consoles. This significantly exceeds the number of Tablet PCs in use today according to even the most generous estimates of Tablet PC sales. This makes the Wii Remote one of the most common computer input devices in the world. It also happens to be one of the most sophisticated. It contains a 1024x768 infrared camera with built-in hardware blob tracking of up to 4 points at 100Hz. This significantly out performs any PC "webcam" available today. It also contains a +/-3g 8-bit 3-axis accelerometer also operating at 100Hz and an expansion port for even more capability. These projects are an effort to explore and demonstrate applications that the millions of Wii Remotes in world readily support.
Any software on this page is primarily meant for developers and may not run without proper the development tools installed. Downloading and installing this software is at your own risk, and no support or guarantee is provided with this software. The official discussion forums for my wiimote projects can be found here:

We'll Write: Old Moon Face
The first We’ll Write EP is finished, and even though actual real physical CDs aren’t available yet, you can still download it, totally FREE. Here’s the whole thing as a 20mb zip file. Nice guitar based folky pop.

Kenyan Writer Ngugi wa Thiongo speaks to Pambazuka News 18 December 2007
I have read Devil on the Cross and half (of the total 900 pages) of Wizard of the Crow and I think Ngugi wa Thiongo is a great great writer. This audio piece focuses on issues surrounding culture as the first African Union conference on the subject kicks off in Addis Ababa. In this podcast Robtel Pailey from Pambazuka News discusses the importance of language and culture with renowned Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiongo.

In Electronica We Trust Part 2
This one is for the memories, the KLF, Infected Mushroom, Leftfield, and Underworld. The sort of music you don't have the energy to listen to once you have kids but when you are dressed in rags and wondering around India its just the think for the morning chai and smoko. Lots of videos of the beautiful people have been added to the comments section of the page on the other side of the link too......

EN-JOY the time you have.......

Machinima: The Right

A short excerpt from The Right, a machinima film currently in production by Trent Hedges using Second Life and Green Screen techniques. It is an amazing piece of work I think. More on machinima in Second Life HERE.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Meet Bazza

I am writing a course for first term culture studies using a wiki. Wikies are a great tool for arranging a course, headings give way to sub-headings and so on. It is very easy to code and is very flexible. The wiki platform I am using (ProjectForum) even looks good. The above video I uploaded to Google this afternoon (it is open source) to use in the course. It is an episode from The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) written by the now quite famous Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everage) who plays the psychiatrist in the scene. When I arrived in England in 1997 I actually had people call me 'Blue' (I don't have red hair so they had not idea what they were talking about), and ask me if I wanted to 'crack a tube with them'. I remember hearing about Barry McKenzie from my father, and it seems it was an important step in the cultural independence of Australia away from Britain, but it was a bit before my time..I found it irritating that some poms thought Australia was still all 'chunder' and 'sheilas'....I was into The Birthday Party and and Michael Dransfield poetry. Another video I cam across today was this masterpiece from Barry Humphries looking back at the Whitlam government in Australia. I thought to use it in the course material but I don't think anyone who did not grow up in Australia would understand it as it is very funny...if you know the topic:

The beginning of Barry Humphries' Flashbacks episode 3 - The 70s, in which Barry, Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson discuss the impact of Gough Whitlam. This series aired on Australian television in 1999 and is now available on DVD.

Images Of The World And The Inscription Of War

Images Of The World And The Inscription Of War (1989)
Film by Harun Farocki (b. 1944)
Download and Stream at UBUWEB

In 1944, an Allied aircraft took topographic photographs of Auschwitz during a routine surveillance operation for power plants, munitions factories, chemical plants, and any other industrial complexes that could potentially serve as bombing targets that, in the military's myopic search for these high collateral targets that would cripple the German war machine, failed to recognize that they had actually taken an aerial survey of the layout of the Auschwitz concentration camp - an explicitly detailed, but mentally unregistered discovery for which the implicit meaning would not be realized until decades later, long after the tragic reality of the Nazi death camps had been exposed. It is this assignment of significance to the act of visual observation that underlies Harun Farocki's thoughtful, understated, and engaging exposition on the interconnection - and at times, disjunction - between cognition and recognition in Images of the World and the Inscription of War.

Prefaced by a humorous anecdote on 19th century architect, Albrecht Meydenbauer whose near death experience while making physical measurements for a cathedral project, combined with an interest in the visual reproduction capability of a still camera, led to the development of photogrammetry (which provided for the accurate, graphically scalable, two-dimensional, measurable image of the studied object), the film illustrates, not only the inherent correlation between production and technology, but also the conceptual introduction of quantifying images measured from a distance into discrete elements that can be uniquely identified or accurately reproduced remotely into scale models and detailed simulations.

From this logical trajectory, Farocki cites another point of reference in a French government campaign during the 1960s to dispatch conscripted soldiers to Algeria in order to photograph native women for the issuance of identity cards in the occupied colony - a process that required the women to remove their veil in public, contrary to traditional custom. Having spent much of their public lives obscured behind a veil, the question then arises if an identity card that captures these women in full, unobstructed gaze can accurately reflect their distinctive characteristics to the point of recognition? Would an officer tasked to verify identity find semblance between these unveiled photographs and the women physically presented before him? Unable to find specific, isolated features within the human face that remains unaltered through the years, these photographic images can only serve as a referential document of physical attributes, and not a record of truth - of the actual reality. Farocki illustrates this recursive cycle of distanced, "safe" action and estranged surveillance operating under the vacuum of social (and cultural) responsibility (a familiar preoccupation in the filmmaker's oeuvre that is also evident in the equally provocative essay, War at a Distance) through repeated references of the Auschwitz, Algeria, and Meydenbauer paradigms, as well as the film's thematic use of the German word aufklärung - a term that alternately means enlightenment and flight reconnaissance - that reflect the technological quest to define empirical, universally identifiable data that can remotely identify (or characterize the essence of) an image. It is this passive, alienated act of seeing that is ultimately rejected in a publication's symbolic call to action, "The reality must begin", in reaction to Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler's revelation of the concentration camps - an active resistance that is punctuated by the October 7, 1944 uprising by Sonderkommandos (prisoners who were tasked to operate the gas chambers and crematoria) at Auschwitz that succeeded in the disabling of a death apparatus - a heroic act of conscious and formidable human engagement.

Much more from Forocki (really worth looking at...excellent stuff)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Anyone want to try out a 3D web browser?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Virtual Worlds as Teaching Tools

Interesting piece about the Arden, the World of Shakespeare project (run by virtual world economics theorist Edward Castronova), which it seems is not quite closing down (as reported on Massively)

Castronova is still planning to pursue experiments in virtual worlds. Social sciences need to be able to do controlled experiments, such as those done in the natural sciences, he says, and virtual worlds could be a good venue for that. In order to use them credibly, Castronova says, scientists need to test how accepted theories hold in game worlds. Political scientists should set up experiments to confirm that people in games vote in tune with their interests; sociologists should set up experiments to confirm that people's relationship to conformity is similar; and economists should test the basic principles of supply and demand. "A virtual world is a tool like a petri dish," he says. "We need to find out what you can do with a petri dish, and what kinds of things need a live rabbit."

In relation to the Can the Humanities Save us? entry I posted earlier today on the HUMlab blog, the following passage from the Tech Review is interesting:

Still, many academic researchers have high hopes for the potential uses of virtual worlds. Tim Lenoir, the Kimberly Jenkins chair for new technologies and society at Duke University, sees virtual worlds as powerful training tools. Lenoir is working on a world called Virtual Peace, intended to train people heading into difficult negotiation scenarios. For years, he says, the military and other organizations have used paper-based role-playing games for trainings. Virtual worlds are a natural step up from that, since they allow people to become more immersed in the scenario, and allow for richer background materials, he says.

The traditional boundaries between the so-called 'two cultures' are clearly under pressure in a technology that allows "people to become more immersed in the scenario." The aesthetics of virtual worlds is something I find very interesting.

The next project for Arden, how to "make it fun" will go by the title Arden II: London Burning. Sounds like fun.

The Two Embassies

In an hour and a half the Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC and the Embassy of Sweden in Second Life will be joined by a video and VOIP line. The large pink telephone you can see in the image above can be used to call the people in the video stream you can see on the wall. The people in the video can also call the avatars in world. The video stream comes from the House of Sweden in Washington and anyone can go to the Second House of Sweden in Second Life (You need a Second Life account but its free). More about thsi project can be found HERE.

A Poet with Tools Reflects on Fish

“Will the Humanities Save Us?” is the title of a column by the eminent scholar Stanley Fish published recently by The New York Times. In the column Fish states:

How does one justify funding the arts and humanities? It is clear which justifications are not available. You can’t argue that the arts and humanities are able to support themselves through grants and private donations. You can’t argue that a state’s economy will benefit by a new reading of “Hamlet.” You can’t argue – well you can, but it won’t fly – that a graduate who is well-versed in the history of Byzantine art will be attractive to employers (unless the employer is a museum).

The column has resulted in an avalanche of comments on the site (293 at present) and I can completely understand why. I respect Fish, his work is an important part of the background to my own research, but his text seems to indicate his preoccupation with a concept of the humanities that I have had only a marginal amount of contact with over the last few years.

Continue reading this on the HUMlab Blog

Monday, January 07, 2008

Visibility Low, Mood Content

I returned to the office this morning with my mind and body still operating on Christmas time. I have been sleeping late and long over the break and did not sleep until 2am last night, only to wake at 7am for a return to 'the real world'. It is not something I have come to terms with yet and it may take a day or two to adjust to. But nonetheless it is great to be back at university. The next six months promise to be most exciting with a 'new' HUMlab opening, two thesis chapters to write (already well planned), teaching, online and offline creative projects and the distant promise of Spring.
This morning's RSS brought me a very interesting post on Floating Prisons, and Other Miniature Prefabricated Islands of Carceral Territoriality at Subtopia:

The deeper I get into it, the more I realize an entire book could probably be written about the subject of floating prisons -– and who knows, maybe in another dream one day I’ll write it –- (there is probably already some magnificent mini opus out there that I have -- for at least the time being -- overlooked) but for now, let’s just settle for a quick and dirty Googleized survey.

I recommend it as a way of putting work into perspective. I may be institutionalised but at least I can go for a walk when I want to.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Tribute to Henry Chopin

"I, personally, would perfer the chaos and disorder which each of us would strive to master, in terms of his own ingenuousness, to the order imposed by the Word which everybody uses indiscriminately, always for the benefit of a capitol, of a church, of a socialism, etc...." Why I Am The Author of Sound Poetry and Free Poetry Henri Chopin, 1967

Henry Chopin died on January 3rd 2008 at the age of 85. So ended a long life crowned by achievements, if not the greater recognition that he deserved. Chopin was the guide to any of us who has cut up and pasted magnetic tape, backmasked a track or placed a contact mike on a sheet of steel to see how it sounds, recorded respiration or amplified the rhythms of the body and the environment it occupies. Like some mystic turning consciousness inward, Chopin made the body a portal to a language that circumvented established notions of time and space. Creating a music that seemed to come from beneath the skin and the upper levels of the planet's atmosphere at the same time.


"Henri Chopin, explorer of the body's voices. For the last forty years, with his sound poetry revue OU (1964-1974), then through his participation in various international sound poetry festivals, through his personal experience in the experimental studios of radio stations in Köln, Paris, Australia, Canada or Sweden and in his concert/performances throughout Europe, Henri Chopin has consistently and unceasingly opened the ways to unexplored spaces beyond all known languages. Thanks to the systematic use of microphones, amplifiers, tape recorders, editing and mixing consoles, he has given a voice to realms beyond modern or experimental music, beyond any note system and headed for spaces without norms, categories, definitions or limits: spaces of permanent metamorphosis. But despite misleading appearances, Henri Chopin is not merely doing a new kind of music; he is not just a consequence of Pierre Schaeffer's concrete music principles and Pierre Henry's experiments in the fifties. Henri Chopin is an individual (in Stirner's sense: the ego and its own) who has always resisted absurd attempts to reduce him to part of a movement, a school, an academism; what one perceives are Henry Chopin's bio-psychical vibrations, that he himself constructed by electronically recording, then modifying, amplifying and transforming the energies of his own body. This language is beyond institutionalised language or indeed beyond any language, it precedes all idioms (sound signs, playful energy signs like those of whales and dolphins), it is a breath language, a soul language (the language of anima), the unfettered respiration of the cosmic energies we are, who belong neither to factions nor clans. The energy of live beings, whose individuality is irreducible, and impossible to break down. Solitary and strange cosmic creatures, mysterious yet showing solidarity, resonating with all those who dared breach shackles and rules, escape vile obedience, submission and compromise, reject complacency and blind allegiance to traditional or experimental academism."

Thanks to the technology he explored in his art it is never too late to appreciate Henry Chopin:

Chopin at UBUWEB

Mp3s sounds of Henry Chopin

Au Revoir Monsieur Chopin.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Friday Downstreams (Lost in the Week)

Friday is over and I even forgot it was Friday. Thats what not going to work does to one. So, anyway I do have recommended media for the first week of 2008 and here it is:

Martin Kippenberger: Greatest Hits
These 20 sound compositions from Martin Kippenberger are good, download them!
Martin Kippenberger (b. 25 February 1953 in Dortmund- d. 7 March 1997 in Vienna) was an influential German artist whose penchant for mischievousness made him the focus of a generation of German enfants terrible including Albert Oehlen and Markus Oehlen, Georg Herold, Dieter Göls, and Günther Förg. His work experimented with polemical ideas; and in a rush to execute every sort of image that occupied his thoughts he made a mark on the art world of the 1990s. The flow of paintings he produced was punctuated with works that were conceptual and often controversial. His obsessive pursuit of polemics often left a trail of offence; he once produced a sculpture of a toad being crucified. His art is related to the German art movement Neue Wilde (de:Neue Wilde). Wikipedia

Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Book Audiofiles and Links

Here you can listen to brief excerpts to some of the works discussed in The Rest Is Noise. There are also links to archives and stories elsewhere on the Internet. Many of the sound samples on these pages are permitted under an ASCAP Internet broadcast license. Special thanks to various publishers and record labels who gave me permission to use their material. Go here for my 20th-century iTunes playlist.


This is an astounding collection of online free music, updated weekly and there is more here than a human being can possibly listen to:
Spotlighting music gems and announcing the latest releases from the world of netlabels and net audio. blocSonic is dedicated to the net-audio phenomenon. We exist for the sole purpose of filtering through the mountains of freely available net-audio. As with anything online, there's a wide range in the quality that's available. Some amazing, some not so
Includes 'Supersize Me' (watch it and you will never eat fast food again), 'Bowling for Columbine' and much more:

At we believe strongly that in order to have a true democracy, there has to be a free flow of easily available information. Unfortunately, many important perspectives, opinions and facts do not make it to our televisions or cinemas (you can watch movies in our media category if you want to know why).
For this reason we decided to start, a site where anyone with an internet connection can watch a movie and educate themselves or simply explore another perspective whenever they want.
Providing films free not only allows anyone to watch a film but it also allows curious people who think they may disagree with a filmmaker to watch a film without worrying that they are giving money to someone who's views they don't agree with.
Everyone that watches a film at should learn something, whether it be a new perspective on a topic or simply understanding how others think. We can say that the vast majority of people that watch our films are glad they do so. also allows independent filmmakers to have their message heard to markets which they wouldn't reach easily.

abjee (aab.gee)Persian slang for sister ... and that’s just what they are - Safoura and Melody Safavi. Backed by a colorful crew of musicians, the two abjee’s present their own original brand of Persian world pop! Their lyrics, often humorous and sometimes rebellious, are written in Farsi, but the expressive groove of the music and the abjees’ dramatic delivery break down all language barriers to create a new synthesis of cultures.

Harun Farocki and the Politics of Found Footage with William Burroughs on Cut-Ups
Harun Farocki has used found footage in innovative ways throughout his career challenging dominant political perspectives with a simple common sense approach to the world. His films are sometimes almost untouched appropriations and others deeply nuanced assemblages that find incredible connections between disparate source materials. He is a humane, empathetic and serious found footage filmmaker who unlike his colleagues has created uncynical films that speak truth to power without being self-righteous. I highly recommend his films Interview, How to Live in the German Federal Republic , Still Life, Videograms of a Revolution, and War at a distance. Below are clips from some films.

The Lost Films of Orson Welles.

Also known as Orson Welles : The One-Man Band. A film feauring Ojar Kodar and the unrealised film projects of Orson Welles. Features excerpts from "The Other Side of the Wind"

Enjoy and back at work on Monday.........when I will start again to remember what day it is.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Welcome to the Wolves of 2008

Welcome to the new year. 2007 was a great year for this blog and its author. I look forward to 2008. The coming calender year will be the final full year for my PhD which means a lot of hope work over the coming months. I am hoping going to defend my thesis in the first half of 2009 but this means 2008 will be a time of writing and little else for me. The other projects I need to organise/control for the next few months are teaching a half time course (14 hours of lectures and an exam) and working with Second Life (HUMlab Island and Second House of Sweden). However, to open the proceedings for the new year, a new game:

WolfQuest (Free Download)
Learn about wolf ecology by living the life of a wild wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Play alone or with friends in on-line multiplayer missions, explore the wilderness, hunt elk, and encounter stranger wolves in your quest to find a mate. Ultimately, your success will depend on forming a family pack, raising pups, and ensuring the survival of your pack.

The WolfQuest experience goes beyond the game with an active online community where you can discuss the game with other players, chat with wolf biologists, and share artwork and stories about wolves.

Explore four square kilometers of alpine wilderness on the slopes of Amethyst Mountain in Yellowstone National Park, running across open meadows, through dense fir forests, and along sheer cliffs. Hunt elk. Follow scent trails to locate elk herds, then sneak up on the herd, find the weakest one, and begin your attack. Pursue your prey and sap its strength while dodging its counterattacks, to make the kill. Harass coyotes who try to eat elk carcasses, or just for the fun of it. Chase and eat snowshoe hares. Earn Experience Points for bragging rights with other players.

I have not yet played WolfQuest but it reminds me of Endless Forest; the anthropomorphic story line of animals in an organised system with a development that seems to suit human concepts of time.