Friday, January 24, 2014

Reel to Reel Tape as Read Write Cultural Artifact

I have chosen a Tandberg Series 14 reel-to-reel tape player as an artifact for the Tensta Museum Apartment as I believe it reflects the democratic values and social possibilities associated with the Million Program (Swedish: Miljonprogrammet). The company of the same name manufactured the Tandberg between 1968 and 1978 in Oslo, Norway. Tandberg was a high quality device that was used in schools, universities and homes in Sweden. (1) The reel to reel placed media in the hands of ordinary people, allowing them to record audio and even abstract and collage the sounds around them. In this sense, the Tandberg represents the beginnings of a read/write culture that is standard with digital media today.  

People could produce media as well as consume it with the Tandberg. 

Like the typewriter in the early 20th century, the reel-to-reel tape recorder enabled people to record and represent and even abstract their experiences and ideas. But unlike the typewriter, the Tandberg did not need extra coding (i.e. literacy) to operate. As long as someone could speak and listen, home produced audio became accessible. Finally, the Tandberg player here is accompanied by a found recording from the early 1980s of the exiled Somalian writer Nuruddin Farah (b. 1945). On the tape, Farah speaks of his writing, as well as the Somalia he grew up in and of the diaspora he was part of and his exile. The Somalian diaspora is an important part of Tensta today. Thus, almost 50 years of Tensta history is embodied in the Tandberg Series 14 reel-to-reel player, from the aspirations of the Million Program to the multiculturalism of Sweden today.

James Barrett

1. "På 1950-talet och 1960-talet ansågs Tandbergs bandspelare vara bland de bästa och det var som regel Tandbergbandspelare som köptes in till svenska skolor." Music in Folkhemmet

Sunday, January 19, 2014

CABARET TOXIQUE celebrating the centenary of William S. Burroughs in Paris

Tsunami Books presents CABARET TOXIQUE celebrating the centenary of William S. Burroughs - 2 theatres of operations-interventions in France (Paris & Lyon), featuring Tsunami Gang (Henrik Aeshna, Anita Volk, Sandra Wild, and more)

1st part: LYON (January 25, 6pm - La Menuiserie, 3 rue Carquillat 69001),
featuring Tsunami Gang (Henrik Aeshna, Anita Volk, Sandra Wild & others)
2nd part: PARIS, late February (place and date to be announced)


sound pandemonium with multiple instruments & voices – supernovas glossolalias newbornscreams dancing plague erotic apocalypse
° cut-ups & excerpts of William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Claude Pélieu, Charles Plymell, Carl Weissner, Hassan-I-Sabbah, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Steve Dalachinsky, Stanislas Rodanski, Antonin Artaud, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Rimbaud, Lautréamont, Sainkho Namtchylak, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, Anita Berber, Kathy Acker, Baba Yaga
+ Chansons Toxiques &
Shamanoise Hallucinema SchizoPoP Manifesto


* HENRIK AESHNA is a visionary vandal hated by Blablaist theoreticians and all kinds of conservatives -, poet-performer, provocateur, unclassifiable multidisciplinary creator, editor, polyglot translator and voyager-explorer based in Montmartre-Paris.
Former nude model turned Rimbaudian anti-model/anti-prophet of SchizoPoP Manifesto, Aeshna is also engaged in a radical dialogue with the masters of disorder and ecstasy from faraway tribal cultures (especially after his many experiences with Ayahuasca in South America, years ago), with Experimental Cinema, Butoh, women writers, street art, long lost bohemias and radical underground avant-gardes, and whatever interesting, disturbing, taboo-defying, rule-breaking and magma-infused crosses his way (without attaching to any reproductions and clichés).
Poet-bomber-wild-child armed with a sharp dionysian syntax (incendiary pies with splashes of absurdity and humour noir thrown in defying all the crowns and clichés of our post-post-post-modern age), in 2008 he sold Van Gogh’s ear in minced meat packages displayed in a kiosk set up outside the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
For further info (news, art, books, interventions, Shamanoise Hallucinema / intravenous visual deliriums):

* ANITA VOLK is a brazen clown exploring wetlands of ungratefulness, weirdness and nakedness, storming long waiting rooms to smear armchairs ornaments clocks and masks. She sings writes writhes breathes spits out her words and those of others. Inspired by the writings of Michaux, Bataille, Vian, Bachelard, Nietzsche, Novarina, Deleuze, Dostoyevsky, the Dada comets, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Artaud, Joyce Mansour, Kerouac, Hesse and Butoh, the chansons of Fréhel, Nitta Jo, Yvette Guibert, Marie Dubas (CHANSONS TOXIQUES - 1907-1946), Léo Férré, Brel, Brassens, Bobby Lapointe, Vian and Gainsbourg, Anita’s universe is made up of the forces, rages, disarrays, beauties and hideousnesses of this world. Focusing her research on chant, dance and poetry, her aim is both to enter the secret realms of these languages and develop them through improvisation, thus achieving a spontaneity situated outside all disgusting logics and atavisms.

* SANDRA WILD is a whore of the present time, the President’s whore. She’s Margheritta, margheritte, Saint Rita (showing an incurable wound on her face), the saint of desperate and lost causes (staring at someone) she herself desperate. She’s called Mireille Havet, and she won’t ever eat your bread. Call her Sandra. Sandra Wild. Having just finished her 7-year philosophy studies Sandra Wild is now due to open a butcher’s shop-delicatessen in a children’s center so as to give the unemployed aged less than 10 years a chance to work. They will learn on site how to bone one another.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Historicizing Public Space with QR-Codes

Datum: 2014-01-16
Tid: 09.00
Evenemanget vänder sig till: studenter - allmänheten - anställda

HUMlab and the Department of Culture and Media Studies Presents Four Augmented Information Installations:
‘Historicizing Public Space’

Throughout the Fall Term 20013/14 four groups of museum studies students have been working in HUMlab on projects that utilize traditional research, web design, digital authorship, writing for the web, film, audio and image production, urban design and museum studies.

Their assignment was to locate a publicly accessible space in Umeå, research an important event or history that is associated with that space and create an account of it that users can access on site, using QR-Codes (Quick Response Codes) from mobile digital devices (smart phones, tablets, iPods).
This Thursday 16 January 2014 at 09:00 in Ålidhem Centrum a tour of the four QR-Code installation sites will begin. First up is a history of Ålidhem as a site of conflict and drama; the development of the ‘Million Homes Project’ in the 1970s in the area involved environmental conflict. This is the starting point for an interesting journey through Ålidhem.

Next up is the SF Bio Filmstaden in central Umeå, where an account of the long history of cinema in Umeå will be presented with QR-codes, which includes videos of what cinema means to people today. This is followed by an installation on Rådhustorget that deals with the recent events around the manifestation by the neo-Nazi organization the Svenska motståndsrörelsen (Swedish Resistance Movement) and changes to the central plan of Umeå from a democratic perspective.

Finally the history of the Umeå cathedral is mediated on site by QR-Codes, with a particular focus on the history of feminist, transgendered and queer issues in relation to Swedish Church.

Anyone interested in the design of digital information and interaction in public space, along with historians, digital humanists, and media studies are welcome to attend this assessment demonstration in a respectful and cooperative way.

Contact person: James Barrett

Assessment of QR-Code Project for Museum Studies

Students organized themselves into four groups.

Group 1 – Ålidhem
Group 2 – SMR (svenska motståndsrörelsen) Anti/Manifestation and Apberget
Group 3 – SF Bio and Bio Historia I Umeå
Group 4 – Stadskyrkan

The groups were assigned tasks:

1.      Select a publically accessible place in Umeå that has historical or narrative associations that could be translated into a museum project and mediated by QR-codes and online content, which the users experience in real time and on-site.
2.      Organize a working group (2-5 people) around the subject; create a project plan and synopsis, delegate tasks, create a timeline for production, research the subject and organize materials, design the experience of the visitor to the site according to the space, place, history and narrative mediated by digital materials and the QR-code.
3.      Produce digital materials for the online component of the project. These could be text, image, video and audio. Skills involved in the production of digital materials include writing text, image editing (Photoshop), audio production (Audacity), video production (Adobe Premiere) and web composition and HTML coding (Wordpress).
4.      Implement the QR-Code project on site and show it relates to the topic and brings users into the experience of that knowledge.

The students were introduced to ‘Place’ as a critical concept and how digital media contributes to it as an information system from specific examples. Based on this conception of place, the QR-code project takes up how they can professionally add a layer of information to a place.

The first practical goal of the course was to plan and visualize a digital project of the type that the students are undertaking. They began with composing a short statement of intent, regarding what it is they wished to achieve in the project. The students were then introduced to the aspects of the project they must consider in their planning:

1.      The site: (includes considerations around public and private space, management of the site, the conditions the site imposes upon visitors, the site as a space and how it is interacted with, connectivity and access)
2.      The subject: (is this a historical subject, a critical project, is there information available, what does the subject represent in broader contexts- examples can include community, critical approaches, and how does the subject relate back to the course materials and teaching).
3.      The media: What forms of media will the group being employing in the project? How will they be integrated into the site and the subject? Do people in the group have experience that is relevant to the project?
4.      The goals: the successful integration of information and place that is interactive and interesting and successful group work as cooperation, planning, delegation, documentation and results.

These points resulted in a visualization of the project by each group. This was done as simple sketch-ups on paper (e.g. diagrams, charts or actual maps). This developed into the plan for the project.

Blogging for students followed two approaches, a) Process and b) Presentation. The process was documented in the blog as the students moved towards presenting the blogs as the destination for the QR-code links. The blogs must be part of the ongoing work. The presentation was the final status of the blogs for the users of the QR-codes on site.

The examination task was a completed QR-code based site that deals with the 'museumification' of a public space by introducing a designed layer of information to the site via digital media. The criteria for our examining these projects as passed is: 

1.      Successful integration of information and place that is interactive and interesting
2.      Successful group work as cooperation, planning, delegation, documentation and results.
3.      Demonstration of technical skills in the use of digital production and publishing tools.
4.      Demonstration of critical concepts by the design, production and interaction within the QR-Code Project.
5.      Successful user interaction with the QR-Code project on site.

Online Materials for QR-Code Projects


Monday, January 13, 2014

“The Burroughs Century: Celebrating the Legacy of William S. Burroughs” 5-8 Feburary Bloomington IN.

William S. Burroughs is an American author, essayist, painter, and spoken-word performer, and would turn 100-years-old this upcoming February. He is considered to be “one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century,” writing eighteen novels and six short story collections. His life’s journey took him through an education at Harvard, many reckless experiences in Mexico and other countries, and countless artistic endeavors amongst the other great Beats, Kerouac and Ginsberg, in New York City.

In celebration of his 100th birthday this February, Bloomington has developed a festival in his honor, knowing his influence throughout America, and our own everyday lives. We are calling this event the Burroughs Century, but we are not looking backward; rather, we believe that the Burroughs Century is ongoing, that we are in the midst of it, and we intend to stage an event that indicates the full range of that continuing influence, including a film series, art and literature exhibits, speakers and panels, musical performances, and more.

Listen to The Beatdom Podcast for more information on the festival and discussion of the Beat Generation.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ten Online Documentaries on the Digital Revolution

The Internet is now the driving force behind change and innovation in the world.

1. Download: The True Story of the Internet
2. The Age of Big Data
3. Resonance: Beings of Frequency
5. Life In A Day
6. Networked Society: On The Brink
7. Us Now: Social Media and Mass Collaboration
8. WikiRebels: The WikiLeaks Story
9. The Virtual Revolution: The Cost of Free
10. How Hackers Changed the World

290 more documentaries in a similar perspective to arts life and politics here.

Preserving Digital Literature: 'Alleph: A Self Portrait' by Sakab Bashir (2003)

'Alleph: A Self Portrait' won a BAFTA Interactive Arts Award in 2003 for its author Sakab Bashir. The work is no longer available online, but I include some screen shots here from a prolonged study I made of it as part of my graduate work for a earlier incarnation of my PhD thesis. 'Alleph' is a beautiful multimedia production in which links opened to audio and video loops. Seven spaces linked together to provide an allegory of the major stages of life. Material was lifted from the 12th Century Sufi poem The Conference of the Birds and intertwines with material sampled from popular films from the 20th Century, images of a school, a prison, a hospital, a workshop and a menhirs on a hill. There are adaptations of seven verse stories from The Conference of the Birds in Alleph; ‘A Pauper in Love’, ‘The Heron and the Sea’, ‘Rabe’eh and the Two Grains of Sand’, ‘The Ambiguous Courtesan’, ‘The Devil Complains’, ‘Joseph and the Well’ and ‘The Martyrdom of Hallaj’. Titles flowed across the screen and one manipulated and navigated the text of 'Alleph'. As one navigated further through the work the flowers opened around the main image, thus positioning the reader in the looping structure of 'Alleph' (it resumed again once the final image had been completed for links and media).

I present a few screen shots here to give an idea of what 'Alleph' looked.