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Paddy Johnson interviews Cory Arcangel:
FANZINE: In fact it was a friend, Yael Kanarek, that organized your first talk in 2001 at Eyebeam. I remember this talk because you said some rather nasty things about Flash––the crux of your argument being that you should understand how a program is built if you are going to use it, and that Flash makes everything look the same. I saw your lecture at Columbia University in 2004 online, where you appear to have changed your opinion a little. Though you don't speak specifically about Flash, you do mention that you now believe that as long as you understand software imposes an aesthetic then it is fine to work with it. What was it that made you change your mind?
CORY ARCANGEL: Well in 2001, I was still a punk basically, and just thought it was my way or the highway. This was inherited from the BEIGE days, where we kinda rolled as a computer gang, and pretty much hated anything that wasn’t exactly like what we were doing. But I guess as we grew older we started seeing all this work that we loved that wasn’t necessarily 100% craft aware. In fact it was the opposite. I mean look at the Internet? How many amazing crappy Flash animations are there? And those are amazing!! Also, I began to see bad Photoshop art where the artist knew it was bad and was therefore OK. So I needed to find a way to accommodate this perspective.....otherwise I would be ruling out a lot of great self aware media art that is made these days. I had to have a way to deal with that in my own set of rules...
UFOs are real! Joe McKay has been photographing them. Talk about hiding in plain sight--all along they've been masquerading as ordinary streetlamps. Special lenses and McKay's tremendous personal courage allow us to see the alien vessels as they really are. (more)
Update: does this photo qualify as a Kaloogian? (Link removed. Wikipedia was considering adding "Kaloogian" as a word, named after California right wing congressional candidate Howard Kaloogian, who posted a picture of Instanbul on his website to "prove" how peaceful Baghdad is under the US' benign guidance. The proposed definition of "a Kaloogian"--meaning a piece of false or falsified visual evidence--was broad enough to include Photoshop-revealed space aliens. Looks like the wingers and/or word-purists won the battle and Wikipedia pulled it.)
Recommended: Guthrie Lonergan's 9 Short Music Videos. Reminiscent of BEIGE's cheesy blue (green?) screen vids, each is built around some corporate sound (ringtone, Microsoft boot-up noise, DVD intro) that craps up our daily lives. Also good: Bricks Video. And a lecture "Surfing the Internet in Public." Be sure to check out Ian Haig's "Men of the Internet" while you're there. Really need to spend more time surfing. So many gems, so little time...
Check this out, all you laptop bombadiers:
Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major of the U.S. Army, was a founding member of Delta Force, the military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He culled his experiences for "Inside Delta Force" ... a memoir rich with harrowing stories... He serves as an executive producer and technical adviser for "The Unit," CBS' new hit drama based on his book, developed by playwright David Mamet...
Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?
A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward...
We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.
Q: What is the cost to our country?
A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.
The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed---which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.
Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...
A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.
I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.
"Brakin' (Remix 2--Get Me to Lee Miles Mix)" [mp3 removed]. John Parker remix of my Mac SE tune (and my mix of his mix, etc.--this has been traded back and forth a few times). Still work in process--we're still composing and editing this piece, but I like this stage.
I'm actually not sure who bloggy and Tyler Green are taking sides with in the Jack Pierson vs Barneys dustup. Barneys supposedly "forged," for its store displays, its own set of Pierson's "trademark" sculptures made out of found sign letters. Pierson is mad, and his gallery Cheim & Read wrote a pedantic letter to the clothier that stops short of asserting an actual intellectual property right but nevertheless accuses the retailer of a "fraudulent situation."
But given that those kinds of sculptures are commonplace--you see them in craft fairs, regional art shows, and T.G.I. Friday's-calibre restaurants--that's a bit like Duchamp writing an indignant letter to a urinal manufacturer. As long as the accusations of "fraud" are flying around, why doesn't Pierson have his gallery write an outraged screed to the stock photography company selling this royalty free image:
Or maybe sling a fraud allegation at painter Leslie Brack while he's at it?
OHM: the Early Gurus of Electronic Music, a 3-CD collection of groundbreaking analog and digital music up to about 1980, was recently re-released with an added DVD. The best moments are the documentary films and interviews; the weakest are the many attempts to wed visual art with music. Highlights:
--Edin Velez's grainy documentary video of Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Company trucking their several tons of Moogs to NY for a live gig in 1976. Their Terry Riley-ish composition "Water Wheel" is heavenly. Three keyboardists play all the "loops" live. Nowadays music like this could be done with a laptop and a freeware sequencer, but it just wouldn't...be...the...same.
--Laurie Spiegel playing the Alles digital synthesizer (PDF), another monster piece of gear from the '70s (see above). Very reedy, pleasantly artificial, FM (frequency modulated) notes issue from this NASA-looking contraption.
--Interview with Bebe Barron, one of the Forbidden Planet scorers, who mentions that Harry Partch had been hired by the studio to do the music and then fired when Bebe and her husband Louis were brought on board. Ouch! Their score is great--still hard to believe something so unmelodic got past the studio heads--but for Partch the loss of cash (if nothing else) can only have hurt.
--Interview with Milton Babbitt, about the early days of the Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Center.
Paul Lansky's score for Grady Klein's animated cartoon "The Dust Bunny" grabs your attention from the first note. The cartoon, resembling Pixar on a budget and chronicling the battle between a robot vacuum cleaner and the eponymous dustball, is too cutesy by half--we've seen this Tom & Jerry schtick so many times it's impossible to make it fresh. Listened to Lansky's music again with the cartoon minimized and realized how much depth it added to the animation. It's film-music-like--at one point recalling Stewart Copeland--but has a life of its own as a composition straddling the post-serial academic and pop entertainment worlds. Also very FM-sounding, with an intriguing lack of "attack transients" (the gritty, white noisy sounds usually heard at the beginnings of notes): the tones were eerily smooth even when the score was at its most boisterous (the sharp attacks all came from the Foley track, a clatter of goofy sound effects done by someone else). Many strange digital synthesis sounds (alien drones, scary glissandos) were slipped into the conventional-style orchestration. There is something very powerful, very melancholy in the music--an undertow, hard to put your finger on.
The visuals on the OHM DVD designed to "go" with music mostly failed to attain its "condition," as a Modernist might say. From tepid "state of the art" computer animation to old-school gelatin-on-the-overhead-projector psychedelia, the imagery was consistently outclassed by the emotional, expressive power of the sounds. Far better examples of synesthetic combinations can be found on the recent Kraftwerk tour DVD Minimum-Maximum, but that's another post.
Probably doesn't matter how well these sync up--though they're likely better with a rhythmic wobble than an arhythmic wobble.
Update, whoa--just saw these on Internet Explorer (I've been using Firefox). They're very much in sync even though two of them are set at 10 frames per second (22 frames in all) and the other two are set at 20 fps (and 24 frames). Further update: I was wrong about IE--I'm getting random behavior with it now.