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Last night vertexList gallery hosted a semi-private screening of the documentary film 8-Bit, directed by the gallery's proprietor Marcin Ramocki (who is also an artist) and produced by Justin Strawhand, who did the cinematography. The subject is art and the video game, but several distinct cultures and subcultures overlap: the big three being conceptual art, gamers, and electronic music but within that the demoscene, chiptunes, gameboy music, and miscellaneous odd hacks. It's a PBS-quality collection of talking head interviews (including yours truly wearing a suit jacket and doing his best critic impersonation), interspersed with concert footage, video clips, and a kaleidoscope of stills that underscore and comment on things being said in the interviews.
Highlights include the stage appearances of Tree Wave and Bodenstandig 2000 at Jeffrey Deitch last spring, Cory Arcangel discoursing on Nintendo cracking and the different types of synthesizer sounds in '80s computers, Alex Galloway's explanation of his Nam Jun Paik-like physical hacks bringing out the inherent flaws and coding errors in console games, footage from Eddo Stern's trippy, deconstructed Vietnam war game landscapes, Joe McKay on Audio Pong and the attempted or presumed realism of early hockey games, and it must be said, my withering putdown of gameboy music followed by Nullsleep telling me to fuck off from the stage at Deitch. A movie with an eternally adolescent pursuit at its core just wouldn't be complete without a good food fight.
Steve Gilliard's wrapup on the transit strike is below. Most New Yorkers supported the strike (at least for the few days it lasted). We're talking about skilled workers who get us around the city safely--it's not the typical McJob where employers pay low wages and constantly flip staff. And Mayor Bloomberg really screwed up by calling the transit workers "thugs." But then we already knew he was an *sshole, for bringing the Republican "thugs" to NY and encouraging mass arrests of innocents.
Roger Toussaint not only got a great deal for his members, but he faced down the city's media without so much as breaking a sweat. The Daily News and Post so miscovered the strike as to be rendered useless to the majority of New Yorkers. They kept looking for a groundswell of anger, when instead, there was a ground swell of support for the union among their public service and private industry peers. Did they think Con Ed and Verizon workers were going to turn on their public sector union brothers and sisters?
It was an amazing miscalculation which walked Bloomberg into a fatal mistake. Calling the union members thugs was an amazing error of judgment, one, the well-connected mayor should have avoided.
What many people, including Jen, didn't understand, was the provenance of that word in black New York culture. First, in the tabs, it's only used to describe two groups of people, mafia goons and black and latino criminals. But that isn't why it blew up on Bloomberg.
It harks back to the the Central Park Jogger case where five teenagers were framed for the rape of a Wall Street banker. Donald Trump took out a full-page ad ranting about how these "thugs" needed to be punished.
When it turned out that all five had been framed, despite the open disbelief of the tabs. Michael Daly, the News lead columnist, and a Yalie, went so far as to try to link the innocent boys, all of whom had unjustly served seven years in prison, to the crime despite DNA evidence to the contrary.
Then, Bloomberg violated the other key rule of New York life. You do not attack working people as criminals. If they work every day, you don't slander them like that.
But once those words flew from his mouth, it was the final card Toussaint needed in outplaying the MTA. Because that solidified minority support for his union. One poll showed 61 percent of black New Yorkers and 44 percent of Latinos supported the strike, along with 38 percent of whites.
Because that threw race on the table in a way Bloomberg didn't expect. But sure found out about when City Hall was deluged with calls from his black supporters.
What Bloomberg and many white New Yorkers forget is that the heart of the city's revival is not the Eurotrash and hipsters of Billyburg, but the working class and middle class union workers of the city's minorities. It is the TWU members and Con Ed and Verizon workers who not only keep this city running, but who also invest in the city's neighborhoods, demand better schools and send their kids to the city's colleges. They make New York work, where so many other cities failed. Unlike Washington DC, they didn't flee to the suburbs, leaving behind only the poor. Even the city's housing projects have large numbers of working people.
So to have the mayor insult the people who helped return him to office, reeked both of arrogance and racial insensitivity on a grand scale.
The fact was that the TWU and specifically, Roger Toussaint, had some pretty large reservoirs of good will going into this. The union had repeatedly asked for safety training, stood with riders on fair increases and opposed the land giveaway for stadiums. Which may not have mattered to some footsore white progressives, who demanded the "overpaid workers" be fired, but it mattered to many other New Yorkers.
But many people, like the racists at the Manhattan Institute, need to consider something: they are no longer relevant. They might have had a hearing in Giuliani's bitterly divided New York, but no future mayor can afford to take them seriously. Why? Because the majority of New Yorkers will not tolerate it.
Steven Malanga proved himself to be an idiot without recompense. Fire the workers? And replace these highly skilled and technically adept workers with whom? What he wanted to say was punish the colored for getting out of line, but political reality has changed. Minorities are the majority in New York, and his advice was suicidal.
The MTA caved on every issue, and offset the fines, something the mayor and governor swore would not happen, with pension payments, because they didn't have the public support and they knew it. Who knew what would happen in Albany with a longer strike? Would the Assembly start an investigation? Who knew? But the MTA calcuated on an angry public and they got one, but angry at them, not the union.
Bloomberg and Pataki not only lost, but look small and petty in the process.
"Stab Array" [mp3 removed]. The idea here was to write two phrases, assign a drum loop to each, "array" the phrases in checkerboard fashion on the piano roll with up to four sample instruments per phrase (three synth "stabs" plus bass) in various combinations, then edit back for maximum timbral variety and surprise--that is, make a song as opposed to a mere minimalist exercise. The result is a sort of "speed jazz" drum and bass that some algorithm could have spit out, but I did the choosing (and phrase writing) myself. Not all that different from what I normally do, just more deliberately arithmetical.
Why did I reBlog...I mean draw this? Just a random party pic from the interweb. I admired the pose because the girl is primping (her hand is fluffing her hair) while she is taking a photo of someone else. And while some of my fellow meatheads of the type that made Jennifer Connelly a household name might be inclined to gawk at her figure, to me the way she has the camera strap wound around her hand is the dead sexiest thing about the pose. Yeah, men are weird, but so are women. Not her, though, she's great.
"Heavy Heavy Hippos" [mp3 removed]. Hey, I had to call it something. Sort of a lite dubby rock and roll tech house thing.
Update: Something I plan to change on this: there's a dropout at the halfway point where the remaining kit is panned too far to one side--sounds too much like you're losing a channel. Update 2: Fixed now.
May your holidays be filled with joy and tensegrity. (Six "basic smileys" were lifted from some dumb google ad on Josh Marshall's site and the rest is MSPaint manipulation to make this festive molecular tree.)
Hope everyone is well, thanks for checking in on Christmas day. Posts will keep coming, or that's the plan, anyway. Signed, Santa.
The deep-rooted accident of the duplicate [Captain] Kirk turns a questioning spotlight on the "essence" of the transporter, which is the absolutist phantasmagoria of total knowledge of a person captured in a digital pattern or "quantum physics" snapshot of [his or her] subatomic particles. ["Evil Kirk's"] appearance brings into relief a deep-seated anxiety about the philosophy of cloning and the "too perfect" operational system of quantum information science and the coming digital-quantum teleporter. Techno-culture's "vision" or fanciful goal of the transporter is the contemporary project of a wholly self-contained scientific system and hyperbolic construction of a fully self-referential human subject without real others. It is the dream of a human being understandable entirely through her formation, identical to herself, and leading a completely knowable existence. "The Enemy Within," as literature, questions this totalizing edifice through the tropes of the accident and the double.More from Alan N. Shapiro on the overt and covert agendas of Star Trek and the "Star Trek industry," this time from his excellent book Star Trek: Technologies of Disappearance. It's a wised-up, culture-crit antidote to all those Physics of Star Trek type books. An earlier post on Shapiro is here. I hadn't really considered it before: Richard Matheson, writer of I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, and other scary fables of modernity is asked to pen a Star Trek episode, early, early in the series. His dark, sardonic mind begins sifting through the relatively new TV show's available story hooks. "Aha, the transporter," he thinks, going right for the hot button anxiety viewers can't help but feel about this miraculous device, which disassembles the body and forces users to put their trust in some unknown techy in their most ultimately vulnerable, unwhole state. All this assumes Matheson didn't just take over someone else's script treatment, but in any case, what emerges is the Jekyll and Hyde tale of Captain Kirk split into "Evil Kirk and Weak Kirk," each unable to function without being reintegrated with the other. Citing Paul Virilio, Shapiro frames the ingenious tale in terms of what it reveals about technology's "built-in accidents waiting to happen."
"Drat Fink Was Here" [mp3 removed].
I told drat fink that in appreciation of his generous time downloading torrent files of vintage drum machines, I would name a song using the files in his honor. This piece is kind of um--spacious; it's meant to be a shrine to the sounds produced by the 1974 gem above (or something similar from that time period by the Ace Tone company--not sure exactly which unit got sampled). Photo from the Keyboard Museum.