Three commissions @ $3,000 will be awarded. The deadline for proposals is November 1. The works will premiere at Pace and on Turbulence in April 2011.
The curators are seeking works that address the notion of “Levels | Hierarchies”, as in chains of command, levels of play, stages of life, degrees of comfort... Pace Digital Gallery is, itself, distributed across three floors of a building; within a broad stairwell to be precise. Practitioners are required to address the theme according to both the physical space and the distributed space of the Internet, where the works will permanently reside.
Potential applicants who live in New York are encouraged to visit the gallery to see the space (gallery hours are Tues - Fri, 12 - 5pm). On view through October 22, David Crawford: Retrospective. Otherwise, here are some images of the space.
For full submission/application requirements please see the announcement on Networked_Performance
[Artwork for Ryoji Ikeda's Datamatics]
Composing with Process is a series of six episodes, written and edited by Mark Fell and Joe Gilmore, which explores generative approaches (including algorithmic, systems-based, formalised and procedural) to composition and performance primarily in the context of experimental technologies and music practices of the latter part of the 20th Century. Each episode is accompanied by an additional programme, entitled EXCLUSIVES, featuring unpublished sound pieces by leading sound artists working in the field.
The first two episodes of Composing with Process are online and available for download and streaming and contain work from Florian Hecker, Ryoji Ikeda, Mika Vainio, David Tudor and others – listen here.
[Philip Jeck, Jean Baudrillard / Spool, Le Xerox et l’Infini / photo via: Hard Format]
Nostalgia for a certain point on the brief timeline of the machine age is a relatively new phenomenon; or at least it is a condition that is being more explicitly integrated into audio artists' public statements than before. Past music subcultures with a nostalgic component to them have hewn as closely as possible to an organic presentation (although the suspicion of insincerity is rightly aroused when 'folksy' and 'organic' acts insist on ultra-modern promotional machinery to aid them in their projection of such an image.) This is less evident in revivals of the kind abetted by labels like Tapeworm, where there is no hint that mechanization is an automatic disqualification for a work's being considered "authentic." Cassette culture stalwart Hal McGee has even referred to the post-industrial music released during the prior "cassette culture" as a kind of "folk" music in and of itself: in both cases, the locus of authenticity shifts away from the implementation tools and towards the overall attitudes of the artists to both creative process and end result. The need to further the expressive life of a small tribe of individuals, and the precedence this takes over commercial concerns, is a common feature of folk music and of self-released electronic music. In fact, with the history of electronic music being much more open to examination now than in any previous era, it seems more and more naïve to believe this music has been made entirely in the service of futurism. For example, the enveloping two-note synth drones and primal vocal whoops of the ur-electropunk duo, Suicide, had much more to say about the time in which they were composed than about any future utopia or dystopia1. Also, much has already been written about electronic music's attempts at providing a shamanic 'trans-temporal' continuity not excluding the present, as in the trance states encouraged by all-night raves.
Certainly, the attachment of utopian hope to machinery and circuitry is far from dead, although it must compete more strongly than ever against the critique of constant technological novelty. For every Wired reviewer who lauds the "liberating" potential of the latest generation of iPods and their ability to serve a number of functions with no movable parts, there is a skeptic like Tapeworm's creative director Philip Marshall, who denounces the widening rift in the producer-consumer relationship that these devices create.
Over the past several years, cultural theorist Alexei Monroe has been one of the more reliable commentators on the phenomenon of "tech-nostalgia," and it seems logical to turn to him at this point in the discussion. When discussing this phenomenon, Monroe uses the metaphor of the "sleeper agent" for a cultural flashpoint that "will activate at some point in the future when they themselves are re-discovered and/or re-invented, destabilizing their own time and potentially releasing a further set of unintended consequences in another two to three decades."2 It is a colorful analogy, and one that probably springs from Monroe's own interest in Cold War Europe and the history of espionage and subterfuge that accompanied that era. Currently recording electro artists like Franz Falckenhaus also romanticize the period's heightened suspense in the design schemes and track titles of their albums (Falckenhaus' Stories From My Cold War features tracks such as "Surveillance In The Hotel Lobby," "Escape From KGB Agents In The Old Town," and "A Tupolev Disappears In The Darkness.")
Yet, despite the potentially ominous overtones of the term "sleeper agent," Monroe contends that their creating an explosion of unintended consequences is a positive scenario where "tech-nostalgia" is concerned. He also proposes a negative scenario involving the exploitation of consumers who seek out authenticity and inspiration in re-discovered "sleeper cell" artifacts, which could certainly include rarities from the early days of the underground cassette network. Considering how that culture relied so heavily on minimal recording and reproductive techniques, it is easy for a savvy rip-off artist to emulate their model with today's powerful microprocessors: "pre-stressed" graphic design and simulated "lo-fi" audio can very easily be confused for legitimate "period" pieces, especially when prospective buyers have convinced themselves that there was far more clandestine audio activity from the previous generation than has already been documented. When such items are being sold through the digital marketplace rather than in physical retail shops, the con is that much easier to pull off on hopeful "tech-nostalgics" before they realize the extent to which they've been duped. Monroe likens this process of falsification to the production of bogus relics by the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, one aspect of the "barter in spiritual things" which became known as the crime of simony:
As in the present, this was partly based on people’s genuine and continued need to possess what they believed to be lost relics, that might reduce the time spent in purgatory or show their devotion to the community (as the fan demonstrates their devotion by possessing a rare artifact such as a “lost” album.)3
While Monroe casts a wary eye on modern-day producers of fake cultural relics, he also suggests that there will always be a portion of the listening audience that enjoys these fakes and the spiritual rewards that they may confer in spite of their dubious origins- even if they are fakes, they may still comfort the "tech-nostalgic" listenership by reassuring them that yesteryear's ideals of truth and beauty can survive in the present. With this in mind, he also warns against "zealots" that may narrow the range of "acceptable" listening to certifiable originals, despite the fact that the carefully constructed fakes may have some redeeming value.
Monroe's insights in the following conversation, though informed by his personal tastes, are applicable to the broad spectrum of "tech-nostalgic" thinking.
Thomas Bey William Bailey: One thing I was thinking of the other day- some of the quirky ‘retro-futurist’ trends we see now, such as people selling hand-crafted fashion items made to resemble vintage synthesizers, seem unique to me- I think this is because most 'traditionally' nostalgic cultural manifestations have tended to champion pre-industrial, ‘organic’ modes of living as being the most ‘authentic’ ones. Do you feel the pop culture from, say, the ‘90s to the present is really the first to have such a penchant for ‘tech-nostalgia,’ or for seeing previous eras of as electronic development as being more sincere?
Alexei Monroe: From a historical perspective, it seems unlikely that any pattern is totally unprecedented, and as I began to write this I was struck by the most obvious 1970s example of tech-nostalgia, which in some ways has structured the sonic and visual manifestations of all tech-nostalgia in electronic music. Kraftwerk – "Radioactivity" [embedded above] in particular, the way they used the romantic aura surrounding the early days of radio. Firstly there's the image of the Volksempfanger (Third Reich-era radio set) on the cover. They could have chosen a contemporary shortwave set of the type which now has a nostalgic aura around it, but they chose a 1930s set (and were criticised for using this icon of Nazi technological modernism.) "Radioland" is the best example of their technostalgia, but also "Airwaves" and "Radio Stars". There's a pervasive technostalgic romanticism at work in the album, even if it's also ambivalent and ironic.
In the aftermath of Punk, there was a kind of Denkverbot (mental/conceptual prohibition) against anything associated with the '70s and this included (for instance) Moog synthesisers and analogue generally. Cubase, the Atari, and sequencing were making it possible to create electronic music without using expensive units that were tainted by association with the hippie and prog eras. If we look at pop culture from the '90s, then one of the dominant forces from about '92 to maybe 2000 was techno, and techno carries the influence of Kraftwerk's retro-futurism in its DNA (even if it's not always apparent on the surface). It's interesting that almost simultaneously with the vanguard era of techno, you also had producers like Sven Vath straying into '70s- influenced synthesiser motifs and starting to discuss the devices of the period. My (sketchy) theory is that the techno and rave movements met with repression just as the previous Denkverbot wore off. Techno either went underground (into specialist forms like minimal techno or gabber - both of which fetishise vinyl as a technology) or went closer to the mainstream. In both cases, this is maybe symptomatic of a loss of faith in explicit futurism, and/or a belief that past futurism was more powerful and authentic.
I think another reason for this loss of faith was that just as music became more explicitly post-human and futuristic, music technologies became ever blander and utilitarian as objects. This led people back to boxes with wires, and to the unpredictability of analogue technology. It's as if when the (aesthetic) future finally arrived, it was so anti-climactic and instantly quotidian that people needed to search for it in the past. Other factors might be the general rehabilitation of the '70s that began in the mid-'90s, first as irony and then as unapologetic fetishism (I have another theory about how '70s revivalism was a symptom of increasing populism and reactionary politics in Britain.) This was very much a market-driven process as is much of technostalgia (for instance limited edition reproduction synths and mixing desks with walnut veneers etc.) This is not to say that analogue technology doesn't have some real sonic virtues, which are hard to replicate with contemporary gear, but this kind of technostalgia can't be considered in isolation from market and cultural trends (in my own project we're moving away from laptops to physical devices, although nothing older than a [Roland] TB-303). In summary, you could say that digital is banal and omnipresent, and this only adds to the lost futuristic aura surrounding analogue (which of course is very important to the (re)-production of '80s electronic and industrial sounds). Perhaps there's even something culturally positive in this rejection of perfection in favour of rawer and less stable technologies.
Do you feel that, as you've mentioned here with people’s love of analogue technology, these period-specific references are being used because they provide a convenient metaphor for the geopolitical anxiety and utopian hope we now deal with (and perhaps are intended to offer us a bit of comfort as well, by hinting that the early 21st century is not the only age to have experienced its ‘unique’ shocks?) Or do you feel this re-appropriation is being done on a more naïve level- that is to say, cultural flashpoints as diverse as the DeLorean DMC-12 or Soviet MiG fighters just look and sound “cool’?
The Cold War is a very rich and evocative period, particularly the period of ‘New Cold War’ from 1980-1985, which I remember clearly. I think that the general cultural awareness of the proximity to mass annihilation did directly influence the aesthetics of the period, and even that there is a type of ‘Cold War poetics’. Perceived mortality and ongoing crisis tend to generate deep and even sublime cultural responses. A track like Test Dept’s "Comrade Enver Hoxha" transports you back to that time instantly (and helps those too young to remember it experience it vicariously.) I would even say this period is so intense (and far from fully processed) that there is as much legitimacy in contemporary producers addressing as there was at the time. The only question is whether those with no lived experience of the period can do more than replicate the style or aura of the period. One comparison might the be the explosion (literally) of interest in World War Two, and all the films made on it during the sixties and seventies. Certainly it was a cultural obsession for my generation (born 1969.) By this cyclical logic, a fascination with the New Cold War seems unsurprising. It may also be a way of relativising the current real and imaginary threats the West faces, as these (currently) do not include mass global annihilation.
I can partly relate to the fascination among with the period among younger people because although I remember the news and general atmosphere of the period, I was about 5 years too young to be directly involved in the industrial culture of the early '80s. However, I like to think I can re-imagine myself in the culture of that time better than someone 5,10 or 15 years younger.
[DeLorean DMC 12 / photo: Michael Smith]
Regarding the DeLorean example, that can be seen in directly political terms as part of what I term the kleptocratisation of culture that’s been ongoing since the mid-1970s and accelerated massively in the '90s. What we have now is an unashamed klepto-culture and it’s entirely natural and absolutely functional for those in line with the klepto-culture to celebrate the icons of the first ‘Greed is Good’ era. Even after the sub-prime crisis and the recession, I think there are many who would fight or even kill to preserve the klepto-culture and the economic relations it celebrates and fetishises. This has penetrated so deep into the social and cultural subconscious that many producers are not even aware of the extremity of the ideological statements they are making in this way. Of course some present these references as irony, but that serves the status quo just as well as those that unashamedly celebrate these references.
Given what you’ve said here, do you feel the current wave of retro-futurism would be possible (or, at least, as enthusiastic as it is now) without the fact that many of its original progenitors are still alive (and, in many cases, artistically active?) After all, I seem to remember a lot of the more acclaimed retrospectives of the second World War –like the 1973-1974 ‘World At War’ TV series- got their credibility from the participation, as interview subjects, of people who had been frontline combatants. A feat that obviously can’t be replicated now, 35 odd years later. So, in short, how valuable is the present-day input of ‘elder statesmen’ for the culture we’ve been discussing, especially since access to records of their work is fairly simple for anyone with an Internet connection and a will to parse a good deal of information?
Yes, I think this presence is important, perhaps especially as a 'corrosive comparator' - with veteran performers still active/present (assuming they're still artistically effective) then it's much harder (though not impossible) for younger producers to pass off sub-standard replicas. It's also important that the old guard is present in the clubs, passing on knowledge and (sometimes) adding authenticity. That said, my experience of the Reeperbahn club night was that I was the oldest person there (at 39.) The average age was mid to late twenties but they were playing records I bought or danced to between '89 and '92. It was also clear that for 99% of the audience it was simply a style statement: they had no awareness of, or interest in, the social or political contexts that generated these sounds. On the other hand, there are many veteran '80s artists now touring, re-releasing and issuing new material almost exclusively because of the neo-'80s trend that began around 2000.
One thing I find interesting about the revival of home-taping, which is happening to a significant degree in the various Industrial or esoteric underground sectors, is that it is often being done for the opposite reason that people once again pick up analogue synths- while the latter confer ‘authenticity’ along with a sound that people argue is superior to digital emulation, the former is seen as ‘authentic’ because of its inferior qualities- e.g., the cassette’s surface noise is more audible and adds somewhat to the intimate drama of listening. So this makes me wonder, is the ‘scene’ really as paradoxical as it seems here, or can these different takes on the concept of authenticity be logically reconciled somehow?
I think the confusion here is that authenticity and superior sound are not always the same thing (or not perceived to be.) Vintage Russian synthesisers are much in demand now, not because they sound better but because they sound 'other' and (arguably) 'worse' compared to Western models. I don't think the cassette revival is purely due to what we can call inverted sonic snobbery. More significant is that it's an attempt to connect with the eighties tape underground which is enjoying an afterlife, both through official re-releases (on Vinyl on Demand etc.) and through the ever-growing number of blogs dedicated to obscure cassette culture (there's even one on Yugoslav experimental music now.) As ever we can't wholly ignore the market factor - when buyers make purchases now they want something collectible - a standard CD digipak is insufficient. These cassettes are instant collector's items and symbolically connect the producers with their predecessors. Currently they also confer an 'underground' aura that isn't necessarily plausible – Touch Records are releasing a series called Tapeworm, but it's many years since they were an underground tape label, and for me doesn't quite ring true. That said, I will buy new tape releases if they're unavailable otherwise. It's also worth mentioning my favourite cassette album (Laibach's Kapital) contains different and better versions than those on the CD and vinyl (which also differ from each other).
Alexei Monroe is an independent cultural theorist currently based in London. He holds a PhD in Communication and Image Studies from the University of Kent. He is author of the books Pluralni Monolit (Plural Monolith, MASKA 2003) and Interrogation Machine (MIT Press 2005). These books deal with the Slovene arts movement Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). Interrogation Machine was reviewed in publications including Frieze, Radical Philosophy and The Wire. Besides his work on NSK, he writes widely on the aesthetics and politics of electronic music and wider issues of cultural theory, including an ongoing project on the cultural history of the Stag as a symbol. His work has been published in Contemporary Music Review, Central Europe Review, Kinoeye, New Moment, AS and other publications in Britain, Serbia, Slovenia, Brazil, Belgium and America. He is a founder member of the Industrialised Culture Research Network and also active as a DJ.
1. This is to say nothing of the lyrical content on the record, which deals with very of-its-time
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Our second VT Audio Edition is ready for the world and it is contributed by the Hamilton-based artist/musician Christina Sealey. Christina describes the piece, entitled "Living Spaces (live version)" as follows:
This recording combines location recordings and sound synthesis to create a psycho-geographical reading of a particular route through the city of Hamilton, moving from the harbour to the interior of the city and out to the periphery.
The piece is an improvisation drawing from material performed at the Art Gallery of Hamilton in spring 2009. Jump through to the release page for more info and a download link.
The Root of the Root is the title of a new group show featuring Paul Prudence, Marius Watz and Aaron Meyers that opens at Devotion Gallery in Brooklyn this week. The show will feature recent AV experiments and by Watz and Prudence and several laser-etched wood pieces by Meyers. The blurb for the show highlights the presence of each of these creators in their work:
While this art may harnesses the power of computation to create work enacted via machine, the human originator is ever present, even if acting by proxy. The works in this show amalgamate the organic and the methodical, seducing with pattern, texture and beauty.
More info on the projects being shown (and sold) is available at the exhibition page – the show runs Oct. 22nd through Nov. 21st and Watz will be running a related Processing workshop at the venue this week.
Electric Fields, the Ottawa-based AV culture biennial festival programmed by our peers at Artengine draws near. The event runs from Nov. 3-7th and one of the participants is Paul Jasen, a PhD candidate researching "low-frequency sonic experience". Paul posted an annotated mix on the Artengine blog in advance of a talk he'll be giving at the festvial and we've reblogged it below.
Not sympathy in the sentimental sense. Sympathetic vibration has nothing to do with the personal or emotional. For Helmholtz, it meant transduction of energy, resonance induced in a body – a room, a building, a glass, an eyeball – by an external force. At its resonant, or natural, frequency a body ceases to dampen energy and begins to oscillate with it, amplifying it, even to the point of self destruction.
A 40-minute, sub-centric mix, ahead of my talk (Bass: A Myth-Science of the Sonic Body) at this year’s Electric Fields festival. So much discussion about bass focuses on dancefloor material, so this mix goes the other direction, collecting a series of low-frequency investigations into industrial and earthly hum, pure tones, pipe organs, peculiarities of bodily resonance, and overlapping fictions of sound and signal. Listen loud. To borrow Eleh’s instruction: Volume reveals detail.
MP3: DOWNLOAD (320kbps / 95Mb)
TRACKS & NOTES:
Demdike Stare ‘Suspicious Drone’ (Modern Love)
Bass Communion ‘Ghosts on Magnetic Tape III’ Original and Reconstruction (Headphone Dust)
Thomas Köner ‘Permafrost’ and ‘Nieve Penitentes 2′ (Barooni/Type)
Eleh ‘Together We Are One’ (Taiga)
Nate Young ‘Under the Skin’ (iDeal Recordings)
Sunn o))) ‘Sin Nanna’ (Southern Lord)
Christian Fennesz plays Charles Matthews ‘Amoroso’ (Touch)
BJNilsen ‘La Petite Chapelle – Rue Basses’ (Touch)
Paul Jasen is a PhD candidate in Cultural Mediations at Carleton University. His research focuses on low-frequency sonic experience. He also DJs under the names Autonomic and Mr. Bump. Writing and mixes at Deeptime.net & Riddim.ca.
[Abinadi Meza / Mumina / photo: Pekka Mäkinen]
The 2010 ANTI Festival of Contemporary Art recently took place from Sept. 28 - Oct. 3 in Kuopio, Finland, and featured projects by an international selection of artists (including myself). The emphasis of this 9th annual edition of the festival was writing, language and site, and also included conferences and seminars around related topics.
[Sarah van Lamsweerde / Instant Fiction / photo: Pekka Mäkinen]
The works presented in the festival focused on live and performative projects, and were staged in various public or non traditional spaces including the local train station, municipal swimming pool, blood donor center, city parks, a former bomb shelter, and a harbour on the pristine Lake Kallavesi.
Kuopio is literally an archipelago city, as several parts of it are built on islands and the whole is totally surrounded by Lake Kallavesi. The city also has a unique feature in its street networks - nearly every second street is a “Rännikatu” (“rain gutter street”) for pedestrian and bicycle traffic only.
At the festival I presented a new work Mumina (eng. "Murmur"), a spatially-situated and distributed novella organized around five characters in five acts. Launched via QR codes and smartphones [screen captures embedded above], readers collected fragments of the ongoing text as they walked around the city. The texts evolved and progressed dynamically at thresholds of readership (once a chapter had been read by 100 people the corresponding QR code shifted to a new chapter), leading to impromptu games of finding, collecting and sharing texts among festival visitors. I regarded the piece as a participatory experiment in architectural/urban meta-tagging and sensory data streams.
[John Court / Eight Hours Writing / photo: Pekka Mäkinen]
Other featured projects variously emphasized elements of endurance (John Court, Kira O’Reilly), humour (Los Torreznos, Iva Supic Jankovic), surveillance (Sarah van Lamsweerde), athleticism (Regin Igloria) and translation (Holly Rumble, Johanna MacDonald). Much more information can be found on the festival website; preparations are already underway for next year’s 10th annual programme.
[Aaron Koblin / The Sheep Market]
5daysoff, Pervasive Media Studio, Kitchen Budapest and NIMk launch an open call for a cross-European residency program. We’re looking for interesting artists seeking time and space to research, produce and present projects at the intersection of art, mobility and culture involving audience participation. The program will support early stage ideas that utilize pervasive technologies and free/open source software. This is a valuable opportunity to explore process and develop experimental works within four unique collaborative environments to be presented in public space and/or festival environments.
What: 5days off 2011 will feature an exhibition that focuses on art works questioning and examining new production methods: projects that were produced using online means for production and creation of content such as crowd sourcing, that challenge the notion of artists as single creator or author of a work and experiment with notions of co-authorship and co-creation by e.g. involving others, knowingly or unconsciously in the development of a work.
In this context, we are particularly interested in projects that deal with the theme of mobility and involve the audience as co-creators in public space in a playful, dynamic or performative way by using mobile, wireless or sensory technologies in innovative and surprising ways. We are looking for projects that trigger individual actions/experiences that lead to a unique collective experience. Communication towards and participation of the audience is crucial. The project is situated in the context of electronic pop culture.
When: Projects will be developed during the period of December 2010 until May 2011. During this period beta tests will happen at 5daysoff in Amsterdam and at Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol. The 5daysoff festival takes place between 2-6 March 2011, and its exhibition from 18 February to 29 April 2011. The final work will be presented at a public festival.
Where: The residency will be hosted by four European organisations: Kitchen Budapest, NIMk, 5daysoff/Melkweg and Pervasive Media Studio. Time will need to be spent at each location and the organizations will provide targeted support (in the form of resources, space, technical support, local context and time) relevant to each stage of project development.
Deadline: November 12, 2010.
More information available at nimk.nl/eng/call-for-proposals-shared-artist-in-residence
In 2011 the Subtle Technologies Festival celebrates its 14th year of bringing people together to promote wonder, incite creativity and spark innovation across disciplines. Through symposia, exhibitions, workshops, screenings and performances we provide a forum to pose and explore questions and inspire work at the intersection of art, science and technology.
Next year’s festival takes place from June 2–5, 2011 in Toronto. For our 2011 event we are excited to be broadening the scope of our programming from a specific theme to be inclusive of all subjects that bridge art and science. As knowledge becomes specialized, compartmentalized and tagged it becomes more urgent to step back and look at seemingly unconnected artistic practices and fields of research to find new bridges and networks between them. For 2011 we will be moving away from a single theme in an attempt to foster new relationships and create new inter-disciplines. Based on submissions received, a diverse program will be assembled to represent a wide range of subjects and disciplines.
For the exhibition and performance portion of our program we typically showcase work that is engaging and technology based. Our symposium is made up of presentations, demonstrations and panel discussions that range from 15 to 45 minutes in length. We are interested in hearing successful stories from artists and scientists working together. We are equally interested in hearing about some of the issues that prevent disciplines from having stronger collaborations. What does the future hold in terms of interdisciplinary work? What approaches can we take to foster inter-cultural exchanges when it comes to science or technology based work? How do we make complex scientific systems more accessible to artists as tools for creating new work? Possible areas to be explored at the 2011 Festival from either an artistic or scientific approach include: acoustics, alternative energy, artificial Intelligence, astronomy, bioinformatics, biological systems, biometrics, chemistry, complexity, computer science, consciousness, environmental science, ethnobotany, funding strategies for interdisciplinary collaboration, genetic engineering, hacking and DIY culture, imaging techniques and systems, interactive systems, indigenous science, mathematics,, nanotechnology, network theory, neuroscience, pharmacology, psychology, physics, robotics, science and society, systems theory, transhumanism and virtual worlds.
The above topics are only suggested topics for inclusion in the Festival. Other topics within the realm of art, science and technology will be considered. To send in a submission to the 2011 Festival please click here. We strongly advise that you also review our archives to get a better sense of our previous programming.
Submission deadline: December 12, 2010.