Archive for September, 2010
I’ve been listening to Amy Winehouse’s blue-eyed soul music (though hers are brown) recently, watching interviews and reading articles about her. I thought I’d post the best of those links. Of course, there’s quite a bit of twitter about her drug problems, but I wasn’t interested in that as much as the music.
She’s an extraordinary singer and songwriter. She’s such a Londoner but she’s also so deeply influenced by USAmerican jazz and soul. She’s extremely expressive in her singing. Expressive without emphasizing volume or power/strength of voice; the power and strength of her singing is mainly in expression, not so much in vocal athleticism. Though there can be a fine line between being expressive and simply being ornately mannered. Sometimes jazz can just have ‘too many notes’.
The profundity of the UK/USA musical bond is nowhere so evident as in Winehouse.
In prominent ways, her work is retro, but she is not simply a nostalgia act. She characterizes her music (I think she means her first album named Frank) as a combination of jazz and hip hop. Back in Black, her second album, is strongly 60′s soul and R&B and also has several ska tunes on it. Also, the producers she works with are artists in their own right. They’re not doing nostalgia. And Winehouse’s lyrics are far saucier than the jazz from the fifties and sixties; as Holly Combe points out in one of the linked articles, “she actually comes across as a tough-minded, libidinous woman wanting a tough-minded, libidinous man”.
It’s raining in 1989. Teenage schoolboy Carl lives with his grandmother on an anonymous housing estate and spends his time hanging out with Alex, an oddball kid obsessed with pseudo- philosophy and computer games. When Alex disappears for no apparent reason, things begin to change: Carl finds weird objects in his gran’s sideboard; his science fieldwork book reveals mysterious numeric codes; and none of his other friends even remember Alex.
Created by Dreaming Methods authors Andy Campbell and Judi Alston, Nightingale’s Playground is an ambitious work of digital fiction divided into four interlinked parts: an atmospheric browser based experience; an interactive virtual book with pages you can turn with the mouse; a short eBook download; and an immersive 3D game-like application that takes the written word into strange new dimensions.
About a year ago, John Cayley made a post on NetPoetic entitled “An Edge of Chaos”. In it he delimits a constraint-based networked-writing process: “Write into the Google search field with text delimited by quote marks until the sequence of words is not found. Record this sequence….”
A couple of weeks ago, I woke up with the idea of making a poem composed entirely of lines that returned no search results. “Wow”, I thought to myself, “what a great idea”. I had forgotten it was John’s idea.
If this situation occured in 2014 (for example), and on waking I told the idea to my girlfriend, perhaps the instant-speech-checking algorithmically-networked microphone next to our bed might have immediately alerted me to my potential plagiarism. As it is, my memory had to slowly percolate John’s prescient precedent to the surface of my mind like a splinter.
Neuronal latency in the 21st century data avalanche is a vestigial design flaw that needs to be technologically cauterized.
Imagine that (while typing / while speaking), footnotes, bibliographies and source attributions immediately auto-generate, links sprout around text, and areas of uniqueness are spontaneously (and perhaps effortlessly) patented. The race to network becomes a race to brand segments of communication, to demarcate phrases of language, to colonize conjunctions of text in the same way attributions of authorship emerged from the book.
A writer becomes a sewer (sic pun) of uniqueness. Instead of quotation marks, a new grammar of overlapping links allow the subtlety of appropriated text’s multiple inheritances to Xanadu off towards diverse sources. Instead of Flarf, context-specific algorithmic-grammars differentiate between semantically meaningful units of language and word-salad collage-spew net-wrack.
Dsytopic singularity theories aside, an era of instantaneous as-you-type network-search is arriving. Google Instant is just one stride in the sprint toward word-processing software that automatically checks writing for repetition and rewards writing that is both meaningful and unique.
David Clarke has created a new work of net art called Sign After the X in collaboration with Marina Roy and Graham Meisner. Sign After the X is structurally similar to some of Clark’s earlier works such as A is for Apple and 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein. The form of these works is one that Clark has been developing for some time now; A is for Apple, the first of them, was published in 2002.
The nodes or chapters/sections of these hypermedia works are done in Flash. They’re multimedia approaches to a subject. We hear a voice reading a text about Freud or Lacan or Wittgenstein or X (etc) while Clark’s animated visuals improvise with/on the text–in the sense that the visuals illustrate or explicate/explore/expand/riff/noodle on the text’s meaning. Sign After the X is organized into five categories: Mind, Body, Land, Language, and Law. Each of these contains anywhere from four to thirty nodes/Flash works.
The putative subject of Sign After the X is “the letter X and it’s multiple meanings in our culture“. And, yes, I can see it in some of the material presented. But it seems there’s more going on than that.
It’s only been over the last few years that, suddenly, just about all the folks in my family as old as my parents have all passed away. My mother and her four siblings have all died. On my father’s side, only his older brother is still alive; his three sisters are dead.
My mom was the executor of her older sister Georgie’s estate. And Georgie never had any kids. So mom ended up with a lot of photos and things from Georgie. Scrapbooks of at least a thousand obituaries; diaries; old cheques; divorce papers; marriage certificates; things like that.
I inherited the house from my parents, and have been going through 40 years of stuff. Mom found it hard to throw stuff out. I have to throw a lot of it out. But I was very fond of Georgie, and have tried, over the last few months, to put together something in her memory. I’m not sure how interesting it will be to people who didn’t know Georgie, but she was quite remarkable, really, in several ways.
http://vispo.com/georgie takes you to 170 pictures of Georgie arranged from birth to near the time of her death.
http://vispo.com/georgie/georgie.htm takes you to something I wrote about Georgie.
I also wrote the software that displays the photos.