Archive for May, 2011

Unashamed Oink Squirts

Dipping too deeply into the viscous gunk of L’Affaire DSK might threaten to clog the Netartery and provoke cardiac arrest, yet having performed a bit of scrabble anagram research on the lettric sequence D,o,m,i,n,i,q,u,e,S,t,r,a,u,s,s,K,a,h,n,  it would be churlish of me not to share my findings, as I am quite certain that DSK will eventually live up to his full nomological potential:

Squanders Inmost Haiku

Something le grand seducteur does with apparent regularity.

Outrank Maidens? Squish.

Internal IMF memorandum sent from the desk of DSK to all male employees.

Unromanised Squash Kit

Uncircumcised description of DSK’s genitalia.

Honkie Marauds; Squints

DSK on the French Riviera without sunglasses.

Squire’s Damnation Husk

DSK’s hindquarters after six months of hard time.

Quirkiest Shaman Sound

A speech given by DSK’s bon ami, BHL.

Antiquaries Mosh Dunks

DSK’s favorite activity at his Club Privé .

Unhandiest Squirm Soak

DSK in the shower, on Riker’s Island.

Squished Murk Sonatina

Music selected by DSK for his third wedding.

Qua Disharmonies Stunk

Reaction of guests to DSK’s wedding music.

Suitor Quashes Mankind

So long as they are female muslims from l’Afrique Noir – pas de problème!

Tarnished Squamous Ink

Residue left by DSK’s pen, found on carpets inside the world’s best hotels.

Humanoid Snake Squirts!!!

Typical NYC tabloid headline during le Joli Mai in the year 2011.

© Gregory Whitehead 2011

Dreaming Methods – Open Source Projects

Dreaming Methods has three new projects available to experience – each one created without the use of Flash or any other browser plugin.

Visiting dreamingmethods.com on the iPad now takes you to a new page of what we’re calling ‘open source’ digital fiction projects: Flight Paths #1, Changed and Floppy. Dreaming Methods now also has a completely different look when accessed on smart phones.

These projects are not specifically iPad only. They also work (in some cases in an enhanced capacity) on desktop computers too, because they’ve been developed using a combination of HTML markup, CSS and Javascript.

The first of the projects, part one of Flight Paths by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph, is a direct translation of the original Flash episode available on www.flightpaths.net. Using new HTML5 attributes such as audio tags and font embedding in combination with jQuery’s in-built animation and transition effects, this fragment of the story has become accessible on iPad and iPhone as well as desktop and can be bookmarked to those devices’ home screens. Although it’s not perfect, and doesn’t have the speedy graphical effects of its Flash counterpart, it’s an interesting exercise in how work can be ported across from one technology to another – in this case to increase its compatibility and potential audience – without publisher or App developer involvement.

Changed – perhaps the most ambitious work here in terms of multimedia – is the story of a young girl who has narrowly escaped death and is now hiding and reflecting on her ordeal beneath a roadway tunnel. Based on a script by screen writer Lynda Williams and built with the iPad’s native touch-scrolling in mind, the piece incorporates a soundtrack by sound artist Matt Wright (who we’ve worked with before on Impossible Journal) and offers several graphical enhancements when viewed in a full desktop computer environment – from video animation to parallax scrolling (all of which were either too processor intensive for the iPad’s javascript engine to cope with, or we just couldn’t figure out how to get away with it; upgrade releases may indeed follow.)

Finally, we’ve converted our 2004 project Floppy – about the disturbing contents of a semi-corrupt floppy disk found on a deserted road – from Flash to open source, allowing it to be viewed on non-Flash enabled devices, including of course the iPad. Hearing the iPad’s speakers produce those nostalgic floppy-disk access sounds made this conversion worthwhile alone, whilst the story itself seems to gain a strange new intimacy when read on a hand-held device.

http://www.dreamingmethods.com/opensource/
* currently best viewed in Google Chrome or Safari on desktop
- undergoing browser testing

Mainly The Mysteries

A few days ago, the publisher of the excellent print journal PAJ invited me to contribute to PAJ 100. The question: what do you still believe in, through all the riptides of the past decades? Since I doubt there is much overlap between the readers of PAJ and Netartery, I thought it might be of interest to post my response here as well, with a few ancillary web links.


Everything I had is gone

My first major radio play Dead Letters* had its premier broadcast in 1985, offering public radio listeners an hour of voiced bodies or ghosts of bodies that are hard to figure, hard to name. The broken memory of an ancient war story bleeds into the Elena Makropulos paradox of immortality while the crazed smear of Hitler’s bunker signature dances a jitterbug with the blackened phantom fingers of a young pianist, and while the hand of Judy Garland singing You Go To My Head reaches out to touch Napoleon’s dried and withered penis, the private property of a New York urologist.

Taken by themselves, such stories may seem fated (fingered) for the Dead Letter Office, unable to be delivered or returned. Yet when rubbed up against each other in consort, the bits and bites create a colloquium whose keynote themes are discovered, rather than announced. No preening host, and no smarmy theme or sentimental pretense. Simply an invitation to drift, ruminate and make connections where a split second before there had been nothing but bafflement and darkness. Utopian aspirations, to be sure, but I still believe in the pure power of free association, and since Dead Letters still receives copious airplay a quarter century later, perhaps there is something to it.

Unhosted Radio Play

In those early days, I embraced analog broadcast radio as my ideal creative home because the airwaves seemed to vibrate with the same qualities I sought to capture in my own plays, and in my own thinking: indeterminacy, fragility of signal, random access, tension between public and private, ambiguous borders, modulating rhythms, complex polyphony, and a pulse rate set by a wild heart.

No Data Miners Live Here

Such qualities drive the digital data miners nuts, and the assorted masters of corporate media would love to see the stubbornly unruly spaces of analog broadcast foreclosed upon, and eventually demolished, like the communal squats of Kreutzberg. They will fail, because for every data miner with an ice pick, three radio pirates are born into the airwaves. Nonetheless, for the past decade or so I have certainly been conscious of sending work into a space that many have forgotten, written off, or even condemned.

Potato God Scarecrow, completed only a few weeks ago, offers up a media philosophy quite resonant with Dead Letters, though this time shaped into the acoustic figure of a beaver lodge. I am fascinated by the neurosensual implications of the North American beaver, an artist engineer whose creative capacity is not centralized within its tiny brain but dispersed from head to tail.

To flow or not to flow

To my mind, such capacity has significant implications for narrative structure, and somewhere in the middle of the intricately beavered wetlands, along one of those rich edges where a few loose blazes suggest bright neural pathways cutting through dense limbic muck, a voice says, We have these many many many many mysteries and it’s mainly the mysteries that enthrall me when I’m walking along. A few things I know where they came from, most I don’t.

Many many many many mysteries

It is still mainly the mysteries that enthrall me, too, and I still believe in the poetic vitality of edges, which is where the mysteries reside. Edges between eros and thanatos, seduction and oblivion, order and chaos; between sense and nonsense, facts and fables, the living and the dead; between the lover’s whisper and the warrior’s scream. Friction among all these edges still creates ample energy to float my canoe among the beaver lodges.

And yes, I still believe in the power of radio to create community, even for an hour or two, and to feed the imagination with nutrients not offered elsewhere, and I believe that offering such a feast remains a worthy mission for public broadcasting in particular. Diversity is always desirable, and that includes poetic and aesthetic diversity. When we drop these qualities to the bottom of the pecking order, we crush our capacity to imagine a viable future for our mysteries.

What remains of Geronimo

A few days before I am writing this, a body codenamed Geronimo was scrubbed clean, wrapped in a white sheet, zipped into a bag, and slipped into the Arabian Sea. A few days before that, another body was scrubbed clean and wrapped in white as well, but this first body pursues a destiny as distant from the codenamed corpse as Buckingham Palace from Fort Sill, Oklahoma . With these two bodies in play, the essential question for the poet, the playwright and the philosopher remains: how do we get from the first white sheet to the last?

The Dress?

*  A complete transcript was published in PAJ 41 (1992). Though I conceived Dead Letters as a new kind of radio play, the source materials were gathered via documentary interviews, including one with PAJ editor Bonnie Marranca, who contributed her interpretation of the voice, hands and body of Judy Garland.

Gregory Whitehead is a writer, sound poet, playwright and radiomaker. Potato God Scarecrow will be broadcast as part of Radiophonic Creation Day 2011.