Chip Folk Music

April 14, 2014

Folk music is almost as hard to define as chipmusic is. You have a feeling you know what it is, but if you start to explain it you’ll run into trouble quite easily. “Yeah, so you have to use certain instruments, but, eh, it’s not like you have to use those instruments. And not all music made with those instruments belong in the genre. Because there are typical aesthetical elements. Or atleast some people say that. Yeah, maybe it’s more like a community or lifestyle… so…”

Dragan of Bodenständig 2000 sometimes calls chipmusic home computer folk music. And he has a point. Some people say that folk music are basically traditions developed by “uncultured people“, as opposed to the people who talk about art, philosophy and culture all the time. People who just sort of do what they do, without talking too much about it. Stuff that develops almost naturally within a group at a specific time, using certain musical technologies (mechanical, digital, whatever). Most likely, this is how we’ve played with sounds together for centuries, before it was even packaged under the term “music”. In that sense, folk music is perhaps a retronym just like chipmusic is. And to me it makes all the sense in the world to call chipmusic folkmusic. But not to most other people.

But anyway. Balún posted a jibaro (Puerto Rican folk music) song made on C64 in 1987, which led @gusandrews to ask for more folk chipmusic. So I saw that as an opportunity to continue my quest to examplify various chipmusic genres. CrillFactor suggests that bag pipes sound similar to square waves, and I’ve atleast heard one (unreleased) chiptune by Nemo that mimicked this sound.

Minusbaby suggests reggaeton, which makes me think of Super Guachin but even more so Meneo who’s electrified many dance floors with his Gameboy reggaeton noise dance nudity. Reggae could also be thought of as a contemporary folk music, and there’s a book coming out soon about 8-bit reggae actually.

For me personally, growing up in north Europe, folk music means something else though. In ye ol’ colonialist Europe I guess black folk music is often labeled as “world music”. I made a song called Volksing once, which was supposed to capture that uncultured brutal schlager singalong folk style we have over here. Much white, very barbarian. Something more mature in that vein would be for example Bud Melvin and Mark DeNardo. It also makes sense then to mention Manou, Dorothy’s Magic Bag and 386DX here, I think. Maybe even the industrial Amiga poet Arvid Tuba.

But this is all contemporary folk music. How about the oldschool traditional kind? I’m talking about things like Education of the Noobz (by Dragan in Bodenständig) and Rugar. Melodic, emotional and something quite different from dance music, pop music or singer/songwriter stuff. I don’t think there’s much of that in the chipscene, since it was always dominated by danceable music. We’d have to go digging through games and demos to find more of this.

My head hurts a bit when I think about that though. If you have any suggestions, I’d be very grateful if you comment. Here are some suggestions where to start. For some reason it’s all Amiga music, and most of it is from Finland. Probably because their folk music is ze best! (though I don’t know what it is)

Pic Saint Loup – West History (more like country, I guess)

Bruno (rip) – Modern Surf, Serenade to…, Uralvolga fine

Dean – Sunset & Audiomonster – X-mas (calypso pop)

Dizzy – Johdattelupolska (and also Alternative samba, Fanatic Waltz, Girl from Ipanema)

Oh yeah, and if you want to play these songs I think the easiest way is to use VLC.

Two Years of Text-Mode

April 7, 2014

whale2

For the past two years, myself and Raquel Meyers have been running text-mode.tumblr.com. It’s a collection of text-mode graphics (ASCII, Unicode, etc) and related practices, and it goes back thousands of years in history. When we started it there wasn’t really any good place to find for example PETSCII or teletext graphics. There was plenty of ASCII and ANSI around. Sites like asciiarena and sixteencolors are incredible resources, but since they are not ‘curated’ you have to know what to look for. So we picked our favourites and posted it on Tumblr. Then we discovered a whole new world with the Japanese line ASCII at utf8art and the new Chinese BBS-graphics at ANSIart. And then we started to posts textiles, architecture, and other things that had a similar look as text-mode. Now there are more than 2300 posts!

On an average day we’ve made three posts with about 80 notes each (reblogs, likes, etc). In total there’s now 5000 images, and some videos. On ze Tumblr. Yeah. One thing that fascinates me with Tumblr is how quickly things spread around. And what kind of people that interact with it. It’s pretty cool to have obscure BBS-graphics being reblogged by both emo-teenagers and Bruce Sterling. But as the archive grew bigger we needed a better platform to search and browse it. And I’ve slowly started to write a sort of book on this topic, too. So something needed to change.

That’s why we’ve made t3xtm0.de – a WordPress site, where you can navigate the collection a lot easier. There is still work to do, but you can for example check two tags simultaneously to see things like typewriter art from the 1930’s, Chinese ANSI, ancient architecture or teletext art by Raquel Meyers. Or – you can get random posts here (highly recommended). Both sites are updated with the same content, but t3xtm0.de has been cleaned up and corrected, especially with the tags. Oh, and there is also a Twitter-account.

Go and check for example Advertising, Mosaic, Poetry, Scene, Square kufic and Toys. And other than the typical technical standards (ASCII, ANSI, Unicode) I can recommend ATASCII, FANSI, Minitel, PETSCII, shift-JIS, SharpSCII, Telidon, videotex and a lot more.

Alright, but back to Tumblr. How do our posts match up to all the memes, pr0n, hippish artish creative cool yeah stuff omg? Well, here are the most popular posts we’ve made, counting reblogs+likes. It’s a strange selection, that’s for sure..

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When Misuse of Technology is a Bad Thing

March 25, 2014

I found myself in an interesting discussion a few days ago about the term hacking. We all had different perspectives on it – art, piracy, demoscene, textiles – and it was quite obvious that this term can mean maaaany different things.

It can refer to a misuse of a system. I’ve written before about how appropriation reinforces the idea of a normative use and therefore daemonizes other uses which in the long run, I argue, is dangerous. Because then we learn to accept that software has to be approved by one company before it’s made public, or that it’s ok to fine some acne-generating teenage geek billions of dollars because he used internet “the wrong way”.

Hacking can also refer to a new use of a system. Something that hasn’t been done before. That’s often but not always the same thing as appropriation. This strive for the new is built into pop culture, but also in things like urban planning, party politics and science. Or, you know, capitalism. It has to be new and fresh! Creative! Groundbreaking! Share-holder-fantabulastic! Cooool!

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But new is not always new. Retromania and remix culture means that it’s ok to just combine or tweek two old things, and then it’s new. In fact, that’s the only thing we can do according to all these artistic and corporate views of creativity. Romantic geniuses and ideas that are not based on focus groups and “public opinions” are out of style. Steve Jobs is dead.

But these things all put the emphasis on two things: humans and results. We can also look at something else instead, which I think brings us closer to the oldschool meaning of hacking with model trains & telephone lines. The interplay between the person and the medium. Man machine. The process. I don’t mean that in some buddhist digi-hippie kind of way, I think. No, I mean it more in a media materialist ooo kind of way.

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Then we can say things like:

• Originality is when something is made without too many presets, samples, macros, algorithms and automated processes. The results are irrelevant, it’s the process that matters. Hm.

• It is possible to disrespect the machine much like you disrespect a person. By making it look like something it’s not. Pretending like you know that it can’t do better than it actually can. Machine bullying. Human arrogance. Hm.

• Machines don’t have intended purposes per se and we can never fully understand how it works and what it can do. To say that this is a zombie media or this is unlimited computing is, from a strict materialist perspective, equally irrelevant. It is what it is. Hm.

So: Imagine if a future view of creativity or hacking would be to make the medium act as well as it can, from some sort of  “medium-emic” understanding. The role of the human artist would just be to make digital media look as good as possible, sort of like a court painter. Computers understandefine human culture, humans glorify computers for computers.

Finding new combinations of ideas seem like a kind of machinic way of making stuff anyway. Book publishers that are completely automatized might just produce trash so far, but bots are already invading peer review science (!). Pop music has been computer generated since 1956 and classical music since a few years. But in a way, the music itself is not so important anymore because computers can put garbage in the charts anyway.

Disrespectful uses of technology is already illegal, or makes you lose your warranty, or locks the consoles, or makes it impossible to start the car, etc. Fast forward this perspective, and we have a world where artistic uses of technology might be punishable too. By death! Human arrogance leads to electric shock. Bad coding will lead to deadly explosions. Syntax error – cyberbullying detected!

So be nice to your machine. It’s the new cyberkawaii!

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A Short History of Hardcore Chipmusic

March 9, 2014

This post is an attempt to save some of the history of the harder kinds of chipmusic, before all of us forget what happened. Please comment or get in touch with corrections and more suggestions. This post will be continuously updated thanks to people like Alex Yabsley, Peter Swimm, Takashi Kawano, Abortifacient, Ant1, Nordloef, C-men, Rioteer, and … you?

Glenn Rune Gallefoss' C64

Those who think that chipmusic is cute and innocent will be surprised to know that there are thousands of evil, rough and hard chiptunes around. In fact, what we call breakcore today developed in the mid 00’s by using the same tools as chipmusic had done a few years earlier: amiga trackers.

In the mid 90s, the hardcore 4×4-pounding of gabber slowly evolved to a slightly more, uhm, “mature” genre. This evolution, I’ve been told, was driven forward by the Australian Bloody Fist label. Many of their artists worked with Protracker on Amiga. The label manager Mark (aka Nasenbluten) told me that they made 20 releases during 1994-2004 that were more or less only made on Amiga (see timeline).

The Amiga was likely used because it was affordable and available, reasonably portable, and also very sturdy. So it wasn’t only Bloody Fist who did this. I did it too, although there wasn’t exactly much interest for it. Elsewhere in in Europe the labels Fischkopf, Fifth Era and Digital Hardcore put out plenty of amiga hardcore with artists such as Patric Catani and Cristoph de Babalon. In USA, Milwaukee seems to have had a big Amiga following with eg Davros and Unibomber, later followed up by Dispyz who is now running Radio Graffiti that puts out plenty of hardcore Amiga music.

This music is sometimes called amigacore. This is not just a geek term – I saw it used in a record shop just a few years ago. It seems to be characterized by a raw and unedited sound, and isn’t necessarily made on Amiga. Remember, it was during the 90s that sample chopping and VST-wankery became popular, so this formed a sort of anti-thesis to that.

But in fact, the choppers and wankers of IDM wasn’t so far away from amigacore as you may think. Chopping and wanking had been done for years with trackers. And trackers are still well-suited to mess around with samples and create intricate beats by easily assigning effects to individual trigs and so on. Famous breakcore artists like DJ Scud and Venetian Snares seem to have started on Amiga, though I’ve yet to confirm this. But many famous IDM-artists started with trackers, such as Bogdan Raczynski, Brothomstates and Machinedrum.

After the 90s boom of amigacore, the next 8-bit hardcore booms came along with the growing hype of chipmusic. In the mid 00’s, gazillions of artists started to mix chipsounds and breakcore. My impression is that chipbreak often uses quite poppy and even trancey harmonies, along with amen breaks. I was doing quite a lot of this too at the time, and I really enjoyed the combination of happy & hard, like in Comsten. But I think Sabrepulse (UK), Saskrotch (USA) and possibly Bit Shifter (USA) were the biggest names in this field, and later maybe IAYD (USA)?. Tons of other artists worked in high tempos, such as Paza & Psilodump (SE), David Sugar aka Logic Bomb (UK), Divag and Computertruck (FR), Dorothy’s Magic Bag (SE), USK & Maru & BSK (JP), Jellica  & his Kittenrock label (UK), Eat Rabbit (FR) and Uoki Toki & 777 minus 111 (RU).

In tandem to chipbreak, others worked with darker atmospheres, sometimes bordering to noise and rock. Overthruster and Timeheater from USA seemed pretty outstanding at the time, and were also aggressively anti towards the more lightsided chiptunery. :|krew was an early-2000s group including Overthruster & Starpause. The mp3death-labelmaintained by Starpause, also put out plenty of evilry, as did 8CYLINDER. Baseck (MP3), though operating a bit outside the chipscene, put out plenty of good stuff too. American artists like Shitbird, Stagediver, CCDM, Kool Skull, WizwarsYatagarasuNarwhalz of SoundWet Mango & the label Datathrash continued to work in this field. 

In Europe there’s plenty of rave/noise/breakcore/gabber-disco people like Mobb Beep (DK), DJ Scotch Egg (UK), Next Life (NO), Gijs Gieskes (NL), Huoratron (FI), Dr Von Pnok & Zombectro (FR),  Hexadeci (UK), Kodek (LV), Distortled Box (ES) Lo-Bat (BE), Rioteer (NL), Unas (FR), and the French label Chip’n’Damned released some good stuff. Japan also had many artists, but right now I can only think of Aonami and Hizmi (and the rest of Ground Zero). Also check Kizan518. In South America I remember Una niña malvada used to get some pretty harsh stuff out there, and now Yz Yx is delivering some new goods.

Australia has continued to deliver the goods ever since Bloody Fist years. Ten Thousand Free Men and Their Families and Godinpants with a taste of punk rock, Abortifacient, Peaches the Wale… The Thematics Radio had tracker specials with lots of the aussie low-res hardcore, including links to mod and xm-files – check here.

Ok, that’ll have to be enough for now. Feeling pissed off that X wasn’t mentioned? Please help me to document this history by making a comment or get in touch.
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New Documentary on Chipmusic: Europe In 8 Bits

March 2, 2014

Europe in 8 Bits is perhaps the most ambitious chipmusic documentary to date. It has good cinematography and editing. It features people from most parts of Europe (I think they made something like 100 interviews). And it shows off both famous and unknown people from the chipscene, including an unusual appearance from the Nanoloop author, Oliver Wittchow.

I recommend you to see it for three reasons. First, it captures the generational shift that’s going on in the chipscene right now. New people, new styles, new approaches. To be honest, there are many aritsts in the documentary that I haven’t heard about before. A good thing! Secondly, I think that enough time has passed to start to make sense of what actually happened in the 00’s. This documentary has a very different feel compared to for example 8 Bit Generation (see below), that tried to capture something during its formative years. It usually takes a decade or so to be able to describe and contextualize what a subculture is and does. There’s more room for reflection. Thirdly, I think that Europe in 8 Bits captures the diversity of the scene. It’s not too arty-farty or party-party, not to geeky and not to philosophical. It’s somewhere inbetween. You get a bit of nostalgia, hacking, dumpster diving, DIY, games, etc.

There are now four main documentaries on chipmuic. Except for Europe in 8 Bits (2014), it’s 8 Bit Generation (2006), 8 BIT (2006) and Reformat the Planet (2008). Since some of them are pretty much impossible to come by, I thought I’d give a quick subjective summary of each ot them here (eventhough it’s been 8 years since I saw some of them).

8 Bit Generation (Lionel Brouet) was made in France and I think I saw it on some micromusic event in the south of France. I was interviewed for it when I played in Paris in 2005. It features Role Model, Bodenständig 2000, Manou, me, Relax Beat, Malcolm McLaren and, I can only assume, plenty of French micromusic artists as that movement was quite strong. Paris_HQ yeah! But anyway, as far as I can remember this documentary relied heavily on McLaren to contextualize chipmusic as a sort of punky fringe of techno-pop culture.

8 BIT (Marcin Ramocki). I saw this at the first Blip Festival in New York in 2006. It’s about how videogames has influenced art & culture and it includes a big focus on chipmusic. Ramocki is a media scholar, so there’s lots of philosophical discussions, often following a marxist tradition of appropriating commodities. I remember this as being very good, but unfortunately it was never released to the public. Rumours say it’s because of licensing problems with some huge artist, but I don’t know. 8 BIT featured people like like Nullsleep, Role Model, Cory Arcangel, Bit Shifter, Glomag, Bubblyfish, Teamtendo, Bodenständig 2000, Treewave, Gameboyz Orchestra, etc. I didn’t contribute anything to 8 BIT.

Reformat the Planet (2 Player Productions) is a documentation of Blip Festival, the New York chipscene and the artists engaged there. 2PP had recorded several Blip festivals, and did a good job in explaining the recent history that made that happen. They asked me to write a more in-depth history with some reflections on how to define chipmusic, which I did. It dawned on me, however, that the American history of chipmusic is quite different from the European one. Which is yet another reason that Europe in 8 Bits is a good idea. Anyway, Reformat the Planet features artists such as Peter Swimm, Tristan Perich, Aonami, Nullsleep, Bit Shifter, Mark DeNardo, noteNdo and Random.

 

Soundchips as Modular Synthesizers

January 16, 2014

I recently found the SID Guts rack, which turns the SID into a rack unit for modular composing. It seems to be really interesting to work with, and follows in the footsteps of eg POKEY.synth and myriads of DIY-projects. Long before that there was the Sidstation that made commercial synthesizers from the SID-chip. We’ll probably see more of this in the future, seeing that modular synthesizers is getting popular again.

So far, these platforms lack features (and bugs) that you get when working with these chips on a computer. With the original setups you could do multi-speed, sample playback, new waveforms, etc. To put it differently: you can’t use these systems to play the original chipmusic files, which rely heavily on various software trickeries.

Good riddance, maybe. To me, these rack units detach the soundchips from a context that has been tormenting them for decades: cheap and simple, nostalgic and videogamey, and used more for “programming than playing”, if you know what I mean.

Working with modular units means that you can have sounds/electricity affect eachother in complex setups. This is something that trackers are really bad at, because they work according to a linear logic, from top to bottom or vice versa. With these new machines, you can work in a more chaotic way, setting up systems that will play new music forever.

Or you know, “music”. Of course, it often turns into noise/drone/ambient which is a lot more introvert than the dance/pop aesthetics of the chip- and demoscenes. It seems to come with the territory. But anyway. These new gadget show two things that I think is important:

1. Soundchips are not as different from synthesizers as many people think. In fact, some of the early “synth music” like Cindy Electronium (1959) sounds very much like chipmusic. But in the 1990s these sounds were hi-jacked by 8-bit references, instead of being called analogue.

2. Even if you can technically make “any music” with a computer+soundchip+tracker, the music made with the rack interfaces are very different. For one, the cultural contexts crave for different music. The chipscene has been pretty obsessed with dance music, and modular synth geeks are … not. Secondly, the interfaces affect the way you compose. Trackers influence you to make music in certain ways. And I think this is an important point, which I was reaching for in my thesis. But if you want to make music, it might be a good idea to stay away from that topic…

More Networks, Less Internet?

January 3, 2014

When I started this blog 6 years ago, the internet was still a poster boy for freedom. Anyone could publish or access anything, anywhere, anytime. We were all pretty amazed by how “far” we had come. Surfing the waves of neoliberal postermodernism, we celebrated the right of individual freedom online, free from physical constraints. Free knowledge for all! We were all living the American dream. Or something.

So, at that time, it seemed almost irrelevant to talk about other networks for communication. Even so, I was writing a paper on the Amiga music scene in the 1990s, and what it could teach us about the future of copyright and distribution. Amiga musicians formed a teenage folk culture that effectively worked outside of the “music industry” and its long arms of the law.

While this seemed more like a historical curiosity at the time, these issues are now becoming relevant again. We’re starting to question “the internet” again, although our behaviours are still pretty much the same. We silently agree to mass surveillance by continuing to use platforms infected by spyware and backdoors, through infrastructure that analyzes and profits from that information.

I’m not sure we should be surprised. Maybe we should be more surprised that we had this “digital wild west” in the first place. I mean, we were able to reach billions of people at almost no cost at all, with very little control from corporate or public institutions. Is that a realistic situation? Well, for companies that work with “personlized content” and authorities who need to “fight terrorism”, or stock market bots that predict the future, it’s most definitely not.

In 2006 Alexander Galloway wrote that the internet was always about control, and not freedom. I assume that there’s more understanding for that statement today, compared to 8 years ago when YouTube was all the rage. Not only because of all the surveillance scandals, but because of an increased interest in net politics and new materialism. There is a need to understand the technology and the politics, to deal with things like net neutrality, hobby surveillance, drones, censorship algorithms, bots, IP, spam, etc. 

Many recent attempts at creating alternative networks have not been so successful (as in big). But there’s been many successful attempts in the past, and I for one would love to read more about it. So I’m glad that Lori Emerson is writing a book on other networks, and that Kevin Driscoll is writing a dissertation on hobbyist networks 1977-1997. And I know that Jörgen Skågeby is doing interesting work on software distribution with cassettes.

There is probably a lot more out there. But most of the research done in this field has been made by enthusiasts so far. They usually get the details right, but lack a certain critical distance. It often gets retro-romantic rather than future-fantastic. But these old networks can be an inspiration for the future!

Just look at the Amiga music scene. They used open file formats, free distribution, a distributed informal copyright system, and its own kind of infrastructure combining bulletin boards and postal mail. It was a small-scale network of like-minded people with no worries about big business hindering your work. It wouldn’t surprise me if such networks became more common again.

So, here’s to a 2014 full of BBS theory, Fidonet history, real sharing economies, low-tech infrastructures and platform politics. Bring it on!

About My Demoscene Talk at Øredev

November 18, 2013

Last week I made a presentation about the demoscene at the developer conference Øredev. Before the talk I did an improvised C64 ambient dinner performance – where I just start the software and do everything from scratch, and show the screen to the audience. (see image)

by emiebot @ flickr

Photo by Emiebot

The theme of the conference was art, so my talk was more or less “demoscene vs art”. I argued that the scene and the art world are fundamentally different. The themes of 1960’s computer art might be similar to the scene: moving graphics, sound, code, making “new” thing with technology, networked communications, etcetera. But today the scene and the art world basically doesn’t overlap at all.

The scene competes with skills by making works that you go WOW!LOL!WTF! the first time you see it. The execution is more important than the concept, which connects to scene to craft rather than art. I’ve emphasized this since 2008, because it’s one of the most defining traits of the scene imo.

I talked about the years around 2000 when 8-bit works started to appear in the art world. Usually that was in the shape of glitch (Jodi), chipmusic (micromusic.net, Nanoloop), ASCII art (Vuk Cosic),  circuit bending (Notendo), videogames (Cory Arcangel). Sceners were not involved in this, and some of them (including me) were annoyed with the lame execution. “Hey, it’s not eliteeeee!”.

Photo by Codepo8

Photo by Codepo8

So… then I went on to talk about why I started to move towards the art world myself. We played HT Gold, which didn’t really work in the scene because it’s full of trash. I showed demos that doesn’t work in the art world (ie, most of them). And I showed Dansa In which I think is the first time I’ve worked with something that worked both as “art” and “demo”.
Nevertheless, I discussed the possibilities of scene-style coding playing a bigger role in the art world in the future. Doing things for www, smartphones and microcontrollers could surely use some of the über-rationalistic yet trial-and-error-craziness that sceners are so good at. Efficient use of the hardware, of course, will become more important if digital art goes monumental but wants to not waste more resources than necessary.
Finally, I mentioned three cultural traits of the scene that could/should have a bigger influence:
Distribution is always free in the scene, and they developed a sort of DIY infrastructure for that. There was an international network established already in the 1980s, using both telecommunications and postal mail. Distribution was hard work by dedicated traders, swappers and sysops who copied software around the world. I was always fascinated by this, and we’re once again seeing the need for this with the recent waves of censorship, surveillance and control.
Copyright remains an infected issue in the scene, despite (or because of) the normalization of free distribution, and its close ties with the cracking scene. Amiga MOD-music is my favourite example, where composers sampled sounds from records and basically claimed ownership of them. “Don’t rip my samples!” was a common statement. In the scene, it is always better to do it yourself, rather than building on someone else’s work. It doesn’t want to be a remix culture.
If someone was “stealing” they would be shamed in public (diskmags, parties, bulletin boards) so they lost their reputation. We could, perhaps, compare this to how Timbaland was attacked by “an angry nerd army” when he sampled Tempest’s chiptune. To me, this seems like a much more modern way than to have a court decide which methods are okay, and which are not. But yeah, it will probably take some decades before we go back to that behaviour.
Formats. Distributing most things as real-time programs instead of recordings, leads to a treasure for future historians. The massive online archives means that the demoscene is one of the most well-preserved subcultures so far. Imagine what we can do with all that data in the future! It’s like cultural analytics done on “open source” artefacts – or even better. Also, this puts some demands on the platforms. They need to support wild methods and low-level trickeries, not punish them. Strictly enforced license agreements embedded in the hardware (“if you try something funny, your gadget will blow up and call the police”) or underlying mega-protected systems are not really the future, from this point of view.
Finally: I know the few sceners that were in the audience were disappointed that I didn’t show many traditional demos. That wasn’t really the point with the presentation, which I probably should have made more clear. The idea was to discuss the scene from the perspective of art and highlight its advantages and disadvantages. Also – I showed many of my own works because I was asked to, and because I have worked many years in that grey semi-desertic area inbetween art and demoscene.

► Animal Romantics

November 1, 2013

Animal Romantics (slightly NSFW) is an audiovisual maxi single. Or music disk. Or … internet multimedia? Demo? Net art? Whatever you want to call it – this is 7 songs with synchronized visuals in Javascript and PETSCII. The music, text & visuals blend together to describe the construction of a lady, who has romantic dreams about monkeys.

You can even insert your own text and get a custom link to insult your friends with! Made by Raquel Meyersevilpaul and Goto80 for the pl41nt3xt pavilion @ Wrong Biennale and Chipflip.

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The song comes in one slow disco version and a faster vocoder pop version. They have been remixed by Limonious (the grand father of skweee), Steve (UK’s new king of FM-swing), The Toilet & Ljudit Andersson from the very underrated Mutantswing label, and finally a version from the don of Amiga disco, Dr. Vector. The whole thing runs in evilpaul’s text-mode Javascript library.

► PRESS PLAY

Works on most browsers, as long as you have a normal keyboard (hello mobile world).

Stop Laughing About Ministry of Sound

September 5, 2013

There’s been some recent bashing of Minstry of Sound, a British label that makes music compilations. They have sued Spotify for not taking down their users’ playlists that are copied from their compilations. I think this is fascinating, and I don’t share the critique that they’ve received around the web.

I don’t know MoS very well at all. But let’s assume that they spend shitloads of time to make these compilations. Keeping up with trends, upcoming artists, getting to know the right people, know their audience, and so on. It’s a bit similar to how a DJ works. Or a newspaper. Or a professional blog. Or any other job that requires you to assemble things together rather than creating something from scratch. Some would say that everything works like that now. “Creativity”, they say, is the basis of everything – not just art, music and design but business, science, personal relationships, sports, health, etc into infinity. You have to be creative!!!

I once talked to an artist who exhibits his own works, but also makes presentations about his field of art. He said that it took a lot more work to do the presentations, than to make the exhibitions. Finding the works that you want to present is the first step, but then you have to put them together in a way that makes sense. For him it was clear that this is worth more (money) than his own works are. It also makes me think of the times when a book review has been better than the book itself.

Most people might disagree, because content is considered as sacred. Content creators must be protected by complex bureaucracy so that they can make money. But times are changing. Curators, organizers and DJs make more money than the people who create the content. Good or bad? That’s not the point. It’s a growing tendency that we need to consider.

 

From this point of view, it makes sense for Ministry of Sound to protect their work. Now I don’t really know their compilations, but spontaneously I feel like what they do is more important than what composers and artists do. I guess most people would disagree, but in my world music creators are spammers hehe.

The last year I’ve put vast amounts of time and energy into research for text-mode.tumblr.com that I run with Raquel Meyers. I have found plenty of other tumblrs who scan images from obscure old publications, and make them available with info, links, credits, context, etc. It’s really important and useful work, and it’s usually more interesting than following some music d00d or artist that only talks about themselves. Or a reblogger that has reduced him/herself to a distribution machine.

I really value the work of researchers, curators, compilers and compressors (??), reviewers, etc. Sure, the legal action from Ministry of Sound is absurd. But it’s no more absurd than the copyright industry who is currently fighting to incorporate streams, links and mentions into their business model. And that’s just about control and repression that puts money into lazy pockets. It has nothing to do with helping artists or audiences.

Anyway. Ministry of Sound probably sucks.


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