"Variations for Element P and Piano"

"Variations for Element P and Piano" [mp3 removed]

Have been continuing to add to this earlier-posted piece for piano and an FM-ish percussion softsynth, in 3/4. It's done now, at 3.5 minutes. Was hard to get the "wrong" piano notes exactly right. I took down the "second stage" and deleted the post. Here's what it said:

...This is getting a bit brittle and spiky--will probably add a softer section after this (if I decide to keep going with it). Working on "Minuet McArdle" got me thinking about chords, which I hardly use, except for pads, that are automatically "chorded." All these were arrived at pretty much one chord at a time, one note at a time. There is no tonal theory other than "I want it to be dissonant, or 'bluesy,'" or "I want it to change mood," or "Now it needs to sound angry" or "how is this working with the synthesizer?" Changed the name from "Peon Element." Was going to call it "Peon Element Extended" but that sounded too much like a male enhancement product.

weak universalism

Boris Groys, The Weak Universalism. See earlier notes and discussion (and more discussion).

Although shrouded in layers of irony this will do for a manifesto: a weak, low-visibility version of what critic Howard Halle calls "waving the flag for the internet." Better that than the world Halle inhabits (or to be kinder, laments), of cynical frustration over the machinations of the wealthy and powerful regarding collectible objects. Halle asks for a revolution in values but won't recognize the one happening in front of him. Instead he distorts, simplifies, and name-calls: web-fanciers are living on Planet Unreality; the drift to the internet is "foreclosing anything that doesn’t involve technological innovation"; belief that the "internet will save us" is naive because Obama turned out to be a corporatist.

There is no techno-boosterism in Groys' essay, or insistence that the Internet is the only place for what he calls "weak repetitive gestures" meant to "transcend," that is, survive, a milieu of constant, forced change.
It's the opposite of boosterism, he's saying the drive for innovation (new gear replacing old gear, new hot theories replacing old hot theories) is part of what gets us to our present condition.

It's not meant to be a manifesto for working artists; it's a description of where we are. But it has special appeal for those working collectively and/or anonymously outside the gladiatorial contest (lottery?) of being picked to show at a Chelsea gallery, celebrated in the glossies, and then "remaindered" the next year. One can of course operate in that strange system and resist what Groys calls "the strong images of change, the ideology of progress, and promises of economic growth." But homesteading on the web has a lower entry cost.

Groys' argument can't be easily compressed or sound-bitten: you should read the essay and draw your own conclusions. I find it more amusing and refreshing than Ben Davis's dreary screed about the state of postmodernism, which seems more interested in political theory than what artists are doing.