Archive for October, 2014
Am interested in the aesthetics of my non-smart phone's camera -- no arty filters here, and no "social" -- but I like the flattening out going on in this pic, and a hint of urban bleakness, courtesy of decisions made in the Samsung technicians' lab. This photo was taken while sitting, waiting to meet a friend at the new Postmasters gallery space a block away from this historic site.
Addendum: Am guessing that lower tier of concrete is supposed to be filled with water, a reminder of the lake that was once on this spot. It's not, just some puddles, making this park look even bleaker than it did before it was renovated a couple of years ago.
carriage trade gallery is having its annual fundraiser, which for the past several years has been a show of cell phone photos called "Social Photography"; installment IV opens Nov. 12. I donated (i.e. bought a photo) last year and enjoyed seeing the exhibit.
Possibly the premise is dating as cell phones become smart phones and 3 x 4 inch standard sizes with point-and-hope-for-the-best aesthetics have given way to extra megapixels and more especially Instagram, where every lousy shot can be doctored with "arty filters" to look like a masterpiece.
Instagram is the elephant in the room of Social Photography IV, because of (a) The Kids (who left Facebook for it, in droves, and stayed after Facebook bought it, also in droves) and (b) Richard Prince, who put Instagram front and center in the white cube environment this year. Read Vulture's obsequious review, artnet's criticism, and ArtFCity's follow-up.
Is Instagram social photography? Yes. Is it a wildly successful model compared to say, Flickr's storage bin approach? Yes, it has supermodels artifying themselves and getting mad likes. You might hate this and want nothing to do with it, but you have to acknowledge it's the new normal for passing around photos.
unplanned collaboration with mrheaIth, SeacrestCheadle and ryder
Thomas Frank, in a Salon article comparing Pres. Obama to Jimmy Carter and discussing Rick Perlstein's new book on the '70s:
Like Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter was drawn instinctively toward austerity—keeping the White House thermostat down and advertising his personal devotion to domestic thrift by donning a cardigan in a televised chat on the energy crisis.
Felt compelled to leave this comment, even though it's hopeless:
Ahh -- the myth of the Carter "energy sweater." The "sweater" wasn't about turning down the thermostat -- he began wearing it shortly after inauguration to show he was a down home guy, in reaction to the pomp of Nixon's "imperial presidency." Sometime in the '80s it became a Republican meme that Carter was a wimp shivering in the White House rather than a manly energy squanderer, and the sweater's meaning transferred from "humility" to "thrift." Perstein's book should have clarified this but perhaps it didn't.
...at Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas
Oil enamel on aluminum
48" x 36"
There is glitch art and then there is obsessively hand rendered, meticulously-crafted (but not too meticulously-crafted) glitch art. Wish I could be in Dallas to see the show -- the artist's exhibit in NYC last year gave an idea of the surface sensuality and presence of this work. By "not too meticulously-crafted," that's to say there are little blurs and slippages that remind you a person is making these, albeit self-effacingly compared to painters who want you to notice what individualistic hands they have.
Am not going to make it to Kansas City to see this show at Bill Brady's gallery but this intrigues, as a way to present digital painting and collage. Instead of the usual chin-scratching circuit around the perimeter of the gallery, moving from one expression to the next and saying, "I see," the viewer inscribes a much tighter circle, gawking "into" this tangle of overlapping (literally and figuratively) ideas. Not to say this hasn't been done -- think Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim -- but it seems like a good way to answer the naysayers who think this is just commodified abstract painting as usual. A cynic might say this is commodified media art as usual but that's why we need to be in Kansas City, looking at the individual objects in this cluster. I know (a) it's a combination of canvas, video, painting, 3D graphics, media quotation and photoshoppery, and (b) it's probably smarter than any attempt to reduce it to a discussion about medium, or post-medium, based on seeing Manning's shows in NY recently. The artist's site gives some additional insight into what might be on those screens and surfaces.
Update: The gallery has some additional installation shots up.
Am pleased, and yet, humbled, to announce a new LP on Bandcamp: Quantum Leap Sideways.
10 tracks, consisting of mostly new material, continuing some lo-fi sampling ideas explored on the releases 40 Yards from the Machine and Household Kit. A small, nerdy collection of Eurorack sampling modules makes many of the sounds. Lower sampling rates and bit depths sidestep the tech world's inevitable drive to bigger files and bloatware, while still exploring some twisted notion of the "state of the art" -- hence the title of this release.
This is my ninth release in 2014. Your support in the form of buying the LP or songs would be very encouraging, but all the material can be streamed.
Notes for the Quantum Leap Sideways LP on Bandcamp. These are mostly tech jottings so I remember what I did. Any thoughts, questions, etc on the music itself are welcome at the email address on this about page -- the contact form on Bandcamp also works. This is mostly new material, continuing some lo-fi sampling ideas explored on the releases 40 Yards from the Machine and Household Kit. A small, nerdy collection of Eurorack sampling modules makes many of the sounds. Lower sampling rates and bit depths sidestep the tech world's inevitable drive to bigger files and bloatware, while still exploring some twisted notion of the "state of the art" -- hence the title of this release.
1. Random Series Ending 02:10
Have been collecting and manicuring individual .wav files of short (as in a second or so) duration for use in a various sampler hardware and software. The intellectual dilemma here is always "what the hell do you sample" so you are not dragged into period quotation (old jazz licks or vintage synths) or problems with someone else's copyright. My solution is cannibalized bits and pieces of my earlier tunes, live modular synth sounds, and sample-cleared percussion hits from various sources, to make this growing collection.
For this tune and the two "Refrigerator Drumming" tracks below, I made a group of "mega-recordings" playing the wav files in the ADDAC .wav player module, with some echo, and capturing the results. The Elektron Octatrack's MIDI Out triggers the files in the ADDAC, and a toggle switch determines if the wavs (about 30 per SD card) are played sequentially or randomly. The mega-recordings are, at this stage, mostly incoherent ramblings. After repeated play, riffs or tunes emerge that can be cut out and looped. Some of it -- the "ending" referenced in the title of this particular tune -- is left random.
Additional sounds in this tune are raindrops hitting an aluminum ladder outside my apartment window (clearly audible at the beginning), organ arpeggios from a Kontakt vintage synth instrument (whoops), and vocal samples (described in Number 7 below).
2. Bass Transitions (Nebulae) 02:17
Another wav player, the Qu-Bit Nebulae, makes an appearance. Expert Sleepers' computer-to-control-voltage hardware (specifically the ES-4 gate expander) triggers some ten-year-old Battery kit samples in the Nebulae's "one shot mode." ES's Silent Way LFO plugin sweeps the global pitch control, adding a pitchbend melody to the samples. A couple of parts were recorded this way, processed through a digital effects module in real time. Additional beats and bass lines were added in Cubase. Changes to Cubase's tempo track causes the middle section to play at incrementally slowing speeds.
3. Refrigerator Drumming 02:34
Composed/played entirely in the Octatrack sampler. The noisier parts come from ADDAC sessions described in Number 1 above. Additional sounds: my fingers drumming on top of my refrigerator door, a rare revelation of innate, biological percussive ability.
4. Quantum Leap Sideways 2:09
Doepfer A-112 sampler in wavetable mode. Expert Sleepers LFO randomly "sweeps" the wavetables while a run of MIDI notes from the PC is playing. The middle section layers the A-112 and ADDAC for a bassline and incorporates riffs from an earlier tune, "Gamma Wave Source and A-112 Delay with Freeze." The plucked guitar-ish sounds are from the (pre-loaded) wavetable sounds in WMD's Gamma Wave Source module. The tricky part here was recording a wavetable into the A-112 that had enough variety of soundwaves to make the random triggering interesting. I used the "Wiard wavetables" saved as a one-second sample, for reasons too boring to explain here.
5. Slap Bass Cannery 02:08
The Qu-Bit's one shot mode again, this time triggered with external MIDI notes. The samples were Battery's "Green Atmo" kit. Pitchshift and other effects from from Doepfer's DSP FX module were used to treat the sound. Then, some editing in Cubase, using timestretch to speed up and slow down the parts. The "ethereal" melody is a chord using three Eurorack modules, including a Pittsburgh filter in self-oscillating mode. That same filter is used in the quieter, "spacy" part about halfway through.
6. Drone College Triangle 02:22
A graft of two earlier tunes: "Drone College" (sampled from an Electribe rhythm box) and "Triangle and 8-Bit Delay" (modular synth ditty). In order to make the graft it work I had to repeat the beginning of "Triangle" -- that was predictable so I was forced to write some harmony/counterpoint to the original tune, for a dramatic finale.
7. External Arbitrary 02:58
Shreds of vocal samples in the Octatrack, mostly for the percussive properties of plosives, sibilants, fricatives and vowel-like utterances derived from the spoken words "gigabyte," "arbitrary," "acceleration," and "external hard drive." The microphone on a handheld .wav recorder was used to speak directly into the Doepfer A-112 sampler, after amplifying the "line out" somewhat. I triggered the A-112 with the Octatrack's MIDI Out, sampled the sounds, and manipulating them further in the Octatrack's audio editor. The simple melody parts were done with the modular synth and the beats are Sidstation samples triggered inside the Octatrack. A small forest creature from YouTube is also featured.
8. Refrigerator Drumming 2 01:17
Riffs from the mega-recordings described in Number 1 above, combined with some previous beat loops, arranged/played in the Octatrack sampler.
9. Woodchipper Dub 02:18
The bass lines and tempo track from "Bass Transitions (Nebulae)" were kept in Cubase and a new set of percussion samples was recorded with the ES-4 gate expander triggering the Qu-Bit. For melodic loops I recycled softsynth riffs from an earlier tune, "Woodchipper Gardens." The arpeggiated organ parts in the middle, from NI Massive, are new.
10. Beats the Alternative 03:52
This was the first tune recorded of this group. I had the idea of using insert cables in the Vermona drum machine to add effects from Eurorack modules, mainly filter-swept distortion from Doepfer's DSP FX module. MIDI Out from the Octatrack triggers the Vermona and a couple of Eurorack modules. To have enough variations of a rather limited repertoire of patterns and timbres to justify the nearly 4 minute run time, I ended up breaking down each voice into separate tracks and extensively editing in Cubase.
The experiment was a success -- in the future, embedded videos will be on the blog front page, then the embed code will be removed when the post drops to page two.