Reflections on Warm Not Cold performance of April 11th.

Comments by members of the Death, Data, & Desire class, formulated by Trebor Scholz. Photos by Camille.pb and Tom Leonhardt.

The unreliable fleeting nature of the Internet conditions the art created for it. The fact that things did not work out made up the strength of the piece. Failure as window of possibility. The screen exerts its power. We are so used to screen-based worlds and it is a relieve to see this embodied focal point pulling participants away from the screen. The performance becomes a dialogue between the computational surface and the person.

How would it change the performance if parts of the web interaction would be prerecorded as screen video? How can the drama of the Internet, with its possible, incalculable shutdowns be heightened? What did the social game focus on? Where did it lead people? The emotional, spontaneous interaction with the interface of the audiovisual blog is highlighted.

The performer, unlike the powerpoint lecturer, disrupts the peace of the pacified armchair passenger, one-to-one with the screen. Here, the performer is happening, intermingling screen realities with hot bodies. He creates an uncomfortable closeness in the black box space. He makes the participants aware how they interact with media.

cakes and jam

Performance props: A small bag of things that you are choosing to take on a trip. The slow motion of the performer as opposed to the nervous, rapid flickering speeding mouse on screen. Should remote performers, distributed, controlling the performer from afar become part of the piece?


The performer loosens up the people in the room: “Cakes and jam!,” animations, sms from your cell phone to the screen. The tension between documentation of the performance and the performance itself blurs the borderline between the artwork on the screen and the embodied artist. The performer breaks open the audience grid to activate open social behavior. Blogs move “users” in very predesigned paths.

“One day I broke the CSS of the blog and all elements of the blog were mashed up. I thought- yeah, that’s it. I’d like to play with these formats.” Blogs merely allow us to inflict styles. It takes the technically informed user to randomize these preset patterns.

Class Suggestion:
Use of ultra small projectors. Projecting onto bodies. Cellphones project ( a keyboard, letting you type. Project your cellphone.

Art and research. Understanding your process and outcomes through process documents. Reflect on your process. “Art practice qualifies as research when its purpose is to broaden our knowledge and understanding through an original investigation.” What does it mean to do research?

Theory and production/practice don’t marry like bread and jam. Their convergence is a process that needs to be learned. Once established the artist becomes a participant-observer. He reads and works. His production experience informs the way he grasps the texts. Snippets from essays may inform and inspire production. The act of making becomes the process of taking part in a conversation: discourse.

but I was thinking about it when we were playing

Thinking about political art I keep coming back to this little snippet from a post by Tobi.

Then Spider and the Webs played a show with some ‘no folk’ groups in a basement in East Olympia. We didn’t say anything about East Timor, but I was thinking about it when we were playing. Why, I don’t know. The situation of playing music in a party setting to people on a weeknight did not really seem like the right setting to talk about how terrible a place the world is. Everyone has to go to work in the morning, they are there despite that, and they want to be entertained.


“Imagination” – Al Larsen – mp3

What you call your art or your music or whatnot could be absurd, abstract, passionate, situational, confused, complex, transcendent, fleeting… still the rest of everything else factors in. …how terrible a place the world is… everyone has to go to work in the morning… they are there despite that… and they want to be entertained… It’s true whether you are playing a show or cooking dinner. This journal entry reminds me to expand the view of what the political art is… to include the show plus the writing, the cooking plus the shopping, the protest plus the reading, the eating plus the conversation.

Permanent Cultural Vibration

I’m not selling bread, I’m selling yeast.

A little while ago I was looking, searching on the web, for slogans and graffiti from the May 1968 general strike in France.

The walls have ears. Your ears have walls.

My aim is to agitate and disturb people.

I’ve gone looking before and it seems that each time I search I find a few more slogans. For instance, this time I came across:

Permanent Cultural Vibration

I don’t remember seeing this one before. It’s weird too, because it sounds really… ’90s.

Which makes me wonder if maybe the amount of authentic Mai ’68 graffiti is growing. The event continues to evolve over time. Next time I search I’ll find something like…

MySpace Isn't

Vibrations. As a moment expands and its markers accumulate does it mostly exist back then or mostly right now?

flash clip

click to open clip in new window

Paris, 1968 (Are You With Me?)

With the wisdom of Ruby Valentine and a bit of Romanteek and some Some Velvet Sidewalk too. Click here for the clip to launch in a new window.

Freedom is the right to silence.

Long live communication, down with telecommunication.

Surveilling the Fragments

Pulling Strings

click here for the clip to launch in a 'new' 'window'
A short Flash clip with Julie Perini as “The Coated Figure,” and Adrian and Curtis as “The Plotters.” The drugstore footage is lifted from The Barest Threads. The soundtrack is “Crashing Waves” by Melting Igloo. Click here for the clip to launch in a new window.

“There is no more dominant culture, because only global media have the power to send dominant messages, and the media have in fact adapted to their market, constructing a kaleidoscope of variable content depending on demand, thus reproducing cultural and personal diversity rather than overimposing a common set of personal values.” (Manuel Castells, “Urbanism in the Information Age”)

Warm Not Cold at Sidewalk Cafe


On Saturday, May 27th we can expect the warm not cold vibe at Sidewalk Cafe, 94 Ave. A, New York City. With Jeffrey Lewis, Phoebe Kreutzer, Max Miller, Bendik.

Appearing for One Life Only

Some of Daniel Johnston’s drawings are included in the every-other-year show at the Whitney. What this has to do with the contemporary art scene, I’m not sure. Is Daniel Johnston meant to stand in for outsider art, for the cassette mythos of the ’80s, for the spirit of Amercian lo-fi diy? Let’s hope not, let’s hope not and please no, just stop.

“Portland” – The Legend! mp3

Still, Daniel Johnston has been a crucial reference point for many of us. Self-released cassettes, the rhymed confessional, an insistence on claiming a space for an admittedly unusual voice, taking those classic rock embedded memories and pulling them fully inside out.


All of which leads straight to “The Legend!” As Everett True, Jerry Thackray writes rambling shards of autobiography disguised as rock journalism. As The Legend! he makes recordings and appears on stages. Still, he’s less a musician than a walking provocation, inserting himself into the scenes he ostensibly reports on. As a performer he’s been charged with false-naivete, bravado, falsetto. Ivor Cutler without manners, Jad Fair with an expense-account.

Here’s “Portland,” a song recorded in Melbourne, while Jerry writes for newspapers and slums with David from the Cannanes. The boundaries get blurrier, as that self-referential rock journalism gets turned around into something approximating a song.

Cutting a record, typing something up for a deadline or just holding court at the pub, going on about your favorite songs, maybe it’s all the same soup, just, you know, in different bowls.

Really, appearing for one life only.

Feedback Beyond the Glitch Horizon

In “The Aesthetics of Failure” Kim Cascone writes about emerging glitch-based music.

…it is from the ‘failure’ of digital technology that this new work has emerged: glitches, bugs, application errors, system crashes, clipping aliasing, distortion, quantization noise, and even the noise floor of computer sound cards are the raw materials composers seek to incorporate into their music. (Cascone 13)


Exploring sounds present at the boundaries of digital-analog conversion foregrounds the materiality of sound in the era of digital reproduction; the background information (noise, technological aberrations) which is normally ignored becomes the subject of examination. While a focus on the technological construction of experience remains important, a focus on glitch aesthetics is responding to what is starting to seem like an outdated idea of digital media. The salient characteristic of the new media has less and less to do with data transcoding and “remix culture.” Instead of the properties of individual media files, their limits and potential for recombination, consider the emerging systems of data collection, data mining, predictive software analysis and technologies of control.


Images from Warm Not Cold at Net<3 show, CFA Gallery, Buffalo, NY

What are the significant differences between using iTunes and a CD player? Certainly with iTunes you can have thousands of songs available to you instantly, and you can search and sort and create playlists. Automation, convenience and flexibility are indeed differences but, I would say, do not represent a conceptually huge difference. The important difference is that iTunes captures and stores usage information. It is not just a machine for decoding files and turning them into speaker cone vibrations: you listen to it, and it listens to you too. Apple’s website describes the ability to use iTunes to create playlists based on such criteria as songs that you’ve played more than a certain number of times in the past month and reports that “…iTunes may be more obsessive about your collection than you are.” (Apple)


Through capturing usage as data, behavior becomes instrumentalized. Behavior becomes marked in data, minable and the subject of predictive algorithms. Of course, this data-capturing functionality is built into a whole range of technology, and on a case-by-case basis it’s not always clear whether it serves a surveillance purpose or a marketing purpose or a helpful customization purpose.

A musical response to this modality of digital media would have less to do with the foregrounding and aestheticization of non-musical sounds present at the boundaries of digital-analog conversion but rather with issues of usage data, predictive models and behavioral feedback. So where can we start listening for the glitches at the boundaries of control?


For starters, there is the popular arcade game Dance Dance Revolution. To succeed at the game, the player must read directions from a screen and hit corresponding pads with his feet in time to the beat of the music. Advanced players attain a mastery of complex steps in the higher game levels or opt to stay at lower levels and develop a “freestyle” performative approach. In either case the user in som way surrenders his himself to a programmatic music-based control structure.

ummmNext to that, consider the Sonic City project, a collaboration between Future Applications Lab and PLAY Studio, which uses custom software and wearable sensing devices to create an interactive musical instrument which relies on the user’s mobility and environmental conditions for input. The user wears headphones and an array of sensors (a microphone, proximity detectors, motion detector, a light sensor) all connected to a laptop in her backpack. The input from these sensors is interpreted by the software on the machine to generate music using predefined algorithms.

In the Sonic City documentation video, the user, though she is free to move as she wishes, finds herself modifying her movements in order to control the music. As the woman in the documentation gets closer to a busy street she says, “It gets better here…” One wonders if, under the spell of controlling the music/being controlled by the music, she would could actually walk right into traffic. (Sonic City)

Issues of surrender and control go to the center of our emotional involvement in art. But as the seductions proffered by the new media become automated based on real-time feedback and data analysis of past behavior, the terms of our surrender threaten to disappear into the background. At what point does seduction become manipulation? How do we start turning up the volume on the noise floor of social control?


“Apple – iTunes – Create Playlists” Apple. Apple Computer, Inc. 13 Apr. 2006

Cascone, Kim. “The Aesthetics of Failure: ‘Post-Digital’ Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music.”, Computer Music Journal 24.4 (2000): 13.

“Sonic City @ Future Applications Lab” Sonic City. The Viktoria Institute. 13 Apr. 2006

Soon This Ink Will Fade / Now Is Not the Time for the Lotus Tea

now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea click for yesnow is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea now is not the time for the lotus tea

Time for reflection

This text is
excerpted from “Operational Media” by Jordan Crandall. Or you can go ahead and read the whole thing at

These images are
stills from “Return 2 Burn”

As Ryan Bishop and John Phillips write, the integrative history of military technology — a history of prosthetic extension, especially that of sight — has been paralleled by the rise of mass media and its manipulation of vision to create illusions of simultaneity, movement, and depth. Each has produced instruments designed to collapse distance and time, aiming to close the gap between the perceiving subject and the visible world. The “problem” proposed by the gap of perception is solved by a return to a mythologized time of unproblematic perception. But the fundamental problem remains.
screenscreenthose drum
These histories are intertwined with that of automation, but they connect to a still larger migration of cognition. By the 1960s, for example, television was already on its way to becoming, as it has today, a machine for the automation of thinking. Reflecting the viewer’s own thought process, it develops its own conventions of simulated deliberation, absolving the viewer of the labor of decision-making — as when a laugh track allows one to maintain a relaxed composure while the machine assumes the labor of chuckling. At the extreme end is the figure of the “couch potato”, whose body is hollowed out by the apparatus as the televisual “smart image” assumes control.
those drumsettting upsettting up
Consider a recent news broadcast. A pilot is flying an aircraft during a combat situation in Iraq. It is flown jointly, by an operator in the cockpit as well as by operators on the ground. We are watching the scene as if through the cockpit window. Computer calculations are arrayed on the image-field. We see through the pilot’s eye, but we also see through the viewpoint of the larger command network in which the pilot is embedded. The pilot is one actor within a distributed agency that combines humans and machines. Our viewpoint is momentary converged with that of the piloting agency. The clip ends, and a zoom out frames the image within a newsroom stage. A news anchor appears. She meets our gaze and addresses us in terms of a collective “we.” We are placed in position, momentarily aligned with this combinatory operator, sharing its perspective, hailed as subjects within its operational world.
drummmsdrummmsthose drum
For both the military and the civilian observer, there is no “time” for reflection. In the military realm, reflection adds time and space in which the target might slip away. It expands, not lessens, the gap between detecting and intervening, sensing and shooting. In the popular realm, slowness — the stuff of reflection and deliberation — is to be avoided, instantaneity prized. American media culture is one of impatience and immediacy. Reflection is distributed and automated — or as some would say, evacuated. We are however talking about a symbiotic relationship: both subject and object are mutually intertwined within the combinatory human-machinic realm.
those drumscreenscreen

Click below it! No, below it!

Forget social networking for a moment, right now I’m, thinking about the asocial web in social space.

Definitely our love affair with screens can be a problem. At school I find it incredibly disturbing to walk past room after room of faces intently staring into monitors. Or walking by the cafe at night and seeing each face lit by the faint blue glow of a laptop. But what about when we crowd close and peer into the same screen?

Hit pause. Now hit play.
“Going Nowhere” – Al Larsen quicktime clip
Kitchen Distribution, Buffalo, NY 2/24/06

I mean, it’s so nice when the whole family can come together… a good meal, some jokes and reminiscences. After dinner we all gather in the living room and, inevitably, someone wants to show something to someone else and soon we are all gathered around the laptop.

You know the images of the 1940s family gathered round the radio? I don’t know the reality of it, but growing up in the tv age we were told that these pictures represent a lost era of conviviality. An era when people actually used their imaginations, when mom and pops and the kids all convened to hear The Jack Benny Show or The Adventures of the Shadow.

go! nowhereI’m sitting at my desk right now and I find this little monitor screen to be mighty immersive as I stare at it alone. But six or seven of us? Ah it’s a blessedly noise-ful experience. You can never get the angle of the screen right for everybody, that quicktime movie or flash animation suddenly seems really grainy and small… and waiting for something to load? It’s a comedy, really. Then of course there’s collective navigation. Click below it! No, below it!

I’m convinced we’ll lose this moment soon – innovation ruins everything. In the meantime I’m celebrating the loose ends and the noise they make.

go! nowhere
The principles of Extreme Programming require that two programmers work together on a project, one codes and the other watches and chips in. When it gets to the end, increment x. No, at the end.

OK, if it’s good enough for work and family, it should be worthy of a show. We already know about powerpoint presenters, “uh… next slide…” but let’s really move it into performative space – clicking through your favorite sites, dance party with the quicktime clips. Better yet, shouting instructions for where you want to go… Pause it! Pause it!