Readings for April 21st, 2008

04/19/2009

1. Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings (3 – 5 sentences) (8pts)

Loving the Ghost in the Machine (http://www.ctheory.net/printer.aspx?id=312) is a beautifully written, poetic, if somewhat verbose, take on the ways in which electronic music, mixology, DJs, and other modern digital music artists are taking what was supposedly fixed in nature (records and other source material) as the starting point to exploit the glitches, and ghosts, in that material. There is some focus near the end on the idea of repetition of a phrase (as in looping) being used as a way to celebrate the small but important additional audio entries into a loop.

The Aesthetics of Failure: “Post-Digital” Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music (http://www.ccapitalia.net/reso/articulos/cascone/aesthetics_failure.htm) argues that the medium that was the message is now replaced by tools. Moreover, it talks about the post-digital pro-failure aesthetic, one in which the traditionally ugly, the throw-away, the glitch, is set upon a pedestal, mixed with other glitches, and celebrated.  It talks highly of the seminal work by John Cage, 4’33” in which the sounds of life are amplified by the silence of the piano combined with the aural expectations of the audience, and many other organizations, sub movements, and ideas related to the glitch aesthetic.

2. Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

The glitch aesthetic is a rich source for examining new ways with which to appreciate and create sound.

Audio hackers are forefront in this aesthetic, and are using digital tools to manipulate sound, often as experimental amateurs, rather than as trained musicians or programmers.

The common idea here is the idea of the beautiful exposed and exploited glitch, and the celebration as music as that which is not created by manipulating musical instruments, or by redefining what a musical instrument is.

3. Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

A digital counterpart to the scratch is the often-mentioned glitch. A precariously vague term, which however captures some of the slipperiness of digital media. If analog phonography has led to some sort of metallurgy of sound, made sound malleable and mutable, digital sound processing approaches sound as molecules. The term microsound is very appropriate for the digital music of today. Or, if we take heed of Kim Cascone, we should be talking about post-digital music, since the medium of digital technology has become so transparent it doesn’t reflect in the expression of music anymore. Instead specific sound processing tools, such as Max, AudioMulch or SoundForge produce an auratic sound, as well as providing amazing detail and accuracy in manipulating sound.

Address : http://www.ctheory.net/printer.aspx?id=312
Date Visited: Sun Apr 19 2009 21:50:30 GMT-0400 (EDT)

A pair of Finnish producers called Pan Sonic—then known as Panasonic, before a team of corporate lawyers encouraged them to change their name—led one of the first forays into experimentation in electronica. Mika Vainio, head architect of the Pan Sonic sound, used handmade sine wave oscillators and a collection of inexpensive effect pedals and synthesizers to create a highly synthetic, minimal, “hard-edged” sound. Their first CD, titled Vakio, was released in the summer of 1993, and was a sonic shockwave compared to the more blissful strains of ambient-techno becoming popular at that time. The Pan Sonic sound conjured stark, florescent, industrial landscapes; test-tones were pounded into submission until they squirted out low, throbbing drones and high-pitched stabs of sine waves. The record label Vainio founded, Sähkö Records, released material by a growing catalog of artists, most of it in the same synthetic, stripped-down, minimal vein.

Address : http://www.ccapitalia.net/reso/articulos/cascone/aesthetics_failure.htm
Date Visited: Sun Apr 19 2009 21:52:07 GMT-0400 (EDT)

Composers of glitch music have gained their technical knowledge through self-study, countless hours deciphering software manuals, and probing Internet newsgroups for needed information. They have used the Internet both as a tool for learning and as a method of distributing their work. Composers now need to know about file types, sample rates, and bit resolution to optimize their work for the Internet. The artist completes a cultural feedback loop in the circuit of the Internet: artists download tools and information, develop ideas based on that information, create work reflecting those ideas with the appropriate tools, and then upload that work to a World Wide Web site where other artists can explore the ideas embedded in the work.

Address : http://www.ccapitalia.net/reso/articulos/cascone/aesthetics_failure.htm
Date Visited: Sun Apr 19 2009 21:53:48 GMT-0400 (EDT)



4. Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings. Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)Although I’m familiar with some of the artists that were mentioned in The Aesthetics of Failure, I felt confused about what some of the ideas being described might sound like. I’ve never yet heard a performance of 4’33”, but I imagine it would be an amazing thing to experience. I can’t quite fathom what the effect would be — awkwardness? Would someone who didn’t grok Cage get up and leave altering the respectful space?

5. Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

If we follow Cage’s lead and celebrate sound by amplifying what we commonly think of as silence, which he believes is unachievable, how might we use this in our leadership and communication roles in order to celebrate and amplify productivity, motivation, and clarity?

How can the glitch aesthetic be applied to organizational leadership — where is the beauty in failure in the workplace, and can it be brought to light?

How can we use some of these ideas (the positive aesthetic of ghosts, glitches, and failure) in order to influence the aural culture of our workspaces?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

As both a visual artist who has focused on the glitch aesthetic in my work, and a musician who has enjoyed and appreciated industrial sound and broken sound in the music I listen to and aspire to play, I really felt in tune with these articles. I am still gathering exactly how these ideas can be translated into my leadership roles.

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