(con)juncture was lawson fletcher's thought pile. Now blogging at soundofruins.net
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what chu waiting for

"Time is for white people"
(Erykah Badu, in Blender magazine, March)

"[T]he idea of modernity as modernization [sic] turns relations of space - relations between cultures - into relations of time, where the white man stands at the pinnacle of world evolution"
(Jonathan Sterne, The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, p9)

This ain't just some bullshit about 'island time'.


james bidgood

Regarding James Bidgood, federal Australian politician who took photos of a man threatening to set himself alight outside Parliament in protest of his parents' visa troubles. I have little to say on the issue of the photo itself and the ethics of the whole thing, but just find it interesting how the entire event was such a meta kind of media ritual - a ritual about the media within the media.

Says Nick Xenophon, Senator, SA Independent:
"You don't need a code of conduct to tell you whether you're being a jerk or not, and I think there's an enforceable code of conduct in place right now. And that is the media, public scrutiny - if you behave like a jerk you'll get kicked in the public arena, and that's what happened."

That's fascinating enough about what it says about the mediated public sphere and fourth estate etc, but even more interesting is how media is both judge and culprit in this event - able to take differing and even conflicting discursive positions according to how and where the event and its tail of happenings is reported. For the entire reason the photo was taken was because Bidgood has an innate sense of the fact that (news) media space is THE social-political space, in fact one might say he actually helped the protester in this sense. But then are the media culpable? What the fuck is 'the media' anyway?


addendum to below

I suppose this is really about the issue of that gap between theory and praxis/action, assuming that ideology/culture whatever normally takes place in the latter but now looking at how it re-presents or reworks itself in the former.

In that Taylor article I mention, which is actually an interview with Srecko Horvat, Horvat ponders if, now that Žižek seems ineluctably attached to the cinema, that the theorist might make a film himself. Taylor kind of flippantly and uneasily himself replies:

It's not something that appeals to me in the sense that it seems reminiscent of celebrities in one realm trading in their cachet for a quick entry into another. I'm also not sure how easily Žižek's theoretical speculations about film could help him create the aesthetic article itself, but one of the few things I think you can say with any certainty about Žižek is that it's unlikely one of his films would be boring or predictable!

But in a sense he has kind of put up a barrier between thought - or theory, academic work, whatever - having some kind of import or, further, impact on everything outside of it. He is sticking to the notion of academic writing as some kind of sacred, untouched-by-ideology sphere, right? But then he mentioned before that academic, or rather 'intellectual', thought has effectively come to speak for the dominant order. Why wouldn't a thinker who is apparently much opposed to this - Žižek - reply be reinserting himself into the realm of the popular (which Taylor seems to outrightly hate)? There's got to be some kind of transfer for things to work. If Žižek can bring psychoanalytic theories to bear on films so well and so 'accessibly' in his readings of them, then why wouldn't he do the same - actually, complete that very project - and make a film? As the ultimate embodiment of reality? Would this have some kind of tramuatic/progressive effect because he is aware of the machinations behind it all and would thus be able to avoid them? Or would it be - Dogville-style, as he says - an attempt to still convince us of the 'magic' of cinema? Can it be anything else? Something tells me Žižek wouldn't like entirely 'demystifying' avant-garde works, no?

The problem is, I guess, is that for all his various ways of inserting himself into popular culture (even most literally in terms of the Žižek-in-diegesis moments of The Perverts Guide to Cinema) he actually most of everyone still relies on his ultimate separation from it. In this, though, isn't he performing the very mouth-piece of the order that he rails against?

don't support what you're trying to deconstruct

The worst kind of theory/action/thought is that which knows better and does it anyway. It's kind of the subculture thing.

Can't be bothered elaborating, but this might do for now:

"It's not that paper journals are Leftist or non-Leftist that is the problem. Rather my point
relates to the particular lack of reflexivity practiced by certain Leftist paper journals. Žižek cites
Lacan's distinction between Rightist knaves and Leftist fools. The knaves are the neoconservatives who act as open apologists for the existing system, whilst the fools are principled Leftists whose mode of criticism actually ends up supporting not subverting the system because it acts as a 'performative utterance'. Put another way, if one wants to criticize the existing order there's a danger that you merely adopt a pre-ordained role - much like that of the "baddy" in a pantomime. Everyone then knows their alloted roles in the performance and within this structure the established order can target its opponents with fresh resolve.
Žižek uses Benjamin in this context to distinguish between the attitudes exhibited towards the
dominant relations of production and within those relations (see footnote 2 of Love Thy
Neighbour? No Thanks!) He makes it clear that critics often explicitly condemn of a social
system/political structure but do so in such a manner that it fits the pre-existing frame (Žižek also relates this to Lacan's distinction between the enunciated content and the position of enunciation). One could add McLuhan's point that the medium tends to swamp the message and this is my key point about just some Leftist paper journals - they fail to account adequately for the significance of their position of enunciation, irrespective of what they are saying. It's not so much about the political content (although there is still this nagging irony that Leftist journals actively contribute to the exploitation of libraries) but more about being more self-reflexive - not too much to ask from intellectuals? Rather than seeking to label IJŽS Leftist or Rightist, I think it's more important to identify it as radical and unconventional in the same sense that Žižek is radical - his whole approach and methodology is reflexive and non-static."

- Paul A. Taylor, 'The Importance of Žižek's Thought'

I'm not agreeing with the dude really, just using him to remember what I mean.



It's interesting how this word refers to both a particular model of communication and a particular form of politics, as if getting over it might have something to do with complicating both.


mtv's jackass

Remember? Of course you do - the pain, the scat, the skating, the public humiliation (of both public and actors).

Anyway, it's definitely ripe for analysis, has copped a bit already:

Chivers Yochim, Emily. 'From “Jackasses” to “Wildboyz”: Neverending Adolescence and (De)stabilizing White Masculine Power on MTV', Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, San Francisco, CA. (see also thesis)

Shanken, Andrew M. 'The Sublime “Jackass”: Transgression and Play in the Inner Suburbs'

Brayton, Sean (2007) 'MTV's Jackass: Transgression, Abjection and the Economy of White Masculinity', Journal of Gender Studies. 16(1): 57-72.

Shafer, Gregory (2005) 'Media and Men: The Making of a Jackass', Reassessing American Culture.

Need to look at - do these articles say 'all' there is to say on the subject? Do they consider its origins in skateboarding 'subculture' and its alternative media aesthetics? Need to consider the primarily physical/affective (and yes, masculinist) dimension from which both emerge, and why they emerged at particular time in history. Look at director cross-over (Spike Jonze), relation to magazines like Big Brother, movie spin-offs (most 'un-movie' movies ever), television show spin offs and pretenders (The Dudesons), the line between reality and 'play acting' (physicality/violence as a kind of flatline assertion of authenticity), homosocial tendencies inherent, etc. etc.

And another thing:

If 'the personal is political', then is the destruction/invasion of the male body some kind of politics?

(Applies equally to skateboarding; does it automatically circumscribe involvement to males? Well, to say this itself is prescriptive, as if physical inevitably = male - look at gender studies of skateboarding)

Which is another way of asking - is there anything good about it? Beyond the level of representation/critique?

skateboarder as flâneur

"Benjamin noted a contradiction at work in the figure of the flâneur, however - that, while he subjected the urban world to an 'individualising' gaze (ie., his own), he simultaneously assisted in the erasure of individuality by reducing what he saw to a series of statistical points" (Gelder, Ken (1994) 'Vampires in the (Old) New World: Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicals', Reading the Vampire)

"In this sense, skaters see the city as a set of objects. Yet cities are not things, but the apparent form of the urbanisation process, and are in fact filled with ideas, culture and memories, with flows of money, information and ideologies, and are dynamically constitutive of the continual reproduction of the urban. To see the city as a collection of objects is then to fail to see its real character. And this is exactly the failure one could say of skateboarding, which does little or nothing to analyse the processes which form the urban; instead, the phenomenal procedures of skateboarding rely entirely on the objectival nature of the city, treating its surfaces – horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curved – as the physical ground on which to operate." (Borden, Iain 'A Performative Critique of the American City: the Urban Practice of Skateboarding')

What the quotes say, really. Looking at the failures rather than utopian possibilities of skateboarding; need to be recognised and interrogated. Argument for more 'concrete' forms of urban transformation ie. skateparks? Problems with visualist description of flâneur abound; not really willing to take this further. But contradictions both quotes speak to are important...



beyond subjects and objects; think in terms of connective worlds, neural pathways made manifest, etc etc

"We touch objects, and they touch us" [sic?] (Handbook of Material Cultures]

Dissolution? No, just beyond.

Fisher, Tom (2004) 'What We Touch, Touches Us: Materials, Affects, and Affordances' Design Issues. 20(4): 20-33.


the only axiom i'll ever come up with

Which even then has been said better before. Nevermind.

Law does not exist until a judgement is made
If we withhold judgement, we intimate freedom.



Skate videos:
  • Media production within a parallel economy.
  • Subcultural media.
  • Alternative models?


packt like sardines

Compression might be seen as a cultural trope.


networked liveness

Holmes (2005, Communication Theory: Media, Technology and Society) argues that 'liveness', as an aesthetic, industrial, experiential quality of a given medium, is only possible with broadcast media, such as television, but also asynchronous media like newspapers. That's the key too, liveness as a category is not defined by the fact that a 'real world' event is being produced and received at the exact same time ('nowness') but rather that, in effect, the medium is live with itself. Considering television as an example, Holmes identifies the sense of liveness not so much with a live program broadcast but rather the very fact that such a broadcast could interrupt at any point. Or, in another sense, as Heath & Skirrow (Television, A World in Action. Screen 18.2 (Summer 1977): 7-59) observe, "Like the world, television never stops, is continuous" - that is to say that TV is always there, even when the set is turned off. Or newspapers, the fact of its liveness comes from that everyone attends to the medium more or less at the same time and that its contents are exhausted and outmoded on a daily basis - no one reads the paper from last Wednesday, as Holmes notes, in fact we don't even tend to see it (it gets pulped or recycled as quickly as possible.

So i've only gone through all these examples to get to the constitutive features of liveness itself: a medium must be synchronous with itself, and the audience must attend to it at more or less the same time, and be aware of such .

Now, considering this, I take issue with Holmes characterisation of liveness as only pertaining to broadcast, in fact, I'd argue that there is a sense in which all mediums are live insofar as they are continuous with their own present. And yet you could say that that is only one half of the live equation, but I'd also argue that network forms have their own peculiar liveness: such as online RSS readers, that are updated the moment a blog post goes online, and not only that technical fact but also the cultural anxiety that many people feel whilst sitting at work with their reader open and nothing to do - they too are sutured into that technology's (application's?) liveness. Even video games, which by virtue of being networked through services such as Xbox Live, carry their own sense of cotemporality (triangulated between the instance of access, the medium's own time, and the time of other players).

Maybe its not the exact same contours of liveness that television maintains, but network mediums still hold that possibility of being live.


kick flip shuffle

Similarities between the iPod (or digital music player) and skateboard as (symptomatic, normative) urban technologies: both change the texture of the city precisely by denying it. The skateboarder empties the ideological connotations of the handrail, for example, (a crutch for consumption) by grinding down it; the iPod user blocks out the discord of the urban sounscape by reconstructing a personal sonic mosaic that inverts the relation between body and city (the former no longer dictating the latter, rather vice versa). Yet the problem inherent in both these strategies is that they fail to analyse or critique precisely the ideological structures of the urban, to confront and truly change (challenge) them. They are only temporary tactics.


Someone should rock a cultural studies of the battery. Maybe it's been done. But really, if it hasn't - c'mon! These things are a massively significant cultural trope. A wealth of ideas.


web reading

Just a quick one: how do blogs and the applications used to access them (RSS Readers) change the practice/mode of reading prior to the text? Is it not that they increase the propensity towards extensive, rapid reading rather than contemplation? Is the speed of reading finally achieving parity with the speed of consumption? Does anyone read books anymore, and if so is that now a productive thing in the politics of reading?

don't get any big ideas

How might one model the Nude Remix project? Well, it's pretty representative of things as they are musically at the moment - a hybrid broadcast/network thing:Wow, that's terrible ... Some explanation:
  • Radiohhead/Nude are the broadcaster, the centre - regardless of the whole 'you can do what you want with our song' remix contest thing, which has been played out similarly countless times before, the primacy of the original always stands. But no longer as the authoritative master-text, but rather a sort of set of signifiers to be put to use, shuffled (now that's a cultural mode!). The Internet mediation of this whole exercise just exacerbates the level, not the quality, of this remix comp in relation to previous ones (?). This is not the death of the authored-text, but its reconstitution in network.
  • All the lines coming off the circle are the remix stems - clearly I wasn't going to draw 2,254 lines so you'll just have to imagine that many (that's what the poorly-drawn infinity symbol is for too). They stand alone to one another but are all crucially linked through the fulcrum of the original song and the voting system, which I suppose is what those lines between the stems represent. But then that's not accurate, because as per the vote mechanism I would need to structure this thing as a dual hierarchy (a two-step flow?) - the top is Nude originally, with a hierarchised network of remixes below that have their own top and bottom (most/least votes or plays). Shit this is getting complicated.
  • By design (website design too) there is nothing that would seem to privilege any one remix over the other for voters prior to its content (considering the title as content too - who wants to listen to the 'Nude Beethoven-Heiligenstabt Remix'?). But then the way the front page defaults to viewing the top ten remixes by 'most popular' creates a kind of domino effect where the ten on display there are continually voted for more often (just because they are there, easily accessible) than the thousands of others that lie in the 'random' button.
  • Then of course, I'd need to add something to represent the outside of the site, because clearly influencing the number of votes something garners is its promotion on other websites, blogs, editorials, etc. These all have their own hierarchies. This is getting silly.
If anything, this whole thing proves the futility of modelling events like this. What I just wanted to get at originally, which almost escapes me now, is that democratisation/diffusion of control is only ever ostensible; the producer's power is crystallised by being spun off into countless user iterations. And that sums up Web 2.0 and music's existence on it.


digital materiality

This whole notion of things being disembodied, de-textured, immaterial, etc. in the digital realm is obviously bullshit. Of course, others have already said this far more smartly than myself, but I'm just throwing this down here as a way of reminding myself of the fact when I start to hate mp3s. I'm not backing down from that position, because there's still a specific materiality to them against 'physically realised' music media, and they offer different kinds of potential, but it's worth just noting a few points:
  • The electronic versions of physical artefacts, digital originaries and information all have material characteristics intimately related to the hardware and the software of their creation, circulation and archival/preservation.
  • In the case of digital 'versions' of the physical, there is an additional quasi-materiality that emerges from the recall of the physical 'original' - take the album cover image as it appears on later generation iPods, for instance.
  • In the case of digital originaries (that is, those digital elements that have no physical correlate/model), they still retain their own materiality related to how they are interfaced and constituted.
Just to finish this off in a thoroughly aliterate way - let's think about the Zerg, one of three races the player can choose to play with in the madly awesome and wildly popular (esp. in South Korea) computer game Starcraft. These dudes are slimy, hive-minded insectoids that are kind of conceptual cousins to the invertebrate human-technologies of our man Cronenberg (think eXistenZ). Playing as this race consists of its own unique bodily, affective matter - the player click interface is actually this disgusting kind of flesh-plate thing that wraps around the controls and map:

I'm not going to nerd out much further, but if you've ever played this game just think about its material experience. With the Zerg too it is intimately tied to the sounds the little hatchlings make when they spawn into different species, the wordless growls and gutteral snarls that make up the call-responses of the characters when you click on them - sound itself is something that carries its own materiality and that, whilst of course shifting/mutating, ranges across the digital and the analogue.

Stay tuned for a run-down on the psychic hauntology of the Protoss and the flesh-made-metal Futurist dream of the Terrans! (jk.)


rattling carriages

Our (public transport) commute is primarily an affective sonic exchange/experience. When I sit on the train those times when I decide not to envelop myself in my headphones (let's not talk about this point itself, it's been exhausted), I realise the extent to which sound itself regulates, simulates, constitutes, reflects, the urban. The focus on the visual for what seems like an inordinate amount of time in urban studies neglects this, and at times it's as if (late) modernity itself were one big sound. ("The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise" - Aldous Huxley). The following is a short narrative of a train travel, and it is of course quite limited - there are many other sounds and events it fails to consider (rattling carriages, the silence between empty seats, the draft of Melbourne Central platforms, and that is to not even consider other modes of movement - think of the grinding paper noise of when those little green things stamp a date on your metcard on buses and trams, of the crunch of a tram wheel against its tracks, ...). But I digress - all aboard!

There is the de-personalised paternal voice of the ubiquitious service announcer, omnipresent across all platforms and stops, "Good morning passengers, ...", that signals your entry into the womb of public transport, the "
claustrophobic commuter's Hades" of the city loop.

This place itself has a mode of hearing all of its own, borne of the compression (?) of the tunnel, when you are made aware of the actual sounds of the train itself, with nothing else like nature to interrupt. As a child I the city loop was futuristic, adventurous, slightly unsettling, too. I put that down to the particular play of light that came about in the carriage under darkness, it seemed like a flourescent cocoon. But now I realise it was as much that suffused, technological sound of the train itself that gave me this image.

Out to the suburbs, once past Flinders St or Southern Cross (which strangely fails miserably to sound like as if you are indeed in a whale's belly, and even though it looks as such, you could further say that it fails to feel like that too, rather cold and drafty. Drafts are the scourge of internality), you are within an entirely different acoustic space. Here the train is given a chance to spray its acoustic field across the suburb-scape, and apart from what still feels/sounds somewhat sophisticated in the rise and fall of the train's speed-sound, the majority of hearings here are ones of frustration. The voice of the paternal (?) woman telling you that the next station is, the train is now arriving at, Nondescript Suburban Stop - oftentimes malfunctioning so it comes out crackled and garbled through the ancient speakers, a disquieting interruption of noise into the smoothly oiled machine of transportation, the physicality of sound that sets off grumbles and snaps sleepers back to wakefulness. Be it from these speakers too, or a far more acoustmatic disturbance, the trip is often carried along with an excessively high-pitched and quiet ringing. You almost internalise it and take it with you into your work, school, home, shopping centre. Walking does not kill it.

There is that point at which the train arrives at a stop, and in coming to a halt it lurches ever-so-slightly, leaning forward more than it logically should have and then agonisingly waiting a second or so before it falls back to where it should have been. This moment in the carriage is possibly the most nerve-racking experience of the entire trip, but 'nerve-racking' is probably not the right description - because you feel this in your being, for me it's in my back. And there is a distinct sound that accompanies this movement, subtle but also adding an extra layer of disturbance to the act. I never forget when the train fails to 'fall back' that tiny increment, and stays forward those few millimetres, milliseconds. This throws my entire day, my entire being, out of order.

And then there are those beeping doors, a sound more prominent on the older models where one must force the doors open manually (and it goes without saying that this can be compared to the new metallic box models and the rarely sighted Siemens Malfunction Master 3000s; each model is constitutive of an entirely unique sonic experience). There is something about the particular chime of this beep that has been uniquely engineered to give one the shits, but the frustration it registers itself speaks to something far more complex. Although I'm not sure what.

Maybe it's found in the wished-for automation of experience - travelling (hearing) on these trains makes one dream of a space in which nothing makes a sound, as it were, save maybe for a few slick, futuristic slides and increments. Not the crushing bodily malfunctions of these beeping doors, the broken announcing speakers. It's a wish to desert the body, which itself is a wish to desert machines, those steam-punk monstrosities that populate our world, replacing them with a perfect virtuality. And yet to cherish (or at least to hear) these beeps, this noise, even though it is a sonic imposition on our affective state, is in a sense to reassert our humanity, our physical being.


Write with more feeling and creativity. Stop lifeless, formalist, instrumental engineer writing.


old ads

You know the kind; commercials that originally aired in the 90s or something and somehow are still being shown intermittently on networks, like legitimately.

What is happening here? There's a specific audience reaction to this fact, a moment of viewing that is rendered strange as we recognise the inevitable history of our viewership, not as if totally suspended in the immediate present (which you'd think consumer culture would be at pains to maintain this 'ideology'? So why show old ads?).

Needs more.

young people as media producers

I know the prosaic quality of many of these ramblings is stifling, but I must persist. It's only schematics.

I suppose Jenkins is onto something with the whole participatory culture, but of course I still have marked reservations about the foundations of his arguments. Nevertheless, when I sit here and think about all my friends, myself, all I can think about is the fact that we likely produce more media than almost we consume, in real terms too (not in some 'the text is completed by the receiver' metaphoric mode). Social networks, bands, photos, videos, gig flyers, songs, journalism, blogs, etc.

Taken from a long-range viewpoint, there is certainly a generational shift in the level (and nature, but that's the difficult part) of media production by 'everyday' actors. Its implications are huge, and I'm sure there's a bunch of stuff concerning and analysing all this, but I just thought for myself to get this main point down.

Of course, yeah, it is structured by a particular media-historical moment. Namely one that tends towards production as consumption, niche markets, interactive/personalised digital technologies, a general will to self-direct, etc. All that needs taking into account in understanding this new complex, but the questions are also about its effects, not just causes.

Ah yes, creative industries - the whole QUT thing. But I'm specifically talking about dispered social actors here, not necessarily attached to particular 'industries' or corporate arrangements. It's more diffuse, more widespread. Knowledge economies. Yes, yes.

Well I've thoroughly made myself useless. But may as well put this up nonetheless.


social networking control

A great chunk from Nealon's Foucault Beyond Foucault, thanks to event mechanics:

... the intensification of biopower. In a world of cyber-work, e-commerce, distance education, virtual markets, home health care, and the perpetual retraining of flexibly specialized labor, the disciplinary world of partitioning and surveillance (the office, the school, the bank, the trading floor, the mall, the hospital, the factory) seems like it’s undergoing a wholesale transformation. As Deleuze argues, “We’re // definitely moving toward ‘control’ societies that are no longer exactly disciplinary. . . . We’re moving toward control societies that no longer operate [primarily] by confining people but through continuous control and instant communication. . . . In a control-based system, nothing’s left alone for long.” Deleuze further elaborates on the Foucaultian distinction between discipline and control: “In disciplinary societies, you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything—business, training, and military service being coexisting metastable states of a single modulation, a sort of universal transmutation” of power. So, following the Foucaultian logic of power we’ve been developing here, as societies of control extend and intensify the tactics of discipline and biopower (by linking training and surveillance to evermore-minute realms of everyday life), they also give birth to a whole new form. And this emergence comes about through what Foucault calls a “swarming [l’essaimage] of disciplinary mechanisms,” through the intensification of discipline rather than its exhaustion or dissipation: “The massive, compact disciplines are broken down into flexible methods of control”. Panoptic disciplinary surveillance in the contemporary world of “control” has been taken to a new, even more disembodied and therefore efficient state; your Web browser, your DNA, your bank ATM card, your subway pass, or your credit report all suggest that you are tracked in ways that make the disciplinary or panoptic warehousing of bodily traces (like photographs, surveillance tapes, fingerprints, or blood types) seem positively quaint by comparison (67-68).

Social networks. Facebook - the demand to update, picture tagging, news feeds, 'less of' / 'more of', events, groups, markets... An infinite sorting and reunification, a "universal transmutation" that is carried out only by further atomisation and analysis of the individual's entire autobiography.

Addendum: And yet entirely social - it is a system of dividuals, a stand alone complex.


the moment of truth

It is striking just how lucid the social system can be sometimes - and these moments, particular in media, always interest me, when a particular text or object performs or illuminates, as it were, it's very conditions of existence. In 'The Mass Ornament', Kracauer notes: "The surface-level expressions ... by virtue of their unconscious nature, provide unmediated access to the fundamental substance of the state of things ... The fundamental substance of an epoch and its unheeded impulse illuminate each other reciprocally".

From the ever-reliable Fox:

On The Moment of Truth, the challenge is simple -- answer 21 increasingly personal questions honestly, as determined by a polygraph, and win up to $500,000. This is the only game show where participants know both the questions and the answers before they begin to play. Prior to playing, participants are strapped to a lie detector and asked a series of questions by a polygraph expert, who records their answers. At any time, between the polygraph and the televised game, participants can change their answers or walk away from the competition.

To win $500,000 participants have to tell the truth. Of course, the questions are easier when the stakes are low – but as the prize amount increases, they will be challenged to fess up to matters they might normally lie about. The touchier questions could be especially revealing because participants reveal their answers in front of spouses, relatives and friends, hanging on every word. What deep dark secret will someone divulge for hundreds of thousands of dollars?"

Of course, the truth of this program is the very truth of capitalism itself: risk your disembodied self and others in escalating conditions of return, for the ultimate goal is in fact the means; money overcomes all. "This $100,000 will be a fresh start," says the husband of the contestant who has just discovered his partner is keeping a secret from him that could potentially ruin their marriage, in order of course to make that very money. Capitalism is thus a disavowal of our selves, our relationships to others. Thanks Marx, but I've got Fox to tell me (and sell me) that now.

leisure networks

What follows is probably a way too obvious account of Village Roadshow's proposal to turn the Werribee Open Range Zoo into a theme park similar to that of Disney's Animal Kingdom, Florida. Illuminated by, of course, nothing other than Baudrillard's short essay, 'Disneyworld Company'.

Village will maintain a good deal of the animal attractions, even work it into the park's attractions (hippos in the waterslide pool?). "The idea would be simply to transform, in situ ... transforming the [animals] into extras (figurants) in their own world, metamorphosed into identical figures, museumified, disneyfied" (Baudrillard).

The $220m plan is one of now orthodox horizontal intergration - to penetrate hitherto non-media spaces and elements and reorient them as components of a pervasive electronic, interactive empire. "[Village]
, the precursor, the grand initiator of the imaginary as virtual reality, is now in the process of capturing all the real world to integrate it into its synthetic universe, in the form of a vast "reality show" where reality itself becomes a spectacle, where the real becomes a theme park" (Baudrillard).

Of course, there has always been something terribly strange about acknowledging there exists a 'slice of Africa' (I'm almost sure that's how Zoos Victoria might describe it) smack-bang on the Geelong-Melbourne highway, in the dusty plains of Werribee (at least a correspondence there - both can be arid - and isn't that itself a very telling comment from me - let's shy away from deconstructing that, however). Considering this, the 'disneyfication' of the Zoo presents a kind of secondary absurdity, the hyperrealisation of the already-hyperreal. "At Disney World in Orlando, they are even building an identical replica of the Los Angeles Disneyland, as a sort of historical attraction to the second degree, a simulacrum to the second power" (Baudrillard).

From entertainment, to education, and back again. "We are no longer alienated and passive spectators but interactive extras
; we are the meek lyophilized members of this huge "reality show" (Baudrillard).

Intergration across media industries - horizontal - to penetrate hitherto non media, turning them into components of a pervasive electronic interactive empire.

From entertainment to education and back again.


commercialising friendship

Of course friendship has always operating in a social system of exchange, but it's quite disturbing to note just how literal this becomes on social networks. The primary goal on these things seems to be to monetise one's friend network and social status, no where better epitomised than this:

San Francisco startup Serious Business, founded by 23-year-old Alexander Le and 24-year-old Siqi Chen, believes that a new genre of games could be mined from tapping into social networks.
In November, the duo created Friends for Sale, now one of Facebook’s most popular games with nearly 700,000 daily players. Users buy, sell and own their friends, as though their friends were pets or stocks. Owners can control their acquisitions, forcing them to do or say things, as well as sell them and turn a profit. Those being bought and sold are also part of the game, going up and down in value.
I remember watching some woman at work playing this thing, and it was simply creepy. How could you do this to a friend?

Whilst pundits often characterise social networks as (harmless, at least no more than offline) hang out spaces for youth, I'd suggest they might want to be a bit more critical of just what sort of social frame these sites provide/delimit.


music boxes

Someone should do a media archaelogy / material cultures / sound studies / etc. study of the music box. Has it been done already? Further elaboration of issues is required...


old thoughts on the album

Around a year ago, on Myspace, a young man offers some thoughts on the album which he now considers misguided...

[...] This was my first time hearing Softlightes, and after seeing them I decided to buy the album to try recapture something of that night.

[...] I have a pathological drive to buy albums. I'll buy one off the merit of a single song, or even a hazy recommendation from a friend or reputable-ish source (eg. Menomena was courtesy of Pitchfork). Some might say this is a waste of money, I disagree. In fact I cherish my inability to not buy albums.

This is because the difference between buying an album and picking and choosing via mp3s, singles, radio and/or Myspace equates to a greater schism in how one views the practice of listening to music as a whole, even music itself. Before I explain, I'd like to qualify that I'm definitly not shitting on people who choose the latter modes of accessing music, the mere fact you're into it however it gets to you is good enough and I cannot possibly hate on anyone who enjoys music, in any style and any format. Having said that, I'd like to proceed to contradict this inclusive sentiment.

The listener that prefers to pick and choose relates to music very much as yet another object in the endless array of commodities available to us. In this mode, music is viewed primarily in terms of "what can this do for me? How can I be entertained, made to dance, feel good, etc?" I remember reading an article somewhere that clearly articulated this point – in it the writer was arguing in favour of mp3 culture, as it ostensibly served the interests of the savvy and time-poor music listener. Something along the lines of "why should we fork out our hard-earned $30 for an album that only has one or two songs we like on it anyway, when we can download these for f-all?" Assuming that all the music-buying public felt exactly the same way, the writer then went on to proclaim the death of LP discs in favour of bands releasing only digital singles in response such demand.

From this one can gather a overwhelmingly consumerist approach to music – in fact at one point I remember the price of a track being mathematically calculated ($30 / 12 = …) – in which value for money is the overriding concern. Rather than willingly subject themselves to an artist's entire vision as contained within a single album, they are quite happy to pick at the surface, scratching only for a good beat, catchy hook, etc. Arguably this sort of thing has been gathering ever since the advent of recordable media – in fact, in its evolution a tendency towards fragmentation and 'you decide' can be traced. Vinyl records allowed users to manually skip over or choose a particular song; tapes also allowed this but much more clumsily (perhaps partly why I'm drawn to them); cds took it a step further with digital skipping and forwarding; mp3s completely divorce the song from a physical anchor and allow endless and effortless schizophrenic selection.

The listener who is willing to listen to, enjoy, an album in its entirety is far more involved in experience of music. Rather than moving the music themselves, they are subjecting themselves to manipulation by it. Allowing an entire album - often conceived by bands to act as a conceptual or musical narrative whole - to pass itself along their ears the cd buyer is taken by the music. Rather than simply being a matter of convenience, or a stopgap between home and uni on the train, they permit music to dictate their arrangements, in fact often passing up other experiences for it.

I'm well aware that a cd buyer is, in the final analysis, still heavily embroiled in the evil empire that is the music business, seemingly a lot more so than mp3 listeners are. The album-buyer is in thrall, and at the mercy of, the market which provides the very material for listening. They rely totally on larger corporate structures and supply chains to find what they need. In fact, they often contribute more to the pockets of corporations than the artists they're obsessing over. Whereas the mp3 listener (I hesitate to say buyer, because, well… you all know file-sharing's illegal right?) is sticking it to The Man, bypassing corporations and going straight to the source (in media studies this is gayly called 'disintermediation'). Plus they're finding the music they want, man, the most obscure and interesting shit.

This would seem to signal a contradiction – I'm arguing that cds are a more meaningful and worthwhile form of listening yet they're inextricable from the music business, traditionally seen as corruptor of music's purity and authenticity. I'm stuck in a 'top-down' relationship, dictated to by structures. Whereas mp3 listeners are going 'bottom-up' – accessing culture on their terms. Well, fuck it, I'd rather be in the clutches of the music business (which is coextensive with albums) than relate to music superficially, fleetingly and selfishly. Because whilst I may be profiting record companies more than I'd like to, I'm still perpetuating the development of artists and albums, and the structures that foster them, even if they sometimes constrain them as well. Mp3 listeners are possibly doing more harm than good, even if they are still paying for a few singles from iTunes their dismantling the prospect of musicians consolidating their development and having the opportunity of having more than simply three or four killer singles heard.

Because that's one of the best things about listening to cds – the discovery of tracks that would otherwise escape your attention.
[...] If I hadn't gone on a whim and bought Animal Collective Feels because of the cool cover, I may never have heard Purple Bottle or any other song from their back-catalogue which I have since delved into.

So fuck approaching music as another 'dead object' (Thom Yorke's word for a commodity) existing only for my immediate gratification. In short, fuck mp3s. Hail being enraptured for 50 minutes, being overtaken by sound, even just finding another good song. In short, long live the album!


  • Valorisation of the purity of old media
  • Album as a facsimile for live experience
  • Album as artifact vs. mp3 as commodity
  • Wholeness vs. fragmentation
  • Physical break instituted by mp3
  • Rock vs. pop


Preliminary sketchings on the rise of music blogging.

Is indie developing at a 'breakneck' pace? Or is this a logic of consumption simply masquerading as one of production? It accrues mass cultural capital via audience power on 'new' media (blogs, small print mags, social networks), with fans meticulously detailing the very minor movements forward in musical progress in the genre as a whole. A kind of snail genealogy of the genre. This in turn promotes a certain logic of musical consumption that is ceaseless and exponentially quickening, forcing the hand/ears of listeners to keep up. Blogs provide the means with which to do this, thereby completing the circle.

Blogs as the new 'A&R' - wtf is the value of employing promoters when audiences will do it for you for free (or least for advanced promo copies or files)? Never is there a 'disintermediation' in new media (in which the concatenation is defined "music" and "listener", a pure immediacy - cough cough bullshit). Instead, ever increasingly complex forms of reintermediation, often in a strange way via the very fulcrum of the audience itself. The blogger is ambivalently placed between producer and receiver, but that doesn't automatically reify her status as a kind of 'participatory culture' vanguard, but rather reinserts her into the power differential with a surface of democratic listening.

(cont) Blogs and the 'two step flow' model - I remember being told early on in my communications studies that the 'two step flow' model originally devised by Lazarsfeld in the 40s - whilst offering the first break in 'mass' theories, moving toward a less deterministic 'communication' - was a crudely defined, far too basic theory. Yeah I suppose it is, but the example of music blogging at least (possibly socio-cultural aspects of web 2.0 in general) ask us to re-evaluate this theory, of course absorbed within a larger cultural model of communication but now with renewed prominence. Because as far as digital music (and really, that is 'music' full stop now) goes, the two step flow model is completely explanatory: opinion leaders (bloggers) mediate between the media and the wider audience (listeners, people who use rss feeders). 'Black Kids are great' says blogosphere - band blows up. Or then have I just intervened into my own theorisation there? Because they only thing blogger hype really substantiated in relation to these guys was more fucking hype - seeing them play a number of undeserved shows at industry showcases and then generally fizzling out. Is it that this promotional discourse only refracts(?) directly back into more promotion, rather than moving units? Figures would be good.

So what we've basically got is a new communicative process in which the imbalance between producer and receiver is only ostensibly corrected by fan chatter, rather reinscribed back into the system, even if at a more distributed, decentred level.

email archives

A national email archive has been announced, a kind of quotidian social record:
  • wholly unnecessary?
  • "Quite often the details of daily life are more revealing than the thoughts of a famous person" - governmentality, the everyday.
  • bit-rot - it will be digitised and paperised.
  • conversation vs. epistolary/business functions - recognition of these dualities between oral and print forms.
  • spam as a cultural form.
  • co-presented by Windows Live Hotmail (TM) - channel-providers as philanthropists.

new economies

Social networks = sales pitches.

Multimedia CVs.

Crowdsourcing resourcing.