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