We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be Oktober 1st, 2023
Via The Guardian: "In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don't really concern our lives and don't require thinking. That's why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.
News misleads. News is irrelevant. News has no explanatory power. News is toxic to your body. News increases cognitive errors. News inhibits thinking. News works like a drug. News wastes time. News makes us passive. News kills creativity.
Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don't have to arrive in the form of news. Long journal articles and in-depth books are good, too.
I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It's not easy, but it's worth it."
From VICE: “'The problem with the Dorises and the Nicki Minajs and Mileys is that they reach their goal very quickly. There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent,' she explains. Grace winds up the rant with a roll call of all her copycats. 'Gaga, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley, Kanye West, FKA twigs and… Doris.' By process of elimination you can assume that 'Doris' is Beyoncé.
And while you might be reading this thinking, 'Chill out, grandma,' Grace Jones is correct. She was first. She worked with Yves Saint Laurent in Paris, she partied at high fashion gay clubs with Karl Lagerfeld, she appeared as an androgynous demi-god on the cover of Vogue. And she is still very much first now. She's certainly the only performer I've ever seen who has finished their set singing and simultaneously hula-hooping. In stilettos. For 20 minutes. She's the only artist who's had milliner Sir Philip Tracy waiting in the wings to fix a different hat to her head for each individual song on the setlist. At one point during the headline show I witnessed at Lovebox Festival in London a few years ago, she even ordered her band to stop, calling out 'Philip, dear!' so he could change her headgear mid-song. [...]
Whatever the legend, good, bad or devilishly bad, the narrator's voice is consistently hers: matter-of-fact, uninhibited, and madly profound. It's tough to do the book justice in words other than her own because Grace Jones is one of a kind. The following are some lessons we've learned from her life thus far. Good luck applying them to your own day-to-day without getting arrested.
ONLY USE LOCALLY SOURCED GOODS 'Jamaican people shouldn't do cocaine. They should stick to marijuana. Certain things grow in certain places for a reason.'
ALWAYS READ THE SMALL PRINT 'I was the first in my family to drink poison. It looked like soda and it turned out to be kerosene.'
BE YOUR OWN BIGGEST FAN 'You can love a boyfriend too much, but you can't love yourself too much.'
PACE YOURSELF WHEN YOU FIRST TRY ALCOHOL 'I started with Southern Comfort. I looked pretty and tasted sweet. I didn't feel it having a terrible effect until I stood up.'
YOUR FIRST KISS IS A MEMORY TO CHERISH 'We almost climbed inside each other's mouth… Obviously I was in the mood to be attracted to the baddest ass.'
YOUR FIRST JOB REQUIRES APPROPRIATE FOOTWEAR 'I wore roller skates as a directory assistant. My employers didn't say anything as long as I did my job. I loved roller-skating. I loved the feeling of speed.'
DON’T BE AFRAID TO LOVE 'I totally fell for him, [Tom, her first mentor], and, inevitably, he turned out to be gay.'
EXPERIMENT WITH DRUGS 'Try everything at least once. If you like it, keep trying it.'
EVEN HEROIN… 'I tried it, but it made me vomit. It wasn't for me, luckily.'
BUT CURATE YOUR ACTIVITIES APPROPRIATELY 'It's not for sex, acid.'
HAVE AN OPEN DOOR POLICY 'I forged a bond with local bums sleeping rough… I would invite then into my apartment for a bath and give them food, drink and some clothes. It was very church of me…'
BE COMFORTABLE IN YOUR OWN SKIN 'I lived as a nudist for one month in Philly—1967 or '68 or '69, whenever it was—and it was a good summer to sit naked.'
KNOW YOUR OWN MIND 'When I am plugged in I can be scary psychic. Knowing when something is going to happen, when not to get in the elevator…'
GET A GOOD HAIRDRESSER 'Shaving my head led directly to my first orgasm… I'd never had sex like that before. It was sex from another era, another solar system. It still started with the mouth but it ended up beyond the body.'
ALWAYS TURN UP FASHIONABLY LATE—EVEN TO SCHWARZENEGGER’S WEDDING—AND DO SO WITH WARHOL ON YOUR ARM 'At the exact moment that Arnold and Maria are on their knees finishing off their special, intimate ceremony, we arrive. They didn’t say anything, but you could see from the looks on their faces that they were not at all impressed.'"
On the year the modern world was invented August 25th, 2023
Via The Intrinsic Perspective: "The point to all this is just to make explicit what I think so many already know and feel: if we were forced to pinpoint a year, 2012 appears to be a good choice for when the modern world was invented, and we’ve been living in it now for a little over a decade.
And to go back to the decade theory: certainly it’s arguable that, ten years into existence, our world feels, at least in terms of vibes, very similar to the world at the end of the previous cultural revolution of the 1960s. Even just politically, while the cultural revolution of 2012 grained a great deal of ground in institutions, it has spent much of its initial momentum, and is being combated institutionally by, e.g., the Supreme Court’s recent decision to ban affirmative action. A fundamental detente has been reached. The cultural revolution that people now call “wokeness,” and the debates around it are still ever-present, but also feel somewhat spent.
The degree to which this is true can be judged by one cultural artifact in particular: Barbie. The movie. For yes, the biggest movie of the summer is about patriarchy, and its openly political plot and language and messaging would have contained a lot of academic gobbledegook for the average citizen in 2011. But, at the same time, the movie is a clear commercialization about a toy, and can be interpreted ambiguously, parodying itself; ripe for interpretation, it has been championed by liberals and conservatives alike. See how, for instance, that even within that most conservative institution, The Daily Wire, there is disagreement on whether Barbie is actually a left-leaning movie (as Ben Shapiro believes) or, secretly, a subversively right-leaning movie (as Michael Knowles believes). The confusion over the messaging of Barbie is a synecdoche for the confusion over our own post-revolution world, which now looks corrupt and run-down, much like the depressive “malaise” of the 1970s. [...]
Surely, things must be more complicated than these decade theories, no? Of course. Obviously so. As a level of analysis they are nearly mystical. But if you had used this model of [cultural revolution → inflationary period→ lasting economic and cultural malaise] back 2012 I think you’d have a claim to near-Nostradamus levels of precognition. And that third stage would predict, much like the post-1971 world, a coming permanent change in long-standing economic trends (followed, potentially, in the 2030s with the return of Big Hair, leg warmers, and cocaine).
If we are to spend the 2020s mirroring the 1970s, and therefore occupied with domestic turmoil as the post-revolution cultural tremors play out, I suppose we might as well begin to ape it as much as possible."
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From the Still Austin Seasonal Bottled in Bond Series by Marc Burckhardt.
AI is transforming music July 31st, 2023
Via The Conversation: "Here are three ways AI is changing the way music gets made – each of which could threaten human musicians in various ways:
1. Song composition Many programs can already generate music with a simple prompt from the user, such as Electronic Dance with a Warehouse Groove. Fully generative apps train AI models on extensive databases of existing music. This enables them to learn musical structures, harmonies, melodies, rhythms, dynamics, timbres and form, and generate new content that stylistically matches the material in the database. There are many examples of these kinds of apps. But the most successful ones, like Boomy, allow nonmusicians to generate music and then post the AI-generated results on Spotify to earn money. Spotify recently removed many of these Boomy-generated tracks, claiming that this would protect human artists’ rights and royalties. The two companies quickly came to an agreement that allowed Boomy to re-upload the tracks. But the algorithms powering these apps still have a troubling ability to infringe upon existing copyright, which might go unnoticed to most users. After all, basing new music on a data set of existing music is bound to cause noticeable similarities between the music in the data set and the generated content. Furthermore, streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music are naturally incentivized to develop their own AI music-generation technology. Spotify, for instance, pays 70% of the revenue of each stream to the artist who created it. If the company could generate that music with its own algorithms, it could cut human artists out of the equation altogether. Over time, this could mean more money for giant streaming services, less money for musicians – and a less human approach to making music.
2. Mixing and mastering Machine-learning-enabled apps that help musicians balance all of the instruments and clean up the audio in a song – what’s known as mixing and mastering – are valuable tools for those who lack the experience, skill or resources to pull off professional-sounding tracks. Over the past decade, AI’s integration into music production has revolutionized how music is mixed and mastered. AI-driven apps like Landr, Cryo Mix and iZotope’s Neutron can automatically analyze tracks, balance audio levels and remove noise. These technologies streamline the production process, allowing musicians and producers to focus on the creative aspects of their work and leave some of the technical drudgery to AI. While these apps undoubtedly take some work away from professional mixers and producers, they also allow professionals to quickly complete less lucrative jobs, such as mixing or mastering for a local band, and focus on high-paying commissions that require more finesse. These apps also allow musicians to produce more professional-sounding work without involving an audio engineer they can’t afford.
3. Instrumental and vocal reproduction Using tone transfer algorithms via apps like Mawf, musicians can transform the sound of one instrument into another. Thai musician and engineer Yaboi Hanoi’s song Enter Demons & Gods, which won the third international AI Song Contest in 2022, was unique in that it was influenced not only by Thai mythology, but also by the sounds of native Thai musical instruments, which have a non-Western system of intonation. One of the most technically exciting aspects of Yaboi Hanoi’s entry was the reproduction of a traditional Thai woodwind instrument – the pi nai – which was resynthesized to perform the track. A variant of this technology lies at the core of the Vocaloid voice synthesis software, which allows users to produce convincingly human vocal tracks with swappable voices. Unsavory applications of this technique are popping up outside of the musical realm. For example, AI voice swapping has been used to scam people out of money. But musicians and producers can already use it to realistically reproduce the sound of any instrument or voice imaginable. The downside, of course, is that this technology can rob instrumentalists of the opportunity to perform on a recorded track."
Via Wikipedia, "Ruth S. White (September 1, 1925 – August 26, 2013) was an American composer known for her electronic music compositions. While most of her career was dedicated to educational recordings, she is best known for being an electronic music pioneer, owing to her early explorations of sound using the Moog synthesizer. The back cover of her 1971 release Short Circuits stated that 'Ruth White is considered among today’s most gifted arbiters of what is termed the new music’. Her early recordings 7 Trumps From the Tarot Cards and Pinions (1968), Flowers of Evil (1969), and Short Circuits (1970) all featured surprising uses of the Moog synthesizer as well as other electronic musical equipment. [...]
This love of music eventually led White back to education. Most of the rest of White's musical career was spent developing music teaching materials for children and getting technology into the classroom. In 1973 she was producing multi media projects aimed at getting children to read. White realized early on that TV had changed how children learned. The audio without video was dead. In 1973 she was quoted as saying, 'In the future, audio without visual, except for dance records, will be worthless'. It was in 1973 she invented the character Mr. Windbag, a character she continued to use through her educational recording career with her series The Adventure of Mr. Windbag. Her accomplishments in education resulted in her earning a Parents' Choice Award (1983) and an American Library Association notable recording citation. Her interests led her to begin a children’s books publishing company in Los Angeles. But her music was never far behind."
Via Pacific Standard: "New research, which turns out to not really be all that new, suggests that space and time do not exist. The research also suggests that a jewel (an amplituhedron) is the center of our universe and that from said jewel every feature of our known reality can be quantified."
0:00 The Case Against Reality 3:00 The Hard Problem Of Consciousness 9:52 Why Are Most Scientists Materialists? 12:54 Who Is Qualified To Make Observations About The Nature Of Reality? 15:29 The Hard Problem Of Matter 20:33 No-One Has Ever Found Matter 25:10 Space-Time Is Doomed 32:48 Quantum Theory Is Not Fundamental Either 34:03 Why Is The Fact That Space-Time Is Doomed Not On The News? 40:57 The Real Meaning Of The Word Illusion 47:40 Exploring Other Dimensions 57:14 What Are Conscious Agents? 1:04:06 One Consciousness 1:07:32 Infinite Infinities 1:12:19 Why Does The One Localise? 1:15:46 Could There Be A ‘why’ On The Relative Level? 1:23:48 Interface Theory 1:36:05 A Theory Of Everything 1:41:06 A Convergence Of Science And Spirituality 1:49:46 The Implications Of The Perennial Philosophy 1:55:51 Let Go Of Thought 2:01:08 Seeing Through The Illusion Of The Separate Self 2:10:08 Thoughts, Fears And Beliefs 2:14:46 Walking The Talk"
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"Ja ja ja ja ja, nee nee nee nee nee" by Joseph Beuys. Printed cover with integrated booklet, 1970.
The Authentic Self is the Self-Enhancing Self
"The true self, though, is positive." April 12th, 2023
Via SAGE Publishing: "Authenticity refers to behaving in a manner that aligns with one’s true self. The true self, though, is positive. From a self-enhancement standpoint, people exaggerate their strengths and overlook their shortcomings, forming positively-distorted views of themselves. We propose a self-enhancement framework of authenticity, advocating a reciprocal relation between the two constructs. Trait self-enhancement was associated with higher trait authenticity (Study 1), and day-to-day fluctuations in self-enhancement predicted corresponding variations in state authenticity (Study 2). Furthermore, manipulating self-enhancement elevated state authenticity (Studies 3–4), which was associated with meaning in life (Study 4), and manipulating authenticity augmented self-enhancement, which was associated with meaning in life and thriving (Study 5). The authentic self is largely the self-enhancing self. [...]
Although our research represents the first direct test of the relation between self-enhancement and authenticity, the results are consistent with several literature streams. For instance, authenticity is linked more with moral than immoral behavior (Newman et al., 2014) and socially desirable than undesirable behavior (Jongman-Sereno & Leary, 2016). In addition, people believe their authentic selves to be positive and morally good and to be more positive than the authentic selves of others (Zhang & Alicke, 2021). Despite popular belief and previous conceptualizations, self-enhancement is an essential ingredient for eliciting perceptions that one is living life authentically. [...]
Coda Contrary to historical conceptualizations and lay intuition, veridical self-insight may not light the path toward living life authentically. Instead, authenticity and self-enhancement go hand-in-hand. Authentic people think highly of themselves, and people who think highly of themselves feel authentic."
Now you can relive memories in VR February 25th, 2023
From Creative Bloq: "With the release of PSVR 2, virtual reality is back in the headlines and app developers are using the new hardware, including Meta Quest 2, to find creative ways to usher in new experiences. But in this rekindled experimentation some ideas are just, well, a little creepy.
The app in question is Wist: Immersive Memories, in development for iOS and Meta Quest 2, and soon on Meta Quest Pro. This app brings old video to life inside a virtual reality headset. There's a buzz around the app, largely because virtual reality is all the rage again in 2023 due to the launch of PSVR 2 – read my PSVR 2 review to find out why everyone loves this headset. Also, rumours continue around a new Apple VR headset, which could really be something special.
Developed by Wist Labs, Wist: Immersive Memories is pitched as a way to relive old 'memories' inside VR and AR. This is the kind of thing we've seen in movies for decades, including the scene in Minority Report were Tom Cruise remembers is deceased wife and child, and now you can actually experience it for yourself. But is it unsettling?"
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Students in my Visual Music class acquire knowledge of design principles and techniques by producing visualisations of sound/music – e.g. as installations, videos clips, VJ sets, installations, and computer games.
Visual Music Studies 2023
Annual show of student's Visual Music projects February 15th, 2023
Every year composer and assistant professor Marcus Schmickler and I host the Visual Music Studies at Dusseldorf's Filmwerkstatt. This year's class - María Camila Agudelo Mejía, Roberto Alessio, Nora Bögel, Benjamín Herrera Lizana, Margareta von Klenze, und Ricardo Soares Fernandes - will show their studies on February 15th, 2023.
Creating a work for this show is part of the assignment in my Visual Music class at the Institute for Music and Media at Dusseldorf Robert Schumann conservatory. Many of the students decide to show a transmedia installation, but some of them are also interested in video clips, experimental films, and animations as well as audiovisual performances.
Under the edge of february in hawk of a throat hidden by ravines of sweet oil by temples of switchblades beautiful in its sound of fertility beautiful in its turban of funeral crepe beautiful in its camouflage of grief in its solitude of bruises in its arson of alert
Who will enter its beautiful calligraphy of blood
Its beautiful mask of fish net mask of hubcaps mask of ice picks mask of watermelon rinds mask of umbilical cords changing into a mask of rubber bands Who will enter this beautiful beautiful mask of punctured bladders moving with a mask of chapsticks
Compound of Hearts Compound of Hearts
Where is the lucky number for this shy love this top-heavy beauty bathed with charcoal water self-conscious against a mosaic of broken bottles broken locks broken pipes broken bloods of broken spirits broken through like broken promises
Landlords Junkies Thieves enthroning themselves in you they burn up couches they burn down houses and infuse themselves against memory every thought a pavement of old belts every performance a ceremonial pickup how many more orphans how many more neglected shrines how many stolen feet stolen fingers stolen watchbands of death in you how many times
hidden by ravines of sweet oil by temples of switchblades beautiful in your sound of fertility beautiful in your turban of funeral crepe beautiful in your camouflage of grief in your solitude of bruises in your arson of alert beautiful