Saturday, October 21, 2006

Digital Straw Men

Does this interface suck, or what?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Generation Med

Point, counterpoint.

Something I write about in my forthcoming book is that by becoming producers of their own media reality, the video bloggers and myspacers of the world are changing everything. The most poignant work coming out of the online social networking scene does not come across as anti-media. Instead, it presents itself as proactively engaged media that cuts into the false consciousness being served to us all at the end of that long newspaper spoon. Is it any wonder that many of us now get our daily dose of news information from the Comedy Channel instead of the phony blabbertwits and corporate spokepersons who front the traditional media apparatus? To be a new media artist with a strong sense of political awareness means being a creative interventionist. The tools are there, at the ready. On my own college campus, almost all of the students come armed with mobile phones, wireless net connections, laptops, iPods, etc. Viva la revolution, si?

Well, not so fast. Look at what happened yesterday, the day habeus corpus died.

That is to say, the day citizens in the USA lost freedom in the name of a trumped-up war on so-called terror (why do all of these supposedly "tough" guys sound like mamby-pamby bed-wetters afraid of the big, bad bogeymen?). As of today, any ruling despot who fancies himself the President of the USA, can order federal agents to come to your home, declare you an enemy combatant, and send you off to the 21st century equivalent of the gas chambers and yes, Dear Citizen, you will have no recourse. Not as long as King Despot declares you an enemy combatant:
The Supreme Court ruled in June that trying detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law, so Bush urged Congress to change the law during a speech on Sept. 6 in the White House East Room attended by families of the Sept. 11, 2001, victims. He also insisted that the law authorize CIA agents to use tough yet unspecified methods to interrogate suspected terrorists.

Six weeks later, after a highly publicized dispute with key Republicans over the terms of the bill, Bush signed the new law "in memory of the victims of September the 11th."

"It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill he knows will save American lives," Bush said. "I have that privilege this morning."

Civil libertarians and leading Democrats decried the law as a violation of American values. The American Civil Liberties Union said it was "one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history." Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said, "We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation's history."

"It allows the government to seize individuals on American soil and detain them indefinitely with no opportunity to challenge their detention in court," Feingold said. "And the new law would permit an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony and even allow someone convicted under these rules to be put to death."
As Jonathan Turley points out:
"People have no idea how significant this is. Really a time of shame this is for the American system.β€”The strange thing is that we have become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to Dancing With the Stars. It's otherworldly..People clearly don't realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I'm not too sure we're gonna change back anytime soon."

They live, we sleep?

Where is Generation Med? Perpetually bound by self-aware insignificance? And then turning that into a fashion statement?

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Persona Non Gratis

What does it mean to set your persona free?

How does "let's get physical" relate to "being digital"?
Performances integrated with new media almost always relay an ambiguous relationship between the physical and digital. That ambiguity and the resulting disconnect and then connect between the performance and technology, or action and numbers, requires an active audience. With the blurring by the digital – the unknown and variable – the mapping is indistinct, the viewer left searching, the experience now a quest. Of course not all audiences search deeply; not everyone really experiences. Yet there is something compelling – that which is unexplained, the ghost in the machine.

- from "Ah-ha: Narrative Structures in Reactive and Interactive Video Art"

Are you experienced?

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Monday, October 16, 2006

The Return of VJ Persona

VJ Persona (the name I sometimes use when VJing) performed a short set in Boulder last week as part of the opening night festivities for the new ATLAS center on the University of Colorado campus. Most of the performers who participated in the event have in some way passed through the TECHNE lab in the Department of Art, though two of the players were visiting (Twine and the Pharmanaut, both of whose sets were awesome).

During the set, called "Excerpts from the Random Life of VJ Persona," I decided to "derange" some images in splitscreen and played with the idea of VJ performance as a live video art installation with accompanying sounds by Twine. The idea was to create an alternative to what others, myself included, have been calling live cinema.

The ATLAS black box performance space was an excellent venue for this type of program and can accommodate many performative contexts. The move toward live video art installation (instead of live cinema) was an attempt to further mix up the possible uses of the space.

(Of course, the few of us researching an interdisciplinary art-research practice at CU-Boulder are not the only ones doing this. In the heart of the heart of the country, things are starting to catch on. For example, there is Perform the Media in Bloomington, Indiana)

The brains behind VJ Theory might look at this approach toward mixed-use academic/club space as part of an investigation into "hybrid methodologies," where artists (who also happen to be professors, students, and instructors) invade university-sponsored social spaces and examine processes of real time interaction as part of the performance.

During the set, I remixed many memorable psycho-drifts which brought to mind the many international dateline crossings I experienced in 2001-2005 during a relatively busy VJ touring schedule. The memories, time-trips, flashbacks, manipulations, light forms, verbal imaginings, and thoughtographical expressions, all came to life as the images appeared and disappeared like the elusive markings on a mystical writing pad.

For some reason, the Talking Heads "Memories Can't Wait" fills my head as I write this:
There's a party in my
And I hope it never stops
There's a party up
there all the time


Take a walk through the
land of shadows
Take a walk through the
peaceful meadows ...


There's a party in my
And I hope it never stops
I'm stuck here in this seat...
I might not stand up


Everything is very quiet
Everyone has gone to sleep
I'm wide awake
on memories...
These memories can't wait.

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