Monday, December 15, 2008

DJing, Alchemy, and the PP Artist (Sampled)

Sampling from Bourriaud's Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World (with blog marginalia):
"Artist's today programme forms more than they compose them ... [They] remix available forms and make use of data."
Well, yes and no.

We program forms as part of our compositional process which is "being in perpetual postproduction." Remixology is an ongoing act of composition whether we like or not. We even reveal our latent aesthetic tendencies as we lose ourselves in "post" ...

This could be the missing link in our so-called lives.

Another sample:
"The activities of DJs, Web surfers, and postproduction artists imply a similar configuration of knowledge, which is characterized by the invention of paths through culture. All three are 'semionauts' who produce original pathways through signs. Every work is issued from a script that the artist projects onto culture, considered the framework of a narrative that in turn projects new possible scripts, endlessly. The DJ activates the history of music by copying and pasting together loops of sound, placing recorded products in relation with each other. Artists actively inhabit cultural and social forms."
We remixologically inhabit the "body language" of others whose neurons we mirror even when they [the artists we parasitically nurture ourselves on] are absent. If the cultural or social forms we exhibit resonate with other practices it's only because we were able to get close to the bone.

Semionauts are expert role-players who can choreograph the dance of these neurons we teach ourselves to mirror when performing. You might say that this is how we develop a lifestyle practice steeped in "literary presence."

Write your body on the dance floor and see if you can touch a nerve.

Move in Auto-Sequence mode.

Touch more nerves.

Meanwhile, the action scripts we write into being are the code that inform our lifestyle practice and it's only when we perform them in public that we can even begin to execute our artwork's aesthetic tendencies.

One more from Bourriaud's book:
"The Internet users may create his or her own homepage and constantly reshuffle the information obtained, inventing paths that can be bookmarked and reproduced at will. When we start a search engine in pursuit of a name or a subject, a mass of information from a labyrinth of databanks is inscribed on the screen. The 'semionaut' imagines the links, the likely relations between disparate sites. A sampler, a machine that reprocesses musical products, also implies constant activity; to listen to records becomes work in itself, which diminishes the dividing line between reception and practice, producing new cartographies of knowledge. This recycling of sounds, images, and forms implies incessant navigation within the meanderings of cultural history, navigation which itself becomes the subject of artistic practice."
Yes, about four years prior to the publication of this excerpt above from Bourriaud we called this artistic practice surf-sample-manipulate and there are earlier instances of this kind of cultural practice that go back to remixologists like Chaucer (The Compilator) or Lautréamont (The Playgiarizer) or Gysin/Burroughs (The Cut-Up Artist).

In 1997 we imagined Net art as applied remixology embedded into the practice of everyday life. Over ten years later, how do we curate that? How do we "reorganize" the traces of various streams of networked performance that took place back then? META/DATA was an unconventional book remix of some of those performances.

Other strategic ways to self-curate this contemporary artist always already in postproduction? By going to museums and capturing whatever data we find useful and reorganizing it into new states of presentational immediacy. As in [this] which then led to [this] ...

OK, one more from the Postproduction book:
"Artists provide access to certain regions of the visible, and the objects they make become more and more secondary. They don't really 'create' anymore, they reorganize. There are two dominant figures in today's culture: the DJ and the programmer. Both deal with things that are already produced."
Postproduction artists are applied remixologists. The live A/V artist and hybrid novelist cum net artist and interactive digital filmmaker are possibly becoming one and the same thing. There is no dominant figure per se, there is only creativity spontaneously rendered as "the novel production of togetherness."

Artist/DJs know this. For example, Dario Robleto:
At this stage of our culture it is a given that our world is presented to us in a fragmented, chopped up way. It's in the air. You can see it in people's eyes. What has not been offered at this point is a way to creatively maneuver in our world. DJ culture has changed all that. The rich and beautiful legacy of hip-hop/DJ culture and electronic/sample-based music is a flat-out rejection of all pessimistic strains of postmodernism. The worlds of aesthetics and art-making strategy will only benefit from this revolution in thought.

DJ culture/sampling implies one very simple but powerful idea. The idea that even if all we have is the wreckage of the past, so what—we are still going to make something out of it. DJing is about showing how something so plain and forgotten can suddenly be transformed into this strange entity. That there are possibilities within the limitations of everyday life, for the things we have looked at as disposable. What if one said no to boredom, and demanded romance —- not for a moment, but as a social formation?
How long does this social formation evolve in the life of a contemporary artist? Is it possible to maintain an archive fever well into old age?
DJ culture invites re-readings, implies a shareable world and an endlessly flexible language. Sampling is not passive consumption. It is the creation of new meaning out of shards of the past. An alchemical liberation of the magic trapped inside dead commodities. A voice retrieved from the destruction. The ability to both devalue and re-invest the heritage of a dead cultural past. The DJ/artist's strategy of today involves listening for echoes of a new conversation from the past and leading speakers and listeners from unawareness into dialogue. To maintain one's ability to be surprised at how the conversation goes, and to communicate that surprise to others.

If we as a generation have been given nothing but the wreckage of the past, then I say thank God for that. Because what has blossomed is akin to turning shit into gold. DJ culture/sampling has given us the slap in the face we all need. It has reminded us to still feel as though something actually depended on our actions. We are all social archeologists now—mining raw history and actively participating in its critique and reconstruction/re-enchantment. Let the digging begin.
(Thanks to Illya for the link to Dario's work)

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