Sound Unbound edited by Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky

From Paul D. Miller:

“Sound Unbound is an anthology of writings about contemporary art and digital media that I put together for MIT Press this year. The book just came out, and it has essays and interviews with people as diverse as Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Chuck D, Pierre Boulez, Saul Williams, Jonathan Lethem, Bruce Sterling, Daphne Keller (The Senior Legal Counsel to Google), and even some occasional Nettime contributors like Naeem Mohaimen, Erik Davis and Ken Jordan. The basic idea of the book was to figure out a way to get people out of the deeply Eurocentric discourse around digital media, and to build a bridge between contemporary practice and multimedia theory. One could argue that the book is a manifesto for a kind of fragmentation – contemporary media is rife with what some like to call the ‘logic of addition’. Sampling, collage based narratives, and the basic sense of “urban youth culture” and its cousin, web browsing are two epiphenomena that go with things like ipods, mobile phones, webcams, laptops, satellite television, web 2.0: The dj mix grows like wild plants without deep roots (rhizomes) in the spaces between older forms of mass media (newspapers, film, radio and television). Fox News, NBC, CNN etc compete with Arab satellite channels, bloggers and civil journalism, hypes emerge online, Youtube and Twitter turn everybody into a media producer. But deeply rooted trees are not that easily overgrown. The media have become individualized and fragmented and specialized and opened up. That’s what the book is about. It’s 36 essays and interviews about the culture of paradox we inhabit now. Here’s a remix of the introduction to the audio companion to the book. It’s based on research into Sub Rosa Record’s archive. The audio companion has rare material from Allen Ginsberg, James Joyce, Iggy Pop, Jean Cocteau, Gertrude Stein, Antonin Artaud, Kurt Schwitters and others. The small fragment I’ve included here was written when I was in Antarctica earlier this year shooting a film about the sound of ice.

Check it out!”

Sound Unbound: edited by Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky
MIT Press 2008

www.soundunbound.com


Sound Unbound Audio Companion: Excerpts and Allegories from the Sub Rosa Archives.

There’s an old Latin phrase: “Ad acta” that I like to think about when I think about Dj mix culture. When you translate it, it simply means “to the archives.” For the Romans, it was a way of saying that values change – simply put, it means that something isn’t true anymore but once was. ”Form and function, fact and fiction: In an era where there are more websites than human beings,… In an era where humanity makes more information every year than almost all previous eras combined… In an era where there is more information than almost every star in the sky (if we bothered to count), music means something different than it used to – it plays a different role in our culture of fiber optic cables, wireless networks, and satellite transmissions, than it’s more remote presence in history before the advent of recorded media. Today, for me, music isn’t music – it’s information. The material in this mix is an audio companion to the anthology I edited with MIT Press of the same name. It’s a summary of several years of work that looks at music as one of the most immaterial of artforms. For me music and art are inseparable – they are mirrors of one another. Software has changed the way the we think about creativity – it’s reconfigured how we even think of human presence.

The material on this “Sound Unbound” mix is an audio essay that links artists as diverse as Marcel Duchamp, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Antonin Artaud and Allen Ginsberg. It also foregrounds some issues that I think the 21st century really needs to understand – art isn’t about objects anymore. Art is a continuous investigation into humanity’s place in the world, it gives us hope and tells us simply, that another world is possible, I hope you listen to the mix and think about it as another kind of text. A text that asks a simple, yet deceptively complex question: where does the 20th century end and the 21st century begin? Where do we draw the line between art and objects, art and artifacts? The jazz musician Eric Dolphy once infamously said “when you hear music, after its over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.” In the era of ubiquitous computing the new vision of music is about omnipresence – the music is everywhere. You just have to find it. I guess I’d say, like Gothe, the “architecture is frozen music.” “Sound Unbound” reverse engineers that statement to de-thaw the process. It asks: What happens when music is liquid architecture? In these post modern times, we’re faced with a kind of cultural landscape where almost all aspects of meaning have come from a view point based on relativity. “Ad acta:” I think of that phrase from thousands of years ago, and wonder: what happens when you make all those old records come to life again? Maybe that style of mixing is the ultimate example of continuous renewal that Dj mix culture points to. It says simply, that we always re-create and re-affirm human life by playing with memory and time and space. That’s what sampling is about. Alot of research went into the mix for this project, and I hope the whimsical and somewhat paradoxical connections I draw with the mix lead the listener to new meanings from old. Enjoy!!!

Paul D. Miller, Antarctic Peninsula/New York 2008

3 Comments

  • Illya Szilak says:

    Hi Chris:

    I think Spooky’s discussion of mixing and archiving is spot on. Since you are a digital writer, you
    I thought you’d be interested in the website for a new novel Reconstructing Mayakovsky. Set in the future, Reconstructing Mayakovsky revisits the past to make sense of our chaotic present. Inspired by Vladimir Mayakovsky, the Russian Futurist poet who killed himself in 1930 at the age of thirty-six, the novel imagines a world where uncertainty and tragedy have finally been eliminated through technology. The site, www.reconstructingmayakovsky.com
    is experimental and interactive. It includes a really interesting archive. Like the novel, it combines elements of science fiction, poetry, the detective story and historical fiction to tell the story of Mayakovsky in a radically different way. If you enjoy it, I hope you’ll share it with friends or write about it on your blog. Thanks

  • Chris Joseph says:

    Hi Illya,

    this is a great site and wonderful piece of digital writing… I’ll happily post it up. Just to check, are you the author? I couldn’t find mention of you on the site…

    best,
    chris

  • Chris Joseph says:

    Ah… I just found your name in the browser page title! Do you have any other works online?