The Null Device
Guess who has a blog? Tom Ellard, of legendary Australian electronic/industrial project Severed Heads. And his blog is one of those which tears down a number of targets, with no small measure of curmudgeonly wit; targets such as experimental laptop/noise music:
“PHONOPEDAGOGICA PRESENTS: From Japan - Famous Jazz Noise Hybrid Musics legend YamaWhama Obama will perform his entire 10 CD set of flinging forks across the room at a guitar while mumbling some shit about Buddhism. Completely unknown in his own land, he now lives on a couch in New York and knows somebody who knows Lou Reed’s chauffeur. Legendary transsexual poet, film-maker, interior designer and MAXmsp flouncer Hans Knees Whoopsidasi presents her new video made up of random selections from YouTube along with the coastline of Holland translated into a granular patch. Australian producer Ya Fuck of Fuckya Records will repeatedly bang his head against a pole until it bleeds. His Pole Dance album is due out next month on Neverheardofit Records in Berlin.”
“We also proudly present our new exhibit at Tragic Hipster Gallery - The Only Good Music From The Last Decade. Artists such as Opiate Stumblebum, Exotic But Bad DJ, Professor Phil Somebody, Shocking Rude Name!!, the French Chick I wish I was banging, Generic Japanese Noise Artist 34, West Coast Guy With Grey Beard and lots of Analogue Gear, The Wanker Improvisation Experience, Krautrock reflux etc. etc. may be heard in the proper gallery context where silence & respectful listening distance is enforced and visual arts traditions are appropriated (because we really wish we were painters).”And the riddle of perceived musical "authenticity", in the context of supermarket promotional jingles:
Recently they switched to ‘cute girl with a guitar’. I am really very impressed by this, because the musicians have done an excellent job of recreating that warm, heartfelt, impassioned feeling that a girl gets when she picks up a guitar and sings a little song she herself wrote about fresh food. Damn. I wanted to punch the singer in the eye in about 5 seconds flat. That good.
Then it hit me. She has a speech impediment. PERFECT. She sings like this: We yah We yah Da Fwesh Food Pweepwel. Which is exactly the way REAL manufactured pop girls with guitars sing. They all have the vocal equivalent of cross eyes.
While you could just say - it’s supposed to be cute - and you’d be right, I need to elaborate on this because I am a tedious Media Academic. I have a theory. Have you seen what happens when people talk to cats? Their voices go up an octave and they start babbling shit like Aw Wook At Da Widdle Pussy Kitty. This is authenticity. This is people revealing what they would be like if toilet training, school and a long stretch in prison hadn’t sorted out their kinks. Here is the basis of a whole renaissance in the media industry - write your music and films as if you are singing to a cat and your success will be the stuff of legends.Not to mention politics:
The people are invoked by every rat bag philosophy. Marx had a lot to say about the people, but so did Thoreau, Hitler and just about every applicant to rule a country anywhere. The people are always described as possessing some wisdom that come from walking barefoot on dirt - they are noble savages, you can only fool some of them some of the time. (The worst case is when white people talk about the native population of the place that they almost wiped out. Aboriginal Australians are for example psychic, can live off sand, stand on one leg for days at a time etc.) Having ridden public transport for some time I know from first hand experience that the people are one step up from the potato.(he identifies as "libertarian", and blasts the Left, Clarkson/O'Rourke fashion, whilst hammering the US religious right (not exactly difficult; as O'Rourke himself said, making fun of religious fundamentalists is like hunting dairy cows with a high-powered rifle), and the other culture war, the one between Apple and Microsoft. Quite interesting, whether or not you agree with everything he writes.
Academic paper of the day: The Dining Freemasons, or a look at the mechanics and problems unique to secret societies from the perspective of (computer) security protocols:
To a first approximation, a secret society has three functions:The paper talks about steganographic broadcasts (i.e., transmitting your affiliation in a coded form; the drawing of a fish by early Christians is one famous example), plausible deniability, and suggests various protocols using the semantic meanings of bodies of knowledge known to the society, including coding challenges and responses (or even small amounts of information) in the truth value of statements about the shared text.
Each area presents intriguing challenges, but crucial to each aspect is membership testing – society members must be able to identify each other in order to pass on the doctrine, to confer rewards and to consider new applicants.
- to recruit the worthy,
- to pass on a secret doctrine,
- and to reward its members.
Also from the same authors: A Pact With The Devil, or a hypothetical outline of how a genuinely nasty form of malware could use various forms of persuasion and blackmail to spread itself.