The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'demographics'
In the 1990s, Two Russian-born, US-based conceptual artists calling themselves Komar and Melamid created what they intend to be the world's most unlikeable song. The 22-minute opus is assembled from a palette of elements determined (through a poll) to be the least desirable aspects of songs, and includes things like an operatic soprano rapping about cowboys over a tuba-backed bassline and bagpipe breaks, a children's choir singing inane holiday ditties and advertising Wal-Mart, and someone shouts political slogans over elevator music. It is, in its own way, awesome:
The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and "elevator" music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commercials and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance—someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example—fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece.Komar and Melamid also produced what their research pointed to as America's most wanted song; it's somewhat less interesting, being a schmaltzy assemblage of Kenny G-esque sax, FM electric piano, R&B female vocals and husky male vocals, not to mention the obligatory guitar solo and not one but two truck driver's gear changes. It is, quite literally, a statistical average of early-1990s commercial radio music; if you're morbidly curious, there's a MP3 here. They also did a survey of what the American public liked to see most in paintings, and produced the resulting work of art, an autumnal landscape with wild animals, a family enjoying the outdoors—and, standing in the middle of it, George Washington.
From the artists' own website:
In an age where opinion polls and market research invade almost every aspect of our "democratic/consumer" society (with the notable exception of art), Komar and Melamid's project poses relevant questions that an art-interested public, and society in general often fail to ask: What would art look like if it were to please the greatest number of people? Or conversely: What kind of culture is produced by a society that lives and governs itself by opinion polls?
(via Boing Boing)
Scientists at NEC have developed a CCTV camera which can identify people's ages and genders, by comparing them against samples in a database, and are working on making it capable of determining their socioeconomic status depending on their clothing. The NEC FieldAnalyst technology is not intended for security purposes but for those of marketing, and is currently only avalable in Japan:
the data is intended to help mall owners better understand their visitors. How come no one is going to a certain store? What time of day do most of the 40- to 50-year-old women visit the place? Did the recent promotion reach the desired demographic?
It works better with Japanese people as the vast majority of the samples in the database are Japanese. It also hones down your age only to within 10 years. However, NEC wants to narrow the range, possibly even getting to the point where it can determine age within a year or two.
Some interesting observations on Australasian demographics, from the most recent KPMG Population Growth Report. The report confirms the "bloke drought" some Australian women have observed, and blames it on globalisation, with eligible bachelors decamping to more vital and/or exciting parts of the world. As one might expect, New Zealand is more affected by this than Australia:
"If you are a 34-year-old heterosexual woman in New Zealand, you have as much chance of finding a male partner of your own age as does an 85-year-old woman."
He believes this trend has contributed to New Zealand's "matriarchal society" - both its prime minister and governor-general are women.(New Zealand is a matriarchial society? Perhaps the Doug Anthony Allstars were onto something...)
Another part of the report highlights the "sea change movement", i.e., Australian aspirationals moving to small coastal towns:
Mr Salt believes the so-called sea change is now a legitimate "third Australian culture". "First it was the bush, then it was the 'burbs, and now it is the beach".Interesting how that list of "legitimate Australian cultures" omits the inner cities, without which Australia would have been little more than a nation of bourgeois curtain-twitchers eating Yorkshire puddings and mashed potatoes around the telly and tut-tutting disapprovingly along with the Herald-Sun. Could they have bought into the Howard-era silent-majoritarian doctrine that such rootless cosmopolitanism is somehow inherently un-Australian?
As a public service to the lovelorn, a demographer has found the areas of inner Melbourne with the most single men and women. Southbank has the highest concentration of single men (and most of them drive Porsches), whereas Princes Hill has the highest concentration of single women (and most of them cut their hair short).