Music is analyzed and discussed using tools from many different fields - history, musicology, and sociology, to name a few. But words like “magical” and “mystical” rarely enter into the critical vocabulary when talking about music. Perhaps it’s because words like that tend to bring to mind the wilder, wackier reaches of the “New Age” section of the bookstore. Perhaps it’s also because “magic” and “mysticism” seem to imply that there are aspects of music that elude our critical grasp -- intangible qualities that escape the bounds of conventional analysis. For people who study music, this can be a hard pill to swallow. But musicians throughout the ages have openly referenced mysticism and mystical concepts in their work - a roster that includes everyone from composers like Alexander Scriabin and Olivier Messiaen to jazz musicians like John Coltrane and Albert Ayler to stadium rockers like Led Zeppelin.
A few months ago, after visiting the "Brion Gysin: Dreamachine" exhibition at the New Museum, I came across a dusty book in a small East Village bookshop titled Music, Mysticism and Magic: A Sourcebook, edited by Joscelyn Godwin. The book was published in 1986; the cover was purple and covered with symbols. The 61 brief chapters featured excerpts from the writings of figures ranging from Plato to the avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. I was intrigued.
After looking up more information on the book, I came across a new book with an oddly similar title: Music, Magic, and Mysticism, edited by John Zorn (Tzadik, 2010). It is the fifth installment of Zorn’s “Arcana” series of anthologies of critical writing on music, most of it written by musicians. The contributors to this volume are impressive: Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Yusef Lateef, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, David Toop, Gavin Bryars, and Alvin Curran, to name a few.
This video project is composed of a sequence of recreations of a 10 second scene from the television show, Full House, overlaid with a set of sound loops from the scene's original music.
The crews who re-shot the scene were recruited through Internet message boards and Craigslist, and each of the original 10 crews were paid $150, using a commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., for Networked Music Review. The project included participants from Austin, Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas, Denton, London, and San Francisco.
Next week, on October 14th at 6pm, Laurel Ptak of photography blog iheartphotograph will host FREE KEVIN at Art in General. The screening will present films depicting hackers and computer culture from the past 30 years, all sourced from Pirate Bay member pirateturk. For the AIG event, Ptak will show WarGames (1983) and Hackers (1995) from pirateturk's 15.4 GB collection, and the screening will also be an informal ripping party, so attendees are encouraged to bring their USB sticks and laptops to lift material for later viewing. Named for Kevin Mitnick, a hacker arrested in 1995 by the U.S. Government for computer fraud, FREE KEVIN examines the representation of hackers in popular culture and its relation to concerns about security, intellectual property, and technology. A roving, evolving project at its core, FREE KEVIN is realized as a website as well, with a smattering of clips from the films in the collection, and the organizers invite other, parallel FREE KEVIN screenings around the globe. (To arrange a screening in your town, email screening [at] freekevin [dot] info.)
Interview with Artist and Filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson, Laureate of the d.velop Digital Art Award 2010 (from VernissageTV)
In this clip, Wolf Lieser, Director of the Digital Art Museum [DAM] and initiator of the d.velop Digital Art Award, interviews artist Lynn Hershman Leeson about her life and work. This year, Leeson won the 4th develop digital art award [ddaa] for lifetime achievement in the field of new media art.
Chapter I: The Discovery is an impenetrable, geometric object and a series of videos restaging the moment of its discovery, as if it were a scene from a sci-fi movie, where the hero is suddenly confronted with an alien, slightly chilling figure.
The videos are broadcast in the first room. Images show the dodecahedron in places which are fictitious and devoid of any human trace. No matter the context, the alien entity reproduces the same light and sound animation, expressing a state of waiting by emitting a signal of presence. The sculpture itself waits for visitors in the second room. As the viewer gets closer, the machine detects the movement and "tries" to engage in communication made entirely of light and sound code. If the sculpture is surrounded on all its vertical faces, it will respond by releasing its maximum energy.
Chapter I: The Discovery questions the viewer's perception about the truthfulness of what is shown, right from the visioning of videos with synthetic images and ending up in an encounter with an interactive object which co-opts information flows, sound and light transmission.