Required Reading: Computational Periodics (1975) - John Whitney

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Film strip of John Whitney's Arabesque, 1975

We may assume that a time will come when that which I am about to describe will name itself—but for now: 'Computational periodics' is a propositional and tentative term which may help to designate a new unified field for a heterodimensional art; a field whose special dimension is time. An art which is temporal, as music itself; being, that is, spatio-temporal. An art whose time has come because of computer technology and an art which could not exist before the computer. Even though this art will be found in the notebooks of Leonardo and has been in the collective imagination, like the flying-machine, since his epoch it was a technological impossibility until the development of computer graphics.

Rhythm, meter, frequency, tonality and intensity are the periodic parameters of music. There is a similar group of parameters that set forth a picture domain as valid and fertile as the counterpoised domain of sound. This visual domain is defined by parameters which are also periodic. 'Computational periodics' then is a new term which is needed to identify and distinguish this multidimensional art for eye and ear that resides exclusively within computer technology. For notwithstanding man's historic efforts to bridge the two worlds of music and art through dance and theatre, the computer is his first instrument that can integrate and manipulate image and sound in a way that is as valid for visual, as it is for aural, perception.

-- EXCERPT FROM "COMPUTATIONAL PERIODICS" BY JOHN WHITNEY

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Originally via DINCA

Something In The Air: Post-Industrial Ambience And The Control Society

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Cover of the 1990 compilation Q.E.D. on Staalplaat

At this point in time, it is easy to admit that we are living in a state of "etherialization." The primary characteristics of this state, as recognized by Arnold Toynbee, were that "cultures that remain static and uncreative in the human sphere often promote ingenious technical adaptations and inventions, whereas more creative cultures transmute their energies into higher and more refined forms […] their technical apparatus becomes progressively dematerialized." 1 The evidence of this is with us, simultaneously everywhere and nowhere, in the form of the internet, and also in the proliferation of increasingly miniaturized multi-purpose devices with a decreasing number of moving parts. From iPods to Oracle Database, internal organization becomes gradually more complex as the external, tangible and even visible becomes more superfluous, more symbolic than purely functional.

The Internet and the concurrent reign of digitalization are, however, just symptoms of etherialization - if particularly infectious ones - and not necessarily the driving engine of this state of affairs. The objectives of modern warfare, for example, are achieved by launching successful "psy-ops" campaigns or "p.r. offensives" which gain the international community's sympathies via successful transmission of images and sounds. Destruction of physical sites and human bodies is as cruelly present as ever, yet non-combatants' parsing of "etherealized" media imagery is no longer a sideshow to the "main" objective of laying waste to enemy infrastructure. Even terrorism, often used as a substitute term for asymmetrical warfare using "low-tech" improvisational means, regains a "symmetrical" standing here by utilizing the most high-tech information relays to accomplish its own aims: tactically, it succeeds not only because of its jolting suddenness, but because terrorists "...[schedule] their bomb blasts on time to catch the evening news…the explosion only exists because it is simultaneously coupled to a multimedia explosion." 2

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Blondes - Virgin Pacific (2010) / Video directed by Camilla Padgitt-Coles

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Keep Hollywood Close (2001) - Seth Price

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Note: This music video and others from Seth Price will be on display in a solo exhibition for the artist at Friedrich Petzel Gallery. The show opens today and runs until February 19th.

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Reminder: Whispering Pines 10 at the New Museum Jan 8 and Jan 9

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Join us this weekend for two performances of Shana Moulton and Nick Hallett's multimedia opera Whispering Pines 10 at the New Museum.



Saturday, January 8, 4 p.m. BUY TICKETS
Sunday, January 9, 4 p.m. BUY TICKETS

Whispering Pines 10 is a one-act opera by artist Shana Moulton in collaboration with composer Nick Hallett, and featuring vocalist Daisy Press. It features a live performance by Moulton as her alter ego Cynthia, a hypochondriac agoraphobe prone to colorful hallucinations and absurd fantasies. While Cynthia seeks health and total happiness within her virtual environment—an interactive video set that utilizes real-time multimedia techniques its creators call “live animation”—she usually settles for fad cures and new-age kitsch, creating situations in turn comic, contemplative, and surreal. This new production of the opera is directed by Elyse Singer.

Whispering Pines is the celebrated video serial created by Moulton in 2002 that has previously spawned nine episodes, along with related performances, videos, and gallery installations. Whispering Pines 10—the latest installment—is an innovative performance hybrid that incorporates elements of traditional opera into contemporary video and performance art. Its premise—a woman alone in her private environment, aided by technology—enables a flexible sensibility wherein popular and experimental forms can mingle. The original music and libretto composed by Hallett takes advantage of the narrative’s dream logic to weave what is essentially a pop music vocabulary into an experimental idiom, enabling a virtuosic exploration of the human voice. As the protagonist does not effectively speak, the sounds of her inner psychology are sung—glossolalia and the songs in her memory, ostensibly derived from tacky pulp culture, but somehow heightened. The work is a conversation-generating update of the monodrama or “mad scene,” realized within a mediated, medicated, feminized, and quintessentially American vernacular.

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Slightly Eleven (2010) - Rene Hell

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Whispering Pines 10 at the New Museum, Jan 8-9

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Shana Moulton and Nick Hallett's epic multimedia one-act opera Whispering Pines 10 will run at the New Museum on Saturday and Sunday, January 8 and 9, 2011. If you missed the performance of this piece at the Kitchen last Spring, now is your second chance to see the show! Read more about Whispering Pines 10 below, and be sure to pick up your tickets early through the New Museum site.

Note: We ran a short essay in Rhizome News by Brian Droitcour on Moulton's series Whispering Pines when the opera debuted, check it out.



Whispering Pines 10 is a one-act opera by artist Shana Moulton in collaboration with composer Nick Hallett, and featuring vocalist Daisy Press. It features a live performance by Moulton as her alter ego Cynthia, a hypochondriac agoraphobe prone to colorful hallucinations and absurd fantasies. While Cynthia seeks health and total happiness within her virtual environment—an interactive video set that utilizes real-time multimedia techniques its creators call “live animation”—she usually settles for fad cures and new-age kitsch, creating situations in turn comic, contemplative, and surreal.

Whispering Pines is the celebrated video serial created by Moulton in 2002 that has previously spawned nine episodes, along with related performances, videos, and gallery installations. Whispering Pines 10—the latest installment—is an innovative performance hybrid that incorporates elements of traditional opera into contemporary video and performance art. Its premise—a woman alone in her private environment, aided by technology—enables a flexible sensibility wherein popular and experimental forms can mingle. The original music and libretto composed by Hallett takes advantage of the narrative’s dream logic to weave what is essentially a pop music vocabulary into an experimental idiom, enabling a virtuosic exploration of the human voice. As the protagonist does not effectively speak, the sounds ...

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Performance 9: Allora & Calzadilla at MoMA Video

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Here's a short video documenting Allora & Calzadilla's work Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano (2008), which the group will perform on an hourly schedule, every day, at MOMA until January 10, 2011.

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Buchla Christmas by Warner Jepson

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Need tunes for your holiday party? Brooklyn-based experimental label SHINKOYO just released this little gem - a 1969 recording by Bay Area composer Warner Jepson of Christmas carols, recorded entirely on the Buchla 100 Analog Modular Synthesizer housed at the Mills College Electronic Music Studios. Jepson, in a description accompanying the track, recalls that he produced "Buchla Christmas" as a soundtrack for a children's holiday party, hosted by SFMOMA.

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Elements of Vogue: A Conversation with Ultra-red

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Ultra-red is an activist art group founded in 1994. The group proposes an alternate model for art and activism, one in which it is not the artist's critical intervention that serves as the source of cultural action, but rather that art might contribute to and challenge the process of collective organization and relationship building itself.

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