Joanne McNeil
Works in Brooklyn United States of America

writer (Los Angeles Times, Wired UK, Frieze, etc) // former editor of

Max Mathews (1926–2011) Interview with Geeta Dayal for Frieze

Max Mathews Radio Baton Demonstration

Rhizome contributor Geeta Dayal recently interviewed Max Mathews for Frieze magazine. Sadly the pioneer of digital music (creating MUSIC in 1957) passed away three weeks later. It's a fascinating conversation going over the history of computer music and Mathew's many high profile collaborations, while explaining the creative energy at Bell Labs at the time.

Your boss actually encouraged you to take time off from work to write MUSIC? Bell Labs sounds like it was an amazing place.

Bell Labs was a golden era. Golden for several things. One was that the research money to support it was gotten as a tax on the earnings or the profits of the telephone companies. We got it as a lump sum. The vice president in charge of research, William O. Baker, insisted that there be no strings attached to the money and that we could use it in the way we thought was best. So a lot of very important things were done with this support, or byproducts of things that were used in telephony. There were the radio telescopes, and the measurement of the background radiation with the very low-noise antennas that we developed that supported the Big Bang theory, and there was of course the transistor. And there were all sorts of speech codings that are still very important, and error correcting codes. The departments originally only hired Ph.D. physicists, mathematicians, and maybe a few chemists. Then they gradually let in some engineers. The whole research department, the position you took was a member of staff – MTS, member of technical staff. That was the highest position in the research department! [laughs]...

What’s your attitude about how difficult it was for you in the 1950s to make computer music, versus making computer music ...


BLDGBLOG Interviews Nicholas de Monchaux, author of "Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo"

Image from Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monchaux

For instance, the word cyborg originated in the Apollo program, in a proposal by a psycho-pharmacologist and a cybernetic mathematician who conceived of this notion that the body itself could be, in their words, reengineered for space. They regarded the prospect of taking an earthly atmosphere with you into space, inside a capsule or a spacesuit, as very cumbersome and not befitting what they called the evolutionary progress of our triumphal entry into the inhospitable realm of outer space. The idea of the cyborg, then, is the apotheosis of certain utopian and dystopian ideas about the body and its transformation by technology, and it has its origins very much in the Apollo program.

But then the actual spacesuit—this 21-layered messy assemblage made by a bra company, using hand-stitched couture techniques—is kind of an anti-hero. It’s much more embarrassing, of course—it’s made by people who make women’s underwear—but, then, it’s also much more urbane. It’s a complex, multilayered assemblage that actually recapitulates the messy logic of our own bodies, rather than present us with the singular ideal of a cyborg or the hard, one-piece, military-industrial suits against which the Playtex suit was always competing. ... — Nicholas de Monchaux, author of "Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo" in an interview with BLDGBLOG's Geoff Manaugh.

3D ASCII Animated GIF from Japan

Japanese tech news publication Weekly ASCII has an animated gif tutorial including this 3D ASCII gif.

via Prosthetic Knowledge


Publications from the Whole Earth Catalog at MoMA

The Last Supplement to the Whole Earth Catalog, 1971

Access to Tools: Publications from the Whole Earth Catalog, 1968–1974
April 18–July 26, 2011

Le Révélateur - Bleu Nuit (2011) / Video by Sabrina Ratté

Bleu Nuit is made using video feedbacks as basic material. Through various processes of image manipulations, colors emerged from electronic light to create improbable landscapes. It is also a collaboration with Le Révélateur, who’s music was the primal inspiration for the completion of this video. Bleu Nuit is a track from Le Révélateur's forthcoming LP on Gneiss Things, Fictions. - DIAMOND VARIATIONS