Steph’s Blog

well just when you thought it was safe to go outside June 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steph @ 5:54 am

 

How do you suppose they divy up the royalties?

 

The reterritorialisation of music May 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steph @ 9:42 am

Well at some stage my childhood love of Looney Tunes had to emerge, and come up for discussion so here we are…

 

The Rabbit of Seville

 

“[Music] takes leave of the earth, as much in order to drop us into a black hole as to open us up to a cosmo” (Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 348 )

D & G’s argument is music has the capacity to rupture all the codes, which trap us, thus opening our prehension beyond the code. However, it is also one of the most heavily signified, categorized and bounded mediums. I don’t think there is a possibility for free music, and I’m going to use an anecdote below to discuss why.

 

the fabulous episode above, is a parody of  The Barber of Selville, a 19th century opera by Gioachino Rossini. Now I’m sure someone has already written on parody in Looney Tunes, so I won’t concern myself with that today. My question is what happens if our only encounter with this music is through the form of parody. The first time I heard the Rossini’s score was during this episode. Thus whenever I hear the those few notes being plucked, the image of Bugs bunny massaging Elmer Fudd’s head is immediately invoked. I would suggest the only truly free music, would be what we compose ourselves, and encounter as individuals.

We rarely ever encounter anything before it has been mediated, or transposed/appropriated by someone else. Is there a possibility anymore for Deleuze’s idea of cosmos reaching music?

 

Also how did Bugs Bunny escape the censors! Cross-dressing, murder, and beastiality! It’s pretty insane.

 

Anyway at the very least enjoy the clip.

 

Viral marketing April 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steph @ 9:14 am

 

Why?

 

Stumbled across this youtube video recently. It’s a tour promotion for bluejuice and the paper scissors, Sydney bands, who are touring together in the next few months. This clip is part of a video blog they have opened up to promote their work. What intrigues me, is the multiple takes style, which is quite common these days. It can be seen in bloopers on DVD extras, or sometimes at the end of a movie if you stick around until the end of the credits (and indeed, why do they want us to stay until the end of the credits anyway?)

 

But what purpose does this style serve? What mode of address is at work? Like Madonna’s Truth or Dare Documentary it is opening up into a realist/doco aesthetics, which creates a stronger bond between the audience and the screen-image. 

 

Selling Out

 

Why do we have this concept of ‘selling out’ in the music industry? The assumption is the artists creative integrity is compromised by the major labels. Unfortunately, for the artist, if they remain on smaller labels they have limited possibilities for promotion and audience expansion. It’s a paradox, where remaining on the smaller label can mean a smaller audience, while moving to a larger label can alienate the original support base. Furthermore, selling out is only applicable to bands that operated on the periphery of the capitalist machine (I say peripheral, as I would argue that nothing can exist outside the machine).

Who stands to benefit from the ‘selling out’ concept? For example, former Melbourne band motor ace allowed there single Death defy to be used as the theme song for ‘The secret life of us’, which angered many of their fans. Fortunately, for the band Five star laundry, the album featuring death defy, performed quite well in the charts. Similarly, when they released their second album Shoot this, they cross-promoted with ‘The secret life of us’, and the song ‘carry on’ was featured in multiple advertisements, including an advert for The Australian. However, they album performed fairly poorly. For a multitude of reasons, the band split while touring japan (I think). Yet they reformed to create their third album Animal. Now this is a personal opinion, but this album is phenomenal. It’s similar to Eskimo Joe’s Black Fingernail’s, Red Wine, but the lyrics are far tighter, and the production is extraordinary. Unfortunately, the promotional televisual medium, was not open to them, as the Secret life of us had been cancelled. The album bombed.

Andrew Murfett, Ace’s High, The Age. 22/06/2005:

 “the band was suddenly an easy whipping boy for the indie-rock community. The critical bashing the band received is a galvanising subject.”

It’s also worth noting Robertson’s response regarding ‘selling out’, as a byproduct of surviving the Australian music industry.

Maybe it also points to exchange value rupturing in the fetishist process. This is a tenuous suggestion, however selling out is almost the inverted fetish. The exchange value is decreased by the codification of the ‘selling out’ process, the band/artist is no longer legitimate as part of the subculture. However, they are not accessible to mainstream listener’s either (this can be due to accessibility, both aurally and financially!) 

 

File Sharing

 

Indeed, I would suggest the ‘selling out’ concept and its gradual acceptance in society as an unavoidable part of the music industry is evidence of the consumer attitude towards music. We saw this during the proliferation of music file-sharing sites in the early 2000s. People could download an entire back catalogue, with relative easy and consume it just as quickly. The file sharing apparatus enables users to use music as a communicative tool between one another. It seemed to remove all other actors in the music industry from the listening experience. They existed in name only. 


 

Video Art Pre-MTV April 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steph @ 5:19 am

Was just having a look around youtube can came a couple of clips by Nam June Paik, an early video art. 

Firstly take a look at Global Groove a video clip with John Godfrey.

“How soonTV-chair will be available in most museums? How soon artists will have their ownTV channels? How soon wall-to-wallTV for video art will be installed in most homes? 
Paik envisioned a different television, a “global groove” of artists’ expressions seen as part of an “electronic superhighway” that would be open and free to everyone.The multiple forms of video that Paik developed can be interpreted as an expression of an open medium able to flourish and grow through the imagination and participation of communities and individuals from around the world.” John Hanhardt, An essay on Nam June Paik, [Online].

 

Most of Paik’s work on the creation of a virtual space for artists occurred in the seventies and eighties. In 2008, what sort of answers would we give to Paik’s suggestion of a ‘global groove’. MTV creates a music video machine, which fetishises the sound and image. However it is not a free space. Aside from issues of finances and programming, censorship controls exist, which inhibit creative freedom. Madonna’s Justify my Love and Erotica were both pulled from rotation, as they were considered inappropriate for the time schedule. Furthermore, videos can be placed on late night programming schedules to ensure they are only viewed by ‘adult audiences’. Prominent examples include Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy. Indeed, in the 90s video music shows including rage, Channel V and MTV (the latter being music video channels) were the only access points to a video culture. (Although I maybe mistaken)

Moving on 10 years and we see youtube and the Internet becoming the open and free networks, which artists can use to broadcast their thought and present their work. The common assumption is that  lack of commercial forces prevent youtube and the Internet being constrained. However google bought youtube in 2006, and have removed many videos, which are considered offensive or inappropriate. 

The New York Times article has some great examples of Censorship.

As a result, we could argue artistry and corporations must remain separate if freedom and integrity of artists is to be maintained. However, this ignores an integral issue I believe. If corporations and governments are the key structures in our society, then we will always be constrained. An individuals ability to participate in these machines is greatly limited by their socio-economic standing and the resources at their disposal. If these around the foundations of our society, I don’t believe Paik’s vision can become a reality, or virtual reality as he foresaw it. We see small ruptures but as Guattari suggests much of this can be seen as continue cycle break down and intervention:

“Human action remains adjacent to their [he is speaking specifically about robots, however I think it is still useful in this context] gestation, waiting for the breakdown, which will require its intervention: this residue of a direct act.” (Guattari, 1995, 36)

 

Indeed, there seems to be so much potential in these micro machines to overcome the limitations of capitalism. However, ultimately they seem to be quick breakdowns, which give us a moments breath before we continue moving. 

I don’t really have a particular solution here, or anything. It’s really just a long ramble. But for coming so far I though i’d leave you with two clips.

 

One is Unnecessary Censorship:

 

And Nam June Paik’s Electronic Moon no. 2:

 

 

 

Disneyland and Spectatorship in the 1950s April 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steph @ 11:56 am

The distribution of Cinerama and Cinemascope were technological reactions to the dwindling audience numbers in the 1950s, and the rise of television. They created new viewing methods, which were both beneficial to spectator participation, as well as costly to the studios. The result was a novelty, which had ended by the sixties. However, the disney corporation sought to increase box office receipts by developing a cross-promotional theme park, which would link into other aspects of its media empire. They enabled the spectator to immerse themselves in an experience of the filmic medium, by taking it out of the cinema and creating a material reality. However, like Cinerama and CinemaScope, the Disney experience was driven by ideological demands. This essay shall discuss the changing relationship between viewer, television and film, with a close reading of John Belton’s work on 1950s screen innovation, in regard to the development of Disneyland. Firstly, the circumstances giving rise to the different filmic phenomenological addresses shall be discussed. Secondly, the effect of the disneyland experience on the viewer, and how this mode of address went beyond the boundaries set up by widescreen cinema of the fifties. Thirdly, though the experience is not visually constrained, there are exclusionary mechanism at work, which set up a particular ideology and audience to be addressed. Finally, Frontierland and Tomorrowland shall be used as examples of how the media conglomerate operated, as well as their effects upon the spectator. Both were used to reaffirm the identity of Americans, and address Cold War tensions. Therefore, this essay shall argue the these factors worked to create a Disney viewing experience, which was drawn together by ideological concerns. 

 

Innovations in cinema were driven by declining audience numbers at the end of the second world war. 

 

“it [cinemascope] satisfied a historically specific need for a motion picture format that could effectively compete with the variety of recreational activities available to the new, postwar consumer market” (Belton, 1988, 38)

 

Disney reacted differently to declining audience numbers, by using television, film and the theme park to create a mass viewing experience. Spectators had the ability to watch a television program centered on the developments at Tomorrowland, physically engage with the developments at Disneyland, and the attend a film featuring the characters they had encountered at the theme park. 

“Motion pictures attempted to maximise their participatory potential by adopting two dramatically different model of recreational participation-the amusement park and the legitimate theatre- around which they then constructed new definitions of spectatorship” (Belton, 1992, 188)

 

” a performative and kinetic space that make the electronic of filmic product and its promotion literally material”.  (Davis, 1996, 411)

While audience may presume, this enables them to gain a greater level of participation in the onscreen spectacle, they are invaraibly placed in a subjective position. 

Belton discusses the spectatorship theory developed by Baudry (1996, 183-184). He suggests the emphasis in contemporary theory is the ability of an audience member to imbue an image with a particular meaning, due to the “(mis)recognition” of the screen as reality. Spectatorial theory address the static physical position of the viewer in the movie theatre. However, once they are moved into the open air of the theme park are they able to break the framing and organised vision Belton discusses? 

It could be suggested that theme-parks are a real like experience, which frees the viewer from the static prison of the cinema. While the theme park goes beyond the film in creating a liberated viewing position, they are still a subject. Marling argues, “the tension between perfection and reality..was the primary sources of the visitor’s delight” (1996, 93). While, this maybe true, it is reflective of the “suture” discussed by Belton (1996, 187), a fundamental concern of spectatorship. During the viewing experience of widescreen the audience was supposed to be so absorbed in the image that they considered it reality. However, technological difficulties created jarring moments, which pointed to the artifice of the production. Similarly, Disneyland attempted a similar kind of suture through the creation of rides, and “life size characters”. The sensorial experience is not limited to sound and sight, but expands into smell and touch (and probably to some degree taste.

While the theme park can engage all the sense, it is still a managed reality. The viewer cannot discover anything new in Disneyland, which has not been created by the Disney corporation.arling suggests, “The once-passive viewer now became an actor, a real-lie participant “face up in the rain” as a rackety little boat plowed under Schweitzer fall. It was better than the movies” (1996, 93). Though, this is true it ignores the elements of structure and control, which are fundamental to the maintenance of the theme park. While the the fantasy is not limited by a cinematic frame, the theme park’s operation is controlled and regulated within stringent boundaries, both spatial and temporal. Parades take place every half hour on the main street. Operating times are maintained, thus the spectator cannot access the Disney reality whenever they please. While the audience is fully immersed in the Disney reality, they are still in a structured subject position. M Disneyland’s Main Street uses “forced perspective” to create a sense of safety amongst the audience; buildings were scaled to at most seventh-eights of their regular size (Marling, 1996, 114).  Though Disneyland appeals to many aspects of reality, it does not liberate the viewer into a sense of the real experience.

 

While Disneyland created reality, it focused upon a nostalgic time in the form of Frontierland, free from the tensions and fear of the Cold War. 

Indeed, the particular focus upon frontier land acted to reaffirm the American Identity as a pioneer and innovator. 

Davy Crockett:

 

 

Tomorrowland created a futuristic view, which helped to reaffirm the victory of America in the Cold War

Man in Space:

“President Eisenhower called from the White House to offer his thanks and congratulations in person” (Marling, 1996, 123

 

While Disneyland was used to liberate the viewer from the fixed cinematic position, it created a particular audience for its product. 

“Navigating the interstate to the theme park required, of course, a car, a factor that again cut out the amusement park’s younger and poorer audience. The theme park became an ‘away’ place, separated from the everyday life of the city by distance as as by imagistic control.” (Davis, 1996, 404)

 

random mumblings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steph @ 6:57 am

I was driving home, and listening to an interview with air, a french electronic duo, about the recording process. So to set the context, they’ve just been asked about commercial success, and they reply that they don’t set out to make songs they make music. They find the verse, chorus structure of contemporary music, an anti-thesis quite often of what they set out to do. They record music. Rather they record the energy, that comes from music.

(this interview will probably be up on triple j sometime soon so if you’re interested, have a look at their website)

However, about 5 minutes later, they make a reference to one song taking so long because the verse wouldn’t work. Aside from this little contradiction, how do we feel about music recording as a recording of energy. I’m sure in some circumstances this isn’t applicable, however the rise in live-recordings and DVDs, suggest a quest to capture the energy and flow of music. The irony of course is that they are produced and consumed as commodities; they become compartmentalized forms so they are more easily accessible. In many ways this is an important process for an artist, as they wouldn’t be able to communicate with the population if this recording process didn’t exist. However some of the issues seem to be a result of fetishised commodities. The best example i’d say is a band t-shirt. The use value and labour value of a band t-shirt, let’s say a Ramones one, is exactly the same as any other t-shirt you can find at target. However, when we buy and wear the Ramones t-shirt we buy into an anti-authoritarian idea and punk attitude. It is an instant badge of membership, and an attempt to buy into a particular lifestyle. 

 

 

I engage in exactly the same practice, except with a football scarf :P. However, by engaging in these rituals and signifiers are we inevitably draining the energy, and our enjoyment out of these commodities.

I don’t know, but i think it’s somewhat listening to your favourite song too many times. We’ve all done it, and i know i always attempt to repeat that first listening. That amazing intensity and energy that i suppose it like Guattari’s machinic junkie. However, every time i re-experience it, the affect is muted. Not to say i don’t enjoy the song anymore but it create the same sensation. 

Could we also seek to explain the decline in radio, in these terms? Instant accessibility coupled with the anger felt by many people at a consistent set of 10 songs on high rotation equals people opting for ipods or CDs. 

 

 

MTV and modes of address. April 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steph @ 10:31 am

Well the greatest machine of all, in my mind is MTV. Because it the production and consumption is blatantly obvious, but for some reason, we continue to indulge ourselves in both the bland or offensive videos, as well as great moments of visual art. 

 

MTV and its female address by Lisa Lewis

This article offers an interesting insight into MTV’s textual address, and how its was undermined in the 1980s by Lauper, Madonna, Benetar and other female artist. Lewis suggests the singers used access signs, which are those which appropriate traditional male signifiers, such as street culture, bars and pubs. Furthermore, they use discovery signs, signifiers of female activity, to legitimate and privilege femme behaviors. It’s an interesting suggestion, and I agree that to subvert traditional partriarchal signifiers we must drawn attention to the privileges and rituals engaged in their production. However doesn’t this imply continue the binary opposition of female and male. 

 

I think the idea of discovery signs, which seeks to bring female activities out of “negative” terms is more encouraging(Lewis, 1990). As it attempts to present dance, and dressing up in more positive and liberating terms. Conversely, it could be argued that these are simply indulging the male gaze, as I’m sure Laura Mulvey would suggest. The female body is simply being objectified for the male gaze and enjoyment. To discern whether these activities are positive or negative in the production of female subjectivity, we would need to analyse why females feel the need to engage in these activities. Ultimately, they work to categorise an individual as female. Perhaps terms such as positive and negative aren’t appropriate in these discussions. 

 

But surely, we need to operate with a moral or ethical regime or standard. Not simply for the containment of human behavior, but to ensure we are all accountable for our behavior. 

 

Oh well, this has turned into a post, which asks more questions, that provides answers. Though, that maybe for the best.

 

Anyway, I will leave you with one of my favourite “girl power” videos of the 1990s. 

watch?v=Ygqew4RxIg8

I enjoy this video as it the cinematic frame ruptures, and the original two shots from boys bathroom to girls bathroom, becomes one larger shot, where each group flows from one room to the other. I particularly enjoy that, they all end up in the girls toilet, cause really, it’s a lot nicer (and cleaner!).