Today many of my favourite internet sites have gone dark to protest the SOPA legislation being proposed in the US.
As a result there's been less of the usual opportunities to procrastinate and, when a Google Alert brought up hito's bass ling/ guitar riff concept video by curse1hunter1L, I decided to make my own statement about copyright and edit something other than my next park remix video.
Hopefully this bloke will be entertained because I mean no disrespect. Without wishing to appear patronising, he reminds me of when I first got a bass guitar while I was at high school. Which is how I came to choose the moniker Bassling.
All the work I've produced as Bassling has been released under creative commons rather than copyright because copyright is out of control.
To argue that copyright protects artists is bullshit if you look at how it stretches 70 years beyond their death. Copyright protects businesses which make money from the efforts of artists. There are other ways to support these artists without giving money to corporations, like next time you're at a gig buy a t-shirt because they'll get a much bigger percentage of your money. Send them a donation or help raise their profile so that other opportunities will come their way.
Today I also learned that works that were in the public domain have been put back under copyright. The film Metropolis is one example, an incredible work that I considered remixing but choose instead to mix a new soundtrack to accompany the screening I organised for the Leeton Art Deco Festival last year.
The film that made the most profound impression on Lucas, however, was a short called 21-87 by a director named Arthur Lipsett, who made visual poetry out of film that others threw away. Working as an editor at the National Film Board, he scavenged scraps of other people's documentaries from trash bins, intercutting shots of trapeze artists and runway models with his own footage of careworn faces passing on the streets of New York and Montreal. What intrigued Lucas most was Lipsett's subversive manipulation of images and sound, as when a shot of teenagers dancing was scored with labored breathing that might be someone dying or having an orgasm. The sounds neither tracked the images nor ignored them - they rubbed up against them. Even with no plot or character development, 21-87 evoked richly nuanced emotions, from grief to a tenacious kind of hope - all in less than 10 minutes.
While there's a fair bit of trivia in the article for Star Wars fans, Lucas' fascination with the film is something that's been in the back of my mind. At the time I was studying television production and thought my lecturers gave sound less attention in the curriculum than it deserves. This view was furthered by a visit to the SMPTE conference in 2006 where one speaker described audio as being "more than 50%" of television because it is a medium that uses a lot of close-up framing, so sound provides context for the narrative.
Today I got around to watching 21-87 and I think it demonstrates the importance of audio and the way it shapes the viewer's comprehension. There are moments when you're watching this short film and the way the sound and picture comes together creates a sense of meaning that is different from what is conveyed in either medium separately.
Can you imagine what 21-87 would be like if Lipsett had tried to match sounds to the onscreen actions? It'd be like Funniest Home Videos, where silly sound effects try to make very ordinary video hilarious.
The other thing it's got me thinking about is a line I read about how when you're in the process of creating an art work you need to disable your critical thinking. You've got to run with your inspiration before trying to analyse the direction. There was a nice analogy about how inspiration and analysis is akin to trying to use first and reverse in your car at the same time. See 8 Bad Habits that Crush Your Creativity
And Stifle Your Success.
While television production emphasised that viewers anticipate that any action seen on screen will have a corresponding sound -- and this is something I've been focusing on when editing my park remix videos -- if you don't do this you open up space for new forms of meaning to be created. If you believe some people this conjuring of meaning is magic.
There's a lot of theory that's been written about editing images (again a demonstration of the focus on the visual, something of a human trait), like how if you cut from a woman's face to a picture of money being left on a pillow you will convey a meaning that she's a prostitute.
21-87 leaves me considering the potential of a kind of 'infinite semiosis' (to use semiotics) or free association to create multiple meanings depending on the viewer if you don't sync the sounds and pictures.
Song of Survival from Bruce Odland on Vimeo.
Bruce Odland's visit to a nearby part of the Riverina was a highlight of 2011 for me.
Aside from demonstrating the many interesting instruments he built as part of his residency at The CAD Factory outside Narrandera, he also performed a few tunes he'd written like this one.
At the time I didn't really understand the Occupy theme in it and thought he was riffing on the harshness of the landscape and the fascination people have with the name Wagga Wagga, but now I can see the way it reflects his journey from occupying Wall Street to the residence he had in the old Birrego schoolhouse.
The blog he wrote of his visit is a good read too.
This video once offered a good introduction to the sub-genres of electronic dance music (EDM), which is an area I always struggle to understand.
(Sadly they are no longer allowed to use this choice quote but if you can hear it soon after the one-minute mark here
On one hand I can see why these sub-genres exist because there's so much music out there and it helps people hone in on what they like, but on the other, I still remember going to EDM nights in the early '90s and loving the variety of rhythms.
Makes me wonder if the focus on these sub-genres by musicians, DJs and consumers means that a phenomenal and wide-ranging mix like Coldcut's 70 Minutes Of Madness isn't a product of its time.
There weren't many Christmas presents under my tree this year but these cans from my sister are excellent. I also received a tin of biscuits from an aunt the same as the one I recorded with my homemade contact microphones, which leads me to think I should try recording these cans.
I've been enjoying a break from remixing parks but there are only two parks left, so I'll wrap up this project soon and focus on the next album I'm planning.