Audio Mouth Breathers

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new breed of idiot to celebrate.

Recently I become annoyed at people on You Tube that had my music up as soundtracks to a still image. There’s plenty of reasons to despise this:

* If they had made a video to go with the music, they would have added some small thing to the store of art. They didn’t and haven’t.

* They often see themselves as providing something that otherwise would not be heard. 10 seconds with Google would have told them otherwise. Their self promotion allows no such deviation.

* They often describe themselves as some sort of collector. A collector, the way that somebody picks up my garbage. Again they have not actually researched anything, have no idea of what it means and have no inkling that the year 1990 passed some time ago. It’s 2011. You are old and fat and so are The Bangles.

* Like all good Fascists they pretend to speak ‘on my behalf’. Particularly distressing are those academics that promote their redistribution of other people’s work as ‘a gift economy’ – the same that would condemn anyone that spoke on behalf of another person with less power – but then academia and hypocrisy are siblings.


I could go on. But let’s get to the meat.

I was told by one that he was a connoisseur of vinyl and that he wanted people to hear what the music sounded like on that format. Now, the idea that by streaming audio over the incredibly low bandwidth of YouTube Flash format you were demonstrating the quality of analogue audio is so UTTERLY FUCKING STUPID that I regret my membership of the human race.

Perhaps it’s not clear – let me put it this way – if you said that an original oil painting was better than a print and you prove this by providing a black and white photocopy of the painting then you are as thick as two short planks. No one would for a moment believe a word you said. And yet somehow there are people out there who are commenting on the superior sound they are streaming down from YouTube.

One particular serial retard based an entire critique of my later music on what they had downloaded from YouTube. Well yes, everything I have done recently has a bandwidth of 12KHz. You’re so perceptive.

It’s worth repeating (how many more times?) that everything we recorded since 1985 was recorded digitally. The record labels would make a tape from that and press vinyl and leave me to cry at just how BAD these unnecessary modifications have made the sound. Then when some oaf tells me that the vinyl sounds superior it broadcasts their ignorance. Let alone over YouTube. Ye Gods!


I have the original recordings. Telling me what it is supposed to sound like makes you a fool. Get it?

Now I am getting some people who complain about how loud CDs can be. It’s on the level of ‘Why is this loud-over-the-top-noise-music loud-and-over-the-top? Why are you making this thumping sound like thumping and this screeching sound like screeching? This is not how it sounds on the vinyl I bought 25 years ago!’ Well no shit Sherlock. When you cut vinyl you have to turn it down. You have remove bass. You have to compress the stereo image. You have to run it through limiters. You end up with something which is called ‘warm’, like a pie that’s been too long on a heating tray. Vinyl sucks and the really loud and crunchy CDs are free of these compromises that I have hated.

Bottom line – if you want to live in the past go ahead. But to try drag it all back to your youth is desperate. Let the rest of us go on ahead, we don’t need you.


And here it comes … the hate mail!

A depressing number of people of course didn’t actually read what I said and started another chorus of that tired old song about analogue, unicorns and rainbows. Good for you.

One guy decided that I was in no position to call the Bangles (and presumably him) fat. Actually that’s the point dear chap, I’m not the one injecting sonic Botox. The sweet bird of youth is dead on the bottom of the cage, so let’s all be grown ups now. Look in the mirror. I’m near 50 years old, it’s 2011, and 1982 may as well be 1882 for what it matters any more.

I particularly liked an impassioned plea that I respect ‘fans’. You have to ask what a ‘fan’ means? Let’s see:- no idea about what’s been happening for the last 20 years, never buys anything, steals my shit, never contacts me. Oh yeah, right that’s a FAN. With fans like that who needs indifference? Or maybe it’s a case of be kind to these people because they are particular delicate flower who ‘mean well’?

I have a community of people who I DO respect, and they in turn respect me and this is far healthier than the notion of a ‘fan’ – a kind of hostile dependency that should have been taken out back and shot a few decades ago.

The rant is valid, the rant calls out bullshit. I will denounce things that suck.

What’s so great about cinema anyway?


Films are the same every time you play them. Nothing improves on the second viewing –  just the same scenes, same people, same stupid race through plot points. And 99 percent of the time it’s the same plot anyway. Meet some lunkhead. Oh no, don’t do that, you will get in trouble! Lunkhead does it anyway and sure enough everything is a big mess. Female lunkhead comes along she is too smart for him but they’re in bed soon enough, maybe you will get to see her backside. They are running away from evil guy but hah hah he has them now! Oh no! Bad guy forgot something and is defeated. Hooray for lunkheads they will never do stupid thing again – unless there’s a sequel.

Either (A) like me you really don’t care about the lunkhead and the movie is a pointless roller coaster of indifference or (B) you manage to care and the endless stupidity of the hero reversed only by the unbelievable fault of the bad guy is going to disappoint you again and again. You already know what is going to happen in a film, so why bother watching?

Don’t give me that crap about the ‘Hero’s Journey’. They’re not a hero, they’re a bumbling idiot to have done exactly the transgression that lead to the whole debacle. If you knew someone like that in real life you’d leave the answering machine on to vet your calls. So why would you pay money to be wedged into a chair in the dark for hours watching the same creep? Because it’s cinema! You get to see some oaf in action from multiple camera angles.

Film is just photography with moving bits. There’s really no need for all this movement, can’t you imagine it in your head?. I mean I thought La Jette has made that point. Do you really need a book to have the words move around the page? It’s ridiculous. Why can’t we just dawdle on an image for as long as we like? We’ve had art galleries for years – and we haven’t needed some Director in a golf buggy driving us past the paintings at the speed he feels is ‘cinematic’. No, the whole time they have to hurry us along in case we notice the badly painted backdrops.


And why do games now have to be ‘filmic?’ It ruins them – all scenery and cut scenes – no game. ‘Hello I am your sidekick would you be so kind blah blah blah – oh no I am really the villain it is a plot twist!’ Pac Man did well enough without exposition every five minutes. Can you imagine if you had to wade through a back story for Inky The Ghost?

And music that is ‘cinematic’? Code word for reverberated wash.

The whole notion of film is poison for all the other arts. It’s got to stop before all the REAL forms get dragged down to its level!

I denounce cinema.

Films need to be scenes you can pause or play backwards or forwards in any order and be just as entertained. And lots of special effects instead of character development because I don’t really care about these people I just want to see crazy shit I don’t get sitting at my office desk. Film music should have no relationship with what’s on screen and should never be long drawn out strings and horn sections that try to ’emote’. If there’s dialogue then it should just be witty banter that has no meaning.

Basically like all Peter Greenaway films.


This is my solution for the Australian Film Industry. No one watches Australian films because they are like textbooks of film theory. If I was king of Screen Australia I only fund films that were bizarre collisions of vibrant meaninglessness, especially films that led to fist fights in cinemas. I have no doubt – no seriously – no doubt that MORE people would go watch an Australian film if you left the theatre with a black eye and no idea of what you just experienced.





Space Attack!



comes an insidious new evil – a threat to eyeballs and stomachs everywhere



A symphony of fake metal gradations, jelly highlights and PURPLE

Everything it touches turns into purple mush


including people

Mattel Bratz

and small animals



Actually that last one wasn’t purple but it is sure is damn ugly.


Here you go Apple, I took a minute to whip up some jelly bean purple and I did a kewl metallic effect and lens flare for you too.


This is a snow leopard. It is grey with some dots. When next you plop out your flaky desktop take a tip from Fido here and GROW SOME TASTEBUDS


Imagine my surprise and delight this morning when I got this email from Ebay!

It’s all yours, now you just need to pay.

We hope you enjoy your latest purchase. The next step is pay the seller. Don’t wait. Pay now to get your item as soon as possible.
Pay with PayPal, the safe and easy way to pay for your eBay purchases.
1 hc sofa for Habbo UK GBP 1.99
Quantity:50 GBP 99.50

Why that’s great! I won a … what the fuck? 50 hc sofa for Habbo UK?

A few questions started to peak at this point. How did I win an auction in which I had not in fact participated? How was it possible that a bid was made by me at 12.02AM for fifty of something that appears to be a couch for some computer game? If I had such game what would I do with FIFTY virtual couches? What is Habbo?

Soon after:

Thank you for shopping on eBay! Your total amount due is £99.50. More details about your purchase are included below.
1 hc sofa for Habbo UK 50 £1.99 £99.50

I was thrilled! I wrote back and got some more details on my latest acquisitions:

Please note that this is a system generated email; please do not reply to this email because it won’t reach us. You can contact the Customer support using the help section from the navbar.

Listing Violations > Fraudulent listings (illegal seller demands, you didn’t receive item etc) > You suspect that a listing is fraudulent (you didn’t bid)

Message: Did not bid on this item – I have no idea what it is about. Do not want it or to pay for it.

It was just like Christmas around here! But it was going to be a while before Santa got back to me. So I needed to think about what might have happened.

Possibly I am a sleepwalker, and during the night I got up and went to the computer to log onto Ebay and order what I secretly really wanted, which was 50 virtual couches. This is plausible except that I was in fact awake at the time the bid was made, doing 3D stuff.

Perhaps a fugue struck at my mind – I thought I was doing something else but was really unconsciously logged into Ebay on the prowl for couches. The problem is there is no record of my visiting Ebay at the time. Which also accounts for ghosts, gremlins and trained attack ferrets.

Could be a parallel universe has crossed into our own where couch ordering is part of everyday life. Could be Captain Kirk has used time travel. Could be the matrix.

Could also be that Ebay allows con artists to place fake bids as a means of shaking down suckers into paying for things they never bought, in which case their so called ‘security measures’ are completely SHIT.

When I get back from work:

REDACTED has sent you a request to cancel the transaction for 1 hc sofa for Habbo UK.
Reason for request: The seller says that you have purchased the item in error.
Please click the Take action button to accept or decline this request.

Yes, error. I was in the shower and slipped on the soap and accidentally fell on the computer making it buy 50 couches. Note in this mail it says ONE couch. In this case all I can do is accept the cancellation, but as far as EBay is concerned the case is closed, it was my error.

May the market collapse, taking Ebay to bankruptcy, may the CEO catch an embarrasing disease, may the person that played this scam find an urgent need to transgender themselves with a blunt knife. A pox on all their houses. Fuck them and burn their swag.

As a parting shot 21 emails sent to me by the university at which I study, having mysteriously vanished into the aether over months suddenly disgorged themselves into my inbox this evening. Mails I needed urgently for my application, mails that asked me to complete forms, mail inviting me to a night out but needing me to respond yesterday. Plurrp. Hello.

Bloody Internet.


Some 12 years ago a fellow looked me in the eye and said, “You used to be ahead of everything!”

This was a low moment in a low period. It was a few years since the band had fallen from a Top 20 single to no label, no money, no audience in an impressively rapid decline. One moment we were top of the craft – next moment the style of music we represented was ‘dated’ and I was selling gear to eat. The local label had folded in a heap, our producer member was dead and our Canadian label had earlier tested the air, dumped anything with a synthesiser and invested heavily in grrrl rock. Which you would, if survival was your first instinct.

My instinct was to just keep doing what we did before labels and singles and all that. But the young audience wasn’t there. They had heard a ‘new thing’ – and it was Seattle Grunge Rock. The older ones were breeding. We’d play, but they just wouldn’t come. After a while we just did The Big Day Out as a yearly guerilla video ambush on the littlies. And after that there was just no fun in it any more. We stopped. That’s when the photos stop in the sevcom archive.

“You used to be ahead of everything!” He was sure that was the transgression that had earned this decline. All we had to do was …

I looked at him and frantically ran through my head just how I was going to somehow be ahead of everything again. It was difficult to work out as ‘everything’ was at that stage entering into what we now know to be ‘just about anything’. True, electronic music was something you scraped off your shoe, but being ahead of Nirvana was like out dancing your mum. Music had regressed 20 years. What was their secret manoeuvre that I had to discover? Surely it wasn’t just a flight back to ‘good old rock n roll’?

netsca1 <web 1.0.>

Meanwhile we had lost our labels so we started selling our music online through SDF, almost apologetically. Sorry people we’re not cool any more. Starting with a disc bitterly called severything. Back then there was no Pay Pal or anything like that so we had people fax us their orders or mail them. Sometimes we’d give away those new ‘mp3 files’ on the web. The first album we did only online was Haul Ass financed by the good people listed on the sleeve. That was 1998.

About 3 years later I realised all that was actually ahead of, well not everything, but let’s just remember that is older than

netsca1 </web 1.0>

But this isn’t a triumphant story where we prove somebody wrong. It’s actually an unsolved puzzle because the notion of being ‘ahead’ has gone the way of the polka. Now you can be electronic or grunge or whatever the hell. There’s no-one ahead, no future. You’re just an atom in a plasma. His complaint turned out to be about music.

Over the last decade I’ve watched the young start to pick up the synthesisers again and (I have say with a hint of sadness) ape the music that we all made a long time ago. They particularly like the old analogue equipment with which they make old analogue music. The radio is filled with 1983, alongside a whole bunch of other decades – just not this one.

And letters are starting to arrive. Tell us about the Old Times. Tell us about ‘post punk’. Do you have any videos you can show? (No but I have a bit of Super-8). Help us reclaim this lost horizon…

Once required to be ahead, I’m now supposed to be some giant knee on which witty historical anecdotes will be told to children. They want me to do anything BUT try to find new ways. Stay back there locked in the past. Sure I can remember the highs for you, but I can also remember being thrown out once used, and few people giving a damn. I spent the next decade moving on, and it obviously raises some hackles to have all that movement ignored in a tidy historical ‘youth orientated’ summary. And what can I really say? We did what we did then for reasons that no longer exist. No matter what gear you might collect the moment is lost.

Or I’m dead wrong. I have some students that have decided to work on live video synthesis but not with new computer based tools. They have seen work by Botborg and they want to work early 90’s style. I scratched my head until John Gillies told me he still had some old video gear stashed away. I showed the students how to wire up cables to fuck up a MX-30 vision mixer (to make it feedback into the digital store). For me it was like trying to recall an incantation from the age of legends. For them it is … that’s where I don’t know what it is. Like oil painting?

The letters from researchers, the teaching of young artists, occasional offers to pay the band to re-emerge for ‘hits and memories’ – these things are now a challenge equivalent to the comment 12 years ago. So the past gets misrepresented in the process of starting anew. Do I refuse to be made into a cartoon even if that might be the best way to kick things along for a new wave of artists?

Pride or service?


Computer games are movies. Get over it.

There. Got your attention.

The problem revealed by The Spirits Within and The Polar Express; that synthetic actors look like freshly dug corpses dragged about on invisible meat hooks – this is not going to hold Hollywood back for too many more years.

Please view this pictorial comparison. One of these is DAZ3D’s latest ‘unimesh’, Victoria 4.2. The other is a bag full of Botox called Nichole Kidman.

popup_7kidmanms0809_468x651 In case you’re not sure, the one on the left is the download. Neither of these ladies can act, but the download is free, can be any age, skin colour, body weight or whatever you need. Instantly. Doesn’t date junkies, whine for millions or run to the tabloids. Clothing is about 12 bucks a dress.

Being a unimesh she can also be male if required.

Now we’ve been promised this future almost as many times as flying cars, but it has tenacity, great tenacity, getting more urgent as Hollywood struggles to find a foothold. They are in the same boat as recording artists and that boat is The Titanic. They are going to build a bridge over Uncanny Valley and it will be a 8 lane highway. Yes, they had to retreat back to toys and ants and jungle animals, but it was a strategic retreat and the counter attack is not far off.

This is the problem: recording is no longer tenable. Performance is safe, plot, cinematography, soundtrack – all of that is still needed, but the idea that you have only one recording of an artistic performance is not long for this world. Musicians can’t sell albums, Hollywood can’t sell films – we have lost respect for them because we think (perhaps foolishly) we can do them ourselves and we want to at very least ‘mash up’ our own take on our entertainment.

The recording is only as old as the phonograph and the cinematographe. They are technologies that have had a good run, but like the panorama and the zoopraxiscope they can’t last for ever. And this is not simple ‘modernist’ progress but a cycle backwards to find a fresh way forward.

We will have a format where there’s potential for different outcomes, paths, unexpected twists. Sometimes you have one leading lady, next time it could be two men. Set the action in Rome or on Mars it doesn’t matter to the arc of the story. Who would you trust to hold this together? Who could be the one to ride this cacophony? Not the film director with their ‘auteur vision’ and their careful tip toeing over the bad angles. No, you need a Theatre Director. Someone that can fly seat of their pants night after night without the trick of edits and takes. The new media (hooray it’s back!) will be a study of Brecht, not Eisenstein.

This is how it will be. The stage is where the entertainment will be delivered, given the current trade shows, most likely a 3D screen of some sort. On your console will be found the synthespians Victoria 7 and Michael 8 or whatever the model is that year. We have props, clothing, scenery and so on. We buy the latest romance written by our Theatre team – not a time line but via motivations, obstacles, Jungian archetypes, all the ingredients. Our artist has devised a situation and it’s open to us to place it on Mars or Rome as we wish.


Michael loves Vikki. Vikki wants to be an explorer – ‘wait for me’. But Stephanie is in the wings with designs on Michael. We’d prefer that Stephanie was Stephen – no problem, the faces and gestures are simply called up from a bank. The end is very sad. We tweak the motivations so that Vikki finds true love, and one of the viewers saves that version as her favourite. Everybody gets a boon – directors still direct, costumers design clothing that will be scanned and sold, musicians learn to use event driven composition tools. Even the actors will find fame as the greatest face or body movement to sweep over the consoles. Every viewer can play with the variables and hope one day to be a published creator. Jobs and dreams are restored.

The underlying technologies are already in place, but we lack a sufficient interface to direct them. For example MPEG-7 is an existing scheme for describing media such that it can be resynthesised, but it is so cryptic that it’s had very minor traction in the arts – especially compared to MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 which we all know as ‘.mp3’. That thing that killed the music industry.

My future research would seem to be building an interface so that a director (or conductor) can use MPEG-7 to create with existing video and sound assets. For example direct a stored video rainstorm to clear up over a time set by a live performance. The interface is the missing element. To make a comparison – you could write directly in Portable Document Format – but it’s easier and more artistic to use Indesign.

The transition between real and virtual becomes easier. At my workplace they have a print shop, you can get your posters and books made there. They now have a 3D scanner, which can copy a small object, about the size of a figurine. And a 3D printer, which can make a real plastic copy of your 3D art. We hope to soon have a suit that records body motions, at which time we can have directors choreograph action for storage. Now that an art college can afford these things – a personal device is not too far off.

I’ve cheated by calling this a game, it’s not, but using motivations and problems to direct the action is closer to game design and I firmly believe that the future ‘film director’ must study both stage plays and computer games to be aligned with future trends in entertainment. Musicians must learn on FMOD as much as Cubase. Video should be seen projected on walls and 3D designers aligned with set builders. In effect we arrive exactly back at the same point as the last scribble – why disdain the game? Media Art is not going to follow the same worn tracks of the last half century.

It is going to melt, and that melt is going to be called Music.

Hue Rotate must die.

People are being annoyed by my flippant nature. I apologise. I will now adopt a very serious look.

Our topic for this sermon is – Forging a New Sophisticated Aesthetic in Time Based Art.

Witness: that in the past the quality of digital media was constrained by the infancy of the process. It was understandable that practitioners championed the limitations. In video, lacking the nuances of painterly colour we used bright primaries and justified that. I know I did. In computer graphics, having limited resolution and 256 colours, we staked our claim on that – accenting the dithering, the blockiness, pushing the web palette as a virtue. Likewise with 8bit Tracker music and so on and so forth.242
The nappystink of an artform’s childhood is no longer acceptable once adult (hear me ‘pixelart’). We were right to drop ‘New Media’, even if we fell back on even older art forms in desperation. To use music as an example; it was inevitable that the New Wave would collapse back into Rock standards once its limited palette was no longer novel. It was inevitable that sampling, especially of standard instruments, was going to replace the tedious voice of the analogue synthesiser. It was inevitable that the electronic image would become a convenient branch of still photography, and ‘video art’ would start pillaging the early history of film. No great loss. New Media simply didn’t have the texture that a robust art needs.

This may not be a bad thing. Because a smack on the nose with a rolled up newspaper can be a great learning experience. OK, so we all made some really ugly shit. Why was it ugly? How can this ugliness be defined? What should we be doing right now? Where is the cutting edge?

I need to think clearly about this because I may be working on a long term digital media project, the heart of which is curation. I am working on scripted systems which choose between possible visual inputs and decide which to employ in a larger work. That means the work is about automating ‘taste’, a ridiculous idea, but that’s what makes it so appealing.

Practically, one such system is (in its public guise) ‘umami’ (in its personal guise) ‘opmitter’, a system that analyses incoming video, finds interesting bits and reuses them to make ambient video art. A few attempts at this system have touched on bigger questions. It connects with the reality that we have too much media and not enough stage. It connects with the demarcation between material and design – e.g. whether music is a result or a input into a result – matters of appropriation. It is, like all curation, a kind of censorship that must not be taken lightly. (I could throw the word ‘problematic’ in there but I’m sparing you the Media Arts Chest Beating)

Hi Grandma! But straight up – my prototype results are distressingly “90’s VJ”. You know the look; nasty blocky over-coloured chroma key. We have been there, we have done that, we need to move on. The whole sorry mess is stuck more than a decade ago, when the authors of Jitter, Isadora, Resolume et al. were immersed in tacky neo-hippy dance culture. We need a new Vertov to come out and give it a good kicking:





Or do we need a VJDogme08? No colourise, No sparkle FX, no bloody edge detect…

Unless we start to impose a worthy aesthetic, the code monkeys that make the tools we serve will continue to find it easier to implement the same tired old linear algebra on our images. We have to know what we want so we can make sure they make what we want.

If we don’t start refining our tastes, we will forever be at the mercy of people who play back old Super 8, point a video camera at it, and call it Video Art. All frame, no painting. Can we start painting again?

Who cares if you listen?

Damn, I didn’t write that title. It was Milton Babbitt in 1958. But, Milton old bean, I am on your side. You and I, arrogant arseholes, who conjure up Godwin as soon as we hit the room.

Hey I just burned discs of the DVD, the CD, the transcripts of the MD & the 8 track. They’re in their carry case ready for my supervisor tomorrow. They don’t suck, although they are not going to appeal to a wide audience. Just so long as two people love them. Just two people in the whole world, please love my work.

I feel on track. I can write some more bullshit here. It soothes me and you don’t have to listen.

I love how some philosophers think that popular culture is a pony that they can ride. Pop culture is a blob that just keeps rolling down a hill with some educated ninny or other ‘in the saddle’, scribbling their latest paper on Paris Hilton’s botox or Bling Culture or Texmex YouTube Skate Videos. They feel like the ride is A Challenge with which they can Break Through Existing Conceptions of Mass Culture. As it flops down that hill, it descends into an ever congealing cloud of airborne vomit. The researcher holds their nose as long as they can, but finally reaches a point where even they can’t find a damn shred of intellectual worth in Poodle Lipstick, and off they leap. And then on leaps another, emboldened by the fact that PhD topics are running out fast.

Each rider can then live out their twilight years as an associate professor of something, having passed the rite of Pop Culture.

You know, there’s some things in the world that while popular are completely worthless. You’re among friends here. You can admit it. No one is going to dob you in. I’ll start. Opera. Opera was always trash. Fodder for the masses back then, and now through some process of mummification it attracts genteel people with no taste and large scale government funding. Magic Flute my arse. Red faced people in frock coats bellowing piffle. Who called it Geriatric Punk?

And on the other side of the coin, I think commercial Hip Hop is as culturally significant as eating McDonald’s hamburgers. They’re both mass market manufactured ‘youth’ activities and values. Pepsi Music. If you’re going to make a curriculum out of one then why not the other? Oh, and Graffiti Art. Isn’t.

Right then. Offended everyone? Jolly.

Now why do people pretend to like things that they know are complete offal? I can recall an occasion back in the 70’s when (if memory serves) my brother decided to inform my old man about the just released Sex Pistols album by jamming headphones onto the latter’s head. Conflicting emotions were seen passing his face that finally settled on Desire To Escape This Shit > Desire To Indulge Offspring. Notably these two factors took some seconds to resolve. Other case studies:

Desire To Have Sex > Desire To Escape Tedious Romantic Comedy

Desire To Please Small Offspring > Fear Of Clowns

Alcoholic Stupor > Led Zeppelin Cover Band

Do I need go on? (I already have).

There’s a PhD in this for sure. Just not for me.

Thank you for the continuing death threats, insults and emails that make no sense no matter how many times I try reading them. I appreciate the effort that goes into them.