Aristotle and Newton on Colour.

As I crawl my way through writing my thesis paper it’s a relief to talk about some of the ideas I cover, using words that are not quite as carefully chosen. There’s time when I’m sitting at my desk for quarter of an hour or more agonising over a single word; that one is too loose, this one implies I am claiming something that I can’t prove. Here I can write like Humpty Dumpty.

Go on ask me a question. Anything.

Go on ask me a question. Anything.

At first glance you wonder what the hell Aristotle’s on about when he says all colours are made from black and white. That seems unlikely to survive the first experiment, silly old Ancient.

For a start there’s a language issue here, black and white are better described as bright and dark, and these are better described as daylight which is yellow and bright, versus night which is blue and dark. That makes more sense, we can see how colours range over the course of a day, and Aristotle was always one for starting with the bleeding obvious, or with ideas he called endoxon, things you have to accept –  like black holes – because somebody smarter than you worked it out.

One of my sources wonders if he ever saw colours created by close proximity of black and white. Like this;


That’s Bridget Riley BTW who is too cool for school.


I actually think the ancients experienced the blinking of light and dark when sunlight spills through trees etc. Black and white blinking makes colours.



In this theory colours like red are made of lots of bright while greens are loaded with dark. But how do they look so different to their sources? How is it that they mix to make other colours? This is where I am most invested because I want to show that music serves as an endoxon. Aristotle says (being careful not to credit Pythagoras because that guy was a complete myth) well think of musical notes. You get a string and you twang it and you get a distinct pitch. You divide that string into exact ratios and you get other pitches. Musical notes are divisions of other musical notes, and it’s pretty damn likely that red is a certain ratio between blue and yellow. Of course if you can’t get red from mixing these two then you’re not doing it right.

Seemed like no one could get it right for 2000 years.

At least he tries to explain a plausible solution. Newton couldn’t be arsed. He does two things that would make Aristotle hit the bottle. He shines white light (Goethe starts screaming here It’s not bloody white you moron!) through a prism and gets a spectrum. Which he then draws as a circle. Divided into seven colours because hey, you can write a music scale around that and la la la la European philosophical tradition. It’s not mathematically valid he says, but it’ll do.


Breaking it wasn’t the hard bit. Putting it back together was the real experiment.

Do you see a circle? I don’t see a circle. I sure don’t see that the colour at one end of the spectrum joins up with the one on the right using some bogus violet bullshit. OK, so he’s describing why mixing red and green makes yellow, which you can see in the rainbow, but also why blue and red make purple which seems hard as they’re either side of the seating arrangement. He really means that once you have multiple sources of coloured light then they intersect to create other colours, but that diagram just caused no end of trouble because it implied that the circle was a description of a physical structure related to music. And that confusion is the first step in the journey that I’m studying.

Newtons colour wheel

This is how hippies were invented. And why D is a truly bogus note.

{opmitter}– lost battle / winning the war?

This week I started to wind back the doctorate. People tell me there is no shame in going part time, in fact the research office were very supportive about not trying to work 70+ hours a week. December 2011 was utterly miserable (it included Death, Taxes and a healthy helping of Walls) and I can’t face that level of insanity again. Brutalist U willing, I am back to 16 hours a week on top of my day job.

When visiting the FASS research office I spied two familiar cases sitting on the shelf: my “album of albums”. I think the FASSRO were quite happy to get their shelf space back and I was happy to see that one of the cases was still intact! Nice to have it back again after these years.

Anyway, I’m at a point where shit gets real, So far I’ve talked about still images and that’s not enough. A video work is a moving image and you can’t assign it a single point on a graph. It would rather be a kind of tube extended through the five dimensions. I’ve decided to call that a Twistie, because I can. In my review one of the panel noted that I hadn’t really described how a sequence of abstract scenes would form the equivalent of a story arc. At the time I said that the system couldn’t decide on the relationship between sample points – it takes a human operator to discern a Twistie and drive the replay through it. I still think that’s correct.

However the Twisties don’t have hard edges. When there’s two videos near to the sample point, each is represented proportionally in the result, just as when you tune a radio you can hear two adjacent stations. If you were to lay two videos near each other they can and will overlap and intersect. Very pretty but not quite a ‘retrieval’ as advertised on the tin. That needs to be made clear.

Another big problem presents as I have been asked to create material for demonstrating the device. It needs to be abstract and be able to be performed according to OCEAN. So I need Anxious and Neurotic and so on expressed as videography – which I started to make by using the same colour and form decisions as have been made since the beginning of motion pictures. But my argument has been that these weren’t reliable measures. Am I just disproving myself and maybe elements like hue and brightness really do hold the key? If you are willing to self critique then it can be depressing to spend weeks finding fault in your argument instead of the pleasure of moving along a learning path. I suspected that I’d got myself in a tangle but instinct told me that part of it was sheer bloody tiredness and that the blockage would pass.

Since I started to write this entry something wonderful happened.

I had to give a lecture about game sound, in which I always include a quick rundown of FMOD. In a demo of the new FMOD Studio the demonstrator sets up a whole array of sound cues that are connected to game states – then he creates a ‘fear’ controller. He raises a slider on the MIDI controller and says quite calmly ‘so we can create automation based on fear and…’ my mind did an atomic explosion. YOU WONDERFUL BASTARD YOU JUST SHOWED ME A PARADIGM. I am not going nowhere, there is a light visible ahead of me…

How long has this been sitting in front of me? I’m a fucking idiot. The intention of FMOD is to parallel a branching visual narrative. Because a game is a state machine, the multi-track in FMOD doesn’t represent a single fixed time line. Rather it uses the x axis to hold individual durations that overlap depending on the values called up by the game engine. For example, given the intensity of a battle sequence, mix the sounds in a given way at a given point along x.

First garbled thoughts: untie this from a story arc and limit the controllers to the OCEAN psychological grid that I’m proposing. Replace the sound flows with video clips. The operator places the clips on the multi-track, having previously assigned weights to key frames within them. Automation lines are splines that flow through the control points we’ve identified = maths is relatively easy. Now as we change the OCEAN levels, the clips are replayed in an appropriate mix at states along the multi-track.

Even if that reads clear as mud, it’s something achievable, something that is a relative of a procedure that is already ‘standard practice’ and yet an incremental advance. As I am trying to facilitate an art form that’s the exact place to be. I feel like Baird and his hat box.

Doctorate Update <--- poem

Time for a updocdate!

So at the end of year one I had a structure that went like this:

An Artist encodes their personality into the character of the artwork through a process of mimesis. The artwork can then be decoded by a receiver by use of a shared code, which is art culture. What is Art? It is a codec. It is a basis shared between the two people involved in the exchange. A chair is a chair. But a chair made with the intention of being an artwork requires the viewer to draw upon their expectations of what an artwork means. I’m not going very far outside basics here.

If accepted, we could measure the character of the artwork as a representation of the artist’s personality. As a representation, it does not break the rule that only a person can have a personality. So we say the ‘music is sad’, the ‘sky is angry’, knowing that representational language is at work. The measurement is not of the artist’s personality but that which they ‘put’ into the work. Woolly words, need more thought.

There are 5 factors which have been shown over an extended period of time to be useful in describing personality. We can use these to retrieve an artwork that has the matching representation. Performance!

So many problems.

Here’s a critique: in the study of moving image a current discussion is about caricature. This is variously defined but involves a payload: the caricature (carry cart) carries a message, often political. It involves exaggeration of the distinctive features of the subject. The exaggeration can be described as subtracting the difference of the subject to an ideal, then multiplying the difference by a factor. So if somebody has a nose larger than average, portray them with an ever larger nose. Or remove everything but the nose.

In media the politics is usually less important than determining which individual differences are required to convey the person.



In fact you probably recognised the character only when the exaggerated features were presented. The moustache, eyebrows and cigar are more effective than the original person. In animation the skill is in finding just those facets needed and no more. (There is a discussion here about peak stimulus that I won’t get into.)

Ok so then is this a caricature?

I am really not sure; I think not.

Here’s another problem. I am dealing with motion graphics. So far my discussion has been around images, which is definitely the right place to start but we can’t stay there forever. Caricature certainly includes motion. My performance instrument not only shows moving images but moves between them. So it is animation, which is creating a representation of life (anima, animal). That aligns with my argument which is a great relief. But it demands the whole work be considered as the sum of motions (motivations) of a personality. If the segments wiggle, my performance is of a wiggling entity.

Suffice to say I haven’t got an answer just yet. But I think my intuition at the very beginning was correct – the personality of the composer is involved. A VJ selects clips and performs them – it’s her personality that animates the work. I may not have to code this any more than a piano has to write its own melodies.

Worse. The procession of images requires that I account for montage. The Kuleshov Effect:

The preceding image has a defining effect on the next, and so no segment can be viewed in isolation. Show a depressed segment, followed by a neutral segment; the neutral segment takes on the depressed hue. So then, is my machine misrepresenting the emotional contour? Again, no. Paint doesn’t have to change colour to conform to the furniture – it’s the designer that makes the compensation in their viewing…

… BUT …

the device must allow that the clips be seen in context, so that the operator can make that call.

In fact my sin is to be confused between the personality of the elements and that of the operator. If I am confused I had better make sure the examiner isn’t!

Can an Artwork have (a) Personality?

(taken from my Sensible Blog)

Can an artwork have (a) personality? Such a simple question offers such terrible hidden dangers.

There are at least three. Firstly, the definition of ‘artwork’ is very difficult, based upon the definition of art, perhaps fine art. Slightly less problematic is ‘personality’. Attached to that is a third danger; the distinction ‘have personality’ as against ‘have a personality’.

It is fair to warn that some of this has never been satisfactorily solved, and is unlikely to be solved here, above operational definitions. Let’s start as simply as possible and introduce complexity when it cannot be avoided.

The literal answer is no, artwork cannot have a personality. For the Oxford English Dictionary defines personality as the ‘quality, character, or fact of being a person as distinct from a thing’. Whatever an artwork is, it is a thing. The history of the term makes it clear that a person is a conscious, thinking being.

However ‘have personality’ is different to ‘have a personality’. A thing cannot have a personality – there is no faculty for it. But it could be that when we define artwork we can see a place where the personality of the maker or viewer could be stored and recalled. It’s a similar point to this: where is the music on a CD? Until the bits are converted into sound via a laser and heard there is only the potential to reproduce music. The artist encodes music as bits. The listener plays the record, hears music. In between we have an artwork. My argument will be that this is true of all artworks and I will need to make the case that all are transcriptions of some kind.

We first need to examine figurative meaning. When I describe a storm as angry or a garden as charming, my listener should know that I do not literally mean the clouds are filled with a human emotion, or that the garden is attempting be alluring. Figurative language is effective shorthand for one person to communicate an idea to another, based upon our common ability to personalize things and ascribe motivations to objects. The idea is not shared systematically but rather as an impression that could be measured differently by each person.

Yet figurative language is used very often and evidently works quite well. Particularly in describing artworks; it is acceptable to talk of a ‘sad film with a happy ending’ without having to systematically go through the script, the acting, cinematography and so on, linking each to the person involved. You may even read that a film ‘could not make up its mind’ or ‘lacked identity’ and not assume that the celluloid was sentient.

Studies by Piaget have found that children in a ‘pre-operational stage’ will ascribe personality to objects up the age where they can be taught otherwise. Even then there remains a temptation to blame something for being in the wrong place or maliciously rolling under furniture. Socks are particularly good at this.

In some cultures the personality of objects has been maintained as natural spirits that animate all things. For example astrology personifies the stars and planets, which are supposed to influence human behavior. We still describe people as ‘jovial’ or ‘mercurial’ and say that mental illness is ‘lunacy’. Many faiths involve a Creator whose handiwork is evidenced in the universe. In this case there is personality expressed in all things as a coherent whole. (The transcription is problematic – bad things are evidence of ‘mysterious ways’).

The attack on animism in western philosophy begins with Thales deterministically predicting an eclipse in 585BC. Even so he found the best explanation for magnetism was that it was directed by a soul. While over time the scientific view has gained the upper hand the mysteries of quantum physics have had a similar effect on Deepak Chopra, Fritjof Capra et al.

Figurative meaning is at the heart of all art, which communicates efficiently via impressions and shared psychology. This is a crux of my argument, that psychology is necessary to understanding the presentation of artworks.

There are many conflicting opinions on the definition of art. Fortunately we don’t have to determine a definition for all art, only that an artwork is something capable of holding the personality of the artist and interacting with that of the viewer.

Rather redundantly, OED defines art as, “Skill; its display and application.” The Cambridge does better with, “the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings”, although surely they allow both. The phrase ‘express feelings’ is the point that needs to be expanded. Both definitions are limited in that they only deal with the act of creation without mentioning the need for perception. Most sophisticated theories of art require some transaction between artist and audience.

Marcel Duchamp sums it up nicely;

All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives a final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists.

Duchamp is quite certain that the creator is a medium and does not possess the meaning that the work will take on once seen. The meaning comes from ‘the labyrinth beyond time and space’, which I would more humbly interpret as the depths of personal psychology.

Wollheim examines numerous definitions of art and finds fault with most. He holds two criteria as sufficient when no artistic tradition exists; ‘natural expression’ by the artist, ‘a secretion of an inner state’ met by ‘correspondence’ in the viewer, how it ‘seems to reiterate something in us’ (p47). Where there is a tradition, when we act according to that context we are creating art.

Richard Wollheim, Art and its objects, p.1, 2nd edn, 1980, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521297060

For my purposes the ‘inner state’ and ‘something in us’ he describes I would take as psychological formations or complexes. From what I understand of Wollheim as a pshychoanalytical writer I don’t think he would have disagreed. When we act in the context of existing work I would describe that as part of the transcription process, the use of symbols shared in a culture is involved in the encoding.

I think Duchamp is more succinct. “… the artist may shout from all the rooftops that he is a genius: he will have to wait for the verdict of the spectator in order that his declarations take a social value and that, finally, posterity includes him in the primers of Artist History.”

At a simple level the artwork must hold personality because it is formed by someone, and seen by another. Whether the artwork is made or identified or appropriated a mind has been involved in forming it. Attempts to remove personality from the work, for example John Cage’s use of chance, only leads to that being made part of the work. And until the work is communicated it is like the bits of a CD – potential.

What form does the transcribed personality take in artwork? That brings the concept of a personality codec, and that’s a whole new essay.


First of all we are aware of problems with and dropping out and being slow and when Stephen gets a chance he’ll advise me on whether the Chinese Army are attacking or what up. I am moving online sales to an external service and will announce it when it’s ready.

Secondly – Sensible Blog is now running.

Here’s something not sensible enough:

I like television. That is, I never watch television and I don’t like TV shows or the ads or TV culture. I like television, the thing itself. That‘s hard to explain. My poor students are often subjected to my enthusiasm which seems entirely impractical for assignments and their later fame.

The only things I really like watching (apart from videos of mechanical televisions etc.) are idents and test cards, and I’m obviously not the only one. I love motion graphics, how things are designed to occupy space, colour and time. I like abstract video synthesis more than watching people.

But really I like television because it is the machine of my childhood. There are men (usually men) that are thrilled by steam locomotives, by short wave radio, by phone exchanges, tin toys, calculators … whatever mechanical fetish you can think of there will be men (usually men) that collect, debate, and play around with it in a nonsensical useless way. The epitome of this is Hi Fi, which has nothing to do with the enjoyment of recorded music and everything to do with the perfect tone arm lowered onto a pristine half speed mastered slab of vinyl. But also model rail-roads circling around a tiny landscape, shelves of unwatched DVDs arranged alphabetically and arcade machines lined up geometrically in the basement. The activity is always kept away from usefulness, and woeful is the man that gets a job in the thing he loved when it wasn’t a job.

It has to be play, or it doesn’t count.

Now one standard answer to this is ‘sublimation’. That is – man has lusts that are not acceptable to society; he therefore sidetracks the desire into symbolic pursuits, which explains the odd intensity of the activity and its overt uselessness. (Although some men do make good use of their libido in becoming CEO of something or other and dying of heart attack aged 50.) The man who is a dedicated Dwarf level 90 in some online world is no danger to society, unless you forcibly un-dwarf him, suddenly unleashing the hidden lusts kept at bay. ‘Online Addiction’ is a complex business.

(I have gone though some analysis and can pinpoint exactly where and how my own process of sublimation has taken place. I’m quite satisfied that it has validity – but you’ll have to excuse my not providing you with the personal evidence.)

That’s all very well as a recent phenomena, but what did men do before model rail roads? What sublimative technology was available to the first humans? Here is Gronk, carving his stone tip for his spear; does he have time to argue with Klonk about chipping from the bottom up? No, these stone tips were a serious business, life or death, something you would be buried with to survive the afterlife. I guess that lusts were pretty much acted on straight away until people started to settle together in groups and get the food supply stabilised with repositories and so on. A stable food supply meant there was time to wonder how the universe worked – and how to get along with the neighbours. Which gave us magic and religion.


Magic of course is the key we’ve been looking for. Magic isn’t just about why it rains. Magic is about how you can make it rain or not rain. By rituals you humbly request that nature bend this way or that, if it doesn’t work you didn’t do the ritual right. Magical rituals are interestingly similar to some of the activities of Hi Fi enthusiasts, following an internal logic, with strange repetitive processes that must be followed to avoid failure, odd components that are rare and expensive and so on. The magician believes that there is a perfect knowledge that will bring power over the world. The average enthusiast feels happiest when the steam engine has hit that perfect note, or in my case when designing a high definition playback system. Something however small is under control.

If you can cast spells, that’s fundamentally more interesting than the tedious tasks for which your spells will be used – finding lost animals, some gold coins, smite some enemies etc. The magician is intoxicated by the thing itself. I’m like that with television.

When you go out to a club or a show, you will see there are some people that immediately focus on any available video screen. Or there will be people at a VJ performance that spend the night watching the person operating the mixer and ignoring the screen. I am the former, a type ‘V’. The latter we’ll call type ‘H’, and allow that there are some in-between. These groups are really quite obvious when you run a band that uses video for umpteen years. When you teach video production you will see the students group themselves so that the V’s get the cameras and the H’s are scripting or researching. God help all H teams.

Type ‘V’ watches life through a viewfinder, where it is under control. Even better is to create a world on screen where every colour and form is directly selected. Video production and especially motion graphics satisfies a psychological need for order, it scratches an itch that’s been there since birth (if you believe in nature) or near birth (if you believe in nurture). It probably relates to toilet training.

There’s a PhD topic : Video Synthesis and Toilet Training.

I suspect certain aspects of synthetic video are somehow connected with symptoms of autism – the spinning and blinking and repetition. I can’t claim a causal relationship, and of course some aspects of synthetic video are simply limitations of the machinery – limited sample space, the low contrast of video, colour space etc. It’s just a hunch that type V is based on a complex (which is a very loose term for a structure in the brain).

The psychology of video synthesis is looming as a major issue in my research, a dangerous deviation or the key to the whole thing. I think to understand synthesis (and actually the whole European electronic music tradition) you need to read Freud, Jung, Adler et al. But for now I will keep this in the silly blog away from supervisors with rolled up newspapers. Safer here.

But seriously.

2010 looms. Playtime is over.

Regretfully I must now commence a four year stint in the research army. Called up, given a rifle, sent off to battle the foe. The letter came a few weeks ago and it grimly sets out the conditions under which research will take place:

  • You must spend 35 hours a week researching. Inspectors may call at any time and ask, ‘are you researching?’. Must be able to answer ‘Oh God yes YES!’
  • That doesn’t mean you can slack off from your full time job mind you. 70 hours a week ought to do it. That’s less than working at Apple.
  • Or achieve insufficient Artistic Metrics. Three paintings a week.
  • You will cease and desist from saying rude things about BRUTALIST U’s new fun house. BRUTALIST is your true mother and loves you.
  • No biscuits.
  • You will respect and adore the Holy Writ of Saints Lyotard, Deleuze, Derrida and anyone else Social Science may elect as prophet.
  • Sharpen your pencils. Get a hair cut. Stand up straight.

Really it comes down to this – there are not going to be enough hours in the week to write the usual trash here. I will need to write on the Sensible Work Blog now, because I don’t want to mix up what I write for study with the claptrap that exists here. Either I delete the claptrap, which seems unfair, or write elsewhere.

So it’s all a bit sad.

I don’t know if I will be able to maintain the load and may at some point have to go part time in some way. We’ll see. If so, I might be able to channel my inner astronaut a few more times. Otherwise this blog will have to be a rare thing, with bottled bile. It will not go away.

Goodnight, and Good Luck.

Busty Ginger!

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.

A museum of museums

What is a museum? A depository for collecting and displaying objects having scientific or historical or artistic value (

Are museums useful and necessary? Yes, they store significant examples of production and culture that are needed for accurate history and as material for further research & creativity. Bad recall can sometimes inspire new work (e.g. current ‘retro’ music is based on a fantasy of the actual period) but while it is trivial to misunderstand it requires research to understand.

I know there is an endless debate about ‘accurate history’, let’s avoid that for the moment. Please.

What is a significant example? One that is not redundant to another better example, is consequential – supports understanding of other examples, is of wide interest now or possibly in future, has applicability to problem solving, entertaining and inspiring…

How do we decide what is significant? Usually a curator that demonstrates excellent knowledge and understanding of the material is appointed to choose what is significant. It’s not an absolute, rather a formalised expert opinion.

Is that the best way? Perhaps not, but it seems difficult to create absolute curatorial rules that a machine could follow. People can act effectively even when rules are fuzzy.

Why is this post so dull and boring? Sorry I have to really try nut this topic out for the damn PhD. And because I am kind of stupid, asking questions like this helps think it out.

Thinking about video history, is YouTube a museum? Not if you are coming from the opinions I’ve outlined so far. But simply by being popular and efficient (by its own terms) it acts like a proto-museum with extra layers of noise (by my terms). That is to say, it could be filtered by a curator to create a collection.

So then, it simply acts as a buffer between all potential material and a collection? Yes but not so simply, as the mechanism is ad hoc. The buffer is not filled with a goal in mind, and is seeded with insignificant (multiple, inconsequential) material – perhaps making the task harder.

So many hands make light work? Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Is there a curatorial opinion being demonstrated by the crowd? Actually there’s a lack of opinion. Where some see ‘market forces’ deciding a solution, I think that’s anthropomorphic. It’s like saying ‘Australia elected a Labor government’ when there were many voters who didn’t. The crowd doesn’t have a single purpose, it’s ambivalent with a generalised result. You might use a survey to indicate a statistical tendency but that’s not an intent.

So then curation by an individual (or tight group) is a key factor in the definition of a museum? That is a central element in my viewpoint. Because new tools are being developed to quickly poll multiple opinions there’s considerable enthusiasm for crowd dynamics (Web 2.0). I think this will hit a wall in a few years but rather than wait for the resulting synthesis I’d like to get busy with the inevitable refinements.

If a curator wishes to make a collection in YouTube all they need do is create a channel. That’s a good way but it’s not the best way. In my opinion, you need to actually remove bad copies and duplicates and false information rather than just pretend it’s not there. However when I’ve talked about deletion there’s been horror mixed with some good critique that I need to think about.

A channel is a view from inside the confusion. I think you need to move outside of the confusion. I think a museum is also a sanitarium or refuge that is not subjected to the market place. If it is respected it can cause a change in the outside, e.g. objects will be withdrawn by suppliers as being ‘not good enough’.

There’s also tagging. Here I have no respect. Tagging is fool’s gold. One person uses ‘dog’, another uses ‘pet’ and a third uses ‘canine’. Now we have three identical objects divided uselessly by point of view. When there is an ISO number for tagging I’ll stop laughing at it.

How then to create a museum? In the past you’d steal or buy the original artefact and store it yourself (a la British Museum). Even with video that can still be true (thinking here of Stephen R Jones’ collection of primary sources) but if a copy exists we can keep Ted Nelson happy by linking to the original. Also roughly in tune with Nelson’s hyper documents also we can create a web mash up.

How does a web mash up approach the ideals laid out here? A web mashup is a recipe that draws upon multiple data sources to synthesise a particular viewpoint. So it can e.g. draw upon YouTube and Google Maps for example to point out a relationship between places and productions. OK, so far, nice technology, no great use. But it might be possible to build a language, like the meaning of ‘film language’, or an interface that an individual curator could use. It might be possible to – rather than tag or exclude data (negate it), create a metawork that positively links up data in a manner that expresses a curatorial opinion.

That’s so fucking vague. I know, I know but there’s a little seed of sense in there that I know leads somewhere.

Goose lays egg.

I laid my thesis. As in, version 1.0. Like the very ending of Portnoy’s Complaint, the psychiatrist says, ‘now we can begin’.

A new subsection of this site will carry the journey onwards. Because, having done it, I now know what I want to do.

Comedy. They had sent me an email saying there was severe penalties for handing it in after 10AM on a certain day. I was sitting there with my three suitcases at 9AM, waiting. No one showed up to pick it up. Finally another student rang around. The research officer was away on holidays.

Must always remember that it’s all nonsense. Must always remember that it’s all nonsense. Must always remember that it’s all nonsense. Must always remember that it’s all nonsense. Must always remember that it’s all nonsense. Must always remember that it’s all nonsense. Must always remember that it’s all nonsense.

First Past The Post

ADVERTISEMENT!!!!1♣ I have finished, well nearly finished, the super duper severed heads video collection and it’s a double DVD called Showbag*. Double DVD because that’s infinitely cheaper than 1 dual layer disc – economies of scale at work. More on this coming up on the old site.

* Yes, aware that there is a band called Showbag. There is probably a band name for every combination of words in the English language. This is God’s way of saying – guys, knock it off already. Have you checked to make sure there’s not an emo band using your surname? Phew!

So I have also nearly finished the minidisc that goes into the snappily titled Album 10542304 box set of different formats. Each of the elements in the box has to follow at least two rules: it should employ contemporary methods that best address the media, and it has to start with a piano. Lucky in this case, contemporary methods include a whole truck load of digital tomfoolery of the kind used by Autechre back in the 90’s. Which makes what was a piano into just about everything you ever wanted, so long as it has little clicking noises.

Autechre and friends working as Gescom recorded their minidisc back in the 90’s much to the pleasure of Sony Corporation, who gave them a resounding testimonial something along the lines of this band should be as popular and as long lasting as our minidisc format. Or maybe something less grim. Anyway, even though I’m not making the same record as they did, there’s only so much difference between gleep, blorp, splat and ticky ticky no matter who does it. Because it’s a very limited genre really and already has its own tombstone on which is written: Post Digital.

Say again?

Yes folks, we are in a Post Digital culture now. Various people have explained this to me and some of them, mostly those that were drunk at the time, made a lot of sense. Post is the word we use for the let down, the realisation that systems won’t take care of everything. Hence Post Modern in essence is the realisation that modernity wasn’t the answer to everything. Which makes sense but is a reactionary stance, no matter the sugar on top. It’s like the wise guy in the film who says, ‘that plan won’t work! You can’t climb twenty feet of sheer metal! I prefer the modern guy who says, ‘Well we have to try anyway!’ who usually ends up eaten by the monster in reel 6.

Post Digital is the failure of digital mechanisms, the skipping CD, the effects unit that overloads and makes splat sounds. It’s every tedious Oval album you wished you hadn’t bought. It’s now built into many digital recording tools such as Ableton Live, where failure can be successfully controlled and automated. In 2008 it’s also the 12 bar blues of electronic music. The rules seem to be pretty much in place and everyone knows them. That’s kind of Post Digital too I guess. But what worries me is that when I use analogue equipment that screws up, is that Post Analogue? Is tape hiss Post Analogue? I mean that makes every record that came out for decades unwittingly post something or other. Like Frampton Comes Alive. Very Post Analogue.

Taxonomy, folks. It keeps the university system rolling along.

Recently I was part of a seminar that also included some performances by academically endowed musician types. I was not one of them, being well known as ‘that fat bastard who does that old 80s stuff’. How little they know. Anyway the genre of the evening was most definitely 12 bar post digital, but to be honest it was the moments that didn’t fit that rule that made it bearable. Forget the names, there was the overall idea that this was a concert on the edge of something current, but only in the times where it leaned back into standards such as melody and rhythm that I found any interest. Lord help us if the fetishes of the 90’s became the new academy. MaxMSP, I have my guns out, I’m a coming for ya.

Are we ready for Post ‘Post’?