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Entries tagged "gnu/linux".

vampire of bruges

vacation/home movie, 1:10 min., opening credits and music from Harry Kümel's Le lèvres rouges:

(Recorded with a cheap Aiptek HD camera, footage converted with

transcode -Z 720x576 -y mov -F yuv2,twos -i [infile] -o [outfile]

edited with Cinelerra, encoded with ffmpeg.)

Tags: gnu/linux, video.
4th January 2009

Musical occupations

Picabia, Portrait d'une jeune fille américaine dans l'état de nudité

Completed two new deli plain releases:

  • American Wet Nurse

    Electronic interpretation of Francis Picabia's infinitely repeating three-note-one-pause musical piece La Nourrice Américaine (1920), using only sinewaves (at 69.30, 87.31, 77.78 and 0 Hz) and a tempo of 60 bpm repeated 840 times (lifted from Picabia's close friend Satie). Quick-and-dirty sequencing with LMMS, editing with sox. Rationale: The first of the two piano interpretations by Tom Feldschuh published by LTM on CD is too fast, the second too slow. In 1920, the piano was arguably the most generic and impersonal musical instrument, today, the sine wave certainly is a better match to Picabia's industrial object drawings from that period. Question: Is the correspondence to Picabia's Portrait d'une jeune fille américaine dans l'état de nudité from 1915, showing a light bulb with "For-Ever" printed on, coincidental or not?

  • Re-issue of Meet Lt. Murnau, 1983: "Lieutenant Murnau was invented as the name of a ghost musical group. It was started in 1980 and ended in 1984. The image came from a photograph of film director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau while serving as lieutenant in the German army. This photograph was taken and reproduced onto posters, leaflets, fanzines, badges and all other memorabilia of pop mythology to create an interest in something that did not exist. The next step was to provide Lt. Murnau fans with invisible music. I managed to produce various records and cassettes without playing a single note, simply releasing mixages of recorded music. The 'Meet Lt. Murnau' tape, for example, was a deliberate confusion of Beatles and Residents records. I also used soundtracks of F.W. Murnau's films and music provided by other groups in hommage to Murnau. To mess up things even more, I had some of these tapes and records released in different countries by different people. Lt. Murnau also appeared on stage, masked, mixing different records and crucifying a Beatles LP. Hundreds of life-size Lt. Murnau-cardboard masks were printed which people could wear. Anybody could make Lt. Murnau music and become Lt. Murnau, and a few people did it. The whole project was focussed on a very limited idea, that of underground music, and did not have the broader implications of the Monty Cantsin philosophy. Yet, I think, the problems remain the same." (Vittore Baroni)

Contributions to no longer forgotten music:

Tags: gnu/linux, music.
9th January 2009

Rereading "The Cathedral and the Bazaar"

Replying to a question on Nettime on "open source and implementing this metaphor to a curatorial practice":

"Curatorship" remains a problematic term not only in this context, self-organization may be more appropriate, but extrapolates the systems beliefs within Internet culture. ESR's text needs, on the one hand, to be read its historical context of optimistic 1990s Internet cultural visions of "crowd wisdom", "collective intelligence", "smart mobs" etc.; cybernetic memes as much as variations of the liberal tropes of the "invisible hand" (A. Smith) and "open society (Popper). In Raymond's text - which has been overrated, but is nevertheless a historical document -, the "bazaar" is first of all a systemic free market metaphor.

Linux, more recently, Wikipedia and other phenomena show that "critical mass" theories are not completely off. The issues are, in essence, the same as with all consensus-based projects - such as architectural vision: Linux reimplemented Unix instead the Plan9 or Lisp Machine kernel architectures simply because Unix kernel architecture is c.s. textbook knowledge. Correspondingly, Wikipedia implements the most clearly consensus-based form of writing, the general encyclopedia. (Still, its value lies in the frequent eccentricity and obscurity of phenomena it tracks, unless this is been stifled by angst-ridden editorial self-control.)

That "open collaboration" is not a magic bullet, and "open curatorship" is older than "Open Source", may best be studied in the Mail Art network, beginning with Ray Johnson's New York Correspondance School in the 1960s, and with the festivals and non-juried exhibitions of previous avant-garde art movements as yet an older pretext. Bob Black said everything that needs to be said about Mail Art when comparing them to the Paralympics, i.e. a seemingly alternative but really just parallel system to the established system [hard to avoid the term here] based on its own - quantitative instead of qualitative - logic of reward and punishment.

Obsessed with egalitarianism, the Mail Art network required to never reject any contribution to an open-call project, despite the known and often enough deplored "junk mail" phenomenon. It ultimately renders "Mail Art" yet another cybernetic systems-obsessed art paralleling the decline [or rather: continually present, but ultimately dominant aspect) of Fluxus into the "intermedia" laboratory art described in S. Youngblood's "Expanded Cinema" (1970) [H. Flynt's criticism of Fluxus].

"Self-organizing systems" up your's.

Back to "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", it is, like Barthes' "The Death of Author", a text that nobody has read yet everybody has an opinion about. Contrary to popular belief and urban myths, it does not truly pitch an Open Source "bazaar" model against a proprietary Microsoft-ish "cathedral" model of software development, but analyzes the decentralized development of one specific piece of software, the Linux kernel supervised by L. Torvalds. The urban myth probably originates in the fact that non-technical readers are unlikely to understand that it is not about [what is commonly called] the "Linux operating system" as a whole. In fact, the classical "cathedral" model of software development in small, closed committees had been characteristic among others for GNU software, the free BSDs and the X Window System, i.e. all the base components of a typical "Linux distribution" except for the kernel itself.

Ten years later, a clear-cut division of "bazaar"- and "cathedral no longer exists in Free Software development: The development of the Linux kernel has become more hierarchical while the development of GNU and BSD software has become more distributed and adapted to the Internet. (Viz. the now-standard use of networked version control systems.)

While not using the term "Open Source" in its initial version, the essay preempts the later Open Source-vs.-Free Software debate by discussing open, distributed development processes as technically superior to closed processes. This is its main point [with, as pointed out, striking similarities to Bertalanffy's theory of open systems and Popper's theory of the open society as the counter-model to societies founded on philosophical idealism.] Again: While the distributed model has its advantages - most obvious in the fact that, thanks to BSD, GNU and Linux, Unix hasn't died, but improved and blessed us with tools that don't offend the human intellect such as zsh and vim never mind the complete lack of proprietary commercial interest in developing such software -, it is not the answer to all questions. Raymond's conclusion that "given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow", is a bit loudmouthed considering - for example - the issue of MD5 hash collisions.

The reverse is true as well: If there are not enough eyes, bugs can bite you, for example in FLOSS multimedia authoring software from Cinelerra to PD with its minuscule communities of often non-professional programmers.

All critique of "open systems" ideology pales, however, in comparison to the issues of (contemporary visual) art. Art literally wears the emperor's new clothes, and suffers from a severely if not pathologically distorted self-perception of its actual contemporariness. It is the only of the modern arts that is still structurally feudalist, with an economy firmly based on the notion of one material fetish object, with reproduction - unlike in books, music records, films, software - being merely a second-rate, plebeian illustration of the aristocratic "original". It is financed by the modern successors to the old feudal authorities; back then, the church and the courts, today, the rich as the successors to the aristocracy and the state as the grant-giving successor to the church.

22nd February 2009

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