Jump (The Bailout Bash)

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Elizabeth and I teamed up again to work on our audio pieces for Comm Lab this week.  Although we did record audio from the streets of NY together for last week’s assignment, we decided not to use any of it and instead decided to choose a pressing socio-political theme of the current economic “crisis.”  I took photos and recorded audio from an anti-bailout protest on Wall Street last month.  We were particularly attracted to some snippets from a speech given by the charismatic looking gentleman pictured above.  We also used samples of other protesters chanting slogans, and put everything over a beat that I composed.  In some amazing coincidence, almost all of our samples fit over the beats at 109 BPM.  Only one sample of chanting protesters had to be slightly stretched in Audacity to fit the tempo.

Download the MP3 or the AIFF.

The danceable audio anger that resulted from our musical collaborations reminds me a little bit of the Muppets doing N.W.A. And for further musical explorations relating to pigs, I suggest NIN’s Piggy and March of the Pigs.

Elizabeth describes more of our process in her blog:

We used several applications to make the piece. We cut up the audio in Fission, a commercial software for simple cutting. It is really usable. The beats were composed in iDrum…. We used Audacity to change the length of some of the audio pieces so that they all had the same beat. Then we assembled the song in Garage Band.

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Audio Sketch 1: Subway, Streets & Stars

Today in Comm Lab, we covered how to edit audio using Audacity and GarageBand, both of which I have worked with before, but it was good to get a review. This week’s assignment is to create a 2 minute audio piece using audio we recorded or found sounds.

Besides the soundtrack to Herbivores, I haven’t done much music lately. Especially since the last time Hepnova made music together was almost a year and a half ago. Later this week, I’m scheduled to work with Elizabeth, who I worked with earlier on the Herbivores animation, but I just couldn’t wait to get back into making music again, so I just went ahead and composed my own piece today. I will still make another track with Elizabeth later this week.

This track is called Subway, Streets & Stars. It is composed of recordings I made in the subway and streets of New York City as well as an audio sample of stars (the ones in space, not the ones in Hollywood) from the BBC. I used Fission to chop up samples, iDrum to create rhythmic loops, and GarageBand for putting everything together.

Click here for the uncompressed AIFF version.

Response to chapters 1 & 2 of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media

First of all, I think McLuhan is brilliant.  I love the way he effortly brings together seemingly disparate references like Greek antiquity to Shakespeare to pop culture to make his arguments.  He has been on my “to read” list for a long time now, but I never got around to it until it was assigned for Comm Lab.

It is important to note that the subtitle of Understanding Media is “The Extensions of Man”.  For McLuhan, media are not simply forms of communication such as TV, radio, newspapers, etc., but but any technology that extends the human body or mind.  Clothing, cars, houses, are all media according to this broad definition.  McLuhan gives an example of axes as media.  When metal axes were introduced to an aboriginal community in Austrialia that previously only had stone tools, the entire patriarchal social order was disrupted.

This brings us to another point that media are agents of change.  By extending the human body – the senses and the mind – media have both a prosthetic and an amputational effect.  In encountering new media, we both gain and lose something.

McLuhan divides media into high definition/low definition, hot and cool.  High definition is hot.  It gives a lot of information and requires little interaction from the user.  Low definition is cool.  It provides little information and requires the user to make an effort to fill in the gaps.  For example, the telephone is cool, while the radio is hot.  Television is cool, while movies are hot.

Of course we need to talk about McLuhan’s famous aphorism, “The medium is the message.”  I’m still trying to grapple with the full meaning of the phrase since I haven’t gotten through the whole book yet.  But from what I understand, McLuhan seems to be saying that there is an inherent message embedded in media themselves, that transcends the explicit message transmitted by the media, and creates social change over time.  If we return to the metal ax example, we could infer that the metal axes were not just about cutting things, but that their introduction to a stone age society represented a message of social upheaval that turned the hierachical order upside down.

Here is another quote that really resonated with me (page 31 of the Critical Edition of Understanding Media, edited by W. Terrence Gordon, 2003):

The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance.  The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception.

The mixing of art and technology – hmm, sounds just like ITP!  It seems that the work we do here all relates to putting McLuhan’s theories into practice.  Not that I presume to be a “serious artist,” although I certainly aspire to be one.

Roasted Vegetable Curry Pasta

I had a bunch of vegetables left over from the making of my stop action video, Herbivores as well as some other vegetables in my pantry that I needed to use up, so I decided to cook up a big batch of food to last me the week.  I seasoned some cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrots, edamame, onions, ginger and garlic with a curry vinaigrette (homemade curry powder, Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, and melted butter), and put the mixture on a baking sheet and roasted it in the oven (~400 degrees F) for 45 minutes or so.  Then I used the roasted veggies as a sauce for some whole wheat penne, and garnished with chopped dill.

Herbivores

You’ll never think of vegetarianism the same way again!


Herbivores from lee-sean on Vimeo.

A stop motion video by Lee-Sean Huang & Elizabeth Fuller for Communications Lab at ITP

Watch on Vimeo, BlipTV, or YouTube

“Making of” photos on Flickr