I'm sitting in the front row of the Club Transmediale lecture theatre when I feel a hand on my shoulder. "Thank you for the song," says Goodiepal. The song in question is track eleven on Joemus, the one that recommends we "swing with the Goodiepal".
Although I've written a song named after him, I'd never met Faroese electronic musician, artist, educator and eccentric Kristian Vester, better known as Goodiepal, before his Berlin lecture yesterday afternoon. He came to the Kunstraum Kreuzberg to deliver a lecture at Club Transmediale entitled "Radical Computer Music and the War on the Scandinavian Education System". Although his lecture was hilariously bizarre -- he tipped a table on its side and started chalking illegible diagrams on it -- it also made a lot of sense. Goodiepal's main points were:
1. Computer Music and Media Art are stupid to the extent that they ask us to replicate the way computers think rather than complement it with our own human ways of thinking. Even computers, should they develop intelligence, won't want us just to do what they already do. They'll want us to do something different. We should fox them -- and fascinate them. We should make art and music that is "unscannable".
2. The same argument that applies to the relationship between computers and humans also applies to the relationship between Scandinavia and America. There's no point Scandinavian educators regurgitating American music theory from the likes of Kim Cascone, John Cage and Morton Feldman. They must provide an alternative, another way of thinking, a specifically Scandinavian one.
Goodiepal also used the lecture to demonstrate his handmade vinyl artworks and his artist's books, many of them concerned with finding new methods of music notation which avoid showing music as a simple progression from point A to point B.
I made a ten-minute video of edited highlights of Goodiepal's lecture yesterday. He began by telling us the lecture had lost him various prestigious Media Art jobs all over the world and even got him bashed on the head with a beer bottle. (I think this talk of being beaten up for his sharp tongue is a running joke of his.) He went on to show us a model of "black dystopian America" and give a hilarious impression of Bjork.
Today between 3pm and 7pm Goodiepal supervises a workshop entitled Mort aux Vaches Ekstra Extra (pre-registration required, maximum fifteen people). And even if you're not in Berlin, you can hear him rehearsing the themes of his lecture in this mp3 walkthrough (with accompanying snaps).
To give you an idea of where this visionary Dane comes from, here he is in a forest outside Aarhus eight years ago, playing flute music:
And here he is in Malmo last year playing a cosmic planet game and making a soundtrack for it:
So happy to see this! (But sad to see that Goodiepal shaved his beird!) Goodiepal against Cage against Branca... I think I might side with the Parl! That is great that you got to see him live...please listen to the walkthough, everyone, and listen closely and patiently! Also, remember that Goodiepal does not consider himself to be a conceptual artist, but a music educator! And anyone who can aquire his school book can become part of his Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra composition... which i would say is the vangarde of music composition right now...
Momus, have you ever had a stalker? No that I am offering to fill the post - I'm way too cynical and indolent for that sort of caper - it's just that you seem to have the kind of persona that might attract obsessive interest.
I share same thoughts about computer-human music relationship. I see how the use of computers looks still nowadays like "electronic music" and it's something like when I was studing at school and some people talked about "computer graphic design" (even for print media). When I use technology on my shows I allways pretend that it could look something more like magic but it's not easy to mean that, people need to know if there's some computer involved, and then they will say "ahh, electronic music".
Lucky Dragons are doing a concert and workshop here on Thursday, again part of Club Transmediale.
Food get's a raw deal in the art world, it seems to be separated off from it for some reason.
I can't agree with this. Food-as-art is such a trendy meme it's in danger of getting over-exposed. The first event at the last Documenta was a meal in a restaurant, presented as a performance. The founding work of the Relational Aesthetics school is Rirkrit Tiravanija's Thai curry suppers in various galleries. And I just interviewed Jerszy Seymour for ID magazine, and Jerszy is staging banqueets in various museums as artworks these days.
I can't remember how I came to it, it may possibly even have been through click opera in fact, but about a year ago I saw a recording of Goodiepal's lecture broadcast on a Danish TV show. I have to say that I found it so brilliantly hilarious I didn't actually glean any of the above points from it at all. The first point is really interesting, to the point that I don't quite have enough time right now to address it..
The second one, however:
There's no point Scandinavian educators regurgitating American music theory from the likes of Kim Cascone, John Cage and Morton Feldman. They must provide an alternative, another way of thinking, a specifically Scandinavian one.
Firstly, assuming that you agree with Goodiepal here, don't you think it's always tended to be the role of educators to establish the status quo, and of the students to challenge that status quo?
Secondly, although my musical education is seriously limited (a rather tepid GCSE qualification), it's struck me that by and large music education has never really had a strong nationalistic remit. Cage, I know, admired Satie, for instance. I know too that you push the post-nationalist idea in click opera..
I suppose the idea here is that because the US is some kind of cultural-imperialist behemoth, even in the field of avant-garde media art, it is the role of The Rest Of The World to blithely reject the ideas of Cage, Feldman et al. because of their implicit association with said imperialist behemoth.
Ah, yes, Goodiepal, he's Danish not from the Faroes. Didn't his family (I mean in the biological sense) invent LEGO? Interesting fellow indeed, the non scannable part of his "lecture" of course resonanates nicely with those of use who prefer to remain nameless... check out the misleadingly attractive Snappidagg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/32556543@N05/sets/72157609437204597/) attack.
Shouldn't you be blogging on the likes of the Sugarbabes, Boyzone or indeed latest sensation in the hit parade, Lady GaGa. Surely their pop sensibility plays a far more important role in your solo music than the likes of Cage, Branca or Goodiepal. What gives?
Maybe I'm in a Stanislaw Lem frame of mind, but the talk here led me to thinking about our preconceptions about computers, artificial intelligence, and humans. Am I wrong in thinking that Goodiepal envisions a sort of idealistic future of machines and mankind producing brave and beautiful new music together, braver and more beautiful than what we have so far created? Is that just too simplistic?
But what if we really do give the keys, so to speak, to the computers themselves, and liberate them from our silly human limitations at last? Allow them to play not so much for or with us but for themselves (not that this hasn't been tried already). No good, no evil, no difference, none of those self-limiting carbon-based lifeform binaries. I'm probably not making any more sense here than I normally do, but I suddenly had this fear that in the future our computers will, without any help from us, become roboticized Celine Dions and Barry Manilows, serving up the frothiest schmaltziest cyber-melismatic emotional gush, with realistic intensity and synthetic tears--because, you know, computers are, after all, only human. And we'll have to listen to it in airports and on esplanades everywhere.
No, I'd rather have Harry Partch's music machines come to life and play themselves, screw and noodle and fondle and funk each other. Are Buchla and Subotnik the Muzak of yesterday's future?
Of course, for some time now software has been trying its best to do what I'm just lazily conjecturing--viz Microsoft's Songsmith for a recent example. (I trust you've all seen some of the videos on Youtube; maybe it's just because I'm sick to death of the songs the jesters have posted, but I actually prefer some of the new accompaniments I've heard to the originals. They're not so much different from Casio-era Momus!).
By the way, the point Goodiepal makes about Bjork's Declare Independence -- that only context prevents it from being a fascist statement -- seems to me to be already present in the video she made for the song:
Why else would Bjork have portrayed herself as a sort of fascist puppeteer (she even makes some gestures that look like Nazi salutes) and the people she's addressing as authoritarian automata wearing semi-Nazi helmets? Surely the irony implicit in this whole situation has to be deliberate -- the "independence" being demonstrated is a totally conformist one. It's the same paradox Bjork already touched on in her line "I thought I could organize freedom -- how very Scandinavian of me".
I love his America record! I agree about Ipods and the trillions-of-gigs-of-music becoming valueless. In the future more people will cut records and make them into interesting shapes and works or art. Records are great not because they 'sound warmer' (which is needless excuse perpetuated by fidelity-geeks) but because each time you play them they wear down, meaning each time you listen is not only unique but contributes to their ultimate destruction. It's kind of like living; mp3s are eternal ghosts, records have physical, mortal lives.
Momus, you should look at my own experiments with record cutting:
And the natural question that occurs to one upon reading such a piece is: "What does young Momus think of the prospect of living forever?" And so I ask: provided you knew it wouldn't backfire in some Dorian-Gray, be-careful-what-you-wish-for way (could you know that?), would you want to be immortal? Obviously, there would be some ethical dilemmas involved, such as whether being so wildly selfish as to want eternal life is, well, just too selfish. On the other hand: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." So, there'd at least be a hell of a lot of stuff to do--to learn about, discover, create, and what have you--during those infinite days and nights.
On the face of it, immortality seems like a good thing. But all immortality would have to be temporary -- therefore not immortality -- because of the death of the sun, the universe, and so on. Being immortal and living on beyond the end of the universe in some kind of non-place and non-time is a nightmarish prospect. It would be bad enough seeing those around you age and die one by one, but surviving the gradual separation of all stars from each other and then the death of the universe would take the biscuit. You'd be so bored. You'd also start feeling terribly guilty, like some sort of vampire whose life came at the expense of everyone and everything else. I think David Bowie's song "The Supermen" would soon apply; you'd soon be longing for release, if you hadn't gone howlingly mad.
now if only Goodiepal would turn this lecture into one of those GarageBand instructor videos! Would be much more interesting than learning piano from Norah Jones. But some re-writing of the application interfaces would be necessary...