February 17th, 2005


The world after 800,000,000 years

The lecture I gave on Tuesday at Future University was about sound and music, but mostly about frames; how a lot of 20th century art was about repositioning frames. Someone asked why I was so interested in John Cage, and I described how I'd first encountered Cage -- at a Cage festival in Rome. It was under the Capitol Hill, in the open air. David Tudor came out to play the piano, but instead of opening the lid and playing notes, went round the back and ran a microphone up and down the strings. Cage and Tudor literally framed the piano for me in a fresh way that evening; they put a frame around the back instead of the front.

I illustrated the lecture with the piece I made (in collaboration with Florian Perret, currently teaching in China, as you'll see if you follow that link) for MoCA's Digital Gallery a couple of years ago, Suffusia. I picked Suffusia because it shows a lot of different frames. There's the slide projector screen, the framing device of the people watching (a masai tribesman, a woman scratching her bum), the looming presence in the background of Mount Fuji. By zooming the Flash file and dragging it around, I kept changing the context of the zany lecture depicted by changing the framing. A whole vista of topics opened up: context, irony, the relativity of meaning, whether the boundaries between different contexts are hard or soft, hostile or friendly, and so on.

The newest piece for MoCA's Digital Gallery is by Aya Takano. It's called The World After 800,000,000 years. (Switch off pop-up blocking when you go there, and switch up the sound, which, like the sound on Suffusia, has been compressed too much and is a bit woolly.) The plot is... well, I'm not quite sure. Aya says "After 800,000,000 years mankind was included too, all the creatures whom we knew fell for a while. However, the follows the way of the evolution agein. Curious things were done, and it evolved even to the creature who was about the same as the human being of the spider present." You just have to click through it, making sure you hold the mouse button down for a while (stuff happens). I like the alternative world it takes me into, a world where dreamy skinny girls seem to be the only remaining humans and sexy whimsy rules the planet. (No, not you, Lord Whimsy.) Wait 800,000,000 years for the real thing or live it now in Flash.

Speaking of Flash, I'm happy to hear that the first couple of Flash animations -- in which Click Opera readers animate Otto Spooky songs -- are nearing completion, 'Robin Hood' and 'The Artist Overwhelmed'. Expect to see something by the weekend or shortly after that.

Finally, as part of this journal's ongoing mission to convince everybody that Japanese women are the coolest people in the known universe, here's the Paris Hilton video by Mu. (As for Paris Hilton herself, I really have no idea who she is, what she looks like, or what she does. Let's reposition the frame to the song about her.)