Final Documentation TempEx

Deck

Brief Description

My final product is a hyper-local music player, that brings back analog practices and fuses it with our globalized world. My goals are to create an object that incubate community and make someone think about the ways in which they currently consume through algorithm. The final product will be a small player made with an arduino and a cassette tape player, in which the only input is a USB drive, and the only output is an audio cable. The listener will only be able to listen to music that is put on the device through a USB (mp3s), by either them self or someone else. The object will hopefully lend itself to reflection not only on current distribution practices and an algorithmic world, but also intention in music consumption and playlist making. 

Additional Documentation

Process photos:

 

 

List of Resources

List of stuff I read: https://wp.nyu.edu/luna/2018/11/03/in-process-reading-responses/

Interviews: 

  • Boima Tucker- DJ, writer, editor for Africa’s a Country, producer and arts advocate
  • Rishi Nath- Mathematician, writer, music advocate and industry worker
  • Jason Sigal- Founder of Free Music Archive, sound designer, music and tech educator 

Final Reflection

This was honestly the hardest semester of my life because everything that I was studying in school, both technically and theoretically were affecting me on a deeply personal level.  My most important lesson of the semester, which extended all the way into the crits who did not understand the base of my work is that the “work” is to do what you know is right, not to create for aesthetic; the process is what is important and without process there is no art. I am not okay with creating an art project that only exists in a theoretical realm nor with creating one that is a tool for the already privileged / elite. I want everything I do no confront how fucked up the world is in some way or another and actually offer some glimpse of hope.
 
I was so happy with all the early stages of my project: my maps, my thinking, my iterations, my research. I wish I had more time to read but I’m glad I was thinking through in ways I had never experienced before. I at some point became overwhelmed with depression and wanted so badly to not have to deal with a question (“how do we create an intervention to the current music industry landscape?”) that was also fucking up my relationships and non-school work. I wish I had been able to create more in community as to not feel so isolated, but perhaps that is part of art.
 
In hindsight, I would have liked to started experimentation earlier and gotten a prototype done like a month before the final! This would have given me time to iterate more and also practice with other people. I feel like the downfall of this class is that we were not required to take our project out into the real world to do “user-testing”. The issue is that when we all have goals and dreams of creating social change but only create for the purpose of a class critique at NYU, we are the biggest hypocrites of all. We might as well be making pointless apps.
 
All in all I am actually really happy with my process and my object. I am going to develop it for my thesis and I am so happy with the outcomes in terms of my own new ways of looking at creation and change. I really am inspired to want to make more, I just need to find the space to do so productively. 

One Page- TempEx

In a search to focus on music industry and intellectual property, I have broadened my research and began thinking more about music consumption and distribution and how people share music. One finding is that people do not share music anymore, and our technologies encourage us to trust algorithms above humans. I thought about the various ways that I could show this through heightening this dynamic, or showing an intervention, and what I thought about is a device that does the opposite of what we have now.

My final product is a hyper-local music player, that brings back analog practices and fuses it with our globalized world. My goals are to create an object that incubate community and make someone think about the ways in which they currently consume through algorithm. The final product will be a small player made with an arduino and a cassette tape player, in which the only input is a USB drive, and the only output is an audio cable. The listener will only be able to listen to music that is put on the device through a USB (mp3s), by either them self or someone else. The object will hopefully lend itself to reflection not only on current distribution practices and an algorithmic world, but also intention in music consumption and playlist making. 

The MP3 player will be intentionally anti-viral, yet still engage with a larger world, making music listening somewhat tactile. More importantly, however, it will allow through alternative thoughts on ways of being. The intended audience will be people at a party who together put 10-15 songs on the player. Once they are all loaded the playlist will play all the way through until the player is turned off. Once it is turned off the memory is erased. Through this ritual the player also confronts our current economies of music distribution and human relationships, and proposes alternatives. 

The USB is important to me because it is tactile, it begs idea of local practices (why don’t we use USBs anymore?) and it allows us to interface with objects but also in the tracking / digital sphere (can be plugged into a laptop). The potentials are to offer inspiration about economies and structures beyond what we experience, allow people to connect through music, and create a community through music like sound systems and ghetto blasters at block parties. 

The limitations are first and foremost that it’s an art piece instead of a practical long-term solution. There are other issues that act as a way to reflect on current consumption practices, most notably that you cannot take music off of it and that it erases when you turn off. 

Prototype Idea

In a search to focus on music industry and intellectual property, I have broadened my research and began thinking more about music consumption and distribution and how people share music. One finding is that people do not share music anymore, and our technologies encourage us to trust algorithms above humans. I thought about the various ways that I could show this through heightening this dynamic, or showing an intervention, and what I thought about is a device that does the opposite of what we have now.

I want to create a hyper-local music player, that brings back analog practices and fuses it with our globalized world. My goals are to create an object that: 

  • Makes someone think about the ways in which they currently consume through algorithm
  • Makes a statement about the link of global tracking + immaterial data through our consumption of music 
  • Makes our music listening somewhat tactile
  • Thinks through ways of being anti-viral, yet still engage with a larger world
  • Thinks through intention which addresses a growing trend of playlists as muzak. 
  • Confronts our current economies of music distribution and human relationships, and proposes alternatives

The final product will be a small player (most likely a hacked cassette deck), in which the only input is a USB drive, and the only output is an audio cable. The listener will only be able to listen to music that is put on the device through a USB (mp3s), by either them self or someone else. The object will hopefully lend itself to reflection not only on current distribution practices and an algorithmic world, but also intention in music consumption and playlist making. 

 

WHY THE USB?

  • It is tactile 
  • It begs idea of local practices — why don’t we use USBs anymore? 
  • Interfacing with objects but also in the tracking / digital sphere (can be plugged into a laptop)
  • It’s harder to plug in a USB than to send a song

 

WHAT I WOULD WANT THE LISTENER TO THINK

  • Who do I want putting music on my player? 
  • Who do I trust putting music on my player? 
  • How much music do I want on my player? 
  • Who owns the music on my player? 
  • Do I want to provide something in exchange for the music someone puts on my player?
  • Is my player portable like an iPod or does it stay in one place like a record player? 

 

WHAT ARE ITS POTENTIALS

  • Offer inspiration about economies and structures beyond what we experience
  • Allow people to connect through music
  • Portable party (like a ghetto blaster)
  • Allow for the appreciation of music that is not fed through us algorithmically = happier souls

 

WHAT ARE ITS LIMITATIONS?

  • It’s an art piece instead of a practical long-term solution
  • You can’t take music off of it
  • You can’t skip around
  • You can’t repeat songs

 

INSPIRATION

USB Dead Drop

Sound System culture

  

Walkmen, cassette players

   Potlatch

 

SKETCHES

 

Context

I think I want my context to be regular people who consume Spotify without necessarily being critical of the algorithm! I think there’s something to staying in one’s lane and making something for one’s own demographic. If I live in NYC surrounded by people uncritical of content and am constantly surrounded by who don’t care about historical roots of U.S. culture, then that’s who I will make for. 

These are real Spotify ads that I re-made. 

Visit to the Library!

I went to the library and met with Margaret! She was so helpful and honestly the biggest take-away was that I need to spend more time deeply engaging with material that is well thought-out conceptually. I wish I had more time to read. This week I challenged myself to read something from the bibliography I made each day and post the best quotation that describes it. I had no time so it didn’t work but I spent all day today catching up and was able to get through four readings.

These are my notes from my meeting with Margaret: 

 

UPROOT- ML3918.P67

Cutting Across Media : Appropriation Art, Interventionist Collage, and Copyright Law- https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1172260

Music Database- https://persistent.library.nyu.edu/arch/NYU01302

Consumer Magazines win clout- http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=5c2cca24-7252-48f0-bff7-74327008404f%40sdc-v-sessmgr06&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=9601111389&db=mah

Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century.- http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=5c2cca24-7252-48f0-bff7-74327008404f%40sdc-v-sessmgr06&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=97225839&db=mah

The gift : imagination and the erotic life of property– Ordered

Current Issues in Music Research: Copyright, power and Transnational Music Processes – REQUESTED

AUDIO DATABASES- https://guides.nyu.edu/az.php?t=10842

In Process- Reading Responses

Post Malone is the perfect pop star for this American moment. That’s not a compliment.

“White people will inevitably appropriate the most culturally relevant music genre, one that’s become almost intrinsically bound to the modern conception of pop, but it’s not asking too much to attempt modest synthesis or the incorporation of a single new idea, or at least to not be so grotesquely desolate. We went from Eminem to Cheddar Bob. If Post Malone were black, he wouldn’t have sold half; he simply wouldn’t exist.”

#postmalone #culturalappropriation #whitemediocracy #popmusic #rap 

The Sheck Wes story

“What’s most impressive to me about Sheck Wes’s generation of African immigrants, is that they are able to seamlessly be both African and American, two things that we are often taught are oppositional. I believe this comes from the solidarity that is formed in the global North’s working-class communities, built out of surviving in the trenches sometimes with someone of a different cultural and identity background than oneself. It is a lesson that cultural and political commentators across the world would be wise to pay attention to.” 

#sheckwes #workingclassAfrican #SenegaleseAmerican #diaspora #workingclassAmerican #MoAmadouBamba

Distributed Ledgers Could Revolutionize Content Storage

“No single entity controls or decides anything (there is no “master”). The control is in the protocol and the data, rather than in a “master.”  Decisions are made using a decentralized consensus and the system is open to new entities and has no point of failure to bring down the system. The “Nothing shared” architecture allows capacity to grow with the size of the network, like the Internet.”

#ledger #decentralization #storage #tech

Introducing the Regime Shifts Database

“We define regime shifts as large, persistent changes in the structure and function of social-ecological systems, with substantive impacts on the suite of ecosystem services provided by these systems. Better understanding of regime shifts is important as they may have substantial impacts on human economies, societies and well-being, and are often difficult to anticipate and costly to reverse.”

#regimes #climate change #humaneconomies #regime1-regime2

Platform Politricks

“Following a host of media scholars, we might productively (if provisionally) think of all this contextual data — interfaces, playlists, connections, conversations, and records of embeds and changes and the like — and to the careful cultivation it calls for, as constituting a particular site’s ecology (which, of course, is itself embedded in other ecologies, not to mention situated in various topographies). Thinking about media in terms of “ecologies” or “topographies” can help us to understand the implications of the so-called “architectures of participation” that increasingly structure social connectivity and cultural production. Such biological and spatial metaphors suggest modes of interplay as well as types of terrain, as shaped by particular affordances & constraints.”

#bigcopyright #disappearingplatforms #googlization-of-everything 

Renewing South Africa’s Economic Policy Discourse

“Common sense”, in short, is proving to be nonsensical. Global politics is making this abundantly clear: the rise of Trump, Brexit, the crisis of the EU, and the rise of far-right, racial nationalism and xenophobia across the globe from Brazil to South Africa all point to the fragility of global liberal democracy. We are living in anxious and dangerous times and there can be no return to the “common sense” that has governed global economic discourse in the neoliberal era.

#fukuyama #southafrica #neoliberalism #populism 

Persistence of Vision: A Cyborg Manifesto

“Right at the end of cyberfeminism’s heyday in 2000, Plant would write that “cyberspace is out of man’s control: virtual reality destroys his identity, digitalization is mapping his soul and, at the peak of his triumph, the culmination of his machinic erections, man confronts the system he built for his own protection and finds it is female and dangerous”9. In our contemporary moment, in 2018, when everyone is online, when women are routinely harassed by men wielding bot armies, when the Internet feels more like a tool for reactionary right wing politics and conspiracy than liberation, a tool to be abused by state authorities for surveillance and masculinist control…at this moment Plant’s statement feels crushingly, dishearteningly, painfully optimistic.”

#cyborg #feminism #xenofeminism #whitefeminism #borders

Tim Berners-Lee launches campaign to save the web from abuse

“Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard University and author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It said: “To me, the most important function of the contract is to remind people that the web we have isn’t the only one possible. That’s both a warning – including about how aspects of the web have become – and an opportunity. The contract seeks to get those wielding the most power online to commit to some boundaries in how they treat their users.”

#internet #dystopia #facebook #google #censorship #fakenews #corporatecontrol

 

IRL

Current Issues in Music Research

INTRO

“[Seeger] points out that copyright legislation tends to benefit intellectual outputs by urban, literate, individualist citizens of market economies … thus, copyright law as a model for copyright norms worldwide, and as implemented through trade agreements, only exemplifies contemporary strategies for maintaining the economic and cultural hegemony of rich nations thus enabled to capitalize on copyright exports.” (p. 20)

 

WHO SHOULD CONTROL WHICH RIGHTS TO MUSIC?
“The power of large nations and corporations to control the international implementation of a unified intellectual property regime is still ver large.” (p. 29)

“Copyright can be simply defined as a limited term monopoly over the exploitation (making of copies, selling, licensing rights, etc.) or a new work.” (p. 33)

Thoughts on thomas jefferson writing that all opinions and expression of idea should be free / open. … yes, but only if all people are “equal”.

Original intention of the limited-term monopoly in the U.S. constitution was to ensure a constant supply of new inventions and arts that would enter the public domain. (;p. 35)

Current copyright terms in the U.S. (2010):

  • Patents – 20 years after filing
  • Copyright – life of creator plus 70 years after writing / recording
  • Trademarks – as long as you keep renewing the gov. License and the trademark is actively used and defended
  • Trade secrets (regulated under trade, not IP) – as long as the secret reminas secret

“How can a community preserve material in an archive without ending its traditional system for ensuring the preservation and transmission of knowledge through restriction of access?”  (p. 37)

In order for copyright / IP to work we need truth.

#bigcopyright #corporatecontrol #intellectualproperty #equality

VIBE Magazine 2002 Issue, Free The Girls: Or, why I really don’t believe there’s much of a future for hip hop, let alone women in hip hop (By Dream Hampton)

“I want to tell her about all the ways hip hop has made me feel powerful. How it gave my generation a voice, a context, how we shifted the pop-culture paradigm. How sometimes it’s a good thing to feel brave and fearless, even if it’s just posturing. I want to suggest that maybe these rhymes about licking each other’s asses are liberating. But I can’t.”

#hiphop #pop-culture #musicindustry #dying 

New Project — Music Industry Infrastructure

intentions / questions

  • my goal with this project is to create alternative infrastructure. I am struggling most because I do not know how I should do so  and don’t really want to program but know the best intervention may be a reparation / redistribution of money plugin. Hopefully this becomes clear this week. 
  • My main question is around how one can reframe intellectual property away from copyright and into more community-oriented modes. At the end of last class Barak told me about various artisanal / cultural products that have strong patents, including Feta Cheese and Champagne. I was thinking about how this may affect reggaeton, what if reggaeton had a patent? Well I have decided patents are evil and that would not solve any issue. Ownership is collective, the problem is that we don’t have a current economic system that understands this.
  • This reading on open source also made me think about this a lot. I liked this one quote in particular:   
  • also just putting this out there maybe bc im working on a copyright project i’m really afraid of having my ideas stolen and might make this blog private to only being able to be accessed by people in this class haha. 

Let’s say that tomorrow I come up with a great idea for a music app — maybe some fancy codec or algorithm for making playlists — and I want to make a full app surrounding my great idea. I may patent the core idea or algorithm. But then Amazon would come and say, “Hey, that’s an awesome app. We want to buy you out.”

If I refuse, they’re theoretically stuck because they don’t have rights to my patent. In reality, I infringed on tens of their patents just by creating a generic music app. They have all the leverage in the world and I have none.

The original idea of patents was to give an upstart who doesn’t have capital or manufacturing capabilities the time to come up with all that without the incumbents crushing them. My unexpertly observation is that source code is a moot point for large companies with gigantic patent portfolios, who already have capital and established manufacturing relationships. They have a level of security that allows them to share.

interviews + knowledge accumulation

  • set up a meeting with Margaret for November 2!
  • I had lunch with Rishi (writer / educator / has a lot of hip hop knowledge). I talked to him about my project and his main feedback was, “can technology really not quantify community?” I see what he means. If anything, the internet creates and strengthen community. He’s really right, I have to think about this part about technology not being able to quantify community. It made me think a lot too about what community is. Is community inherently comfortable / supportive?
  • I spoke to Boima and made a map based off our talk and an old Tumblr post he sent me (posted below under brainstorming). I also spoke to him and Francisco (economist) about how sports is like music. This makes me think about the fucked up reliance on brands as well as the inherent Blackness of culture in this country.  United States culture is Black. An excerpt from my interview is here: 

If you don’t play you don’t make any money. Music is like sports. People are like saying, how do we change the corrupt nature of the NCAA which is all this corrupt money and like, you know, these kids are basically playing for free and this corporate money is coming in. And it’s like, really nobody questions sports culture. Like the fundamental system. 

And so, if we can change music we can also serve as an example for how we can also change sports. The difference between professional sports players is that professional ball players have a union! That’s why they make good money! That’s what artists do not have. Bargaining power. Granted, Lebron makes more money than the average player but the average player but the average dude still gets good money. The union helps the people at the bottom.

But the system is the same. They’re both joining forces with these brands, they’re getting paid by their teams (the record labels), and theres only a few of them. I just read about this player who got a one million dollar internship with New Balance and as soon as he graduates he’ll get a 14 million dollar deal.

research

Bibliography

List of people to Interview

Pinterest

 

brainstorming

 

Topic Proposal

After a lot of thought, I think that the best idea moving forward is to begin working on the questions that I will be addressing during my thesis. I have been incubating these questions for several years but I think I am at a place where I can begin prototyping and object. As usually, I have heavy theory and concepts surrounding my idea but not a strong idea of what I want to make.

PROPOSAL:

The idea would be to present an intervention of an infrastructure of digital music that relies on what I think of as digital Neo-feudalism which is reliant on archaic networks, biased legal systems and and racist technology (most notably, the fiberoptic cables of internet which follow the same routes of the transatlantic slave trade). My goal is to create something (a pluggin, audio map or platform) that makes visible an alternative to the current copyright system in place for artists and creates a more equal and equitable playing field which demonstrates the inherent biased in the current system. I want to also make sure to find a balance between representation and reparations, because I don’t think representation (based largely off individual gain), can create true “justice”. Communities make culture and culture has to be thought of with historical and societal context. The individual gain and attention put on artists of color in 2018 is part of a larger distraction away from the importance of community in incubating sound. Community sound is what I want to show. Boima Tucker recently told me, “If you don’t see the communities and histories behind the art, then you don’t understand the culture.” This project will, if successful, demonstrate the idea that new no new technology will save us because it does not quantify community.

I have been inspired by many people throughout the past few years for this project, most notably my friend and mentor, Natalia Linares, who does work around New Cultural Economy and with who pushed me to begin doing music industry literacy workshops in Havana. I have also been heavily inspired by Boima Tucker, the former director of the Brooklyn-based label, Dutty Arts as well as founder of INTL BLK. I need to mention these two folks because much of my ideas have been processed along their side and with their mentorship. I have also been inspired by this image I saw over the summer by Tabita Rezaire, which overlays he map of the fiberoptic cables with the slave ship routes.

TABITA REZAIRE’S IMAGE I LOVE

Image result for tabita rezaire water carries data

Image result for tabita rezaire water carries data

IDEA MAP

 

TEMPLATE OF REGGAETON VS DANCEHALL (POLITICS OF SAN ANDRES, CARTAGENA, JAMAICAN AND PUERTO RICO)

 

Updates for Field Guide Research

First I hav created an updated visual map to show the ways in which I am thinking of the ways in which these systems of my field guide overlap in a more organic and parallel way. 

This is an interview I conducted with my brother, Che, who is a Chemistry major at Carnegie Mellon.
 
1. What is chemical energy? 
Chemical energy is the energy that comes from breaking and reforming molecular bonds.
 
2. what made you want to be a chemistry major?
I always kinda wanted to make stuff and legos really didn’t do it for me. Then chem came along. My first exposure was to a chemist who made youtube videos and their schtick was that they wanted to be accessible to the “amateur” chemist (someone without a proper lab but who has all the knowledge). The amount of things they were able to do with pool pH stabilizer and NoSalt salt substitute was incredible. Then I saw him do a synthesis of an aids drug with 100% store bought chemicals, I took a class in organic and biochemistry, and I started to really see what you could do with chemistry. It is so versatile and so fun.

3. What do you think is beautiful about chemical energy? 
I don’t think much more of chemical energy than I do of other kinds of energy. Light, for instance, is very cool. So is nuclear energy though I don’t like that math as much. Energy in general though is pretty darn cool. Especially, how it touches everything in ways that usually aren’t noticed. For example, my chem teacher introduced me to the idea of using any arbitrary unit as a measure of energy. We were talking about light and since light has energy and the energy is associated with the wavelength we started using length – nanometers – as a measure of energy. At other points in time we used mass as a measure of energy. You can also even use disorder as a measure of energy. Wild huh?
 
4. How would you draw a correlation between chemical energy and climate change? 
This is a weird question interpreted by a “chemist.” *Chemistry* allows us to describe chemically the chemical parts of whats going on. Chemical energy…. It’s kind of like asking to explain Harry Potter in terms of letters. Like, yeah they make up the work but there isn’t much to say about it. Since pretty much all of chemistry is energy moving somehow you can describe climate change in terms of that. You can also translate Harry Potter to Spanish. Both aren’t super helpful or give you any incite into whats going on. Looking at chemistry in general you can see that we did our part in enabling the problem and we’re doing our part in fixing it. We made better ways to purify gasoline and we’re making better solar panels.
 
5. what do you think of this tweet? 
Screen Shot 2018-09-23 at 1.03.00 AM.png
Neuro-Bio is pretty cool. Glad it’s getting appreciated.