Memories of our early file-sharing ways: This is a detail from a story by comics artist Jillian Tamaki, collected in her recent book, Boundless. The story, first published in 2015, has nothing to do with random Squarepusher songs being illicitly downloaded, and instead focuses on a single MP3 that has an unfortunate effect on listeners. (The track is six hours long and titled “SexCoven.”) In a few panels, Tamaki captures a different time from ours. She casually posits the past as a beta test for the current technological present. The past isn’t foreign, just more pixelated. There’s the boxy interface, the requisite time sink (another panel shows just how burdensome dialup surfing could be), and that no longer ubiquitous wired mouse/pad combo, among other details. Kudos in particular for the varied case treatments of Squarepusher’s name, an early glimpse at the impact of metadata fluidity, and the smudge effect of “scroll scroll” in the subsequent panel (that action description was invisible to me in print, and I only noticed it after looking at this photograph of the page). The case issues with the Squarepusher titles are the visual gateway drug into how the story’s title track makes its way from an anonymous user’s computer to countless ones around the globe. This specific story might never have begun on a commercial website, or in a bricks and mortar record store for that matter. And even if the story is a fiction, a dark fantasy rendered in the artifacts of realism, the sense of a rupture in time, a shift in culture, a warping of communication, is trenchant.An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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5 Most Recent Posts
• February 6, 2019: First day of the new semester of the 15-week "Sounds of Brands" course I teach once a year at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
• March 22, 2019: I'm giving a talk at the Algorithmic Art Assembly, two days of events in San Francisco: aaassembly.org.
• December 13, 2019: This day marks the 23rd anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2020: This day marks the 8th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• Ongoing: The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury, is now in its second printing. It has been translated into Spanish, and is due out soon in Japanese, as well. It can be purchased at amazon.com, among other places.
The Disquiet Junto is an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making space in which restraints are used as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. There is an FAQ. ... These are the 5 most recent weekly projects:
• 0368 / Engage Duo / The Assignment: Record the second third of a trio, adding to a pre-existing track.
• 0367 / Trio Initiate / The Assignment: Record the first third of an eventual trio.
• 0366 / Ice Breaker / The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.
• 0365 / 2018 Tracker / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.
• 0364 / Casting Drones / The Assignment: Use dice to determine your slowly shifting tones.
... And there is a complete list of past projects.
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