Dog politics is not a subject I’m particularly fluent in. I once almost moved to a place where dog rights, or perhaps better stated the rights of dog owners/guardians, were a particularly heated subject of discussion. I don’t think the fierce, antagonistic, and divisive language on either side of the debates necessarily turned me off the neighborhood. Then again, I can’t say it didn’t. In my neighborhood when I see dog droppings, I tend to guess it is due to a stray in the night, not a negligent human. My comfort only goes so far. Ferocious barking on a public sidewalk is not something I’ve yet to appreciate, rationalize, or otherwise acclimate to, especially when the barker is, shall we say, untethered. As I was reminded in the neighborhood I mentioned earlier, barking isn’t solely a chosen outlet of dogs; it’s also employed by their benefactors and their detractors. Matters of tone remind us that even the most well-reasoned arguments can suffer depending on how they are delivered. But arguments and how they’re delivered are just part of a debate, especially when that debate extends over a long period of time. In such cases, the victor may be the one who subtly shapes and shifts the vocabulary employed by both sides. Whoever, for example, sorted out that the opposite of “on leash” isn’t “unleashed” but, instead, “voice control” has arguably nudged the debate in the favor of the the canine crowd. Where “unleashed” suggests something out of control, “voice control” suggests that control is not merely the province of leashes. The term effortlessly dispenses with a binary. On the one hand, this specialized use “voice control” might seem like a tough sell in 2017, as voice control is becoming a common term related to gadgets that contain at least some modicum of artificial intelligence. Or perhaps those very robot tools are in the canine crowd’s favor. Maybe the phrase “voice control” today seems more powerful — more of a suggestion of conscious awareness and programmed response, more of a leash — than ever.An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media
• February 5, 2020: The first session of the 15-week course I teach at the Academy of Art about the role of sound in the media landscape.
• April 15, 2020: A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the forthcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)
• December 13, 2020: This day marks the 24th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2021: This day marks the 9th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
• At least two live group concerts by Disquiet Junto members in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the works for 2020.
• I have liner notes for a musician's solo album and an essay in a book about an art event due out. I'll announce as the release dates come into focus.
• 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, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).
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Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.
• 0472 / Jam Time (1 of 3) / The Assignment: Record the first third of a trio that others will complete.
• 0471 / Phase Transition / The Assignment: The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something with it.
• 0470 / Calendar View / The Assignment: Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen (or more) super-brief segments.
• 0469 / [Missing in Caption] / The Assignment: Make music that pushes the constraints of descriptive television captions.
• 0468 / Mirror Rorrim / The Assignment: Create a new persona for yourself, and record a duet together.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 472 consecutive weeks to date.
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