My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

search: bassel

A Future in Commons: A Tribute to Bassel Khartabil

A Junto compilation in honor of the slain open-source coder

This is a wonderful thing. Longtime Disquiet Junto participant Rupert Lally gathered tracks from 30-plus musicians to create a tribute album, A Future in Commons: A Tribute to Bassel Khartabil, for the late open-source coder. I think the strength of a community can be gauged to some extent by what occurs when the community’s lead moderator is not involved, and this is an example of such a thing. Aside from putting Rupert in touch, at his request, with the people I know who have been keeping Bassel’s flame lit (Niki Korth, Jon Phillips, Barry Threw), I only wrote this liner note essay. It was Rupert who proposed this compilation album, and it was Rupert who made it happen. I’m very proud of the many Disquiet Junto projects we have done over the years to spread Bassel’s story by finding music in his life and work. I’m hopeful this compilation on Bandcamp will spread that story even further, and help raise funds for the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund (more at creativecommons.org).

He was held in a small cell, from which he could view a small patch of sky for a small part of the day. That was after nine months he spent in a cell with no light at all. Before he was imprisoned (detained, held — the words have varying shades of truth and meaning, emphasis and appropriateness, detail and futility), he made three-dimensional CGI renderings of an ancient city. In his old life he created these virtual spaces to help us remember what the world once looked like. Perhaps those powers of imagination helped him envision a world beyond his cell once a cell became his world.

His name was Bassel Khartabil. He was a coder and open-source advocate born in Syria, the same country that would later imprison him and execute him. During his incarceration, and during the extended period when his death was presumed but not yet confirmed, his story became a rallying point around the world. His plight inspired essays, and conference sessions, and political statements. And it inspired music. All the tracks in this collection are sourced from different projects undertaken by members of the Disquiet Junto music community to keep Bassel’s story alive.

The Disquiet Junto is an open community of musicians who respond weekly to shared compositional prompts. Facets of Bassel’s life provided several such prompts over the years. We created soundscapes to bring a new dimension to his CGI renderings. We sampled his voice and turned it into music. We created VR scores, and we tried to extrapolate sound from the poetic language of his correspondence. In the end, what we tried to do was spread word of his plight, to keep his story alive even after he was no longer.

The “commons” is an essential metaphor that inspires open source activity. It is in the Creative Commons that people can build on each other’s work, to freely create things that neither party would have imagined possible separately. We often speak of the commons through related words, such as “community” and “communal.” We speak of the open-source community, and of communal effort. Through the Disquiet Junto projects, we’ve tried to connect with Bassel in yet another way — to commune with his spirit.

More on Bassel Khartabil at freebassel.org.

Tags: , / Comment: 1 ]

“Bassel K”

An essay I wrote for The Cost of Freedom, dedicated to detained Creative Commons coder/artist Bassel Khartabil Sadafi

20151109-costoffreedom

“Bassel K” is a short essay I wrote for the book The Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry, which was published today, November 9, 2015, to draw attention to the continued detainment in Syria of Bassel Khartabil Sadafi. The publication came together as part of a “book sprint” held in Pourrières, France, from the 2nd to the 6th of November. (I wasn’t in France. I was home, typing in San Francisco.) Contributors include Lawrence Lessig, Lucas Gonze, Barry Threw, Niki Korth, and Jon Phillips, among many others. Bassel has been held since March 15, 2012.

We’ve done two Disquiet Junto projects related to Bassel’s detainment. On the third anniversary of his seizure, March 12, 2015, we focused our imaginations on the silence of a closed room: “Disquiet Junto Project 0167: Placid Cell.” Previous to that, back on January 23, 2014, as described in the essay below, we expanded on one of his works-in-progress, creating an imaginary soundscape to the ancient city of Palmyra: “Disquiet Junto Project 0108: Free Bassel.”

And here is the essay:

“Bassel K”

I read The Trial at too young an age. It instilled in me many things, some of them even positive, such as an affection for Franz Kafka, an aspiration to taut structure, and a desire to tell stories. It also haunted me, and it does to this day. It imprinted on me an intense fear of undeserved imprisonment.

I was introduced to the imprisonment of Bassel Khartabil by three remarkable people: Niki Korth, Jon Phillips, and Barry Threw. They are in many admirable ways as free as Bassel is not. Each of the trio is dedicated to their own individual and collective artistic pursuits to explore the deep potential where technology and culture meet. They make and celebrate the things that make today a special time.

And they know full well that all is not right in our time. They expend significant energy in building awareness of the ongoing fact of Bassel’s murky, tragic legal status. At their suggestion, back in January 2014, I gathered musicians to highlight Bassel’s plight. These musicians participate collectively in something called the Disquiet Junto. It’s a freeform group I moderate that each Thursday responds to music-composition prompts. The idea behind all the prompts is that creative constraints, such as those employed in Oulipo and Fluxus, are a useful springboard for creativity and productivity.

The Junto’s fondness for such “constraints” met a fierce complement when we tackled Bassel’s situation, which is that of a most uncreative form of constraint. There were many ways we could have paid tribute to Bassel. What we elected to do in the Junto was to keep one of his projects going: He may be in jail, but his art could continue to develop. Prior to Bassel’s arrest on March 15, 2012, in Damascus, he was working on several projects. Among them was a three-dimension computer rendering of the ancient city of Palmyra. What we in the Junto did was make “fake field recordings”: audio of what the halls of Palmyra’s structures might have sounded like millennia ago. Much as Bassel was trying to revive an ancient world, the Junto participants were, in essence, keeping one of his projects alive while he is incapable of doing so. And, of course, building upon his artistic efforts was true to the ethos of the Creative Commons, in which Bassel has been profoundly engaged.

We had no idea, of course, back in early 2014 that Palymra would itself receive worldwide attention when ISIS, the extremist movement, would in 2015 move to destroy much of the ancient city’s remaining architectural history — or that, later still, Russian warplanes would further damage the site. This is one of Kafka’s lasting legacies: just when things seem horrible, they can and do get worse.

Palmyra has fallen. Bassel remains in jail. The challenge to rectify his situation has long since surpassed the overly employed term “Kafkaesque.” Someone must have been telling lies about Bassel K, because he is still kept from his freedom. But as long as he is in prison, there are plenty of people telling his story, and keeping his work alive.

Below is a shot of Bassel in happier times, and an image from his “3D Palmyra” work mentioned in my essay:

20151109-basselcc

20151109-palymyra

More on the book The Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry, which is in the public domain and is available as an ePub and PDF, at costoffreedom.cc.

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

Disquiet Junto Project 0108: Free Bassel

Create a soundscape for the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

20140123-freebassel

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks by participants will be added to this playlist as the project proceeds:

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, January 23, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, January 27, 2014, as the deadline.

20140123-palmyra3

20140123-palmyra2

20140123-palmyra1

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0108: Free Bassel

For this week’s project, we’re going to create soundscapes for an ancient Middle Eastern city. And in the process, we’re going to raise awareness about an imprisoned open-source developer with strong ties to the Creative Commons community. Bassel Khartabil, before his arrest on March 15, 2012, in Damascus, was working on several projects, among them a 3D rendering of the ancient city of Palmyra. Much as Bassel was trying to revive an ancient world, you are, in essence, keeping one of his projects alive while he is incapable of doing so.

The project instructions are as follows:

Step 1: View this video for background on Bassel’s digital Palmyra project:

Step 2: If you aren’t viewing this instruction on the Disquiet.com project page, go to the following URL to view three still images from Bassel’s 3D work:

Disquiet Junto Project 0108: Free Bassel

Step 3: Create a soundscape of between one and three minutes that might be employed in an immersive, completed digital visualization of ancient Palmyra.

Deadline: Monday, January 27, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 1 and 3 minutes in length.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0108-freebassel”in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, be sure to include this information:

More on this 108th Disquiet Junto project (“Create a soundscape for the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.”) at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0108: Free Bassel

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

The Disquiet Junto Project List (0001 – 0279 …)

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

More on the campaign to free Bassel at

http://freebassel.org/

For their collaboration on this project, special thanks to: Niki Korth, Barry Threw, and Jon Phillips.

Tags: , , / Comments: 8 ]

Disquiet Junto Project 0294: Offline Status

Pay tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil by turning his spoken words into music.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to the above playlist for the duration of the project.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, August 21, 2017. This project was posted in early evening, California time, on Thursday, August 17, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0294: Offline Status
Pay tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil by turning his spoken words into music.

Note: Tracks from this project, and from previous Bassel-related Junto projects, may be played on the Over the Edge radio show on August 24th.

Step 1: This is the second of two consecutive projects we’re undertaking, following the news of Bassel Khartabil’s death. (If you’re new to the Junto, Bassel was an open-source coder who did a lot of work in CGI before being imprisoned in Syria. Word of his execution just recently became public. This is the sixth project we’ve done about him over the years.)

Step 2: Download the following short snippet of an audio file, just seven seconds, of Bassel speaking. In it you’ll hear his voice, as well as the lofi glory of mundane Internet communication, and some beeping inherent in everyday digital tools. You’ll use all this audio in your own track for this project. It’s on dropbox.com.

Step 3: Listen closely to Bassel’s voice and the other sounds that make up the file from Step 2.

Step 4: Record a piece of music that either begins with or ends with the full audio of Bassel’s voice. Use your own original instrumentation as well as elements extracted from the audio file as part of your composition to either extend from or lead up to the provided audio.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0294” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0294-offline-status/

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, August 21, 2017. This project was posted in early evening, California time, on Thursday, August 17, 2017.

Length: Keep your piece to under two minutes.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0294” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: For this project, please make sure your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution). This is aligned with the license of the source audio, and with Bassel Khartabil’s work.

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, along with details of your source audio, including links to it:

More on this 294th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Offline Status: Pay tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil by turning his spoken words into music. — at:

https://disquiet.com/0294/

Thanks to Niki Korth, Jon Phillips, and Barry Threw for encouraging this project. More on Bassel here:

http://freebassel.org

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0294-offline-status/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Tags: , , / Comment: 1 ]

Disquiet Junto Project 0293: Emerge/Immerse

Make music for Paige Dansinger's Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, August 14, 2017. This project was posted in early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0293: Emerge/Immerse
Make music for Paige Dansinger’s Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil.

Step 1: This is the first of two consecutive projects we’re undertaking, following the news of Bassel Khartabil’s death. (If you’re new to the Junto, Bassel was an open-source coder who did a lot of work in CGI before being imprisoned in Syria. Word of his execution just recently became public.) Paige Dansinger is making VR drawings in Tilt Brush inspired by Bassel’s Palmyra CGI work, drawing from her own interest in making a better world. For this project we’re going to make sound, in Bassel’s honor, to accompany her 3D work. View Paige’s pieces at:

http://www.newpalmyra.org/projects/junto-emerge-immerse/

Step 2: Think about the sort of sound that might accompany, contribute to, or otherwise be a component part of a VR experience. Now, record a short piece of music, up to two minutes, that is about something emerging — something being brought to life, or coming out of a cave, or otherwise coming into being.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0293” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0293-emerge-immerse/

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, August 14, 2017. This project was posted in early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

Length: Keep your piece to under two minutes.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0293” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: For this project, please make sure your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution). This is aligned with Paige Dansinger and Bassel Khartabil’s work.

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, along with details of your source audio, including links to it:

More on this 293rd weekly Disquiet Junto project — Make music for Paige Dansinger’s Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil — at:

https://disquiet.com/0293/

Thanks to Niki Korth, Jon Phillips, and Barry Threw for encouraging this project, and to Paige Dansinger for the collaboration. View Dansinger’s 3D drawings of Palmyra here:

http://www.newpalmyra.org/projects/junto-emerge-immerse/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0293-emerge-immerse/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is by Paige Dansinger, more on whom here:

http://paigedansinger.com

Tags: , , , , / Leave a comment ]