David Beermann
Procedural Artifacts
Install Theme

Screencapture of the proof of concept application for the Cage/Reich installation.

Schlieren flow visualization can make sound waves visible. (via The Creators Project)

crt mgn (2013) by Carsten Nicolai

I compose the material, decide the process it’s going to be run through-but once these initial choices have been made, it runs by itself.

— Reich, S. (2002). Writings on Music, 1965-2000. New York, USA: Oxford University Press

The original score of Pendulum Music by Steve Reich conceived in August 1968. The photo is taken from Flickr. The original can be found here. All Rights belong to Tom Choi.

The original score of Pendulum Music by Steve Reich conceived in August 1968. The photo is taken from Flickr. The original can be found here. All Rights belong to Tom Choi.

The piece Pendulum Music was conceived in 1968 by accident during a collaborative work between William Wylie and Steve Reich. As Reich recalls, Bruce Nauman, who was a student of Wylie, started playing around with an electric microphone which was plugged into a tape recorder setup to record. When Nauman started swinging the microphone over the speaker it created a feedback sound.

Steve Reich’s work revolves process music often employing a compositional technique known as Phasing. [1] Phasing describes a technique where the composer uses repetitive musical parts, referred to as  phrases, played steadily but at different speeds among the musicians or instruments. An instrument in the classical sense can for example be a piano but it can also be a tape player or other technical device. In the context of Reich’s work he referred to Pendulum Music as “a totally oddball piece.” [2] Although the piece clearly draws from the process of Phasing the ‘musical output’ has an intriguing relationship with the staging in space. In Reich’s words: "It’s the ultimate process piece. It’s me making my peace with Cage. It’s audible sculpture." [2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phasing_(music)
[2] http://www.furious.com/perfect/ohm/reich.html

The idea of relation being absent, anything may happen. A “mistake” is beside the point, for once anything happens it authentically is.

— Cage, J. (1961) Silence. Connecticut, USA: Wesleyan University Press. p. 59

When I wrote the Imaginary Landscape for twelve radios, it was not for the purpose of shock or as a joke but rather to increase the unpredictability already inherent in the situation through the tossing of coins. Chance, to be precise, is a leap, provides a leap out of reach of one’s own grasp of oneself. Once done, forgotten.

— John Cage, 1954 as quoted by Nicholls, D. (2002). Cambridge Companion to John Cage. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press. p. 57

The piece Imaginary Landscape No. 4 for 12 radios by John Cage was first published in 1951. The composition was created using chance operations – in this case coin tosses employing the I Ching; a chinese book about collections of oracles. Although instrumentalizing chance operations wasn’t uncommon for Cage this piece differs fundamentally in one respect: given the nature of the instrument – in this case the radio – it creates an indeterminacy that is absent from compositions for classical instruments. This “indeterminacy stems from the fact that radios produce sounds that vary according to frequency, time of day, and geographic location”. [1] Therefore each performance of Imaginary Landscapes No. 4 is unpredictable and not reproducible. According to Cage the sounds enter into a space free to develop in all directions available for “an infinite play of interpenetration”. [2] This was the core motivation of Cage for creating this composition.

[1] http://radioartnet.net/11/2011/08/03/imaginary-landscape-no-4/
[2] http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/werke/imaginary-landscape-4/

Our new devices provide space for the emergence of a new state of self, itself, split between the screen and the physical real, wired into existence through technology.

— Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York, USA: Basic Books. p.16

We recreate ourselves as online personae and give ourselves new bodies, homes, jobs, and romances. Yet, suddenly, in the half-light of virtual community, we may feel utterly alone. As we distribute ourselves, we may abandon ourselves.

Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York, USA: Basic Books. p.11f

The design profession needs to mature an find ways of operating outside the tight constraints of servicing industry. At its worst, product design simply reinforces global capitalist values. It helps to create and maintain desire for new products, ensure obsolescence, encourage dissatisfaction with what we have and merely translates brand values into objects. Design needs to see this for what it is, just one possibility, and develop alternative roles for itself. It needs to establish an intellectual stance of its own, or the design profession is destined to loose all intellectual credibility and be viewed simply as an agent of capitalism.

— Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby (2002). Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects. Basel, Schweiz: Birkhäuser.

When you write about your work, it makes all of us smarter for the effort, including you—because it forces you to go beyond the polite cocktail-party line you use to describe what you do and really think about the impact your work has. Done well, it means you’re contributing signal, instead of noise.

Sally Kerrigan. (2014). Writing Is Thinking. Available: http://alistapart.com/article/writing-is-thinking.

Hacking High School

"Every generation thinks school can’t get any worse but somehow we manage."

Once upon a time the American high school diploma signified that a person had the tools to be self-sufficient; now it’s like one of those red deli counter tickets that tells you to line up at the recruiter’s office or financial aid. And the worst part is, today’s students know all this because technology allows them to see the world for themselves. They don’t have to be told that school is an irrelevant exercise in obedience.

"Whatever big-picture issue you care about—the environment, the economy, human rights, politics—is defined by how people think and communicate about it. And the institution ostensibly in charge of helping people learn to think and communicate is fucked."

Peter Drucker said the worst thing management can do is the wrong thing more efficiently. Standardizing and streamlining is great if you’re starting with something of quality, but otherwise incremental change makes the problem worse because it reinforces the idea that change is impossible.”

The real opportunity of the Internet is creating a network that takes on its own momentum, grows, and exponentially increases its value. In fact, I think at this point network theory has a greater payoff in learning than learning theory does. The really cool part is that as the network grows and gains experiences, it also changes purpose and direction. School isn’t built to tolerate that, which I think is a big issue, considering the need for innovation in this country.

Learning needs to become the economic driver. We need a learning environment in which learners and mentors select each other, co-create interdisciplinary curricula and demonstrate mastery in ways that translate to the broader economy and life in our culture. Such an open market would allow learning innovators to create revenue streams that feed communities and align compensation with perceived value and performance: if you suck you starve, if you rock you make bank.

— David Preston

Source: http://roychristopher.com/david-preston-hacking-high-school

Open Source Learning: David Preston at TEDxUCLA

"And I wonder if we can map reasonably a populations effort at the thought process, not just snapshots of time on how people do in tests or how people do on content but what does it all mean to be learning in a time when we have an ever increasingly complicated and complicated future. So to me learning is the ultimate open question."

"What does it mean to be an educated citizen in the Information Age? Well to begin with I think we need to have a conversation about digital literacy. Not as a substitute for in-person interaction. But as a way […] to make sure we are using the tools of our age to best of our ability and to the fullest potential. In a broader conversation we would talking about how the curriculum should include mental fitness, physical fitness, spiritual fitness, civic fitness and technological fitness."

"I don’t just mean what we are using to write to. And I don’t just mean teacher as DJ using sources in addition to the textbook. I mean can we create a learning community that is technologically enabled to share information in such a way that we are all coauthoring our learning experience without compromising on the evaluation side of things. If in the Information Age the core for us is gathering, curating, analyzing, evaluating and ultimately acting on information, surely we don’t need to throw out the quality baby with the bath water. When I get on an airplane or going for surgery it’s really important to me that professional has a metric that tells me he knows or she knows what she’s doing. But in this environment we can quickly see how authentic artifacts of learning create multidimensional picture that shows me how a person is progressing."

"Can you imagine a coalition of the willing across this globe creating artifacts for each other to help each other learn?"

"But watching what happens when learners have permission gives them a sense of value. And ultimately in our culture entrepreneurship is a function of value. Entrepreneurship is a function of taking personal responsibility for putting something out there. What we are all doing here today. And ultimately if we encourage people to achieve their own value to get referendums through online media, through social media, we have a better opportunity then ever of creating the sort of innovation that will see us through the next century."

"You could have revenue streams all over this economy that transform learning from a cost center to a profit center. And I leave you with this thought. We’ve heard so many ideas today across the disciplines and Shakespeare came up more than once. This is not an educational problem. As I think about my daughter and as I think about the world that so many out young people are going to face in the next decade: information has never been more available, it’s never been more free. You can take every course MIT has to offer for free. But the credentials still cost you up to a quarter of a million dollars. Can you imagine what would happen if we underwent that sort of transformation? This is not an educational question. It’s an existential question. To be or not to be."