My Bleeding Brains

August 13, 2009

on the concept of digital seeds (from Make)

Filed under: Uncategorized — eeplebert @ 8:29 pm

I’ve been let down in the quality of most print publications in the past few years. I appreciate No Depression moving to a book-a-zine format. The most recent Adbusters I held in my own two hands was smaller, book-sized. You’d think they woulda discovered that was more aesthetically pleasing than the big wannabe rolling-stone size they’ve favored for years.

Spin’s still worth it occasionally, Rolling Stone I could take it or leave it, but I’ve digressed far enough. My favorite remaining print pubs are 2600 and Make.

In a recent Make I – amongst the yawn-worthy steampunk fanboyism – read about the concept of a digital seed box…holding source files for use by their User – as an altar-like central feature in homes of the future.

Suited to the user, perhaps a little diorama of actions figures could center around the item…a usb stick, usually, but probably something similarly small, convenient, perhaps/hopefully shielded against against EMP. That’s where the files live. That little 32GB about the size of your pinky fingernail.

[As a little aside, if we’re moving towards quantum computing and molecular memory as fast as some tech-gazers claim we might be, perhaps magnetism – the crucial vulnerability of most silicon-based electronics – will become a thing of the past sooner rather than later.]

This digital seed would be where we drew our music from, as said in the article, stored books in open document formats (based loosely on pdf) for on-demand printing at our local co-op cafe/press/anarchist haven.

You know, the sorta hands-on place every community should have where you can take spanish classes, learn about building solar water heaters, play bingo with the seniors, have a tiny communal garden patch, and mix your latte with an exercise bike…

I’ve been drooling over the notion of getting all my sundry backup cds and dvds onto a giant server HD, since drive prices keep falling. Taking my first steps toward a Master seed.

I spent the good part of a morning the other day, as said in another post, digging through my digital record crate looking for which damn disc I had stashed the day’s elusive bits on.

Suddenly I’m looking at my massive 6’x5′ cd rack, the top shelf full of DVDs, and various stacks of media around the room, as seeds for what they might become, not just what they are.

My amassed music collection is rife with sample-worthy bits. And if listening to Mark De Gli Antoni in Soul Coughing (and since) is any indication…no one has to know where your samples come from if you’re endowed with any creativity.

Chop a guitar riff out of a song, speed it up or slow it down, perhaps change the pitch of the whole thing or just a note or two…it doesn’t take much to take whatever you hear and make it your own somehow.

I was listening to Brian Henneman and Uncle Tupelo’s song ‘Get Down, River’ the other day and thought how sweet it would be if someone took the footage of Summer Glau dancing from an episode of Firefly and syncronised some of her movements to the song, slowing or speeding as needed…maybe even mirroring and cropping some scenes to make it flow better.

I haven’t done it yet…but that doesn’t mean I won’t. If you do, let me know. 🙂

Regardless of how capitalism and the allegedly free market are coughing and sputtering when it comes to Fair Use and sample based music culture, this is how it’s always been done. Even when there were no recording devices of any kind, inspiration flowed from finished work to finished work just as it does now – and always has.

While I’m sure Joss Whedon would laugh to see River getting down to the Bottle Rockets song, I just bet someone at Fox would slap a C&D on you if the video got enough attention, despite the fact that no one would make a single shining penny from it.

What brought me to the page to relate this semi-obvious bit of mental calisthenics is that I’m starting not just to see the source mp3s/aacs and videos, resting quietly on their dvds or hard drives, as seeds.

But I’m seeing everything, through my camera, my sampler, my computer, my scanner, my ears, my eyes…as something I can put on my palette and mix into my art. It’s the concept of American freedom expressed in the realm of ideas.

I don’t have to pay (or bow to) anyone for anything I create unless I’m gonna make a profit from it, and I didn’t create it entirely myself.

And all that which I’ve absorbed, viewed, purchased, owned, shared, downloaded, consumed, and which has inspired me…it’s not just ‘fair game’, it’s *enthusiastic* for me to participate…sitting there just waiting.


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