Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Xenakis quote

For this purpose the qualification "beautiful" or "ugly" makes no sense for sound, nor for the music that derives from it; the quantity of intelligence carried by the sounds must be the true criterion of the validity of a particular music.

Iannis Xenakis

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Re Alec Baldwin's joke about Filipina Mail-Order Brides

I've posted this as a comment on facebook, but I decided to post it here to go on record as saying that: Alec Baldwin has NOTHING to apologize for. He jokingly made a reference to a real and current state of affairs. The same congressmen who made/are making speeches in the Batasan should apologize to US for perpetuating an economic climate that enables/encourages marrying strange foreigners as an viable/credible  life option. To put it crassly (but quasi-Biblically) they remind me of the dissolute maton who pissed his life and patrimony away at the sabong and pool tables, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. One day he hears someone making a joke about how his daughters' only job options are as nurses, maids, japayuki, and gets fucking wounded. How dare the drunk dishonor his daughters, and worse, the Family Name! "THIS CALLS FOR AN IMMEDIATE DISCUSSION!" 

Every year or so, there's another Immediate Discussion about some actress or actor or something making some crack on American TV. Kate Winslet. Something about roaches.  That line in Desperate Housewives about our doctors that gave birth to a god-damn petition that got more signatures than one condemning monks, fucking HOLY MEN, getting shot in the streets in Burma. Jesus, can we just get the fuck OVER OURSELVES! 

Speaking of which, we should pause to think about the existential/political commentary that a mail-order bride makes. It's possible to see it as performance art on the samurai level, compressing your life into the blade of a single gesture: "You know what? I'm just gonna go out and marry a old white psycho sheepherder that I met on the internet! It sure beats life here!"
Thousands of these bloody-edged jokes a year, and the government still stands. Jesus.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Accidental Cinematographer

Yeah, yeah, another post on the Kho videos. In my defense however, this will not be about their content. The videos' creation and dissemination are so blindingly immoral that it's understandable that no one has focused on its form, but dammit, I couldn't help thinking that some of the stuff actually actually looks good (!) visually and cinematically. Perhaps I should explain that I've always been a fan of low-res media. I like the low-rent neighborhoods of anti-HD: Super-8, Betamax and VHS and the more recent format of 3GP phone video. I'm not exactly sure why. Brian Eno once wrote that once a recording medium is supplanted by another medium, the flaws of the old medium become prized as aesthetic phenomena. Some of it probably has to do with things that we can't see, but which we associate with what we CAN see (eg a certain type of graininess, color, etc), just as we associate ideas of speed and efficiency with, say, chrome. Super8 is associated with rock, Derek Jarman, Jonas Mekas, the 60's, all sorts of romantic rebel imagery. Still, I am entranced by the completely unverifiable idea that we might be perceive the paucity of detail as a kind of minimalism executed on the level of the pixel. We might perceive low resolution as doing something in the photographic realm that Japanese sumi-e does in the realm of painting: as performing a kind of figurative distillation. Nowadays we also have video compression for that extra patina of image degradation, which, serendipitously, also does wonders for modesty. Maybe compression artifacts can't hide Kho's dick, but they do a great job of smearing the details of female genitalia. The girls could be wearing bodysuits for all the detail visible in the videos.

I like what the locked camera captures, particularly the way the subjects' heads fall out of frame as they hold a position, removing explicit detail while still giving the sense that the act is proceeding apace; and like how the absolute absence of music and muffled voices give only fragments of information that we are forced to cobble together. The fragmentary nature of the available information gives the effect of having a substream of jump-cuts in the frame. (Hm! Intra frame information montage? Gotta explore this idea more somewhere else.) I'm not kidding, the shots could be inserted into something French. Dammit, Kho may have just popularized a new way to shoot and frame sex scenes.

Of course, it would have to be justified why the lens gets suddenly wrapped in the digital equivalent of gauze when a couple gets frisky. On the other hand, we've gotten inured to the use of handheld cameras for practically any subject. It might be that we'll learn to see this kind of distressed compressed-for-the-web video imagery as appropriate to the subject matter. I'm thinking of the brief period of time when the Paris Hilton video caused us to perceive a green-tinted closeup shot with a wide-angle lens as a "sex shot." That association evaporated rather quickly, but I suspect that Kho's approach might actually become useful as vocabulary.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mrs D's party: Uh-Oh

Have to say that the preparations (as documented by Aquiles Zonio of the Mindanao Inquirer) for Pacquiao’s mother’s birthday leave me a little disturbed. The writer writes “No, she is not Imeldific,” meaning that Dionisia Pacquiao is not Imelda Marcos herself, but one can’t escape the feeling that if Mrs. D is not Imeldific (proper noun), the preparations definitely sound imeldific (adjective).

Five different gowns, each costing in the tens of thousands of pesos. Louis Vuitton handbag for P150,000. P15,000 shoes. Excess, display, love of designer labels, the usual imeldific pomp and glitter. Interesting that while Pacman himself seems to be a quiet, humble soul who seems to genuinely believe that it is crucial to his well-being that he remain a simple man at heart, he is surrounded by every sign of a full-bore trapo machine dedicated to impressing to all and sundry that Pacquiao is NOT a simple man, a tao, but a full blown Panginoon. In our semifeudal culture, the landlord is Lord of The Land, the Panginoong May Lupa, a rarefied being whose exotic and excessive tastes are a stamp of his power. You get the idea that somewhere in Camp Pacquiao, some sense that Pacquiao is extraordinary is trying to manifest and express itself, and is doing so in the usual, monstrous, drunken way of nouveau panginoon. The huge entourages. The huge houses. The armed bodyguards: pomp and circumstance, shock and awe. I’m just waiting for somebody to haul out a couple of cases of Petrus, or maybe have Fat Bastard in a Baby Huey costume jump out of a cake like in the Marcos video.

I’m not suggesting Pacquiao or even Mrs D. came up with all the trappings. More likely there are some close friends/confidantes/ hairdressers/backstabbing politicos in the camp who believe with absolute conviction that they could give to Paquiao A House Befitting a Man of His Stature, or to Mrs D. The Greatest Birthday Party General Roxas Has Ever Known, and who have by sheer force of personality managed to corral control of the budget. However, it seems to indicate that at the very least, Pacquiao either believes that his own aesthetics of simplicity are personal preferences that need not apply to anything else/anyone but himself; or that he cannot control or guide Camp Pacquiao. Money and power attract people, and a mass of people jammed/falling/struggling into a space will sort themselves into some kind of structure, negotiating orbits, turf, responsibility, procedure. Who knows what the hell is going on in there, but it doesn’t look like a party.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Fuck The Customs

Occasioned by the fucking book blockade.
Check here and here

William Gibson flash. A pirate book resistance. Pdfs, xerox machines, printers modified with local ink cartridges and a black market flourishing out of suitcases, balikbayan boxes and diplomatic pouches. Descendants of rebel monks-- scribes copying the books of Aristotle for posterity as Europe falls to the Inquisition and the Dark Ages. Bradbury's To The Chicago Abyss. Memory and resistance. De Niro's rebel plumber adapted and updated. Mmm, maybe Ronnie Lazaro as a guerrilla publisher with a modded inkjet-and-laptop running off sunlight and batteries in a kariton with a Millenium Falcon sticker buried amidst graffiti and industrial burloloy. Wearing a scapular with the picture of Antonio Calipjo Go and hunted by a Talibanesque confederacy of murderous dunces. Final crane shot spiraling out of a sucking chest wound as our hero lies dying on a sidewalk in Bangkal, apelike centurions dancing around him, except elsewhere in the city a twelve-year old swears vengeance and continuity over a sheet of carbon paper. Closeup of Lazaro's hand inscribing the opening words of Catcher in The Rye with his blood even as he slips into the dark. Fuck the Customs and know the names responsible: Customs examiner Rene Agulan and Customs Undersecretary Espele Sales.