Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Networking, Friendship and Collaboration

Why is the word "networking" respectable and grant-friendly, but the phrase "making friends" not? Bands are small networks of friends, and are responsible for some literally world-shaking achievements. There's some fuzziness, a missing word here. Maybe a whole missing taxonomy. We need a terminology for types of friends.

Acquaintances. Exes. Drinking buddies. Fuck buddies. Close friends. Lovers. Notice that the activities we associate with the terms seem "trivial" in the sense that they benefit no-one else but the parties involved. Maybe "trivial" is the wrong word. Private and ephemeral: Drinking. Sex. Kwento. Hanging out, as in on a hike, or at the beach or something.

"Collaborators" is a signpost towards the language we're missing. People who work and create together, ranging from cyber-acquaintances on a mailing list to incestuous, frankly polyamorous groups whose personal relationships deepen and are deepened (ruin and are ruined?) by the work. We need better terms. A more specific, technical, and nuanced taxonomy for collaborators. Friends you work with, produce with, research with, heal with. To be able to talk about the relationship of Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, say. Will and Ariel Durant. The Surrealists. The film crew of Ogawa Shinsuke. A Butoh dance commune. Factory Records. The Factory. The Situationists. The Beatles. Frank Doell and Helen Hanff. Einstein and Godel. Crick and Watson. Pierre and Marie Curie. A basketball team. The crew of the Rainbow Warrior. William Burroughs, Ian Sommerville, and Brion Gysin. Five people who meet on weekends to build a cyclotron. A gamelan troupe. A research group. The communes described in Samuel R. Delany's book, Heavenly Breakfast. Competing teams on a reality show. A terrorist cell. The translators of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The cast of The Brady Bunch.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Proposal: Independent Digital Preservation Laboratoria

I had discussion a few days ago with sound artists Tengal, Erick Calilan and Cris Garcimo, about how the published works the late Dr. Jose Maceda (contemporary composer and ethnomusicologist) were either out of print or scattered in journals, many of which had ceased to exist. Of course, this is the case with the writings of almost all Filipino scholars, theorists and writers. The conversation grew like a rogue yahoogroup on Erick's facebook wall, with digressions about the books we had, books we were reading, books we wanted to read. At some point I proposed that the solution would be an independent, crowdsourced digital preservation program. Digitizing books could even be a social occasion, a weekly get-together where groups of people could chip at the massive problem around potluck, coffee and conversations about the books and the field that concerned them. The sessions could even bear fruit in more writing that might be uploaded, or passed around. It could happen in somebody's living room or even a sympathetic cafe, using a DIY bookscanner like one of the ones pictured at the source of the photo above: www.diybookscanner.org, founded by Daniel Reetz. (They even have their own scan correction software!)

I like this notion of independent workshop-socials, social rituals yoked to creative/cultural/cultural healing activities. I was thinking that people generally found band rehearsal, sports and Bible study perfectly credible 'independent workgroups' but that the list of activities seemed remarkably few. I was thinking that although these days 'laboratory' means 'a room set aside for scientific work,' it's roots come 'laborare,' the Latin word for labor, and laboratory literally just means 'place of work', or 'workshop'. What would it take for people to see it as a perfectly credible option to create original laboratoria, maybe take pride in the arcaneness/obscurity/outlandishness of their laboratorium?

"We're Ugnayan, an independent laboratorium working on the digital preservation of Dr. Jose Maceda's writings. "
"Kami naman ang Vocodex, we're studying the DSP applications of the Fast Fourier Transform. "
"Wala 'yan sa laboratorium ng lolo ko!"

Monday, June 07, 2010

Systems and Limits

Once there was a Baker who wanted to integrate all recipes of bread into a master recipe. And so, instead of writing something like “ Add 2 cups of water 4 tsp of yeast and salt and 6 cups of wheat flour” he wrote: "Add any amount of flour made from any grain to any amount of water, salt and yeast, plus anything else. You may also omit water, and use milk, yogurt, soup, coffee, tea or any flavored liquid instead.”

Now, this is not a master recipe. Nor is it a system for baking bread. It doesn’t help you make bread. It simply catalogs possibility. A system that helps someone do or make something helps him limit the possible outcomes of his activity.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


Forms of transformation and dependency