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Blog archive for May 2006


May 1, 2006

My hard drive completely crashed and died today. And of course I have not been good at taking back ups.


Book: Background noise

May 4, 2006

“Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art” a new book by Brandon LaBelle has just been released.

The rise of a prominent auditory culture as seen in the recent plethora of art exhibitions on sound art in conjunction with academic programs dedicated to “aural culture” sonic art and auditory issues now emerging reveals the degree to which sound art is lending definition to the 21st Century. And yet sound art still lacks related literature to compliment and expand the realm of practice.

Background Noise sets out an historical overview while at the same time shaping that history according to what sound art reveals – the dynamics of art to operate spatially through media of reproduction and broadcast and in relation to the intensities of communication and its contextual framework.

The book is published by Continuum and can also be ordered through Amazon.

Slowly recovering…

May 4, 2006


I use to keep a record of the what I did last year that I am the most happy about. I don’t know about last year but I definetively know what the biggest mistake was: Moving to It has been a continuous irritation due to the way it managed to slow the whole system down.

Three days ago the hard disk died. No early warnings it happened instantly when hitting the “Get Mail” button in I know I might be over-sensitive and superstitious but I have had it with Since installing Mail it has been writing more or less constantly to and from the disc whenever it was open even if I was not doing anything but keeping it in the background. The disk was three years old and it has been pushed hard all along the way so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise but earlier on I have always got some signals about disasters about to happen so that I could take precations. Not this time. Below is a partial record of what I have been doing to recover in case I might need it again:

Changing disk.

The disk was no longer able to mount and I was not able to boot from it. So I had to change it. I had a similar fairly new and unused disk laying around. Instructions for how to change the disk were found here.

Installing OSX on new disk.

Reformatted the disk and started installing. The OSX 10.400 installer tended to crash midway through the installation. It turned out that the laptop went to sleep while installing(!). To avoid that I had to keep it awake by moving the installer window around every now and then. This might have been caused by me zapping PRAM and resetting PowerBook and iBook Power Management Unit (PMU) beforehand. I also made sure to install X11.

Once installed I also installed Xcode and uodated everything to latest version.

Data recovery

This took me two days. I had a FireWire hard drive box that I could mount the disk in and borowed a 3.5" to 2.5" IDE bridge from Marieke (thanks!). The disk was in such a bad shape that it did not seem to make much sense to try to repair it. Disk Utility saw the disk but reported it to be in a very bad state (some S.M.A.R.T. failure) and Disk Warrior was not able to deal with it.

The most important obviously would be to get the data of it and then throw it away. I had stumbled across Data Rescue II a few weeks ago. I first attempted rescuing data using the assistant mode but that did not work out well. The disk tended to stop functioning after a while. I also tried to clone the disc. That did not work either. What did work out in the end was using Expert Mode doign a quick scan and than recover small part of the data at a time by dragging to Finder while holding the disk in my hand and turn and tilt it whenever it stopped working. At the moment it seems to be fairly happy about lying sideways on top of the power supply for the laptop. Maybe it is picking up some good electro-magnetic vibrations from the transformer?

Along the way I also went out to pick up an extra FireWire disk ending up with a LaCie Mini disk. If I had not been in such a hurry this model would be even better providing a bigger disk and additional FireWire and USB connections but I was on Mission Desperate. Now I only need a Mac Mini to put on top of it.

Getting rid of

I am now going to give Thunderbird a thorough ride. If you never hear me complaining it has turned out to work well and I will never look back at Here is how to do the transition:

As of OSX 10.400 saves every single mail as a separate .elmx file so that they can be spotlighted. Thunderbird can’t import this proprietary format but a workaround do exist and it is fairly trivial. The emlx to mbox Converter does exactly that. I converted one folder at a time. The conversion tended to hang if I dropped to many mails on it a time (some of my mail folders have more than 20.000 mails) so I dropped them in portions of 1000-4000 mails at a time until I had gotten all of the folder content into the converter. The convertion itself was straightforward. More details on importing in Thunderbird can be found here. Searching around the net some blog posts seemed to indicate that attachmnents would be lost in the process. As far as I can see attachments seems to come through just fine so I believe that these posts are now dated refering to earlier versions.

The Mozilla Calendar is a plug-in working with Thunderbird and Firefox that syncs to iCal. Now mail and calendar are connected more tightly that they used to be with and iCal. iCal Thunderbird and Firefox now all stay synced but they will only update according to changes in other programs when they are started.

The Address Book was imported according to this OSX hint.


May 5, 2006

Alexander mailed me recommending RsyncX as a backup tool. Instructions on how to use it can be found here. I’ll give it a ride tonight.


May 5, 2006

Cycling’74 has announced UpMix a set of Pluggo based plug-ins for stereo to 5:1 surround convertion. Compared to other packages of plug-ins (Pluggo Hipno and Mode) the price is rather steep US$ 495 the same as OctiRama a 5:1 compressor.


The C’74 label has also released a new record by Gregory Taylor.

Gregory’s respectful recombinant homage to the Invalid Object series of recordings curated by Christopher Murphy for the Fällt label (which Gregory describes as “the new century’s equivalent of Brian Eno’s Obscure Music label”) captures a recording of Gregory at one with his favorite software — jhno’s deep and subtle loop-based performance instrument radiaL.

Comments not working

May 6, 2006

For some reason it is currently not possible to add comments to the blog. The same goes for the Jamoma blog. I am not sure what is causing it. I haven’t done any changes to the set-up of either of them in a long while so it might be some sort of conflict between the current CoreBlog version and the underlying Zope/Plone arcitecture.

Please be patient.


May 6, 2006

At the last seminar of the programme for research fellowships in the arts Per Gunnar Tverrbakk had a very interesting presentation/introduction to a discussion. As I am myself reading extensively on issues of site and installation art at the moment I asked him to mail me his revised project description. I don’t think it is available anywhere online but the initial project description can be found here.

Much of the discussion is based on the book One Place After Another – Site Specific Art and Locational Identity by Miwon Kwon. Kwon propose three paradigms for site specific artnamed as phenomenologic social/institutional and discursive (these are my translations back to English of the terms from Per Gunnars translation into Norwegian).

In similar fashion to performance and installations site-specific art was born out of the collapse of media-specific art and can be understood as a critique of the idea of the autonomous meaning production of the modernism and an implicit reaction against the commodification of art. This was achieved through actions in real space and time phenomenologic approaches to physical spaces sites and architecture. This discussion resembles the discussion of e.g. the work of Phillip Morris by Kay and Bishop. The image to the right is Untitled (L-Beams) by Morris 1965 one of the works discussed by Bishop.

A further development was represented by institutional critique moving focus from the art work itself to the regulating framework. The site now became the museum or gallery space itself being exposed as a non-neutral space. The site is no longer just a physical place it is also consitituted by social economical and political processes.

A third discursive orientation is related to a general social and political orientation in the arts. Social issues replace institutional critique as processes and products moves from the gallery into into the public sphere. Any locality is interweaven of layers upon layers of discurses representations and meanings continuously negotiated and in flux. "The distinguishing characteristic of today’s site-oriented art is the way in which the art work’s relationship to the actuality of a location (as site) and the social conditions of the institutional frame (as site) are both subordinated to a discursively site that is delineated as a field of knowledge intellectual exchange or cultural debate. Furthermore unlike in the previous models this site is not defined as a precondition. Rather it is generated by the work (often as content) and then verified by its convergence with an existing discursive formation. – (Kwon).

Per Gunnar moves on to identify three diffent approaches to this sort of discursive practices. One aproach is based on participation oriented towards negotiation and dialog with the artist pointing to social injustice and failures. At the fall seminar half a year ago Alfredo Jaar did a self presentation. Most of his projects clearly seems relevant to this discussion. Another kind of practice investigates and disclose specific locations identities and positions pointing to existing social and culturall tensions but do not attempt to solve them. Yet another kind of practice have a more direct destabilicing and undermining character. Per Gunner mention Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) as an example of this practice.

(Small distraction: Why do both CAE and Jaar use Flash?)

During his presentation I was stuck by the instrumental attitude shared by all three approaches. A site exist in order to be acted upon and the purpose of the artist and the art work is instrumental aiming at some sort of social and political critique. Although I really enjoyed several of the projects presented by Alfredo Jaar as well as his presentation in general I also felt a potential danger with artists working in this way potentially traveling the world shopping for conflicts to exploit.

If de Certeau claims that “space is a practiced space” (quoted by Kay p. 4) this to me seems to be the extreme variant of it turning totally blind to the place. The place only comes into existence when it is acted upon as a kind of social analogy of the frog’s eye discussed by Brian Eno. If this approach to the world is representative of human perception at large our eyes are indeed not moving. We are totally blind to our surroundings until it starts moving.

Consider this an open thread more will be added.

SQL database in Max

May 7, 2006

Nich Rothwell has announced net.loadbang-SQL an interface package for embedding an SQL database entirely within MXJ. There is no need to run a separate database server. The database content is stored in files which are automatically maintained in Max/MSP’s search path – there is no configuration needed apart from a single “place-holder” file in the search path which is used as an anchor.

Date to and from Julian day

May 11, 2006

I made two Max javascripts today for converting back and forth between date and Julian day. I’ll include them in a future update of the tl.objects but for the time being they can be downloaded here.

License: GNU LGPL

Paris: Visit at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts

May 18, 2006

That master students at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts are in Paris for a study trip this week. I am comming along as do most of the staff at least for a short part of the trip. We arrived late Monday. Tuesday the staff met at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts for a brief guide. We also had a staff meeting there planning the fall season. During the guide trip we got to see more walls and room than students or student activity. The buildings are saturated with history and tradition. Some of the staff members felt it to be a bit to much but I believe that it is making a stronger impression on us because we are not surrounded with the traces of history in a daily basis in this way. I suppose that if you live and work in this kind of environment on a daily basis you get rooted in a different way but at the same time you also manage to maintain a freedom. Still I was reminded of the encounter between John Cage and a Deutch musician:

Once in Amsterdam a Dutch musician said to me “it must be very difficult for you in America to write music for you are so far away from the centers of tradition.” I had to say “It must be very difficult for you in Europe to write music you are so close to the centers of tradition.”

Maybe because I have been reading about Picasso’s Mademoiselles d’Avignon lately and the influence African masks made on him I was particularly captivated by the faces of two female statues on one of the facades. Time weather and probably pollution have treated them badly and I found the resulting abstraction haunting.


May 19, 2006


int.lib is a set of Max abstractions/javascripts by Oli Larken that lets you interpolate between different presets by navigating a 2D graphical environment. It’s similar in concept to the Audiomulch Metasurface Color blobs and the Hipnoscope but implements a gravitational system allowing you to represent presets with variable sized balls. As you move around the space the size of the balls and their proximity to the mouse cursor affects the weight of each preset in the interpolated output.

int.lib includes three objects: int.jit (the control centre) int.list (for interpolating lists) and int.vst (for interpolating parameters of a vst plugin).

The full announcement can be found here.