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Richenda Brim: How is digital technology affecting how individuals and institutions create and exhibit visual art and artifacts? Does digital technology enable broader audience access to institutional collections? to individual artists and their works?

More specifically, I am interested in the impact of digital technology on the exhibition of library collections. Are more libraries exploiting new technologies to exhibit collections in new ways? Are library exhibitions bringing more users into the actual library and special collections reading rooms? Are library web exhibits enhancing site-specific exhibitions or replacing them?

 

Bryan Griest: Over the last fifty years, modern popular music has evolved to revolutionize the world. Early rhythm and blues, exemplified by Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" or the Dominoes' "Sixty Minute Man", scandalized and titillated audiences both black and white through their ribald lyrics and raucous performances. More importantly, because young people bought records such as these in ever-greater numbers, a new youth-oriented mass culture arose in the United States that contrasted and eventually opposed the heretofore-dominant parental or elder cultural forms. This pattern of new music forms "stirring up" young people against their parents (or even just their older siblings, as in the mid-1970s punk "revolt") has been repeated many times since, even as the original and now the youngest second-generation rock-and-rollers/rockers become parents themselves.

While this phenomena has effected vast change in both music and our society at large in the last half-century, in academic circles, the rise of rock music remains largely ignored. It is relatively easy to find courses and even whole curricula devoted to jazz (the lifespan of which is not that much greater than rock, given the time scale of centuries used in music schools) on the university level, but in a survey of most of the top music schools in the country, I found only one University (Indiana) that had a program (of a mere six courses) devoted to rock. (See Appendix I) Why this should be so remains outside the scope of this paper, but certainly this negligent attitude has affected the archiving practices of the academy in regards to rock (and the other post-World War II popular musics). Luckily enough, though, since the bulk of pop musics were created and distributed for profit, those concerned with the recording and distributing of rock learned that even the oldest of these recorded materials had value beyond the archival. Reissuing and repackaging of older records sold well enough to encourage labels to save original masters and outtakes as a potential source for future revenues.

Private corporations, however, have little incentive to share their archives with anyone not paying for that privilege, so for the most part, the present state of rock music archiving relies on the "twin towers" of copyright law: the doctrines of "first sale" and "fair use". Anyone buying a copy of the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat" could do what he/she wants with it, including resell it, save it, burn it, make a tape of it, or play it for friends in private. A researcher could quote from its' lyrics, play selections from it, or make it available for listening by his/her students, all in the context of education. These were all considered to be legal uses of that single copy of "White Light/White Heat". Legal, that is, until Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

 

Jason Vasche: Music has been a vessel for the transmission of information for thousands of years. Early epics encompassing the beliefs and histories of tribes and races of people were memorized (and presented) in the form of a song or series of songs. As civilizations progressed through time, the power of music continued to be employed as a means of disseminating information whether by lyrical or instrumental means. Can instrumental music really convey information? Talking drums in Africa, military bugle calls and Solresol-a musical language based on Western tonality-confirm that instrumental music can successfully convey specific information.

 

Ryan Hildebrand: My interests lie in the abuse/misuse of digital technology to create new music, specifically that which has recently been labeled "glitch electronica," and the subculture that has grown around it. Viewed alongside musical practices such as extended technique, free improvisation, and chance processes, I suspect that this sort of technological mistreatment and acceptance--even fetishization--of error is nothing new. This is not to discount its significance; the widespread "misuse" of the phonograph by DJs in the seventies was "nothing new," yet the effect was profound. In a world becoming increasingly enthralled by information and dependant on digital technology for its processing and delivery, the glitch is a timely sign, and I find its appropriation by artists working primarily with digital media to be fascinating.

For my final project I will be constructing a digital music library, which is intended to track the musical appropriation of glitches over time, with an emphasis the misuse, abuse, or repurposing of various technologies. To do so, I will pull together a wide variety of relevant musical pieces from across different genres. In an attempt to provide some sort of context for this, an introduction to the library will discuss the ways in which sounds signify, and how sounds can be coded and recoded. So far, the general categories I am considering are glitch electronica, free improvisation/extended technique, turntablism, tape music and musique concret, and noise/machine music. Each of these categories will be prefaced by general background information explaining, for example, the methods and intents of musicians within the category. I am also interested in tracing and providing evidence of the recuperation of music from the above categories, e.g., its appearance in commercials or distribution by major labels. The project will be created in html; sound files will be created from CDs, tapes, and records, and stored as mp3s.

 

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