Monday, January 26, 2009

Cage vs. Pascal

Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating... We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them not as sound effects but as musical instruments. (John Cage, 1961)
Le bruit a sa musique que la musique ne connaît point. (Pascal)

Piece for DNS

  1. Register the shortest possible domain name you can.
Potential additional constraints:
  • You are limited to the .com top level domain.
  • Domain names may include a-z, 0-9 and the hyphen, must start with a-z and may not end with a hyphen. (See RFC 1034)
  • Get kicked out of's bulk check:
    Security : Client may be too resource intensive. You have reached your daily lookup limit.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ways of Defining Music

The "is-ought" problem is common to meta-ethics and linguistics. In meta-ethics: are we describing how people act, or how they ought to act? In linguistics, some people describe grammar while other prescribe grammar. I imagine the same approaches to understanding music:

  1. Descriptive definitions of music, which take into account various musical traditions and extrapolate common themes within and between them.
  2. Prescriptive definitions of music, which involve reflection and thought-experiments — philosophy, really — sometimes accompanied by experimental compositions.

To explore the first without the second is superficial, and to philosophize without context is unrealistic.

1/26/08: "Noise" has the same issue, describing how the word "noise" is used is very different from prescribing definitions. Describing things can be difficult, but prescriptions can get really messy. It's probably best to set out a goal for a prescriptive definition before seeking/giving one. Prescriptions might be about: unifying themes of descriptions, offering a new definition that illuminates others, expanding or restricting the dominant contemporary definition...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Naked Mail Distortion

A method for destroying data: send optical discs in the mail, with no protection, back and forth between two locations. The data may be collected each time and noted for future reference. Potential subjects include compressed and uncompressed media (audio, video) and written texts. Consider also a iterative/recursive algorithm where the distortion provides a decision for a chance operation: the CD contains a list of addresses, and every time an address is lost the CD is sent to that address.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Travis the Arborist

Travis, from Moorhead Minnesota, is spending the night in my apartment. He's looking for work protecting things from breaking branches covered in ice. I asked him "What are the strangest problems you've run into?" and he said:

  1. People think they own trees.
  2. People think they can control nature.
He seemed to be really into the trees he worked with, but was excited about the prospect of going to school for business administration. So I asked him: if he didn't have to work, what would he do?
It's hard work, so if I didn't have to then I wouldn't. I'd take care of my own, of course, but I already do: mostly, I leave them alone.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Half-formed instruction piece using directions from Google Maps.

  • In the form of images (paths) or as text (directions).
  • Cities might be chosen at random or based on some principle.
  • Only very small cities.
  • Only capitols.
  • Cities with the same name.
  • Cities with some other shared characteristic: crime rate, population, longitude...
Presented as prints or on a screen/projection, rotating through possibilities. These things make me think about how we can get from one place to another, and the ways in which we connect things in time, space, and using other labels.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Let Go

Only everything lasts forever.