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March 30, 2004

aodl, Redbox

Two hours and eighteen minutes of big analog noise improvisations and compositions. Electroacoustic at its most joyous. 2CD set housed in finest chunky media packaging. First edition of 50 featuring double layer outer art with hand block print.


J. Shell, March 30, 2004 03:42 PM, in Sound Design

March 29, 2004

Pants that can comfortably hold a can of Pabst (or any beer, including the deluxe tall cans of Guinness Draught, which are so much better looking than the ugly draught bottles they came up with) in the back pocket are good pants indeed.

J. Shell, March 29, 2004 07:41 PM, in Etc

March 27, 2004

I just finished reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Holy hell. It's an excellent and quite exciting story, all true, of the chief architect of the 1893 World Fair in Chicago, and of the mass murderer who lived (and killed) nearby. The two men themselves never intersect. The author writes of becoming fascinated by these two men and their drive to accomplish what they did.

A favorite character of mine was that of Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed [the original plan for] Central Park, Biltmore, and others. He had a keen eye and concept of downplay, of wanting to create subtle effects on viewers that they would be unaware of. He hated straight beds of flowers. He lectured that it was far better to under-decorate than to over-decorate, and is quoted as saying:

Let us be thought over-much plain and simple, even bare, rather than gaudy, flashy, cheap, and meretricious. Let us manifest the taste of gentlemen.
[Devil in the White City, p196.]
Olmsted did his work into his seventies, often plagued with terrible toothache, melancholy, insomnia, and persistent noise in his ears.

Another enjoyable artifact of The Devil in the White City is the stories of various elements that are commonplace today that can be traced back to the world fair. Pabst Blue Ribbon's blue ribbon, for example, came from it being judged america's best at said fair.

I really enjoyed this book. This work by Larson, along with the works of William Langewiesche (who often does great writing for The Atlantic) have given me a renewed fascination for and appreciation of nonfiction writing.

J. Shell, March 27, 2004 06:42 PM, in Review

Another batch of Holga images are uploaded, focusing on some SLC shots.

Hopefully, pictures from last weeks party will be back in my hands soon.

!!! And, I have a Baby Holga coming. Two Holga labeled cameras. One using 120 film, and the new one using 110. I'm quite excited. Now I just wish they still made and processed disc film.

J. Shell, March 27, 2004 04:41 PM, in Photo Anyday

March 23, 2004

Kevin Altis covers what appears to be the official death of HyperCard. As he points out, HyperCard was never updated for Mac OS X, and hasn't been updated since 1998. There are successors and projects inspired by HyperCard, including PythonCard. But I just want to take a brief moment about my experience with HyperCard.

I never programmed in this environment, but it did introduce me to something very useful: HTML. Back in 1996, there were no real HTML editors on the market. But it wasn't obvious yet (to me) how to do it by hand. While looking around for one just to help me learn, I came across an HTML editor implemented as a HyperCard stack. It was great. I can't remember if it gave me any previews (HTML was pretty simple at the time - paragraphs, headers, lists, and images). All I remember is that it helped. From there, I graduated to briefly using SimpleText and then BBEdit Lite (and ultimately BBEdit). But that HyperCard stack remains in my head as where my personal experience with writing for the web began.

Last October, News.com published an interview with John Sculley. There's a very interesting part of the interview that's always stuck out in my mind:

Any missed opportunities that you wish you could do over? As I look back on things that I wished we would have done differently when I was at Apple, I think one of the biggest missed opportunities, and it was on my watch, so I feel responsible and disappointed that we didn't do more with it, was Hypercard. It was created back in 1987 by Bill Atkinson, Apple's first software programmer. We could never figure out exactly what it was. We thought it was a prototyping tool. We thought it was a database tool. It was actually used by people as a front-end communications device for TCP/IP to connect the Internet to large Cray computers.

We weren't insightful enough to recognize that what we had inside of Hypercard, essentially, was everything that later was developed so successfully by Tim Berners-Lee with HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). We didn't call it that. But essentially, we had all that hypertext, radio buttons and linking capability architected in the original Hypercard. In hindsight, I wish Apple had recognized that we had a huge opportunity to go take our user interface culture, and our know-how, and applied it to the Internet. I think we would have had a very different story for Apple during the 1990s. But that, of course, is hindsight.
I also remember some other article about a difference between Apple and Sun in the late eighties / early nineties was that Apple was still treating computers as individual boxes, whereas Sun realized there were networks connecting all the boxes together. While Macs have long had built in networking, it's certain that Apple could have put that to better use. And who knows? Maybe HyperCard would be driving the web instead of HTML and Flash.

J. Shell, March 23, 2004 04:44 PM, in Apple / Mac

March 19, 2004

Tonight, I am hosting the Luxury Spring 2004 launch event. Which is basically an open house at my apartment / studio, from 6-9:30 pm. The timing is nice:

  • A friend pointed out last night that it's 'the thaw', a good time to open up, make art, show art, etc.
  • Spring Equinox is this weekend. Eucci was particularly fond of doing seasonal online singles. (There may be one this year, but there's so much other new material to deal with).
  • It's the ten year anniversary of Forgiveness, the first name for my audio art. And March of 1994 was the principal month of recording what is still one of my personal favorites out of my own collection.
  • It's probably about ten years since I first started seriously trying to paint.
  • It's six years to the month that I graduated my paintings to larger canvases, starting a new chain of work.
  • It's five years since the infamous 1999, which was monumental for the work of the Audio ELW collective, which ultimately led to me starting Eucci.
  • It's the launch of Redbox, a 2CD set of big analog noise improvisations and compositions. It's the first physical media release for Rive in a long time.
  • The apartment is long overdue for a sort of house warming.
  • Many of my paintings (most of which were done while I was in Virginia) have gone unseen.
With all that, it might sound like a big celebration of me. But there are a couple of works on display by the girl that will also be doing food. And I had hoped to get another friends video works shown, but didn't get ahold of him in time.

It will be interesting to see how the event turns out.

The process of setting up has made me rather interested in running a gallery.

J. Shell, March 19, 2004 08:43 AM, in Etc

March 18, 2004

In the same package that contained my electric pine cone, last night, was also a new His Name Is Alive CDR, titled Brown Rice. To my knowledge, this CDR has primarily been made available at shows (with a hundred or so being made available to timeSTEREO mailing list members). It's been a heavenly listen, this instrumental gem:

Brown Rice, all instrumental except for some mixed-in recordings of baby talk, is mostly chaos, but it's chaos trying to organize itself. Celestial chimes and taps emerge from silence, cautiously trying to flow in the same direction; violins and saxophones eventually join them. A harp plays what could be the beginning of the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice," scrambled beyond recognition; once or twice, Defever's guitar can be heard paraphrasing "I Can't Feel at Home in This World Anymore."
[Smallmouth: Sounds Beyond Silence, Douglas Wolk, Seattle Weekly Jan 21-27 2004, viewed Mar 18 2004]

I was listening to it last night as I was finishing up a painting (my second painting this week, which makes them the first two paintings I've put on canvas in over two years) while a friend slept on my couch. It was very fitting, the sound being so dreamlike. The environment filled with various art projects and chinese takeout in disarray. Spools of wire on the floor. Windows wide open to the city, looking many stories down. Girl in blue blanket crunched up on couch. All very nice indeed.

J. Shell, March 18, 2004 03:51 PM, in Joy

Besides black spaghetti, another thing I never expected to have in my life is an electric pinecone. But I now have both, sitting in my apartment, waiting to be used.

J. Shell, March 18, 2004 10:56 AM, in Etc

March 16, 2004

I have Black, Squid-Ink Spaghetti. I am so delighted about this. And tomorrow night, we're having a delayed Ides of March dinner on St. Patricks Day, watching Richard III, which has nothing to do with Julias Caesar, except that it is a wonderfully dark Shakespeare film (but not quite as messed up as Titus). So all the dates, events, countries, and food are in the wrong order.

J. Shell, March 16, 2004 03:04 PM, in Aesthetics

March 11, 2004

The last couple of years have felt fairly lax artistically for me, although a fair amount has been done. The Nostalgia Demon releases, La Mer / Storm Summer Girls and Bright Lights and Cold Wet Sand releases under the Eucci banner last year are two of my favorites in a long time, but they're the most painfully personal of all the Eucci material. I've never given them the advertising they deserve. Last year also saw the rising of aodl, where the noise focused side could bloom. I have few memories of 2002's achievements. And I haven't really painted since I left Fredericksburg two and a half years ago.

Until now. I have yet to really lay anything down to canvas, but there have been some other (and more fun) visuals done this year.

  • Block Printing - All of the aodl, Redbox double CD sets include a hand printed transparency (using tracing paper) over the main box cover. It had been a long time since I carved and printed, but it was fun.
  • Photocopier Art / Collage - The second layer of the Redbox cover was primarily layed out at Kinkos, tearing pieces of paper (off of initial designs and typography) by hand and taping them down. My only regret is that I lost my master copy, and had made just enough photocopies to fill the 50 boxes. All of those were trimmed down to fit - but the excess area had its own interesting designs and overlays. But being back at Kinko's and doing this reminded me of my first tape releases and flyers done back in 1994 in a similar (but more crude) fashion.
  • Spray Painting CDR's - This suggestion came up on a message board when someone was looking for something lighter than normal CDR labels (which tend to get stuck and/or wobble in slot loading CD players). I decided to give it a try, and have really enjoyed the results so far. There's some weight in the paint, but it's not bad. And visually, it looks great.
  • Ink Painting - For the upcoming Eucci online EP, Lime Kilns (to be released on Nishi), I long had an image in my head of green painted hills, and the title in a narrow green sans serif font. I finished this up the other night, and after some minor tweaks in Photoshop, I love the final result. It's the bottle of green ink I got for this that makes me happiest.

This spring is also launching with five releases between Eucci and AODL.

  1. aodl, Redbox - 2CD box set of big analog / electro-acoustic noise. Some of it from raw jams and performances, others carefully composed. All of it loud. Covers material from 2003 to 2004, including some work used in the installation piece Kate Cheuffer Sleep Experiments
  2. Eucci, Laa 3 - A very limited 62 minute CDR release (9 copies) of very very minimal electroacoustics. My best description is "slow bubbles in tepid water." No rhythms, some pulses, few drones. The material spans from 2001 to 2004.
  3. Eucci, apt - Performance piece for a generally empty apartment. 60 minute CDR
  4. aodl, If you really love us - online single of forgotten pieces from the Redbox year. Almost literally - Scrap Lucky is built from a noisy jam that never moved from minidisc to computer during the Redbox sessions. I don't know why I discarded it initially. I was about to erase the minidisc and was just checking to make sure I had all the raw files on the computer, and I was surprised to find that I didn't.
  5. Eucci, Lime Kilns - 13 minute environmental recordings. Cold distant machinery in dark tunnels.

It's good to start spring off with a good wash of old and new material. Hopefully it will translate into a productive year.

J. Shell, March 11, 2004 10:46 PM, in Aesthetics, Sound Design

March 05, 2004

Jon Udell talks about Component builders and solution builders, and compares the present situation with one he described in his [now legendary] BYTE cover story, Componentware. I've hung onto this issue and like to return to it on occasion to see if it has anything to offer me - either in terms of good concepts that have been forgotten, or patterns to avoid. It's nice to see Udell revisit the article and update the terminology.

I see no reason, however, that dynamic languages like Python are going to stay in purely in the solution (read: glue) camp. Perl, Python, and Ruby are all great for this situation and do far more than mere scripting. They're fully capable for real application building. But they can be the component providers as well. In the Python world, toolkits and frameworks like Twisted and Zope 3, are powerful component producers as well as consumers. Both Twisted and Zope 3 work well with internet protocols, with Twisted targeted towards many protocols and Zope targeted towards web based ones, and can put up the interfaces (non-user) to data and services, with all the rapid development benefits of Python. Zope 3 and PEAK also use strong component based principals to keep both the component builder and solution builder in the same language and in the same system, while still offering a decent separation of the two halves.

J. Shell, March 5, 2004 07:59 AM, in Objects and the Web, Python, Zope