26 June 2006
Here is a project description for the catalogue.
The image that we want to use is licensed using Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike 2.0 and so does not need to be cleared for use in the catalogue - although it does need to be attributed to: ph0t0 and licensed under the same terms (as appears in the footer of the project description).
Best, Eileen and Ben
23 June 2006
Apologies for the delay in getting back to your previous post – but we are pleased to report that we’ve had a productive few weeks contacting DJs based in Manchester and now have a clear idea of how Leverage will be presented at Instrument.
We are now working with Parkertron (Fingathing), an amazing scratch DJ, who we are collaborating with to develop the battle tool. We met with him last week to trial a few of the Open Music Archive tracks and it’s all looking very exciting! Together with Parkertron we are developing a series of test pressings and are extending the invitation to collaborate to Kid Jenson with whom we are producing a video of Parkertron using the records.
We attach a technical spec for the installation of our work in Instrument. Our intention is to setup a project table in the gallery space (rather than using plinths and podiums) to communicate the idea of the project at ‘beta stage’ where the viewer can sample the tracks in scenario akin to the record shop listening area – with the option to select from the different vinyl test pressings available and skip through tracks, beats and samples. The video, installed on the project table, will feature Parkertron scratching the record, testing the beats; using Technics turntables coupled with the vinyl as an instrument.
We’re up for participating in the informal artists talks surrounding the exhibition. Ben and I would be happy to introduce the project and to tease out some of the ideas explored through Leverage. If we could get an idea of where the event will be / when it might be / what kind of fee might be attached then we would also like to invite Parkertron to play live at the event – possibly accompanied by a live percussionist using an MPC. We can provide you with a detailed technical spec (basically 2 x Technics, Vestax PMC-06 Pro mixer, PA system and sturdy table) once we have more details.
Now that we have a much clearer idea of things - we are working on the short text describing what the project consists of and, following on from the ideas raised in your previous posting, addressing how Leverage approaches the theme of instrument from the standpoint of copyleft, openness, and collaborative culture. What is the maximum word count and deadline for this catalogue text?
Also, and most importantly: When will the exhibition need to be installed and where? We need to plan for these dates / deadlines / book train tickets / etc.
We’re looking forward to it!
See you soon,
Eileen and Ben
20th June 2006
Dear Ben & Eileen
We are now putting the finishing touches to the programme, I need to finalise our discussion and hand over to the Futuresonic artist liaison and production teams who will see you through the rest of the way.
We will need a short text overview of the project to use in the catalogue and PR, plus a 300 dpi image cleared for use. I can use the text from the proposal you have put online if you like.
The one other thing I would like to discuss is if you would be interested in taking part in a series of informal artist talks / demos / presentations by artists featured in the Instrument exhibition. Please can you let me know if this is OK, and supply a technical rider for a presentation of this nature.
Please can you send me a technical rider for the installation, stating what you will provide and what you will need from the venue, so that I can forward this to the production manager.
The festival Producer will contact you to explain the rest of the process, to run over the presentation fee, and the artist agreement.
Thank you very much, I look forward to working with you during the festival.
11th June 2006
Dear Ben & Eileen
Thanks for this new information. It is important to be able to elaborate how the project relates to the Instrument theme. The advantage of having a theme is that it enables artists to elaborate or draw out a specific aspect of their work, and it helps audiences to make connections that might not otherwise be obvious. All the featured artists/projects in the exhibition will be offering a specific take on the theme. Your project approaches the subject from the standpoint of copyleft, openness, collaborative culture etc. In considering your project's place within the exhibition we need to talk about how the place you are coming from makes it possible to think about what an instrument is in a new way. Open Music Archive is specifically about recorded music, which is why this project has taken the form it has, and why it references turntablism and hip hop (which, along with musique concrete, is where recorded music has most viscerally been used as an instrument or tool). It would be good to be able to map this trajectory, highlighting both how you offer an original take on the notion of the instrument, and likewise how the instrument theme enables you to formulate your ongoing interests in a new way.
I find it helps to boil the concepts down to a very precise, even pithy sentence or two. I also think it is good to let the project do the work for you, communicating the concepts implicitly by talking about what you are doing and how it works. I would expect the Futuresonic team to do work on whatever is finally published of course, but it would be great to see how you can develop this.
On a more basic level it is good communication to say in simple terms what a project actually consists in, and what the experience will be for a user. I would include an account of the samples themselves and any mixes you do in this!
Your practical ideas for how the project would be presented sound solid to me.
In terms of a live performance, were you thinking of an informal performance / demo scheduled in within the exhibition space, and using the exhibition set up? Or a formal performance in another space? The former would be the more straight forward option, although clearly it would require a mixer, additional deck and PA at a minimum.
We are nearly at the stage where I will hand over to our production and artist liaison teams to steer you through the final stages. Please get back to me on the above points so that we can move forward.
2nd June 2006
It's great to hear that you can confirm the project will be included within the festival, and we agree that it's time to get down to the practicalities!
We have pulled together a project outline and selected an image for publication. In the outline we have focused on the project generally rather than describing what might be presented as part of 'Instrument'. Is this the sort of thing you were after? Is there a publication for the festival as a whole or just one for the Instrument exhibition?
In terms of more detail on how the project could be presented in the exhibition: A turntable should be available in the space along with the record(s) so visitors can listen/play around with them. Next to this our video should be displayed on a monitor - looped and playing from a DVD.
Can you give us more information about the exhibtion (venue, dates, etc)? Are you thinking that there might be performances on the opening night or throughout the exhibition?
Ben & Eileen
26th May 2006
Dear Ben and Eileen
Thanks for this extra information, it is just what I needed, and also for pulling together the proposal ("Leverage, a new project proposed for Futuresonic 2006, centres around the creation of a copyleft licensed 12 inch vinyl record containing a range of samples, beats and extracts from the archive in a format referencing scratch tools, breaks compilations and battle records.") Am very happy to see this coming together, the proposal and the audio tracks are great.
The thinking I have seen behind Open Music Archive has always been strong and clear, what has been very helpful is to see how you are planning to map this out through an individual project.
I like very much the collaborative aspect you have introduced. DJing, like remixing, is collaborative, as it involves reworking someone else's creative output. You have taken this up a notch by introducing different levels to the project. Your project shows that collaboration comes in all shapes and sizes, involving dissimilar elements, often spread out in time: producing the samples, the artistry of the battle DJ, your 'fast cut video', and you drawing of this all together into a final piece.
It is also good that you think the 'instrument' context is appropriate. I definitely agree with this, but as curator it is not my role to force an orientation on an artist, only to help in its interpretation.
You have given me ample information for me to confirm an invitation for this project to be presented within the festival, conditional upon us agreeing a final format for its presentation that Futuresonic can support. As I said at the outset, sadly there is not a commission available. What this effectively means is that Futuresonic cannot support the development of the project, but are interested in presenting the project at the festival. We cannot cover the costs of producing it, therefore, but we will cover the venue-side production costs and offer a modest presentation fee.
The next step is to look in even more detail at how it will be presented. While I do not want to force any ideas on you, it could be nice to simply have a Technics 1200 on a podium with a rack of your records that the audience can put on and play/scratch. There could be a podium next to it with the video playing on loop from DVD on a monitor. On the other hand, the third track you posted contained a finished mix, so I am not sure if you have a live event or performance in mind.
We are also at the stage where deadlines are looming, perhaps I could ask that you pull together a publication-ready project outline and supply a 300 dpi image at the same time as providing more detail on the form the project will take, by Friday 2nd June.
PS. Apologies for nipping the theory discussion in the bud with my earlier posting, I wanted to get clear on the nuts and bolts. Also I think a strong project can say far more than words, and that what you are pulling together is already theoretical, a 'theory object' maybe.
24th May 2006
17th May 2006
In a previous post you mention a potential crossover between ‘instrument’ and ‘collaborative cultures’. Approaching the DJ turntable as an instrument, combined with a vinyl tool made from public domain and copyleft sound, and incorporating a network of DJs, mixes the two strands.
The vinyl tool that we want to make - a 12 inch record featuring snippets cut out from the archive - is specifically designed to be used on a turntable, used as an instrument. Without the context of scratch DJs sampling and using the records, and without the combination of the vinyl record, turntable and scratch DJ, there wouldn’t be a context in which to make this project.
Our initial idea is to present the record on a turntable alongside video documentation of scratch DJs using the record to produce new music. We plan to give two copies of the record to a number of DJs, visit and film them scratching/beat juggling/etc with the record wherever they would normally practice (at home, in the studio, in their bedroom, etc), and assemble a fast cut video of the vinyl tool in action.
The collaborative aspect of music – played out through the DJ battle – is something that we are keen to explore through the project.
The context of scratch DJs in relation to the idea of ‘instrument’ is very appropriate. Although our vinyl tool is not strictly a device for producing musical sounds in itself (it is unplayable without a turntable), it is to be used as a tool or instrument – intended to function to insert public domain and copyleft material into an existing cultural format usually reserved for cheeky samples lifted on the sly.
Hope this gives you a bit more of an idea of what we’re thinking and how it might fit into the two strands of the festival.
We’ll try post some audio snippets soon – so you can get an idea of the kinds of things that will be on the record.
Let us know what you think.
B & E
7th May 2006
Perhaps the answer to my question then is "no".
As I understand your project, you are more interested in the out-of-copyright music and the vinyl itself, rather than the turntable. And on your definition you are not thinking of this as an instrument.
Still, I think we should look at the practicalities before we make this call.
Would it be possible to flesh out your initial ideas into something more concrete? Can you give more of a sense of the shape the project will take, where it could be presented, the way an audience could interact with it, etc.
Even if the ideas are not all fully formed, it always helps ideas take shape to consider the audience and the context.
3rd May 2006
Yes, we would definitely say that in the hands of a turntablist, the record player is revealed as a hardware instrument – one that needs vinyl software to operate. Much like computer hardware, which requires an operating system and a suite of software tools, the DJ’s hardware instrument can only be activated with a set of vinyl tools. Our project will use the form and structure of scratch/battle records to distribute open vinyl code – which, like free/libre and open source software (FLOSS), is distributed freely.
The exhibition sounds interesting and we have some initial ideas of how the project might be represented. We are keen, however, to think of the vinyl as a starting point for new creation – an active agent as opposed to an end point. Therefore a live element would also seem appropriate.
Eileen & Ben
28th April 2006
Dear Eileen and Ben
Thanks for this information.
There is another strand of the festival that this might be relevant to. We are planning a small exhibition of artist-made instruments, called - funnily enough - 'Instrument'.
So it is interesting to hear you talk about your project as a "vinyl tool". In hip hop people would say that it is the turntable that is the instrument. Would you view what you are producing as in any sense an instrument?
I like the idea of a project that crosses over between the 'instrument' and 'collaborative culture' strands of the festival, in fact there may be one or two others that do the same. So if you think this context would be interesting, and that it is not imprecise to talk about your project as an instrument, we could consider this possibility further.
Give me your initial reaction, as it could shape where the conversation heads. Aside from anything else, 'Instrument' is planned as an exhibition, so we would need to consider how it could be presented as a gallery installation rather than (or, as well as) live.
I look forward to your response.
14th April 2006
It was great to finally meet up and talk in Manchester at our event. We’d love to participate in Futuresonic 2006 and we’re enthusiastic about contributing to the festival’s theme of collaborative cultures.
As you know, our project Open Music Archive is a collaborative initiative to source, digitise and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings. We are independent artists and see our project as a response to the closing down of creativity that is imposed by copyright.
It was always our intention for the Open Music Archive to provide a resource of recordings to be shared and sampled in a space outside of a royalty-generating economy. As we discussed at the event we were thinking about this idea of making a vinyl tool: a 12 inch record featuring material generated from the archive (rare original recordings, new remix tracks, short vocal snippets, percussive noises, sounds, samples, breaks and beats) to be used/performed in some way at the festival. All the material would be in the public domain or copyleft licensed.
At the moment we’re researching scratch tools, breaks compilations and battle records: Q-Bert - Breaktionary (Dirtstyles) DJ Swamp - Never Ending Drum & Bass Loops (Decadent) Five Deez - Table Noise Vol 3 (Traffic)
Obviously, all records are potentially material for new creative work – battle records however are tools explicitly designed to enable new production. In contrast to our approach - the breaks, beats and samples collected on battle records are created from tracks that are not officially licensed .
We’re keen to explore this idea of a vinyl tool here on the wiki – let us know what you think.
Eileen and Ben
9th April 2006
Dear Eileen and Ben,
Good to meet you at your event the other day!
It is great to see a project like Open Music Archive happening in Manchester, and I thought the live element was really well done.
The Futuresonic festival is coming round again, scheduled for 20-23 July. Alongside the music gigs we stage a lot of media art exhibitions and workshops, and much of that world revolves around open source, grass-roots, collaborative culture.
As it is our 10th year we have decided to take Collaborative Cultures as the main festival theme - so there is a lot of overlap with your project!
Our funds are as ever limited, so not in a position to propose a commission as such right now. But if we could find a way to involve Open Music Archive in the festival I would be very keen to explore.