Thursday, March 25, 2010

District 9 in HUMlab

The second film of the HUMlab Science Fiction Movie Series 2010 will be

Title: DISTRICT 9 (dir Neill Blomkamp, 2009)

Date: Wednesday (31 March)
Venue: HUMlab (located in basement of Umeå University library)
Time: 17:15 (introduction); 17:30 (screening)
Language: in English with Swedish subtitles
Admission: Free!!!

As before, there will be discussion after the film with light refreshments.

Produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, King Kong), DISTRICT 9 has
been described as "a thriller-diller that trades in ideas without
forgetting to go whup-ass on your nervous system. … District 9, with a
chump-change budget of $30 million, soars on the imagination of its
creator." (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) For more information, including
film notes, visit

We hope to see you there! Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be
interested, and please also encourage your students to attend!

2010 HUMlab SF Movie Series team
Lisa Swanstrom
Scott Stavos
Jenna Ng

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Call for Papers: Understanding Machinima: Essays on Filmaking in Virtual Worlds

essays on filmmaking in virtual worlds

Call for Papers

Submissions are invited for an edited book with the working title Understanding Machinima: essays on filmmaking in virtual worlds. Machinima - referring to "filmmaking within a real-time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video-game technologies" as well as works which use this animation technique, including videos recorded in computer games or virtual worlds - is challenging the notion of the moving image in numerous media contexts, such as video games, animation, digital cinema and virtual worlds. Machinima's increasingly dynamic use and construction of images from virtual worlds - appropriated, imported, worked over, re-negotiated, re-configured, re composed - not only confronts the conception and ontology of the recorded moving image, but also blurs the boundaries between contemporary media forms, definitions and aesthetics, converging filmmaking, animation, virtual world and game development. Even as it poses these theoretical challenges, machinima is expanding as a practice via internet networks and fan-based communities as well as in pedagogical and marketing contexts. In these ways, machinima is also transformative, presenting alternative ways and modes of teaching and commercial promotion, in-game events and, perhaps most significantly, networking cultures and community-building within game, virtual and filmmaking worlds, among others.

Divided into these two sections - machinima (i) in theoretical analysis; and (ii) as practice - this first collection of essays seeks to explore how we can understand machinima in terms of the theoretical challenges it poses as well as its manifestations as a practice. We are primarily concerned with offering critical discussions of its history, theory, aesthetics, media form and social implications, as well as insights into its development and the promise of what it can become. How does machinima fit in the spectrum of media forms? What are the ontological differences between images from machinima and photochemical/digital filmmaking? How does machinima co-opt the affordances of the game engine to provide narrative? How may machinima, developed from the products of game and virtual world marketing, be used as an artistic tool? How is machinima self-reflexive, if at all, of the virtual environments from which they arise? What are the implications of re-deploying these media formats into alternative media forms? How does the open-source economy that currently defines much of global machinima relate it to broader cultural production generally?

In particular, we are looking for essays that address (but not limited to) the following ideas:

* History: context; definitions; culture; relationships to gaming and play; development of technology; hardware and games; archiving of play;

* Theory: image; ontology; time; space; narrative; realism; spectatorship; subjectivity; virtual camera; materiality;

* Aesthetics: poetics; play; visuality; détournement; remix; digital mashup; appropriation; recombinative narratives; audio and visual theory; spatiality; narrative architecture;

* Contemporary media contexts: comparative media; machinima vis-à-vis video games, (digital) cinema, animation, virtual worlds; the visual economy of machinima versus film

* Communities: Machinima as community-based practice and performance; user created content; online publishing; fan (fiction) communities; open source; cultural reflection

* Pedagogy: digital literacy; teaching models and practices; student-centered learning; critical making; collaborative authorship; rhetorics; problem based learning;

* Marketing: crowd sourcing; viral marketing; peer to peer sharing; commercials, trailer promotions; grass roots versus astro turf; serials and sequels.

Please submit a 400 word abstract and a short bio via e-mail to by 30 August 2010. We expect that final essays should not exceed 7,000 words and be due on 30 December 2010.

Jenna P-S. Ng
James Barrett
HUMlab, Umeå University

Local Wall

"Storyworlds: The New Transmedia Business Paradigm"

Jeff Gomez (Starlight Runner Entertainment), "Storyworlds: The New Transmedia Business Paradigm"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Education 2.0 - not afraid of Second Life!

"Teachers cannot keep ignoring the digital revolution"

Dissatisfied with a recent PBS Frontline piece on the "Digital Nation", Mr. Despres went to Second Life & was impressed how teachers in the trenches use technology to transform American education. Draxtor thought we were doomed, but now - optimism has returned!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Looking Through the Real: Seven Years in Virtual Worlds

From the presentation I did today for the National Association of Librarians of Sweden conference ”Men den var ju min!” – om ny medieförmedling och upphovsrätt (But that was mine! On New Media Connections and Copyright). Nice afternoon spent..

Thursday, March 11, 2010


HUMlab Science Fiction Movie Series 2010 kicks off next week with a
screening of Andrei Tarkovsky's SOLARIS!

Date: Thursday (18 March)
Venue: HUMlab
Time: 1700

(HUMlab is under the UB Library at Umeå University)

There will be discussion after the film, accompanied by light refreshments.

Tarkovsky’s films are today considered “seminal components of the Russian
cultural identity”; the seven feature films he made in his lifetime have
been called “a sacred septateuch on a par with the masterpieces of
Russia’s novelists and composers.” Ingmar Bergman has said that "Tarkovsky
for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language,
true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a
dream." At the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, SOLARIS won the Grand Prix
Spécial du Jury, the FIPRESCI prize and was nominated for the Palme d’Or.
The film was re-made by Steven Soderburgh in 2002, starring George Clooney
and Natascha McElhone.

Tarkovsky’s films are characterized by long, slow shots, pensive
contemplation of grandiose themes (life, death, love, technology,
homeland) and extended periods of stillness, often stretched to the point
of breath-hold. In that sense, his films are not easy to watch and
fidgeting is almost inevitable. Yet, given some time and patience, they
can be utterly rewarding, even epiphanic: Tarkovsky writes of “the maze of
possibilities” in cinema, which he searches “to be able to find myself,
fully and independently, within it.” The word “profound” is overused; the
intensities of Tarkovsky’s films are stirred in depths, where the tiniest
ripple takes a while to spread and be discerned. One just has to give it

For more information, including film notes, visit

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Much Media to Meditate On

It has just occurred to me that I have not posted any recommendations for online media since January. The past month was a blur of work and it has only been in the last few days I have been able to settle into a routine of the constant but not frantic.
Online the amount of free and really interesting media content continues to astound. This list includes more streamed videos and music than you can consume in a month. As well the Google archive for SPIN magazine. Music from around the world including albums by CAN, The Necks, and The Pixies. as well there are some books. Let the fun begin:

Google Books SPIN magazine archive
Archive of SPIN magazine from 1985 to 2009.

RAGA BLOG: Namagiripettai Krishnan - Nadhaswaram

Namagiripettai Krishnan - Nadhaswaram

01 Gnanavinayagane-Raga Nattai
02 Jesinathella-Raga Thodi
03 Vasudevayani-Raga Kalyani
04 Evarani-Raga Dhevamrithavarshini
05 Paramapavana-Raga Ranjani
06 Maye-Raga Tharangini
07 Thillana-Raga Chenjurutti
08 Amuthamuri-Raga Sindu Bhairavi

Greatful Dead Live 1966: Can you pass the Acid Test?
As 1966 began, San Francisco was rapidly becoming the epicenter of a cultural and musical shift that would impact the world. Dance hall promoters like Bill Graham and Chet Helms were in the early stages of opening venues where local bands could perform for the throngs of young people looking to dance socialize and listen to live music. Local writer Ken Kesey and his friends (known as The Merry Pranksters) were doing the same on a smaller scale, but adding high quality LSD to the mix, which was then still legal and readily available. As Kesey’s parties, or “Acid Tests” as they were called, began attracting more and more adventurous people, it was inevitable that The Merry Pranksters parties would merge with local dance hall venues, which is exactly what happened on January 8, 1966.

Ponytone: A Cross Cultural Mix Tape
Like a ghost ship hovering somewhere off the coast, broadcasting crackly pirate-radio blasts into the ether, Ponytone is as mysterious as it is unrivaled. And by that I mean it is an aural treasure. Welcome to the second installment of an irregular series in which I highlight some of my favorite voices online (and beyond). Reportedly based in the Con Dao Islands off the southern coast of Vietnam, Ponytone’s founder/editor, Lucie, digs through crates of vinyl in the darkest corners of the globe with an emphasis on jazz, disco, rock, soul, psychedelia and off-kilter pop from around the world. Much of the music featured has never before been available online. Without question, one of my favorite music blogs going today.

UbuWeb Sound - Survival Research Laboratories: The Illusion of Shameless Abundance (Mp3)
Survival Research Laboratories was conceived of and founded by Mark Pauline in November 1978. Since its inception SRL has operated as an organization of creative technicians dedicated to re-directing the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry, science, and the military away from their typical manifestations in practicality, product or warfare. Since 1979, SRL has staged over 45 mechanized presentations in the United States and Europe. Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices, employed in developing themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators.
Check out two films by SRL:

Virtues of Negative Fascination (1985-86)
A Plan for Social Improvement (1988)

geometria innamorata: dWh - the fourth letter
A simple haiku, almost ambient. Well maybe it is... And this time you can download it on Soundcloud... If you need to add the extension, it's a ".flac".

Jesse Stiles
Jesse Stiles does great music.
This album was recorded out of a backpack while travelling in London, India, and Australia from August 2000 to August 2001. Documenting a weird and wonderful year, "Watson Songs" combines field recordings, lush electronics, crackling beats, and transient collaborations with fellow travelers. "Watson Songs" is the first full-length record from Stiles' electronica alias "The Jesse Stiles 3000."
Here is another one: The Target Museum

Julian Schnabel - Le scaphandre et le papillon AKA The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (French: Le scaphandre et le papillon) is a 2007 French/American biopic/drama film based on the memoir of the same name by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The film depicts Bauby's life after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 42, which left him with a condition known as locked-in syndrome. The condition paralyzed him, with the exception of his left eyelid, so that he could only communicate by blinking. The film was directed by Julian Schnabel, written by Ronald Harwood, and stars Mathieu Amalric as Bauby. It won awards at the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards, as well as four Academy Award nominations.

Terry Riley - The Harp of New Albion
Terrence Mitchell Riley, better known as Terry Riley (born June 24, 1935), is an American composer associated with the minimalist school of Western classical music.
His music is usually based on improvising through a series of modal figures of different lengths, such as in In C and the Keyboard Studies. In C (1964) is probably Riley's best-known work and one that brought the minimalist music movement to prominence. Its first performance was given by Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Subotnick, among others, and it has influenced their work and that of many others, including John Adams, Roberto Carnevale, and Philip Glass. Its form was an innovation: the piece consists of 53 separate modules of roughly one measure apiece, each containing a different musical pattern but each, as the title implies, in C. One performer beats a steady pulse of Cs on the piano to keep tempo. The others, in any number and on any instrument, perform these musical modules following a few loose guidelines, with the different musical modules interlocking in various ways as time goes on. The Keyboard Studies are similarly structured – a single-performer version of the same concept.

The Master Musicians of Jajouka - Apocalypse Across The Sky (and some oriental stuffs)
The album Apocalypse Across The Sky and The Master Musicians of Jajouka - Recorded live in France. As well as the Master Musicians of Jajouka - Black eyes, ancient Turkish music in Europe, The Kudsi Erguner Ensemble - Peshrev and Semai of Tanburi Djemil Bey.

Alejandro Jodorowsky: The Way of Tarot
Alejandro Jodorowsky—well known to readers of this site as the director of El Topo, Santa Sangre, The Holy Mountain and several other film reels of symbolic dementia, is also one of the world’s most recognized experts on the Tarot, which he has studied as a tool of self-exploration and transformation for almost 60 years. Destiny Books just released the English translation of his 500-page magnum opus The Way of Tarot, which summarizes his work with the cards. Interestingly, Jodorowsky works with the old European deck—the Marseilles Tarot—which far predates the more commonly used Rider-Waite or Thoth packs. Looks like absolutely essential reading for fans of the man and the tarot alike.

SFMOMA | OPEN SPACE » Blog Archive » Art Work
In support of Temporary Services’ recent newspaper project Art Work: a national conversation about art, labor and economics, I’ve created the beginnings of an “audio book” version, starting with one of my favorite texts in the publication. I then asked artist Sam Gould to record one of his choosing. You can download them both here. I’ll extend the invitation to anyone who might like to audio record a text from the newspaper, to be added to this post. You can download the newspaper in full here.

The Necks live at WFMU (MP3) - WFMU's Beware of the Blog
In honor of the return of this Australian trio to New York, here's the full MP3 of their transcendent performance from my radio show back almost exactly one year ago (why do they keep leaving the warmth of the southern hemisphere?). For the uninitiated, the Necks hail fron Sydney, and since 1987 have utilized the piano/bass/drums format in a singular, unorthodox fashion that has left them uncategorizable, yet critically-acclaimed and in high demand from jazz, ambient, and avant-rock festivals. The trio of Chris Abrahams (piano) Tony Buck (drums, percussion) and Lloyd Swanton (stand-up bass) have performed their sprawling, dense, and tranced-out pieces in art spaces, clubs, the Sydney Opera House

Nomades Du Niger: Musique des Touareg, Musique des Bororo (Ocora )
These great recordings were made in Niger in 1963 & '64 by Tolia Nikiprowetzki, who also wrote the notes in the accompanying booklet. Here's an extract:
The Tuareg are nomads of Berber origin, who live in the central Sahara and the steppes - or Sahel - to the south of the desert. They live in tents and raise livestock. They are estimated to be about 500,000 in number. There are some 300,000 in the Republic of Niger, scattered among the northern and middle-western regions.

Accelerando - Charlie's Diary
This free ebook edition is made available by kind consent of my publishers, Ace and Orbit, under a Creative Commons license with certain restrictions attached. In particular, you may not create derivative works or use the work for commercial gain.

dstilwell's Bookmarks on Delicious
Thousands of links to streamed and downloadable media

Thomas Bey William Bailey @ dorkbot Chicago 2010.01.28 on Vimeo
Thomas Bey William Bailey is a multi-disciplinary artist and cultural researcher, whose work has manifested itself as books, articles, music releases, sound installations, experimental radio shows, and completely undocumented or personal creative actions / interventions. He has lived and worked in Japan, Central Europe,and the U.S., struggling to overcome the psychic fatigue which is unique to our 21st century congestion culture. His work critiques and frames this culture by avoiding the obvious, easily perceptible middle ground and instead focusing on 'micro' and 'macro' aspects of lived experience in an information-saturated epoch.

New free e-book every month from the University of Chicago Press!
Every month U of Chicago Press publishes a free ebook. Get it here.

CAN: Live at Paris Olympia [May 12, 1973]

Holger Czukay
Michael Karoli
Jaki Liebezeit
Irmin Schmidt
Damo Suzuki

1. Queueing Down
2. One More Night
3. Spoon
4. Stars and Lines
5. Vitamin C

free live EP to celebrate 20 years of Doolittle

Enjoy the approaching Equinox, no God shall deny you this.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Music from Me

Telepath 23 by didgebaba

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Alice in Wonderland 1903-2010

Alice In Wonderland (1903)

The first-ever film version of Lewis Carroll's tale has recently been restored by the BFI National Archive from severely damaged materials. Made just 37 years after Lewis Carroll wrote his novel and eight years after the birth of cinema, the adaptation was directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow, and was based on Sir John Tenniel's original illustrations. In an act that was to echo more than 100 years later, Hepworth cast his wife as the Red Queen, and he himself appears as the Frog Footman. Even the Cheshire cat is played by a family pet.

With a running time of just 12 minutes (8 of which survive), Alice in Wonderland was the longest film produced in England at that time. Film archivists have been able to restore the film's original colours for the first time in over 100 years.

Music: 'Jill in the Box', composed and performed by Wendy Hiscocks.

Alice in Wonderland (1933)

A scene from the 1933 Paramount film "Alice in Wonderland" with Edward Everett Horton as The Mad Hatter, Charles Ruggles as The March Hare, Jackie Searl as the Dormouse and actress Charlotte Henry as Alice. Elements of "Through the Looking Glass" were also combined with this Lewis Carroll inspired film

Alice in Wonderland (1966)

With music by Ravi Shankar, Alice was flying high in 1966.

"Your hair wants cutting" maaannn!

Alice in Wonderland (1966)
Directed by Jonathan Miller
one of TV Series made by BBC television: "The Wednesday Play"
Weirdest & Greatest Alice Film
"Mad Tea Party"

Alice in Wonderland (1983)
Not a highpoint in the history of Alice as far as I am concerned.
Remarkably similar-looking dancers André De Shields and Alan Weeks play Tweedledum and Tweedledee in the 1983 Great Performances version of "Alice In Wonderland," directed by Kirk Browning and starring Kate Burton as Alice. They recite The Walrus and The Carpenter.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

CGI. Anything is possible.