Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘remix’

06 JANUARY, 2011

Sound Unbound: DJ Spooky Explores Remix Culture

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We’re big proponents of remix culture as the great enabler and cross-pollinator of creativity. Musician, producer, filmmaker and author Paul D. Miller, better-known as DJ Spooky, is one of remix culture’s most vocal and avid beacons, a rare champion of both its creative practice and its sociopolitical theory. In Sound Unbound, he curates a provocative and intelligent collection of essays drawing on the last 500 years of collaborative creation across music, art and literature and tracing everything from the history of stop-motion photography to Muslim influences on early hip-hop.

From an introduction by BoingBoing co-founder and open culture advocate Cory Doctorow to Brian Eno‘s exploration of the history of bells in Europe as a regulator of time to an investigation of the evolution of copyright law by Google’s senior legal counsel, the book features a wide and fascinating spectrum of texts by 36 of today’s most compelling, controversial and creative thinkers on remix culture.

Accompanying the book is a 45-track collage of a CD featuring fantastic, unexpected remixes blending rare historical recordings with modern music to deliver gems like “The Western Land” (William S. Burroughs and Iggy Pop with Techno Animal), “Erratum Musical (Score for Three Voices)/Voyage for Three” (Marcel Duchamp/George Lewis and Aki Takase) and “Eolian Episode/Gnossiene” (James Joyce/Erik Satie).

You can sample audio clips from it here, here and here, and catch an exclusive interview with DJ Spooky about the project.

As an artist, I’m a gatherer of personalities. I like pulling together radically different people and seeing what everybody has to say, and just kind of let it be a social sculpture.” ~ DJ Spooky

Sound Unbound is as much a research project into humanity’s propensity for non-linear thinking and co-creation as it is bold affirmation for the democratization of media and what we call combinatorial creativity.

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24 DECEMBER, 2010

Merry, Merry: To Be Disposed of Without Reserve

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It’s (almost) Christmas and we wanted to wish you a wonderful holiday with this lovely vintage seasonal artwork from 1882, courtesy of the The National Archives UK.

So do as the man says and have yourself said varied assortment of:

Christmas Wishes, Happiness, Joys, Comfort, Good Fellowship, Freedom from all sorrow, care and pain, also many choice New Year’s Wishes, including Prosperity, Health, Happiness, and all the Blessings on eaath.”

(No spellcheck in 1882, apparently.)

A tangential but important note: This image is one of many fantastic archival photographs available on Flickr Commons — a free and open archive of images from some of the world’s leading cultural institutions, made possible largely thanks to the open-copyright culture championed by Creative Commons over the past decade. CC is a nonprofit, so please consider giving them a well-deserved holiday gift in the form of a donation — their work is the single most important enabler of remix culture today.

In 2010, we spent more than 4,500 hours bringing you Brain Pickings. If you found any joy and inspiration here this year, please consider supporting us with a modest donation — it lets us know we’re doing something right and helps pay the bills.





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22 DECEMBER, 2010

2010′s Best Long Reads: Science & Technology

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Longreads and Brain Pickings have teamed up to highlight the most fascinating in-depth stories published on the web this year. Earlier, we featured the best of Business and Art, Design, Film & Music. Our final spotlight shines on Science, Medicine & Technology.

FOR THE LOVE OF CULTURE

Google, Copyright and Our Future (Lawrence Lessig, The New Republic, Jan. 26, 2010)

Time to read: 26 minutes (6,454 words)

In the wake of the Google Books project—and the subsequent settlement with publishers — Lessig calls for a new approach that untangles copyright law and helps keep information accessible to all.

What are the rules that will govern culture for the next hundred years? Are we building an ecology of access that demands a lawyer at every turn of the page?”

For more on this complex and controversial subject, see our continuous coverage of remix culture.

SEARCH FOR A STRESS VACCINE

Under Pressure: The Search for a Stress Vaccine (Jonah Lehrer, Wired, July 28, 2010)

Time to read: 23 minutes (5,700 words)

Lehrer profiles Robert Sapolsky, a scientist researching ways to create a vaccine-like treatment to protect people against stress. (In early research he’s injected a modified herpes virus into rodents’ brains.)

Sometimes it’s not enough just to tell people, ‘Jeez, you should really learn to relax.’ If stress is half as bad for you as we currently think it is, then it’s time to stop treating the side effects. It’s time to go after stress itself.”

NEW DRUGS AND CLINICAL TRIALS

New Drugs Stir Debate on Rules of Clinical Trials (Amy Harmon, New York Times, Sept. 19, 2010)

Time to read: 17 minutes (4,173 words)

A heartbreaking story from Harmon’s “Target Cancer” series about two cousins with skin cancer enrolled in the same clinical trial — but only one of them received the powerful new drug.

At times beseeching and belligerent, Mr. McLaughlin argued his cousin’s case to get the new drug with anyone he could find at U.C.L.A. ‘Hey, put him on it, he needs it,’ he pleaded. And then: ‘Who the hell is making these decisions?’”

THE STATUS QUO OF ELECTRIC CARS

The Status Quo of Electric Cars: Better Batteries, Same Range (Gail E. Tverberg, The Oil Drum, May 19, 2010)

Time to read: 16 minutes (3,940 words)

The Chevy Volt is Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year, but Tverberg argues that, in many ways, we’re no better off with electric cars than we were a century ago.

Weight, comfort, speed and performance have eaten up any real progress. We don’t need better batteries, we need better cars.”

AUTISM’S FIRST CHILD

Autism’s First Child (John Donvan and Caren Zucker, The Atlantic, October 2010)

Time to read: 33 minutes (8,165 words)

While there is quite a bit of attention on autism as it relates to children, what happens when they grow up? Donvan and Zucker track down Donald Gray Triplett, 77, the first person ever diagnosed with autism.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Donald’s life is that he grew up to be an avid traveler. He has been to Germany, Tunisia, Hungary, Dubai, Spain, Portugal, France, Bulgaria, and Colombia—some 36 foreign countries and 28 U.S. states in all.”

THE GOLDEN BOY AND THE INVISIBLE ARMY

The Golden Boy and the Invisible Army (Thomas Lake, Atlanta Magazine, June 2010)

Time to read: 19 minutes (4,777 words)

Writer Thomas Lake puts the H1N1 virus in human terms with this story of John Behnken, a 27-year-old Atlanta man who seemed an unlikely target for swine flu.

Dr. Stauffenberg had done close to 1,600 autopsies, and this was the first time she had seen an otherwise healthy person die from the unaided influenza virus.”

SHOULD WE CLONE NEANDERTHALS?

Should We Clone Neanderthals? (Zach Zorich, Archaeology, March/April 2010)

Time to read: 17 minutes (4,274 words)

An examination of the scientific, legal and ethical questions raised by the possibility that scientists may one day be able to clone neanderthals. At least one paleoanthropologist predicts: It’s going to happen.

If your experiment succeeds and you generate a Neanderthal who talks, you have violated every ethical rule we have, and if your experiment fails…well. It’s a lose-lose.”

THE PEANUT SOLUTION

The Peanut Solution (Andrew Rice, New York Times, Sept. 2, 2010)

Time to read: 21 minutes (5,258 words)

A peanut-buttery paste called Plumpy’nut is praised for its potential to help end malnutrition across the globe. Patents, intellectual property and competing interests make distribution more complicated.

I wouldn’t want to see a new world order where poor people are dependent on packaged supplementary foods that are manufactured in Europe or the United States.”

SHOOTING FOR THE SUN

Shooting for the Sun (Logan Ward, The Atlantic, November 2010)

Time to read: 13 minutes (3,149 words)

The story of Lonnie Johnson, an inventor with some 100 patents who is best-known for creating the Super Soaker squirt gun. His latest obsession: Bringing affordable solar power to the world.

Johnson is a member of what seems to be a vanishing breed: the self-invented inventor.”

THE PLASTIC PANIC

The Plastic Panic (Jerome Groopman, The New Yorker, May 31, 2010)

Time to read: 19 minutes (4,788 words)

Is the BPA found in plastic bottles actually harmful to us? And if so, why isn’t it banned in the United States? A look at the regulatory issues that keep potentially toxic chemicals in the marketplace.

The Toxic Substances Control Act, passed in 1976, does not require manufacturers to show that chemicals used in their products are safe before they go on the market.”

See more Longreads 2010 “best-of” lists here.

Mark Armstrong is a digital strategist, writer and founder of Longreads, a community and Twitter service highlighting the best long-form stories on the web. His thoughts about the future of publishing and content can be found here.

We’ve got a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays, offers the week’s main articles, and features short-form interestingness from our PICKED series. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.