wow&flutter

In 1997 I put out a zine called wow&flutter [.pdf]. It was an attempt to merge two of my main musical interests at the time, turntablism and experimental noise. I interviewed DJ QBert, DJ Spooky, John Duncan, and Daniel Menche, and reviewed records from the rapidly expanding releases of ambient, noise, and turntable artists. I lived in Seattle at the time, and there was so much going on in all of these areas. There were regular live events and several specialty stores, and I tried to bring them all together under the banner of sound experimentation.

wow&flutter was intended as part of a series, but the second issue, attack&decay, featuring interviews with Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto and Warren Defever of His Name is Alive, among others, never made it to press. I still love the idea of noise and hip-hop coming together, and there are others who’ve merged them in the meantime better than I could have imagined (e.g., dälek, clipping., Ho99o9, Death Grips, Cloaks, Justin Broadrick and Kevin Martin, et al.)

It’s been 25 years since its release, but maybe it’s worth another look. Download this .pdf of the first issue, and you’ll see the seeds of my future projects like Dead Precedents and Boogie Down Predictions.

 

The Medium Picture Object: A Photo Essay

Released in 1979, Douglas Hofstadter’s first book, the Pulitzer-Prize winning Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, is an expansive volume that explores how living things come to be from nonliving things. It’s about self-reference and emergence and creation and lots of other things. It’s well worth checking out.

For the cover of his heady tome, Hofstadter carved two wood-block objects such that their shadows would cast the book’s initials when lit against a flat backdrop. He went the extra step of working in the initials for the subtitle as well.

Earlier this year, I was inspired to emulate Hofstadter’s sculpture. I found a way to put the initials for my media-theory book-in-progress, The Medium Picture—TMPinto a similar configuration. This is one of my early sketches.

The sketches I did at least made the thing appear possible, so I started exploring physical options. After trying different materials and digging around craft stores, I finally found some letters that were about the right shape and would save me a lot of time toward the final object.

I was fortunate to find letters with similar proportions to the ones I’d been drawing. The first thing was to cut the M to make the P the top of the T. Like so:

 

After some papier-mâché tweaking, calk to round the leg of the M, and a coat of white paint, the object was ready to test.

 

Now that it physically existed, I knew the real test would be hanging it, lighting it, and capturing its shadows correctly. I built a contraption for just that out of things found around my parents’ house.

It was as sketchy as it looks. The object was suspended with two pieces of fishing line, and I had to turn off the air conditioning to get the thing to hang still for the picture. I found some pieces of foamcore in my sister’s old closet for the backdrop and gathered up tiny flashlights from all over the house.

With the LED flashlights propped and taped in place, this is the final set-up.

And this is the final shot. It’s not quite as intricate or as elegant as Hofstadter’s, but I’m pretty stoked on it. I think it will make a striking cover image and a fitting tribute to his work.

I belabored this process here because about half the people who see the final image ask me what software I used to make it. I know this could’ve been done digitally in any 3-D imaging suite, but I wanted to make it for real, just as Douglas Hofstadter had done.