A mid-level survey course for putting computing in sociocultural context.
An anthropological approach to the social and cultural studies of science and technology. Asks how and whether sociocultural forces shape the content of science, how to define “technology,” and how science and technology impact culture and society. Covers anthropological methods and research findings on topics such as algorithms, genetics, theoretical physics, classification, cyborgs, facts, infrastructure, and magic.
An ongoing, occasional blog about culture, sound, music and technology. Favorite topics include experimental music, music data, historical sonic media, and unexpected resonances.
I taught a pair of classes for the High School Studies Program at MIT about the recent history of sonic media. The summer classes for high school students used experimental and avant-garde music as material to think about media technologies and the nature of hearing, with in-class performances by students. In one class, this culminated in a performance of "Piano Piece #13 (for Nam June Paik)", attributed to George Maciunas, in which the students nailed down all of the keys of a piano. Course materials are kept online at the link above, though links and embedded videos may have died since.
A software implementation of John Cage’s Imaginary Landscape No. 5, made in MaxMSP. The original score calls for a set of 42 records to be recorded to tape and arranged according to a system derived from the I Ching. My patch arranges selections from any 42 audio files according to the score, and when finished, allows you to export an .aiff file of the whole 3 minutes. Supposedly Cage used the score with jazz records to help him overcome his aversion to jazz. My version uses 42 Jonas Brothers songs.
A music video for one of the tracks from my Pop Studies. The audio is based on a short, looped sample from Fergie’s Glamorous, gradually slowed down but with the pitch maintained algorithmically. Eventually, the time-stretching algorithm fails and produces spontaneous melodies. The video is a one-second loop from the original music video, processed in Jitter.
I put this album together in 2007 to explore the form of the pop music mp3s that filled my laptop hard drive. Each study explores a different aspect of digital audio files. My approach was informed by the compositional procedures of the experimental composers of the 1970s — particularly by Steve Reich's phase work. The final track adapts his “It’s Gonna Rain,” mimicking his tape phase method with the more distinctly contemporary manipulation of digital samples.