Remember the color-coded Homeland Security Threat Level system?
Remember how it made you feel?
My latest project is called Enkutatash እንቁጣጣሽ. It’s a participatory music performance transforming security threats into spiritual renewal. It debuts on Thursday September 11th, the Ethiopian New Year (Ethiopia uses its own calendar system) in Washington D.C. Continue reading →
Back in April I did a video for Sarah Urist Green & John Green’s Art Assignment, PBS Digital’s weekly series where artists devise ‘assignments’ for the viewers to complete. My assignment was: take a stroll until you find the quietest place within walking distance and document it with photo or video, sharing the results on social media via #theartassignment. Amazing documentation poured in from all over the globe.
Ssshhhhh – YOU PEOPLE ARE GREAT. ‘The Quitest Place’ received a record number of responses, several of which are featured in this highlight reel:
And here John riffs on my assignment in an airport for his wildly popular Youtube Vlog Brothers.
“attention has become so fractured on the internet that there is no longer room in YouTube videos for any silence”
The Art Assignment is a new PBS webseries created by curator Sarah Urist Green and hosted by her and author/YouTube superstar John Green, in which they ask artists around the country to devise an ‘art assignment’ related to their work that viewers can carry out, sharing the results online. Here’s the video for mine. It involves walking to find the quietest place near where you live. Fascinating responses to my #theartassignment have come in already — songs, videos, a delightful array of photos, even diary-style written logs of soundwalks, from all over the globe. It’s been wonderful to see the enthusiasm with which people are searching for their ‘Quietest Place’. (As a bonus, we get to experience the complications of recording quiet — wind in the smartphone mic… handling vibration rumble… it all ends up sounding rather noisy.)
[some of the participants' photos]
You can check out a growing assortment of the responses over at the Art Assignment blog; some of the best will be folded back into a future episode of the program.
My new album — the first under my own name — was released last week! The Julius Eastman Memory Depot. There’s been a wave of great, thoughtful press: an action-packed feature on my work in The Guardian, a 7.8 Pitchfork review, a spot on NPR, and lots more. If you’d like to buy the album, Bandcamp offers downloads & physical CDs for the best price/money-to-artist ratio, or you can use iTunes | Amazon etc. This WQXR album-of-the-week profile is an excellent introduction to the project.
I’m doing 5 performances of The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner this April, accompanied by a dream team of talent: pianists David Friend and Emily Manzo, vocalist Arooj Aftab, and special guest Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts. Arooj wrote the closing song with me, and it gives you a taste of the additional scenes included in the live performance version. These shows are not to be missed! Two grand pianos and electronics makes for lovely sonics, the musicians are top-notch… plus my actorly debut?! April dates below:
Tues April 2 – I’ll be speaking on ‘Rights, Rogues, Refugees’ panel at FFFFFAT LAB’s Gold show @ Eyebeam. I intend to explain my ideas of NON-LINEAR LEGAL POWER via cumbia sonidera, stop & frisk, and copyright’s cold watch
Wed April 3 – talk at intermedia class @ U. of Cincinnati/DAAP 1:30-3:30pm. JEMD/Sufi Plug Ins. Open to public!
Fri April 5 – unofficial JEMD afterparty in Cincinnati
Fri April 12 – DJ /rupture at Zemos98 Festival in Sevilla, Spain !!!
Wed April 17 – Keynote talk at Brooklyn College’s Caribbean Studies Conference.
Fri April 18 – ‘Migrant Locals’ all-star panel at EMP Conference, NYC, moderated by Wayne Marshall
Do you have an old boombox? The rectangular kind that is big, boxy, held together with real screws? With large dials and analog push-buttons? If YES, then I’m interested in it & will pay (non “vintage” prices) for it. If you’d like to donate your crappy old boombox to a very good cause (more on this later, I promise you will not be disappointed) well, that’s cool too.
Dutty Artz newcomer Sam is based in NYC and will help scoop it up, and if you live outside of NYC then we can talk about shipping it.
give us a shout: boombox @ duttyartz dot com
On behalf of myself, my crew, anyone who has ever sported a high-top fade, and the entirety of the 1980s & early 90s, I salute you.
I enjoy the writings of who Youngman Hennesy here calls “the French science-fiction author Nicolas Bourri… boary… Bory.. Bourriaud” – although St Nic’s thoughts on music and DJ culture fall flat for me, never getting beyond the reheated observation that “DJs are neither consumers nor producers, but a little bit of both!” Here’s a PDF of his Postproduction book.
And here’s Youngman, going in on relational aesthetics. Cut to the wetsuit! I think this is still hilarious even if you haven’t had Serious Conversations About Relational Aesthetics.
Over at the Kindle Project, a guest blog post by yours truly, on my Radio GooGoo sound installation project for the Studio Museum in Harlem, which I never recorded or documented. The generosity of the Kindle Project was a real lifesaver & inspiration in the past months; I’ll post more about that soon. Until then, here are two pieces of my write-up for them:
“In 2010 the Studio Museum in Harlem invited me to create an audio installation for the museum’s front rooms, as part of their StudioSound series. My main concern was for the museum staff – the guy who does coatcheck, the people behind the front desk. They have to stand around there all day, so the last thing I wanted to do was make a 10-minute song which they’d be forced to listen to, on repeat, for months. Museum guards are the main audience for museum art. How could I create a constantly changing audio piece that wouldn’t wear out its welcome? “
“When it was up & running, Radio GooGoo cycled between three FM stations/algorithms, one each day:
* A classical station transforms into floating ambience. The results are a gauzy, drifting cloud, which is periodically tuned to the dominant musical scales of North Africa (Arabic, Berber). Classical music receives an enormous amounts of funding. This piece engages ideas of “classical” both as a Western system of listening and a virtuosic performance, but mostly it sounds like Beethoven on zero-gravity painkillers.
* My piece for Hot97 (“blazing hiphop and r&b”) makes the station’s broadcasts sound like a lovesick synthesizer inside a dripping cave. Mostly it’s a lot of atonal, irregularly spaced bleeps with a timbral palette that alludes to classic mid-20th century musique concrete, but at times it resolves into legibility and you’re able to recognize the stacatto main riff of a popular song (albeit replayed on a vocoder). Sometimes the signal with go completely unprocessed for seconds, so listeners can hear the transformations.”
I’m guest-editing part of the MUSIC/STYLE section. I have assembled a World-Class Crew of Contributors & am super excited to escort their brilliance into print. The NCR editorial team will meet inside the New Museum today around 6pm. You are welcome to come heckle us, suggest things, share tea + cookies + a mate gourd. (entrance is free after 7pm today)
Past editions of New City Reader can be viewed here, and you can grab the current issue at the museum itself. Follow NCR on Twitter, although Twitter hates wikileaks and censors trending topics in yet another weird devolution of transparency (so much for algorithmic populism). So. Where were we? Shopping for electronics on Canal St? Close. We were on Bowery. Inside a museum round the corner from the flophouse.
New City Reader: Public space, urban space, information space, wrapped up with the finger-smudging timeliness of an experimental weekly.
Questlove + I will be DJing at Pittsburgh’s Warhol Museum’s 15th anniversary gala party this Saturday. Big times! Free zombie facepainting! Big tunes! Seriously, I’m a huge Warhol fan and ?uestlove is a living legend who also embraces weird punctuation in his name and Halloween means you can dress extra crazy, so let’s end with a choice Andy quote:
I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs.
…followed by a picture of me and a video of Joanne watching some guy watch Andy Warhol eat a hamburger (there are a lot of these ):