On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Mp3s and ‘thisness’

In art, mp3, music on March 11, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Mp3, as a format, might lack tactile dimensions, and its nature as pure code might render it ontologically vacuous. Yet, it presents fantastic hope for the song as artform.
I wrote in a previous post about the verisimilitude of mp3s, the fact that in technical terms the digital file is always an approximation; never really the “real thing”.
However, there’s a paradox here, and that is that I believe mp3s, because of their virtual nature, bring back the ‘thisness’ of the song itself. Evan Eisenberg writes about the ‘thisness’ of songs in The Recording Angel (1987): the medieval term that he revisits for this is haecceity, the ontological concept that basically talks about those aspects of a thing which make it a particular thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Mp3s and their supposed lack of magic

In art, mp3, music on February 11, 2008 at 1:57 pm

The physical carrier of music makes a difference: Compared to mp3, vinyl is more tactile, cumbersome, weighty, and lends itself to rarity rather than to instant duplicability – but therefore it is also more mystical, and indeed more magical, some people argue.
The Stool Pigeon is a healthy little music publication, withstanding the current celebrity culture and commodification of “authenticity” by sticking to a strict fanzine aesthetic, a peculiar fondness for 19th century font exorbitance and a deliberately haphazard web presence. In the most recent issue, someone with the alias ‘Bone Dagger’ writes about the ephemera of mp3s versus vinyl. An old debate you might say, and one that would have been more academically convincing if invoking Walter Benjamin, Friedrich Kittler and N. Katherine Hayles (I guess one could pull out more and more articles like this, for example). Anyhow, in taking its cue from Arthur C. Clarke’s recognition that any technology advanced enough is virtually indistinguishable from magic, the Dagger’s argument still makes for a cosy read for a materialist like me. After having spent far too many hours indexing my own vinyl collection on Discogs.com, I must say I generally agree with the sentiment. Read the rest of this entry »