Public Works Productions

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April 2000

Public Works/Tape-beatles Update

23.04.2000 / Now that our string of public appearances and shows has come to a close, we can get back to our normal, nuanced, and ‘productive’ lives. Still, a number of efforts are still underway and destined to bear fruit but which are now just dots on the horizon. Get out your telescopes and follow along.

Outgoing. John Heck returns to Prague this week to resume the dropped-off thread of his life with his wife Lucie and their cat (what is their cat’s name anyway?). America will miss him, but this reporter will stay in constant contact.

Incoming. I know I promised you web-posted video of the untitled video we showed at the Thaw festival. I’ll try to get that up this week. It still needs a touch of editing, then some encoding and some uploading. It’s a promise I intend to keep.

Sidetracking. We recently uncovered a trove of texts that chronologizes our early efforts. And when John was cleaning up for his move, he came across some old photos of the band. I think together, they will make nice web pages. Yes they will and you will see them here in the not too distant future.

18.04.2000 / New Work at Thaw 00. John and Lloyd were having an argument. ‘I think we should show it,’ said John. ‘But it’s just raw footage,’ countered Lloyd. It is possible to read to a great honest depth about their personalities in these few comments that they shared back and forth. John, the impulsive, intuitive Tape-beatle; Lloyd, always cautious and sensitive to audience predilections. Finally Kent Lambert, director of this year’s Thaw festival had to intervene. ‘I think you should show it,’ he said, so show it they did.

Having done that, the remaining Tape-beatles walked away from their Thaw Festival appearance last April 15 debuting a new, untitled video piece in a somewhat unfinished state. It consisted of taped footage of Lloyd opening the most recent package he’d received from John B. McLemore of Green Pond, Alabama. Mr. McLemore is an autodidactic expert on what he calls ‘CD rot’ and had sent along 10 examples with detailed descriptions. Rough though it was, the audience responded well to it nonetheless, tittering at Lloyd’s offhand comments, and gathering information about their own CD collections in the process.

The video in question has been posted to this site.

After that, John and Lloyd followed up with a few pieces from Good Times and then did what might be humorously called a ‘cover version’ of the work Matter by Public Works (i.e., Ralph and Lloyd). The audience responded to all this aggressively by clapping and then leaving for the Café Bella for a Thaw Festival reception.

Read more about Thaw.

9.04.2000 / ‘Sampling’ featured in ‘East Bay Monthly.’ In an (apparently print-only) article entitled Free Samples, writer Mark K. Anderson covers the Evolution Control Committee / CBS News / ‘Rocked by Rape’ case; and in the process, goes into the Negativland / Island Records / ‘U2’ case, as well as the John Oswald / RIAA / ‘Plunderphonics’ case; and the Illegal Art / DGC/ ‘Deconstructing Beck’ case. Then, together with Lloyd Dunn, the writer marvels at the fact that The Tape-beatles have never been sued. We won’t reproduce the whole article here, but some choice tidbits are in order.

Steev Hise in the pages of ‘East Bay Monthly’ ‘We’ve been fortunate enough never to have been sued,’ says the Tape-beatles’ Lloyd Dunn. ‘But the fact is, in order to make the work we want to make, we have to ignore the possibility that we can be sued.’

Justice David Souter: ‘The fact that parody can claim legitimacy for some appropriation does not, of course, tell either parodist or judge much about where to draw the line … Accordingly, parody, like any other use, has to work its way through the relevant factors and be judged case by case, in light of the ends of the copyright law.’

Judge Alex Kozinski of the US 9th Circuit Court: ‘Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Creativity is impossible without a rich public domain. Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new.’

Don Joyce, Negativland: ‘Our position is fair use for collage. We do collage. Basically, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not a threat. It’s not in competition with the sources used. It’s such a natural and healthy human instinct that has been stifled by the notion that all art is private property.’

Mark Gunderson, Evolution Control Committee: ‘I wish that we had our chance to prove our rights in court, because I firmly believe this is a legal release. I believe this is a parody and it would be allowable as such.’

Steev Hise (pictured), ‘In the name of protecting artists, these middlemen, these corporations, have set up a system where they can profit from other people doing the creative work. It’s paradoxical.’

Mp3s 9.04.2000 / 19. Great within. This marks the our final posting from the CD Good Times. In our minds, there are meaty issues raised by its inclusion — not the least of which have to do with some of the limits of borrowing from other sources. How much manipulation needs to happen before new authorship occurs? Is changing the context alone sufficient? In the context of Good Times, of course, the track brings meaning to the overall work that is both highly literal and equally nostalgic — and it shows a marked interest in ‘the other.’

Go, get it, do.

7.04.2000 / Noted in passing. Report: The surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, are likely to reunite on stage next spring either in a single pay-per-view TV special or in a series of concerts, New York Daily News columnist Neal Travis reported today (Thursday), citing "the very best sources." The performance(s) would be staged in connection with the publication of their joint autobiography, The Beatles Anthology, announced earlier this week, Travis said. He indicated that Sean Lennon might substitute for his father or that "digital technology" could be used to "recreate" the slain Beatle on stage.

We got it from the list Nettime.

5.04.2000 / Cooperative cross-pollination gaining ground. Philosophically speaking, it’s becoming more and more difficult not to see our efforts in tacit alliance with the Open Source movement in software, inasmuch as we make work that insists that culture be shared rather than passively consumed. (We have chosen a method of working that is purposely somewhat narrow, ‘limited’ to the re-use of existing work; there are others.) So when a German site comes along and wants to examine ‘open culture’ further, we must recognize it and encourage it. Sharerights, Open Source, Copyleft: there is common ground and the attitude is spreading into all human information and informatic media. Follow it closely as it burgeons.

osculture - plattform offener kultur:


Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 18:51:55 -0500 (EST)
From: RTMark admin
To: RTMark Whitney Biennial artists:
Subject: update

To those who have not been notified by our new automatic artist-notification system: your website has been accepted by RTMark’s Whitney Biennial board and is currently showing a few times a day at that august institution.

Thank you for your participation!
Turning information resources into emotional capital.


The Tape-beatles Re-issue Longer-playing ‘Grand Delusion’

The Grand Delusion re-issue 1.04.2000 / Hashed, rehashed and improved. Originally released in 1993, the soundtrack of the film of the same name was the third major work for The Tape-beatles, and perhaps marks the pinnacle achievement of their tape cut-up aesthetic, placing it in harmony’s way with the three-screen epic ‘expanded cinema’ presentation, seen by numerous audiences in North America and Europe. The themes of national might, political power and human fallability taps its toe in time with the leitmotif of greed and ever present danger — none of this has gone missing in the new version. Strauss, Nietzsche, John Williams, Jorie Graham, the eternal return; each figures heavily in the conflict that spawned the recordings that became the compact-disc-cum-film The Grand Delusion.

The studio sessions, undertaken soon after the onset of the Gulf War, progressed in fits and starts, until a 42-minute track sequence was deemed ‘exciting’ by the brothers-in-tape. In retrospect however, there were a number of promising threads that remained unwoven into the fabric of the piece, with precipice beginnings or endings, or endless plains of aimless continuation, languishing on quarter-inch tape reels on a green-painted shelf. This situation was the result of our wandering ears, ceaseless merciless self-editing and (not to mention) the de facto, if temporary, dissolution of The Tape-beatles when John and Ralph moved away in opposite geographic (and conceptual) directions.

It has only been in the last year that the Tape-beatles were able to pull many of these fragments together into a twenty-minute suite entitled Fifteen Minutes In Search of Peace. We add them to the track list of (what has become) the first version of The Grand Delusion because we feel that together they form a satisfying musical whole that is certainly ‘finished enough’ to present, and because they do nothing to undercut the themes of the first version of the release. In fact, it is our opinion that they do much to enrich those themes. In the end, the listener must judge, but these few words might serve as a guide.

The point of all this, we suppose, is to announce the fact that this is a new release currently available for audition and purchase.

Find out more about the new release.

Buy your own copy from our secure online ordering page.

1.04.2000 / Scoundrels further reviled. When it comes to the Tape-beatles newly re-issued The Grand Delusion, some listeners have judged the work rather harshly. A case in point appears in the article ‘Armed Forces Journal International Reporter Exposes Menace.’ Here we find a daring exposé of what the barracks’ ranks are listening to and how it stokes the flames of severe annoyance among their superiors. Find out who our harshest critics are and why they believe we are taking liberties with free music, undercutting the mission of the Republic, even as group members staunchly defend the lengthened reissue as ‘ … utterings of a sub-conscious drowning in 24-hour news-war-machine-saturated madness.’

Here’s what has to say about The Grand Delusion.

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