2001-12-12 / Appearing at Centrum pro Současné
umění (Center for Contemporary Art) here at Jelení 9 in Prague, our Tape-beatles
took part in an evening’s
worth of events celebrating Guglielmo Marconi’s first successful transatlantic radio broadcast,
one hundred years ago today. Boasting a variety of musicians, poets, filmmakers, and other artists,
the event began at 3 p.m. and continued until well into the evening.
For the Tape-beatles’ part, they screened a DVD copy of their ‘expanded cinema’
work Matter. The response was genuine and we were pleased to be part of such an auspicious
2001-12-05 / Always on the prowl for new mental stimulations,
this week found the Tape-beatles attending a series of lectures at the Goethe Institut Prag, delivered
by a mixed group of heady notables under the aegis of ‘Excavating the Future.’ The presentations
were assembled in such a way as to draw a thread between the life and work of 19th-century Czech polymath
scientist Ján Evangelista Purkyně (Purkinje) and current trends in digital and so-called
‘media’ arts. Purkyně is an interesting figure for us because of his relationship to the
beginnings of media that rely on the technical production of sensory illusions for their effects.
Purkyně was remarkable for having early described the ‘persistence of vision’ phenomenon
(thought responsible for the illusion whereby a series of still images, one rapidly following another in
succession, creates the appearance of motion in cinema). He was also the first to describe human fingerprints,
noting their uniqueness and potential use as a form of identification.
“By focusing on the
so-called subjective and virtual phenomena,” reads the catalog to the conference, “he also paved way
for the invention of cinema and later generations of media.” (Including various forms of social control!)
We sat for most of two days in the Goethe Institut’s crystal-chandeliered lecture hall, alternately rapt
with fascination, or lost in our own thoughts if the presentation was poorly presented or simply uninteresting.
Amid references to such withering obscurities as the Great Wunderschrank of Uppsala (in fact quite dazzling),
there were occasional revelations,
or riveting technological parables, or scintillating examples from other disciplines.
Anyway, we took notes. You can be sure it will feed our future work.
Ján Evangelista Purkyně (Purkinje), 19th-century Czech scientist who described
subjective sensory phenomena, doing many of his experiments on himself. The above image happens to
be his self-portrait.
• Excavating the Future
An Archaeology and Future of Moving Pictures
• National Technical Museum, Prague
• Anomalous Research
2001-12-02 / Hewing doggedly to the path they’ve set before
them, our Tape-beatles are struggling in a tangle of technical quirks, and progress does not uniformly come easy. The
task currently at hand: the creation of VideoCDs using our trademark content and heretofore trusty CD burner.
What promised to be so easy quickly became a Gordian Knot of difficult electronic embranglements!
Some of the more technically adept of you (out there) are no doubt thinking “Whatever is the big deal? I’ve
been making VideoCDs on my computer for years. It couldn’t be any easier!” We’ve heard it
before, and it is no small part of our frustration. The problem here seems to stem from reasons of mysterious
origin, and it is difficult to eliminate benign attributes from the process to narrow down the problem.
Our numerous innocent attempts yielded no results. Files apparently prepared correctly were not accepted by
the burning software. Freeware VideoCD tools downloaded from the internet reported incorrect packet sizes, which
said software offered to correct, but in the end, failed to do. Booting into an alternative operating system and
using similar tools made for it ‘resolved’ the issue with packets. But new problems arose.
A number of compression sessions,
some lasting as long as 15 hours, eventually ‘resolved’ the problem with regard to our burning
software accepting the file, and delivering it to the surface of our tiny platter.
In the blink of an eye, joy turned to frustration as the resulting tiny platter failed to play in any of our software-based
VideoCD players. A test VideoCD from another source played with alacrity under identical conditions. Harumpf.
What could be going on?
The solution we finally worked out did not really solve the mystery: we simply moved to an older machine we weren’t
currently using for anything else, and everything clicked. Making a VideoCD was there as easy as it should have
been all along on our more advanced equipment. It seems as though our late-model CD-RW drive is not able to burn
VideoCDs that will actually play, where the older unit performs without stammer nor stall.
Still we are bothered by the problem, and will continue to experiment as our hectic schedules allow. However, it
should be duly noted that we have already spent some ten days chasing technical shadows! The upshot, it should be
remembered, is that we now have a way to make VideoCDs. This will allow us to duplicate video content of very
acceptable quality to cheap media, furthering our aims of dominating public consciousness.
• Flaws in DMCA
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, October 12, 2001.
Wayne State University law professor and copyright expert Jessica Litman sparks new debate over flaws
in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
• The Internet Under Siege
By Lawrence Lessig. Who owns the Internet? Until recently, nobody. Read how corporations and governments are
attempting to wall off parts of cyberspace.
2001-12-01 / We couldn’t really let this one go
by without comment. This fragment
appeared in our in-box, and suggests intriguingly that Harrison’s
copyright-infringement lawsuit (now more than a decade in the past), may have been nothing more than
cynical profiteering at its basest, most conniving level (but then, you already knew that):
What was really lame about that lawsuit was that it was Harrison’s former
manager that sued him. Harrison supposedly commented how similar the songs
were once, and admitted to his manager that he might have subconsciously
stolen the melody. When they parted ways some years later, the manager went
and bought the rights to the Chiffons song and sued Harrison for copyright
infringement. Melody is 50% of a copyright, so that was enough. [C.R.]
Forwarded by Negativland, with the line “Hoping we’re not too early with these