Archive for November 7, 2005

Gameen Driving

Gameen driving
what if you could split the cost of insurance and the cost of a car loan across a group of drivers? would that mean higher returns on car loans? higher numbers of drivers and by extension better employment? Would you need to set up an internet site to keep track of the cars? Require lo-jack and hybrid?

Things you would need. A government i.e. a state in the U.S. willing to let many people own one car. People in close proximity willing to share a car (or a buy in auto-share service that would get complicated as the loan nears the end), an insurance company willing to split the cost of insurance across several people (would that take the risk up or down? would the risk be less across this group of drivers?) and then the usual micro-credit-esque bank. The advantages would be to take the cost of car ownership and maintaince across a group of people. Has anyone tried this?

kind regards,

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November 7, 2005 at 4:53 am 1 comment

Super Princess Peach as a feminist statement or something

There’s a bit of a rucus brewing over on the new games journalism board about wether mario brothers is sexist. After all, Princess Peach spends most of her time humming Milli Vanilli tunes in the confines of some Lizard’s dungeon unless it’s all some weird dream Mario has on a lunch break i.e. SM2. But my point was, the nintendo aka famicom was an inherently un-ideological machine. Revolutions often come from the middle class and the nintendo didn’t have the resources to make depth of characterization an easy reality. It was after all limited to depicting people as low res cartoons, and while it was a step up from the Atari of old (wow Americans made video game machines? jesus… when did that happen oh wait…) the constraints put on the original makers made concerns such as feminism and environmentalism to require creative means to implement. You could really try to make a beautiful game on the nintendo or restage the Tianmen Square Massacre too. But games were more about pixelated fun then making your characters well rounded and even now that hours of dialogue can be punched onto a dvd in seconds we still get… women in leather pants with guns… which is better?
    But what do you say when the game machine isn’t just middle class, but is down right arty reinventing the way you play games-esque like the nintendo ds? Super Princess Peach is hardly going to make new games feminists happy. Ms. Peach is still as dainty as it comes, you control her emotions making her cry, sing and fly, angry, and finally heal herself. It’s not a bad set list and certianly makes the game more compelling than SM was. She’s also got a little slide maneuver, can walk on water, and has a submarine in there somewhere. Ms. Peach might be dainty, but she certianly fullfills a man’s shoes in this game. SP is probably the best platformer Nintendo has put out in sometime. It’s level reminds of SM3, but Peach’s additional abilities, say the sliding and the emotions give the game a different pace. While Mario seemed to be rushing, Peach is built around the concept of ruminating on each level. You spend a lot of time exploring… looking for Toads who you release at which point Ms. Peach storyboard princess gasps in glee. Boss fights are a joy with toggling between abilites being essential to moving on. It’s a hard fight (especially against the centipede boss), but their not to challenging. The game is paced perfectly, remakes Super Mario World perfectly at times, what can I say. I like her.
    On the note of women in video games, I think the best option is for women to defy “stereotypes” and get involved. Being an activist or complaing on web boards is fine, and I can understand people being upset about how people of their designation are depicited. I’ve seen some weird depcitions of westeners in Korea for instance I don’t exactly like, but what changes things isn’t just protesting it’s making something better. The games industry is still trying for that holy grail: a good “girl” game. Millions are there for the first crew to catch the imagination of women the world over. Maybe Princess Peach could get driven off the boards by a better version of women?

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November 7, 2005 at 4:14 am Leave a comment

Kuwakubo Ryota

For awhile I’ve been reading about media art on we make money not art and other sites and while I’ve always thought it was cool, it never struck me as being fully art. While there’s a lot of art involving computers and the internet, the art uses technology a means not an ends to continuing art’s history. But tonight I was reading an interview with Kuwakubo Ryota and he essentially confirmed what I’d always thought. He says, “people in the media art field see what they do as an extension of contemporary art, but the truth is people well versed in contemporary art will have nothing to do with them…[excerpt some of the usual my work doesn’t sell stuff]… You could put a media artist and a contemporary artist in the same place, and they’d have no common topic… which is a real shame.” He then goes on to say he would like to be considered a contemporary artist. But this creates an interesting question: what is so different from say contemporary primarily western art that uses technology and Japanese media artists? Is media art like graffitti a much loved form with out the content of the old?
    Ryota’s reaction to contemporary art though is a little refreshing: “I tried studying contemporary art, and started to find it stiffling. I’d prefer to do things in a more playful way.” This does ignore Jeff Koons or The Art Guys (never thought I’d use them in arguement), but it does suggest Ryota wants to escape the history of art which certianly isn’t a bad thing. Art could use competition and while design is quickly escalating to near art like levels in the world of commerce the fact is both are saddled with long histories that ultimately derive from the clergy. We wouldn’t have typography if monks hadn’t saddled every word of a manuscript with as much pontification as possible, and art’s patrons were often churches that ended up producing most of Art’s masterpieces. Mr. Ryota states that his work isn’t as technical as MIT, but one day someone will come along who will be.
    Perhaps the real problem with media art is that it doesn’t have the severity of art’s questions, the probing depth of it’s masters, etc. It’s similar to grafitti. It’s inherntly un-hegemonic right now so it’s a world of play. Art has a long history full of errors and mistakes, but do we have to do everything right if we have the chance to do it again? Media Art is hardly the place for art’s thinkers, but taken the open forms of modern art say Barney or Cao Fei, the humor of McCarthy, and the jokes inhernt in much art, isn’t media art what people are trying to reach? Well no, the openness of contemporary art is a product of reacting to art’s history as a whole. While art with a sense of humor is nothing new Asia has little problem shrugging off the heavy handed conceptual precepts of western art. I see little Asian art that takes art as seriously as the West does. While Ryota admits to wanting to be considered part of this tradition will he come to the world conversation of art or will art come to Japan? Chances are both will meet some ways away. While media art has found it’s hitch with the technorati, it’s connection to art as a whole is fairly obvious. Mr. Ryota could do it, to make a weigthy but fun conversation out of knick knacks and technological trinkets and their encompaying philosophies. Technology is an intrinsic part of our lives and while contemporary art has no problem using it to critique art as a whole and provide a neede comedic break from modernism’s stern exterior, very little art has truly captured the strangeness of what technology has created. After Bueys we’ve had to accept that actions can be more complex and weighty than what lasts in paint or words. Duchamp made just the possibility of making art into an act. The form of their art itself performance or concept itself dictated a new form of art making. What’s to say that media art doesn’t represent a new form? That’s it’s seemingly empty messages aren’t just naive gestures, that we’re beginning to face something new? What’s needed, unfortunately, is boredom. If you can’t take the form seriously enough to make something out of it, why do it all (ok so yeah it is worth doing for the fun and creating cool little gizmos like the bitman etc.)? The idea that you can’t have fun and make contemporary art is funny and much of what I saw last time I was in New York seemed to be art as idle pleasures like roller skating and chewing gum. But art could use a competitor and coupled with design and grafitti media art does make a benign place to stash away all the cash art as a brand is producing.

” maybe what’s more at stake is creating a competitor. While art certianly has it’s tricks, what’s to say we’re not building a new insitution? The questions are about the same for media as they were for art’s origins: realism. Software struggles to attain realism both graphically, physically, economically, smell-a-lee, and after that? Design, grafitti, and others are building a corpus that isn’t bogged down in words as art journalism is increasingly having little to do with history and focusing more on art as brand. Maybe media art is merely the objects we found in those caves so long ago, but more likely art will swallow it whole.

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November 7, 2005 at 4:11 am Leave a comment

Stuff picked up Recently

thoughts on stuff picked up recently:

Towa Tei – Flash
Mr. Tei has always put out good record and Flash can be a little bit to light sometimes but the for most part is a solid lap-pop record. The track with Atom Heart is one of the better either artist has done in awhile. At times he summons up a little to much of his past on this one, what’s best about Towa Tei is hearing him move father away from deep-house and soul and hearing something good come out of. The cover of The Knack’s My Sharona (with Tycoon Tosh no less)seems a little random, but maybe it fits into his set as a whole.

Marcos Valle “Nova Bossa Nova” & The Essential Marcos Valle 2
Two comps of Mr. Valle’s bossa nova and space-pop from the fifties.
bachelor pad music? kinda, but Valle always seems classy in some impossible way.
Neither of these are knocking me on the ass like the original ones I heard, but
it’s good regardless.

The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
Meg and Jack White might be fake siblings, but their reconstruction of blues’ & rock’s origins are too. If anything their desire to reproduce the kinks of the original records and extend these effects to the point they become obvious facades are certianly pretentious, but they also have an imagination that few could match especially using the grit and limited means of early r&b. Who would have guessed difficult listening would emerge out of the earenest of the past? Track 6 seems to be the track they put in so the radios would play something nice, but the album itself makes you wade through some excellent and strange reconstructions of zepplin and honkey tonk, 45s meet 78s, 70s growls in serial form.

Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Music Orchestra – Home Coming Day Concert
I once heard a Korean trad band that could wail like charlie parker on
their instruments. This isn’t that band, but it’s pretty good. Part of a series
of discs intended for tourists that provide traditional korean music. At times
you can hear echoes of Chinese music in these orchestrations, but surprisingly
this is pretty good. Hoping to pick up a few more.

Lee Ssang – Library of Soul
Korean hip-hop is starting to distinguish itself with production via MC Sniper
pilfering his parents collection of classical music for breaks and collaborting with dancehall accapellos and here Lee Ssang seems to use every hoe in Seoul to make these koreans playing soul and funk joints with korean mcs infested tracks burst with life. The closest collaborator to Seoul’s hip-hop is probably folks like Common and Kayne West, tracks are bursting with chorus and soul to make the whole thing rebound off hope. All that said, most of Lee Ssang’s best seller is crap. But there’s a few joints worth keeping. The other night I heard a perfectly amazing korean hip-hop group. When that music will make it off indies and onto majors so ignorant folks like me can digest it more easily I don’t know, but it’ll be a pub crawl like no other to get there.

Isolee – We Are Monster
How to read a follow up that’s point seems to be more sedate than the original? Isolee made history with Beaumont Plague, but on We Are Monster he’s more obsessed with keeping a consistent tone for each song. Tracks glide by abysammly numb and fettering, they ripen glow and stutter in obsolence. It at times like this I wish I knew some history of the musical form to resort too. Is this a normal chilled follow up to a blow out? Well, kinda. At least my record collection seems to recall a good amount of overtly melodic slow-house like Carl Craig’s Pysche as a backing point for Isolee’s latest, but We Are Monster seems to defy indentity. This is one dude who isn’t anyone. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and if anything We Are Monster’s occasionally thread barren lymerics invite the novice to take a stab, but as always it’s more complex than what might appear. Isolee is a master of unraveling musical assumptions and hence even when guitars being to thumb towards a prog-rock origins, the whole effect is a little more mutated than expected. Isolee can draft tracks with a sincerity and bluntness that makes the whole thing appear so easy, We Are Monster is numb to genres. I’ve been reading about media art recently a Japanese form in which neatly designed little trinkets and games come up in galleries but lack the usual connections with art’s heavy handed histories. If anything Isolee seems to be shedding a similar past. Is We Are Monster as dense as tech’s mainstays? No, but it’s throw away nature makes it all the more memorable in a catalog of essentials.

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November 7, 2005 at 4:07 am Leave a comment


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