Dive into the archives.
- Immortal Technique at Occupy Wall Street breaking it all the way down:
Immortal Technique – Industrial Revolution
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- Let’s feel old and enjoy this cypher
from the BET awards, featuring Yelawolf, Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, Royce da 5’9″, and Eminem.
- My Un-Named Essay
As I’ve mentioned a few times, I spent most of 2011 working on a exhibition for the Gwangju Design Biennale together with Ai Weiwei. At the exhibition opening, working with Weiwei was what most people wanted to talk about, so I wrote an essay about the experience for the Biennale’s catalog. It was written in a rush and I’m still not 100% happy with it, but since the biennale is still running, I think it’s important to put it out there….
Where is Ai Weiwei?
The Making of an Un-Named Exhibition
In August 2010, Ai Weiwei asked if I wanted to curate a section of the Gwangju Design Biennale. It was my first time hearing of the project and the place, and my first ever offer to curate. I accepted immediately.
A 30 minute conversation followed wherein Weiwei briefed me on the virtues of the event, including its big budget (“bigger than Venice!”) and open-minded leadership (“they wouldn’t have asked me to be director if they weren’t willing to take risks”). He talked about the host city (“good food”, “Korea’s democracy movement started there”, “many, many love hotels”) and described the biennale site, a complex of four interconnected galleries containing more than 8000 square meters of exhibition space.
As he talked, I started to worry. The scale of the project seemed huge and the expectations were high. The biennale’s theme, a strong, unclear concept derived from the Tao Te Ching and developed by the biennale’s co-director Seung H-Sang, I found difficult to penetrate. “Design Is Design Is Not Design,” Weiwei explained, was an epigram implying limitless creativity. “It is the end and the beginning,” he said. “For the biennale, we need to show design not as just a final product, but as part of a continuous process.” I scribbled the statement down. I wasn’t sure what do with it, but it seemed to me an anchor point, something solid enough to grab on to, extend out from.
I needed more, so I dropped the pretense of collaborating and reverted to my journalist roots, transforming our meeting into a desperate sort of interview. I prodded Weiwei with questions; I offered suggestions and requested clarifications, I repeated and rephrased his responses. He confirmed or corrected me, but he rejected nothing. It was as if his ambition was endless and capable of absorbing everything. By the end of the meeting, I’d written down dozens of commands (“Explore the reasons for similar activities in design”), analogies (“Exhibition like a body – fat, bone, organs, muscle, skin”), conceptual pairings (“Stephen Hawking + Buddhism”), and seemingly unrelated references (“Beat Generation”, “Big Bang”, “Food”, “Kunstkammer”, “French Almanac”, “KKK/Abu Ghraib/Burqa”).
At the center of the page, repeatedly underlined and surrounded by a cartoon cloud was the most important, least defined phrase of them all – Un-Named Design. This was the title of the section that I would curate. It was one of several sections in the show, but the only one that Ai Weiwei would oversee personally. Most of the points he’d made during our discussion were about Un-Named and when it was over he suggested I write a short statement to declare our intentions. That night I pored over my notes and eventually came up with this:
The Un-Named Design component will explore those facets of the human environment that are not conventionally considered design, yet influence everyday life and the perception of it. The works included in this section will derive from areas of creation where originality, signature, and marketability are not the primary source of value, and where the identity of a product is based on its theoretical force and practical use, rather than its material appearance. Examples from this creative territory range from highly purpose-driven virtual designs for social networks to the low-tech, custom manufacturing of low cost artificial limbs. The goal of this theme is to reframe design as a set of strategic solutions to human needs, rather than an ego-driven pursuit of subjective beauty. It will expand the concept of design beyond the material and show that it is not only about providing more or less useful goods, but also about the modification of human perception in a rapidly changing, interconnected world.
Post in full here.
- Things you would know about if we were friends on Facebook Part 5
41. A whole bunch of articles on ‘Un-Named Design’ a section of the Gwangju Design Biennale that I spent the past year working on:
A Flurry of Design Events in Asia and Europe Fill the Autumn Calendar
By ALICE RAWSTHORN, New York Times
Despite the anxiety about Mr. Ai, the Gwangju biennale is scheduled to open Friday as planned. His contribution is an exhibition of “Unnamed Design,” on which he has collaborated with the curator Brendan McGetrick to address the timely theme of the changing definition of design. They are planning to explore design’s contribution to fields with which it has not traditionally been associated, including the invention of computer viruses and new financial models, and the organization of political protests … Ambitious, intellectually provocative and generously funded, the Gwangju biennale seems set to be one of the most compelling design events of the autumn.
Korea’s design biennial: an extreme body of work that pushes no products
By Justin McGuirk, The Guardian
This year’s theme – “design is design is not design” – might sound like an existential tongue-twister, but it reflects the kind of dualism that is more common of Taoist thought than European. Chief curators Ai Weiwei and Seung H-Sang derived it from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching….
One exhibit is a pamphlet handed out in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian uprising that advised protesters on the most effective tactics for civil disobedience, including how to improvise a helmet and how to breach police lines. Then there are designs for IEDs (improvised explosive devices) of the kind that kill troops daily in Afghanistan. There’s also a video of the plastic surgery that Ultimate Fighting Championship competitors can undergo in order to bleed less from the nose or above the eyes. (Korea, it should be pointed out, is one of the global hotspots of plastic surgery).
Is all of this design? It would be difficult to argue the case against: collective behaviour, bombs and extreme bodies all require designing. This tests the bland “designing a better world” rhetoric implicit in so much production. The most brazenly provocative exhibit illustrates different forms of public execution, from lethal injection to stoning, as blueprints – methods that someone had to devise in meticulous detail.
“Design that can be spoken of is not the eternal design”
By Edwin Gardner, Volume Magazine
Firstly the exhibition shows that a new design definition should move away from the artifact or object towards defining systems and rules, form is consequence of design, but not design itself. It’s about designing frameworks, instead of infills. It’s about the design of process instead of product.
Can Anybody Be a Designer?
By ALICE RAWSTHORN, New York Times
Curated in absentia by the Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, who was imprisoned during the final phase of research and banned from leaving China to participate in the installation, “Unnamed” explores the role of design in projects with which it would not traditionally have been associated. The show argues that design is not solely the preserve of professional designers but can also be the work of scientists, activists, computer programmers, hackers and anyone else who applies ingenuity, originality, strategic thinking and other qualities that are indispensable to good design.
42. This depressing report on how the privatization of government services (in the name of greater efficiency and cost effectiveness) ends up costing tax payers billions more:
Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors
By Project on Government Oversight
POGO’s study shows that the federal government approves service contract billing rates—deemed fair and reasonable—that pay contractors 1.83 times more than the government pays federal employees in total compensation, and more than 2 times the total compensation paid in the private sector for comparable services.
43. Another vid from my favorite new artist of 2011:
Frank Ocean – Swim Good
44. This quote:
Progress isn’t the future. It’s keeping up with the present. – Patti Smith
45. This quote:
If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them. – John Waters
- Things you would know about if we were friends on Facebook Part 4
31. This quote:
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’” — Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell
32. This feature on art produced by inmates at Guantanamo Bay detention camp:
In pictures: The art of Guantanamo’s inmates
The paintings are on display in the jail’s library. Prisoners don’t have direct access to the facility, which houses 16,000 books in 18 languages. Instead, inmates can choose books from a list and guards deliver them. According to officials there, the most popular titles are Harry Potter books and the novels of Agatha Christie.
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34. This inventory of things Americans say that British people don’t like:
Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples
24. People that say “my bad” after a mistake. I don’t know how anything could be as annoying or lazy as that. – Simon Williamson, Lymington, Hampshire
36. A very good piece on how neo-con cynicism has done more damage to western society than multiculturalism, terrorism, or any other right wing boogieman could:
The biggest threat to Western values
By Tarak Barkawi
Note for example the ways in which the great professional vocations of the West – lawyers, journalists, academics, doctors – have been co-opted and corrupted by bottom line thinking. Money and “efficiency” are the values by which we stand, not law, truth or health. Students are imagined as “customers”, citizens as “stakeholders”. Professional associations worry about the risk to their bottom line rather than furthering the values they exist to represent. Graduates of elite Western universities, imbued with the learning of our great thinkers, are sent off to corporations like News International. There they learn to shut up, obey, and collaborate in the dark work of exploitation for profit, for which they will be well rewarded, at least financially speaking.
38. An eye-opening visual essay on life in North Korea:
Inside North Korea
Earlier this year, David Guttenfelder, chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press, along with Jean H. Lee, AP bureau chief in Seoul, were granted unprecedented access to parts of North Korea as part of the AP’s efforts to expand coverage of the isolated communist nation. The pair made visits to familiar sites accompanied by government minders, and were also allowed to travel into the countryside accompanied by North Korean journalists instead of government officials. Though much of what the AP journalists saw was certainly orchestrated, their access was still remarkable. Collected here are some of Guttenfelder’s images from the trip that provide a glimpse of North Korea.
Students swim and play on a water slide at a pool facility at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea, on April 13, 2011. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
39. This pamphlet, distributed among Egyptian revolutionaries this spring:
“How to Rebel Smartly” – Egyptian Non-Violent Protest Manual
It was the centerpiece of an exhibit on non-violent revolution design we made for the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale. Translation by Abla Menouer.
To be continued…
- Things you would know about if we were friends on Facebook Part 3
20. A great piece on the role of corporate thinking in American government:
Naomi Klein on how corporate branding has taken over America
Choice Quote (one of many):
In short, Obama didn’t just rebrand America, he resuscitated the neoliberal economic project when it was at death’s door. No one but Obama, wrongly perceived as a new FDR, could have pulled it off.
21. This video from my favorite new artist of 2011:
Frank Ocean – Novacane
22. A video in which a talented illustrator and former Secretary of Labor and breaks down the desperate state of the global economy:
Some background, from the YouTube caption:
From Graeme Ewens’ “Congo Colossus”: “When Franco took the stage he appeared triumphantly alone in the spotlight at the top of some steps wearing a white lace boubou and weighing, as he later told the TV presenter, about 120 kilos. He sang, unaccompanied, a slow talking bolero-blues type song, “Kinshasa Mboka Ya MKambo” (Kinshasa, Town of Problems) in which he spoke directly to the receptive studio audience about his love for and fidelity to Kinshasa, the town of many problems, a town he would always love even though he was accused of deserting it for Europe, where people suspected he made his wealth by running drugs. It was the spectacular entry of a supremely confident star returning to his own people. He had the audience in his grasp as he descended the staircase, speaking out his feelings in a slow and soulful way before calling for the blue Gibson guitar and making that do the talking. Once esconced in the wrap-around sound of the complete TP OK Jazz, Franco played a stunner, lest the people of Kinshasa had forgotten whose town it was.”
As I mentioned on FB: Had you come visit my old apt on Ave A in the year 1999 between the hours of 2 and 6 AM, I definitely would’ve blown your mind with this. 100%.
25. This highlight from the very good album Brothers:
The Black Keys – Too Afraid to love you
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27. An interesting and frustrating dialog between Julian Assange and Slavoj Zizek:
Democracy Now Special: Conversation w/ Assange & Zizek
29. Another article about the corrosive effect of business school thinking on western society:
Driven off the Road by M.B.A.s
By Rana Foroohar
Despite all the post-financial-crisis soul searching within the business community about the value of an MBA, schools are still churning them out. There are, and will be, a lot more bean counters than engineers in this country. But the same may soon be true in China, where the state plans to open 40 new graduate schools of business in the next few years. As Lutz puts it, “That’s the best news I’ve heard in years.”
30. My favorite song sophomore year of high school. My friend Damon reminded me of it:
The Beatnuts – Do you believe?
To be continued…
- Things you would know about if we were friends on Facebook Part 2
For preview tracks and lots more info click here. Buy it at Amazon, Dusty Groove, Sounds of the Universe, Turntable Lab, Juno, Tower, Best Buy, Light in the Attic, Rush Hour, or any other online store of your choice…
12. This extremely creepy video of a Predator drone attack simulation:
Inside a Drone Predator Strike:
I discovered this video while researching for an exhibit of Predator Drones. It’s a video made by Raytheon Corporation, a major US military contractor, to promote its Common Ground Control System (CGCS). The CGCS is hardware/software package that enables drone operators to conduct surveillance and execute strikes anywhere in the world, from the security of a military base in the US. Here is an excerpt from the company’s website:
Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are improving how the United States and allies defend our way of life by conducting multiple reconnaissance and surveillance missions, delivering intelligence to those who need it when they need it for directing soldiers to their targets, enemy monitoring, situation assessment and border surveillance. Issues that impact UAS operations include procedural errors, ground station design, limited field of view and human factors. These problems have led to multi-million dollar UAS crashes and failed missions.
An open, common ground control station is the right solution and Raytheon is helping to shape the common approach to unmanned aerial vehicle management. The Raytheon Common Ground Control System (CGCS) is unique as the only ground control system where the United States government has full administration purpose rights to the common core UAS C2 software and interfaces. The government has the source code to the UAS framework, owns the open, documented interfaces and makes them readily available for vendors to adapt and compete to provide the latest innovative ideas and applications. CGCS is a revolutionary, next-generation control system designed to address UAS operations issues by enhancing the performance and effectiveness of the operator.
13. This excellent interview with Prodigy of Mobb Deep:
Prodigy, Rapper and Member of Mobb Deep: Interview on The Sound of Young America
Throughout the mid ’90s Prodigy was one of my favorite rappers and ‘The Infamous’, the album he made with his partner Havoc, is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time, imo. At the time it dropped, New York hip hop was going through a rowdy, over the top phase, which involved a lot of wild, threatening hand gestures, horror movie references, and even a brief flirtation with slam dancing. Prodigy was the antithesis of all of that. His style was (and more or less remains) ice cold. His lyrics expressed a nihilism that was much scarier than anything California’s gangsta or NY’s horrorcore cartoons could come up with. Anyway, I also wondered about the life that produced Prodigy and this interview from the excellent Sound of Young America podcast provided more than I could have asked for. Click the link above for the transcript…
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14. This sign o the times press release from the City of Forth Worth, (Don’t Mess With) Texas announcing the removal of the world Public from their public library:
They explain it:
The word “public” has been removed from the name of the Fort Worth Library. Why? Simply put, to keep up with the times. In today’s day and age, the word “public” implies a place that, at one time, might have been viewed as institutional and restrictive… By removing one word with a potentially negative connotation, the Library aims to appear more welcoming and accessible to all.
This is the extent of the anti-government madness that has taken over enormous parts of the United States. So no more public libraries in Ft Worth, but, as my friend James pointed out, the press release goes on to use the word public seven times to describe their programs.
15. This essay on education as the next Great American Bubble:
Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education
By William Deresiewicz
What we have in academia, in other words, is a microcosm of the American economy as a whole: a self-enriching aristocracy, a swelling and increasingly immiserated proletariat, and a shrinking middle class. The same devil’s bargain stabilizes the system: the middle, or at least the upper middle, the tenured professoriate, is allowed to retain its prerogatives—its comfortable compensation packages, its workplace autonomy and its job security—in return for acquiescing to the exploitation of the bottom by the top, and indirectly, the betrayal of the future of the entire enterprise.
16. This worth a thousands words image of DSK lecherously lunging toward the First Lady:
Source: The IMF Flickr
Gil Scott-Heron, R.I.P.
By Greg Tate
‘We all kept saying “Why don’t he just ‘kick it quit it/ kick it quit it,’” but Gil, more cunning, wounded and defensive than any junkie born, kept pushing back harder, daring any of us to try and rationally answer his challenge to the collective’s impotencies and inadequacies: “You keep saying kick it, quit it/ God, but did you ever try?/ To turn your sick soul inside out/ So that the world, so that the the world /can watch you die?”‘
18. This jam I got from my friend Pete:
The Weeknd – What You Need Chopped And Screwed By Mike G
19. This reassuring study from a scientifically suspect but highly entertaining website:
Why Intelligent People Drink More Alcohol
“The following graph shows the association between childhood intelligence (grouped into five “cognitive classes”: “very dull” – IQ < 75; "dull" - 75 < IQ < 90; "normal" - 90 < IQ < 110; "bright" - 110 < IQ < 125; "very bright" - IQ > 125) and the latent factor for the frequency of alcohol consumption. The latter variable is constructed from a large number of indicators for the frequency of alcohol consumption throughout adult life and standardized to have a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1.0. The data come from the National Child Development Study (NCDS) in the United Kingdom.”
20. A very nice mix that my friend Josh hipped me to:
The Perfect Lullaby Mix by NGUZUNGUZU
To be continued…
- Things you would know about if we were friends on Facebook Part 1
Sometime in April, shortly after I posted my FREE AI WEIWEI mix, my website was repeatedly hacked, injected with all sorts of bad things, and taken offline. I was super busy at the time and didn’t have time to get to bottom of how it happened or clean it up. So for the past 5 months or so I’ve been posting things that I would normally have put here on Facebook instead.
So now it’s October and I’ve finally got my site back. I five month lag in posts is a little embarrassing so I’m going to try to fill in the blank with a series of epic updates, which I will call “Things you would know about if we were friends on Facebook”.
Here they go – in reverse chronological order…
of which I became aware via
which can be found on K.R.I.T.’s unbelievably good, unbelievably free album Return of 4 Eva, which is available in both regular and chopped and screwed versions here.
Here’s the MP3
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2. This collection of mind blowing monuments in decay:
3. This beautiful illustration of Ai Weiwei by my friend Lok:
This entire concert is on youtube and it is awesome.
6. This pitch perfect Onion headline about Trump’s encouragement of birther stupidity:
Trump Unable To Produce Certificate Proving He’s Not A Festering Pile Of Shit
7. This clip of righteous, royal wedding-inspired anger on British talk radio:
8. This article supporting my long held suspicion that MBAs are monstrously overvalued and business school is basically a shell game:
The Management Myth
By Matthew Stewart
As a principal and founding partner of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 600 employees, I interviewed, hired, and worked alongside hundreds of business-school graduates, and the impression I formed of the M.B.A. experience was that it involved taking two years out of your life and going deeply into debt, all for the sake of learning how to keep a straight face while using phrases like “out-of-the-box thinking,” “win-win situation,” and “core competencies.”
9. This article (partially) about how by continuing to focus on Al Qaeda and jihad, America is missing the less dramatic, more fundamental pro-democracy movements taking place throughout the Muslim world:
Analysis: Killing the alibi
By Marwan Bishara
But for the Muslim world, bin Laden has already been made irrelevant by the Arab Spring that underlined the meaning of peoples power through peaceful means.
Some background from the YouTube description:
To many in both business and government, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power is truly moved into the hands of the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self by Adam Curtis tells the untold and controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society. How is the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interest?
The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund’s devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund’s great grandson, Matthew Freud. Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.
Part 1-Happiness Machines:
Part one documents the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays who invented ‘Public Relations’ in the 1920s, being the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.
Part 2-The Engineering of Consent:
Part two explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud’s ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses. Politicians and planners came to believe Freud’s underlying premise that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires. They were convinced that it was the unleashing of these instincts that had led to the barbarism of Nazi Germany, and in response to this, they set out to find ways to control the masses so as to manage the ‘hidden enemy’ within the human mind.
Part 3-There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed:
In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas, which lead to the creation of a new political movement that sought to create ‘new people’, free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people’s minds by business and politics. This episode shows how this idea rapidly developed in America through “self-help movements”, into the irresistible rise of the expressive self: the Me Generation.
Part 4-Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering:
This episode explains how politicians turned to the same techniques used by business in order to read and manipulate the inner desires of the masses. Both New Labor with Tony Blair and the Democrats led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group which had been invented by psychoanalysts in order to regain power. Both set out to mold their policies to manipulate people’s innermost desires and feelings, just as capitalism had learned to do with products.
To be continued…
- The Blog is Back Mini-Mix
VERY FEEL is back. To mark the occasion I planned to make a new mix. Sadly I haven’t had time, so instead here is a half mix that I made around the time Guru passed and never got around to finishing. Only 26 minutes, but worth posting I think. As Gza told us all those years ago, “Too many songs, weak rhymes that’s mad long; make it brief son, half short and twice strong.”
Expensive Jewelry – The Blog is Back
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D’Angelo – Alright
Devin the Dude w/ Snoop & Andre 3000 – What a job
Drake w/ Trey Songs – Successful instrumental
Anthony Hamilton – Do you feel me?
Ann Peebles – Troubles, heartaches, and sadness
Bushwick Bill – Ever so clear
Gang Starr – In memory of…
Gang Starr – Ex to the next
Gang Starr – All for the ca$h