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robertogreco : obliquestrategies   2

Parachutes | Instructions for landing in the 21st century
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“‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice . . . ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’” — Lewis Carroll

Unlike a book, cards are unbound, unnumbered, and give no indication of any order. Free of the constraints of linearity, cards move in many directions. They rub up against one another and generate unforeseen connections. And as the reader moves through them, they begin to work a simultaneous effect. A pack of cards doesn’t mount an argument or tell a story, but uncovers a terrain.
“The same or almost the same points were always being approached afresh from different directions, and new sketches made . . . if you looked at them you could get a picture of the landscape. Thus this book is really only an album.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

Our approach, however, is nothing new. Parachutes follows a long tradition of fragmentary thinking, from the heady and enigmatic (McLuhan’s Distant Early Warning and Eno’s Oblique Strategies) to the methodical and encyclopedic (IDEO’s Method Cards and W.I.R.E.’s Mind the Future). Placing ourselves in their midst, Parachutes was born from the need to think in both parts and wholes.
“No one fragment carries the totality of the message, but each text (which is in itself a whole) has a particular urgency, an individual force, a necessity, and yet each text also has a force which comes to it from all the other texts.” — Hélène Cixous

Though diverse in their topics and far-reaching in their speculations, these cards have a definite subject matter. Without speaking too much for the text itself—a sin every introduction is fated to commit—we try to make sense of a world in which hyperconnectivity has flattened space and collapsed time, untethered us from our bodies and fractured our identities; where static objects have given way to fluid experiences and organizations call forth communities of interaction rather than make products for individual consumption.

Despite the supremacy of technology—and yet, somehow, because of it—people have never been in a better position to understand what it means to be human. In this tightly knit latticework of activity and feeling and thought, our connection with others can be felt as subtly and yet as directly as if we were swimming in a school of fish. Our study, now as ever, is the human being.

Above all, our aim has been to dismantle clichéd forms of thinking—the maps that lead us astray—in order to view the territory with fresh eyes. As we parachute into the reality of the 21st century, we survey the land from a variety of elevations and scales, vistas and vantage points. Only in that way could we observe the land’s depth as well as its extent. Only when we consider both dimensions do essential patterns emerge.
“Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with landsurveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.” — Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari

In the end, however, there can be no grand conclusion. One must always move forward, chart new territories, assimilate new findings. No all-seeing summit could be reached that would not be blind to itself. Alas, and yet thankfully, we are forever amid the trees."
classideas  books  cards  publishing  linear  lewiscarroll  wittgenstein  obliquestrategies  srg  methodcards  marshalmcluhan  fragmentarythinking  hyperconnectivity  gilleseleuze  félixguattari  thinking  order  disorder  juxtaposition  howwered  deleuze&guattari  cartography  linearity  organization  hélènecixous  hypertext  connections  media  technology  business 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Sasha Frere-Jones: Brian Eno’s Quiet Influence : The New Yorker
"In January, 1975, the musician Brian Eno and the painter Peter Schmidt released a set of flash cards they called “Oblique Strategies.” Friends since meeting at art school, in the late sixties, they had long shared guidelines that could pry apart an intellectual logjam, providing options when they couldn’t figure out how to move forward. The first edition consisted of a hundred and fifteen cards. They were black on one side with an aphorism or an instruction printed on the reverse. Eno’s first rule was “Honour thy error as a hidden intention.” Others included “Use non-musicians” and “Tape your mouth.” In “Brian Eno: Visual Music,” a monograph of his musical projects and visual art, Eno, who still uses the rules, says, “ ‘Oblique Strategies’ evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation—particularly in studios—tended to make me quickly forget that there were other ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach.”

Eno is widely known for coining the term “ambient music,” and he produced a clutch of critically revered albums in the nineteen-seventies and eighties—by the Talking Heads, David Bowie, and U2, among others—but if I had to choose his greatest contribution to popular music it would be the idea that musicians do their best work when they have no idea what they’re doing. As he told Keyboard, in 1981, “Any constraint is part of the skeleton that you build the composition on—including your own incompetence.” The genius of Eno is in removing the idea of genius. His work is rooted in the power of collaboration within systems: instructions, rules, and self-imposed limits. His methods are a rebuke to the assumption that a project can be powered by one person’s intent, or that intent is even worth worrying about. To this end, Eno has come up with words like “scenius,” which describes the power generated by a group of artists who gather in one place at one time. (“Genius is individual, scenius is communal,” Eno told the Guardian, in 2010.) It suggests that the quality of works produced in a certain time and place is more indebted to the friction between the people on hand than to the work of any single artist.

The growing influence of this idea, ironically, makes it difficult to see clearly Eno’s distinct contributions to music—his catalogue of recordings doesn’t completely contain his contribution to the pop canon. When someone lies on the studio floor and sings at a microphone five feet away, Eno is in the air. When a band records three hours of improvisation and then loops a four-second excerpt of the audiotape and scraps the rest, Eno has a hand on the razor blade. When everybody except for the engineer is told to go home, Eno remains. Behind Eno stand John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, and Erik Satie, but those guys didn’t make pop records.

It feels odd to call Eno’s new album, “High Life,” released this week, a collaboration. Credited to Eno and Karl Hyde, of the electronic duo Underworld, “High Life” is indeed the work of several people. But deciding that any one project of Eno’s is a collaboration seems off, because collaboration is Eno’s primary mode. Eno’s first recorded work was the sound of a pen hitting a lamp. Who deserves credit for that—Eno, the pen, or the lamp?"



"What became increasingly clear in the seventies was that Eno’s embrace of possibility and chance wasn’t as free-form as it seemed—it was a specific aesthetic. His name shows up on very few records you would describe as hard or aggressive, and his love of the perverse has never been rooted in hostility. Eno fights against received wisdom and habit, but rarely against the listener.

In fact, as Eno found more ways for technology to carry out his beloved generative rules, his music became less and less like rock music and closer to a soundtrack for meditation. The same year that he released “Another Green World,” he also put out “Discreet Music.” The A side was a thirty-minute piece that was written as much by machines as by Eno. In the liner notes, Eno wrote, “If there is any score for the piece, it must be the operational diagram of the particular apparatus I used for its production. . . . Having set up this apparatus, my degree of participation in what it subsequently did was limited to (a) providing an input (in this case, two simple and mutually compatible melodic lines of different duration stored on a digital recall system) and (b) occasionally altering the timbre of the synthesizer’s output by means of a graphic equalizer.”

The result is an area of sound without borders or time signature. There is no rhythm track, just layers of monody, lines programmed into a synthesizer and playing over each other. It is hypnotic, and fights your attempts to focus on it. In 1978, he started to use the term “ambient music”: the concept stretched back to describe “Discreet Music” and the work of earlier composers, like Satie, who coined the term “furniture music,” for compositions that would be more functional than expressive. In the liner notes of “Ambient 1: Music for Airports” (1978), Eno wrote, “Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

But “Music for Airports” was not nearly as docile as Eno wanted it to be. Though the music is gentle enough to be background music, it is too vocal in character and too melodic to be forgotten that easily. I can recall entire sequences without much difficulty. As much as Eno wanted his music to recede, and as potent as the idea was, he failed by succeeding: the album is too beautiful to ignore. But, in some ways, history and technology have accomplished what Eno did not. With the disappearance of the central home stereo, and the rise of earbuds, MP3s, and the mobile, around-the-clock work cycle, music is now used, more often than not, as background music. Aggressive music can now be as forgettable as ambient music."



"“I have a trick that I used in my studio, because I have these twenty-eight-hundred-odd pieces of unreleased music, and I have them all stored in iTunes,” Eno said during his talk at Red Bull. “When I’m cleaning up the studio, which I do quite often—and it’s quite a big studio—I just have it playing on random shuffle. And so, suddenly, I hear something and often I can’t even remember doing it. Or I have a very vague memory of it, because a lot of these pieces, they’re just something I started at half past eight one evening and then finished at quarter past ten, gave some kind of funny name to that doesn’t describe anything, and then completely forgot about, and then, years later, on the random shuffle, this thing comes up, and I think, Wow, I didn’t hear it when I was doing it. And I think that often happens—we don’t actually hear what we’re doing. . . . I often find pieces and I think, This is genius. Which me did that? Who was the me that did that?”"
2014  brianeno  sashafrere-jones  music  johncage  marcelduchamp  eriksatie  scenius  collaboration  notknowing  uncertainty  constraints  rules  obliquestrategies  art  process  howwework  happenings  bryanferry  improvisation  generative  possibility  chance  genius 
july 2014 by robertogreco

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