Monthly Archives: October 2011

Garbology

An excellent book: Digital Rubbish: A natural history of electronics
Jennifer Gabrys
U. Michigan Press, 2011
publisher’s website
full text
A few bits to whet appetites for more:

Electronic waste, chemical contamination, failure, breakdown, obsolescence, and information overload are conditions that emerge as wayward effects of electronic materiality…
…The natural history method allows for an inquiry into electronics that does not focus on either technological progression or great inventors but, rather, considers the ways in which electronic technologies fail and decay… By focusing on the outmoded, it is further possible to resuscitate the political and imaginary registers that are so often forgotten in histories that rely on the persistent theme of progress….
…Superfund sites and museums of the electronics industry, shipping yards and electronics recycling facilities, computing archives, and electronics superstores and repair shops inform the content, texture, and structure of this study, which takes up natural history as much as a method as a theoretical point of inquiry…
…The chip, as unearthed from manufacturing residues and dredged up in discarded devices, is embedded in complex material and cultural arrangements. By untangling this fossil, I do not arrive at a more discrete description of this technology but, rather, scratch the surface of a device that—despite its apparent simplicity and ubiquity—is exceptionally dense and entangled…

Lydon on Pakistan

Christopher Lydon’s podcasts are almost always interesting (though sometimes I don’t expect them to be, especially the poetry ones… but I’m often surprised), and his summer 2011 series on Pakistan was fascinating. He’s edited those down to two hours of summary, which I’ve downloaded for listening as I walk. It will be especially interesting to hear what he’s chosen as the highest points, and how it’s structured into coherence!

forensic photography

Anybody with interests in documentary photography, family history, or Nacirema Studies would enjoy an hour or so with Joe Manning’s simply amazing unraveling of the family saga behind a Lewis Hine photo: The Young Family (via Shorpy, of course). My own efforts in the matter of Joe Wilner really need a retread, but have something of the same fascination with photographs as documentary evidence.

working sound recording

I’ve finally solved the problem of easy high-quality recording, using tools that I’ve had on hand for years but never quite managed to put together into working configuration. My glorious Earthworks microphones (QTC1) plug into an M-Audio MobilePre USB unit (an earlier version of this), which I was never able to make work in the Windows world, and I’ve had but never explored GarageBand ever since I got the Mac a year or so ago. It’s my ignorance of electronica that’s at fault here, but now I can record stuff whenever I want to. Here’s a short snippet with the new instrument (see it here), trying out one of the GarageBand preset effects. I’m sure I’ll find it embarrassing when I have more experience with the instrument and the equipment/software, but for the moment it’s a nice little marker.

And here’s another fragment, working up to a tune I particularly love and will do more with real soon now: Sovay