Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Being in large groups of people makes me nervous. Especially at Digital Showcases where the people seem so aloof. To me, at least. I’m aloof myself, I guess, but that’s because I’m nervous. And the cycle continues… I just don’t know what to do with people sometimes. I like you and I think you’re cool and good and I want to know you but I just don’t always have that much to say and when I don’t have much to say I don’t like to say much… Ugh. Two people told me they’d read my Blog recently, though — it’s good to know people in my “real world” read this crap and not just strangers searching for “gloryhole girls” on Google.
Anyway, I had a long conversation with Joe from Iowa tonight. I think he was kinda drunk because on one trip up the stairs to the loft at Texture, he blurted out that he wanted a Texas girl and that what Digital Showcase night needed to spice it up properly were girls dancing in cages. I have to admit, Digital Showcase seems like such a family affair right now, I have to admit. It doesn’t drip sex or strangeness — it’s digital musicians hunched behind laptops and gear and video projection artists who either hunch behind their gear or set their work in motion and then go into the crowd. And the crowd is groups of two-to-six people clustered together talking about whatever or “networking.” (The Austin Chronicle gave us an appropriate award: “Best Digital Networking.” They didn’t mean that our computers communicated clearly over distances…) Joe wanted the event to jump out at the audience more, to not be passive and ambient but to be more there.
Before I start criticizing, I’m not going to diss Todd’s job putting these things together. He finds good musicians and (with the recent help of Ginny) video artists and I probably don’t know half of the actual prosaic work that goes into putting the whole thing together. They’re solid art events. But I think Joe had a point…
I talked with people for most of this show and for most of the last Texture show (in September) and I didn’t really pay much attention to the music except every now and then and just simple awareness of it existing in the background of my conversations. I could give a few words about each artist and tell you which I prefered over the others (tonight the crown went to Flowchart), but if pressed I wouldn’t be able to give an honest reading of the musicians’ skills… I mean, there’s more to music than just the sounds being created at any one moment — the juxtaposition of different elements, crescendoes, decrescendoes, developing sonic ideas… You just can’t hear these when the music comes to you in several second bursts between comments in your conversation about “Waking Life.”
I become worried that all of this “art” isn’t real. That the reason we get together at Texture or the Red Fez isn’t primarily to experience new art — it’s to meet people and hang out in a trendy environment. (Not that there’s anything wrong with hanging out in a trendy environment, but I already have ways to do that without having to move risers at 2:30 in the morning.) I almost feel the music is almost arbitrary to the event — anything providing a hip backbeat might do. I remember being disappointed after first playing a Showcase because I got almost no feedback. I’d taken some time to put pieces together in a certain way to achieve certain effects. Afterwards some people applauded but only a couple people tried to say anything to me about what they heard — and even that wasn’t much. There’s a famous John Cage quote: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Maybe that’s true for talking about music, as well. Especially when you’re talking to a weird tall guy you don’t really know…
I don’t know. It’s 4:30 in the morning, now, and the Joy Division CD just ended and I think I’m launching into deep space without a real point. I wasn’t in so many conversations at the last Digital Showcase — I listened to the music more and felt I got a better idea of what the artsts were doing. Rich Bailey did some cool shit, as usual, and I liked what I heard of Mr. Projectile. Their art jumped out at me for some reason like girls dancing in cages would. (Well, sort of.)
I feel like I’m drifting into negativity and I don’t feel negatively about the event at all… Maybe I’ll think about this as I sleep and will have more to say about it tomorrow. Maybe I should do less “saying” and more “doing.”
I'm Josh Knowles, a technology developer/consultant on a variety of mobile, social media, and gaming projects. I founded and lead Frescher-Southern, Ltd. I grew up in Austin, Texas and currently live in New York City.
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