In 1998, geophysicist and flautist Dr. Andy Hildebrand seemed to have transcended the limits of the human voice. He made Auto-Tune, “a box that could make [anyone] sing in tune,” and his invention was a hit: producers prized it, studios bought it, and Auto-Tune quickly became ubiquitous in pop music production and beyond. Provenzano will give an ethnographically-grounded history of digital pitch correction technologies and the kinds of vocalities, production practices, anxieties and innovations that have bloomed, and withered, around them.

This event is part of a series of Digital Alchemy Talks at Design By Cosmic, probing the intellectual and ideological histories of art and technology.

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Since 1991, British artist Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) has worked across the field of audio-visual collage, and is recognized as an influential and pioneering figure in the still-growing area of sampling, appropriation and cut-up techniques of found footage and archives. Working under the name People Like Us, Bennett specializes in the manipulation and reworking of original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film and radio. We Edit Life is an evening of film screenings by People Like Us including the premiere live-score performance of Notations by Blectum from Blechdom.

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Artist and scholar Jon Leidecker traces the history of modern artificial intelligence back to the chaotic electronic feedback circuits of early electronic music pioneers. Leidecker traces commonalities in the works of Louis and Bebe Barron, David Tudor, Pauline Oliveros, the members of the Sonic Arts Union (Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma), and their European contemporaries Eliane Radigue, Pietro Grossi, Jaap Vink, and Roland Kayn.

This event is part of a series of Digital Alchemy Talks at Design By Cosmic, probing the intellectual and ideological histories of art and technology.

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With Of lands and lines, Bay Area electronic music pioneer Laetitia Sonami explores the Spring Spyre, a neural network instrument created in collaboration with technologist Rebecca Fiebrink. Focusing on the shift between place and representation, Sonami tunes the instrument in a new “prepared exploration” created specifically for the performance site at Wind River. Sharing the bill is Asha Tamirisa, whose long-form improvised performances incorporate various combinations of digital, analog, and tactile media—such as analog synthesizers, sounding objects, moving image, and generative text—and often seek to use the site of the performance as part of the instrumentation. Most recently, historical allegories, memories, and archival materials have been finding their way into her sensorial multimedia performances.

This event is part of a series of Digital Alchemy Talks at Design By Cosmic, probing the intellectual and ideological histories of art and technology.

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Jack Callahan (die Reihe) and Jeff Witscher’s (Rene Hell) recent collaboration What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth is a multichannel work examining the banality of the human drama in the 21st century. Witscher and Callahan, both known for their far-ranging work under various monikers, have recently put forward the descriptors “Music Art” and “Sound Music” as formal headings to re-assert the simplicity of their own respective practices. The evening will also features solo works by Callahan and Witscher. A new work by Witscher, entitled St. Vincent Passion, is in reference to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with new proclamations of impending apocalypse littered throughout. Callahan’s solo performance draws from his project Housed, a catalog of over 1000 chords from classic House tracks sampled and archived by Callahan, which is currently being turned into an web-based archive.

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In 1989, as Tim Berners-Lee dreamed up the World Wide Web, a deep faith in the democratizing power of decentralized communication ruled American life. Even Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator of the Hollywood era, could be heard to proclaim that “The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the micro-chip.” Today of course, we know better. The question is, how did we go so far wrong? To try to answer that question, this talk returns to the 1940s and shows how our trust in decentralized communication was born in the fight against fascism during World War II. It then tracks that trust through the counterculture of the 1960s to the Silicon Valley of today. Along the way, it shows step-by-step how the twentieth-century American dream of a society of technology-equipped, expressive individuals became the foundation of today’s newly emboldened and highly individualized form of authoritarianism.

This event is part of a series of Digital Alchemy Talks at Design By Cosmic, probing the intellectual and ideological histories of art and technology.

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In their web TV series, “Sistership TV,” multimedia performance art trio and research group The Powers envision a world inhabited by animal kin and monstrous creatures, haunted by other-dimensional entities, and erupting with the repressed archetypes of classical myth. Through the media of video, music, story-telling, dance, and ritualistic performance, The Powers present a performance that is both absurd, irreverent, and terrifying, drawing inspiration from mythological trinities of sisters and reconfigurations of hetero-patriarchal myths. The Powers consists of scholar, psychoanalytic therapist, and musician Katherine Kline, Brooklyn/Montreal painter and mixed-media artist Jessica Mensch, and Canada-based artist and filmmaker Emily Pelstring. Sharing the bill is Oakland-based artist Sharmi Basu, who explores themes of vulnerability, accountability, and experiences of millennial diaspora in their electronic and multimedia performances.

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Discussions of technology and gender usually focus on how gender shapes the design and use of technology—but less-discussed is the way that technology shapes our idea of what gender even is. In this talk, Os Keyes, a researcher and writer at the University of Washington studying gender, technology and (counter)power, will parallel the development of facial recognition systems for gender with the history of attempts to identify and classify trans people. In doing so, they will demonstrate the profound (and violent) threat that AI systems—even those which claim to merely be “observing” or “measuring”—pose for individuals’, communities’, and societies’ understanding of the range of possible human lives.

This event is part of a series of Digital Alchemy Talks at Design By Cosmic, probing the intellectual and ideological histories of art and technology.

more info...