Archive for October, 2012

Robot Band






This application shows a group of robots performing for youtube. The robots are controlled by an old vending machine and this goes along with our class discussion about machines making music.



This is a video of autonomous robots playing the James Bond theme song.  The robots are helicopters flying on a predetermined path to play their instruments together.  This ties together with Tuesday’s class discussion about robots playing instruments.  Since the robots are autonomous there is no human interaction with the show.


This YouTube video is somewhat similar to the article we read this week, because it touches on music and how we interact with it in our daily lives.  In the video, the characters go about their daily life, but incorporate songs into their conversations.  This video relates to the article, because since the songs are not coming from the artist themselves they can be considered “phantom voices.”  Most of the video is synced with the music really well so it seems as if the character is actually belting out the lyrics; this can give the viewer a kind of uncanny feeling.  I also think this video applies to the topic of discussion this week, because there are many times when a song takes us back to a specific time or place in our memory, and Songs In Real Life is basically just an example of that happening live.

The popular online tool Cleverbot is an application that allows users to chat via text with an “intelligent” machine. Additional add-on software is available that allows users to input their thoughts verbally. A human looking avatar can be used on the screen and by using text-to-voice will output Cleverbot’s responses in a realistic manner that in my opinion, can be quite eerie.

In 2011, at the Techniche 2011 festival, Cleverbot came very close to passing the Turing Test that was proposed by early computer scientist Alan Turing that after a 5 min conversation if a human could not judge whether the machine was human more than 50% of the time, then it should be deemed intelligent. At the festival, participants voted on a scale 0-10 on how human like responses seemed. Half of the interactions were human-human and half were bot-human; Cleverbot was judged to be 59.3% human, while the humans in the event achieved just 63.3%. You can find more information here.

Cleverbot-to-Cleverbot interactions using the Evie Existor avatar.

This is a video of 8 floppy disk drives playing a song from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. The original song was created by humans and played by a Super Nintendo, which sound similar to MIDI. This video took the idea of technology creating music literally. When a drive moves at a certain speed it creates a specific frequency of sound. When put together, it sounds like music. I felt like this video was a good example of the topic this week because it is an old technology doing something it wasn’t intended to do: create music.

In this article, Van Elferen starts off by stating that technology and culture can not be separated from one another. “New media technologies shape the way we perceive and interact with the world around us: since they guide our perception and have acquired their own agency, they are also actors in the networked structure of our day-to-day activities.”  Van Elferen claims that digital music is an interesting example because of the two aspects of technological mediation: we hear music through digital keyboards, samplers and other MIDI devicesand we interact with it through computers, smartphones, mp3 players, and clubs.  She says that with the autonomous agency of music there as been a rise for perfection and some music lovers are enthused, while others are resisting it. She addresses these aspects of digital music through the lens of Gothic criticism by studying cybergoth music.  “A distinct portion of Gothic music is heavily imbued with technology, with regards to instrumentation, compositional processes, and lyrics.” Van Elferen seems to be enthused by the possibilities that are available when using technology with music. She states that technology is both an agent and a medium in digital music and it is apparent in cybergoth music.

This reading was primarily about how culture and technology have essentially merged and cannot be separated in our society today. Van Elferen also explains that digital music is one of the most dynamic mediations of technology because it can be accessed, produced, and remixed in so many different ways. He then explains this phenomenon in the context of cybergothic music and how it deviates from the norms and uses obscure digital sounds to create dark feelings and emotions. This music aided by modern technology to create deeper and potentially harmful feelings through music has introduced the fact that technoculture may not just be a postive step in the advancement of technology, but a terror of what technology as an independent agency is capable of producing.

One of the main points in the article is how technology and culture have basically become so intertwined that it would be almost impossible to separate them from each other. After discussing this he brings up the example of digital music and more specifically, cyber gothic music. Goth culture is different from the mainstream culture and is therefore normally frowned upon or conjures unsettling feelings. By using digital music artists can create feelings from the past and also create contemplative thoughts about technology.

Van Elferen Article Summary

In this article, Van Elferen begins by discussing how in early 21st century daily life, it is impossible to separate technology and culture. New media technologies are constantly shaping the way we interact and perceive the world around us. According to Van Elferen, digital music is an interesting example of technological mediation because not only do we hear music through instruments and samplers, we might also download it via the internet, and we also might interact with it via the help of mp3 players and digital agents. More specifically, Van Elferen addresses the aspects of digital music through the lens of Gothic criticism. Cybergothic music offers people a means to reflect upon the possibly uncanny sides of technology by acting as a medium to stir up past emotions and experiences. In conclusion, in digital music, technology is both an agent and a medium that allows listeners to react and perceive music in a multitude of different ways.

The Van Elferen reading deals primarily with cybergothic music and the relationship it has with the technology used to create the music. The Gothic culture flirts on the edge of societal norms and encourages things that mainstream society does not want to be involved with; primarily it is things they do not understand because of the feeling of unease it can invoke. A few of the examples of the unease created by new media technologies are film related. Darth Vader is a fictional character of man and machinery that is fragile enough to be unable to support his own life without the aid of a full body life support system yet is also one of the most dominant powers in the galaxy. Cybergothic music is similar in this fashion in that it requires the aid of technology to create powerful sounds and invoke a mixed bag of emotions in various users. As with any new technology the potential for good also brings about the potential for greater evils too.