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ENG 371WR:
Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era

M-W-F: 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Instructor: Robert Lanham

Course Description

As print takes its place alongside smoke signals, cuneiform, and hollering, there has emerged a new literary age, one in which writers no longer need to feel encumbered by the paper cuts, reading, and excessive use of words traditionally associated with the writing trade. Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era focuses on the creation of short-form prose that is not intended to be reproduced on pulp fibers.

Instant messaging. Twittering. Facebook updates. These 21st-century literary genres are defining a new "Lost Generation" of minimalists who would much rather watch Lost on their iPhones than toil over long-winded articles and short stories. Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets glimmer with a complete lack of forethought, their Facebook updates ring with self-importance, and their blog entries shimmer with literary pithiness. All without the restraints of writing in complete sentences. w00t! w00t! Throughout the course, a further paring down of the Hemingway/Stein school of minimalism will be emphasized, limiting the superfluous use of nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, gerunds, and other literary pitfalls.


Students must have completed at least two of the following.

ENG: 232WR—Advanced Tweeting: The Elements of Droll
LIT: 223—Early-21st-Century Literature: 140 Characters or Less
ENG: 102—Staring Blankly at Handheld Devices While Others Are Talking
ENG: 301—Advanced Blog and Book Skimming
ENG: 231WR—Facebook Wall Alliteration and Assonance
LIT: 202—The Literary Merits of Lolcats
LIT: 209—Internet-Age Surrealistic Narcissism and Self-Absorption

Required Reading Materials

Literary works, including the online table of contents of the Huffington Post's Complete Guide to Blogging, will serve as models to be skimmed for thorough analysis. Also, Perez Hilton's Twitter feed.


The Writing Is on the Wall:
Why Print/Reading Will Go the Way
of the Pictograph

Four weeks will be devoted to discussing the publishing industry and why―with the exception of wordless celebrity glossies―the print medium is, um, boring and, furthermore, totally dull.

Week 1:
Reading is stoopid

This fundamental truth may seem obvious to today's youth, but this wasn't always the case. Students will examine why former generations carried around heavy clumps of bound paper and why they chose to read instead of watching TV or playing Guitar Hero.

Week 2:
Printing words isn't good
for the environment

Students will evaluate why, as BuzzMachine founder Jeff Jarvis articulates, "Paper is where words go to die." Paper is also where rainforests go to die, which, needless to say, isn't good for the Hyla rhodopepla tree frog. Thus, while older generations wax nostalgic about curling up by the fireplace with a good book or the Sunday paper, students will be encouraged to remember The Lorax (the animated anti-logging-industry television special, not the book).

Week 3:
Curling up with
a good book/newspaper
is dangerous

Students will explore the dangers of curling up by fires with books and newspapers. That paper could catch fire should an ember unexpectedly pop out. And all that curling is not good for people's backs. Especially since most readers of books, magazines, and newspapers are elderly and are thus already more likely to suffer from back ailments.

Week 4:
The Kindle Question

Is Amazon's wireless reading device the Segway of handheld gadgets? Should it be smaller, come with headphones, and play MP3s instead of display book text? Students will discuss.


I Can Haz Writin Skillz?

This section of the course is a workshop where students will work to perfect their tweeting, blogging, and short-form writing skills.

Week 5:
Grammar and Technique

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of Internet slang and chatspeak is essential to creating effective tweets, instant messages, and text messages. Students will practice using emoticons to create powerful dialogue and to establish dramatic irony. They'll learn to gracefully integrate complex expressions into their IM writing, substituting the trite LOL ("laughing out loud") and "meh" (the written equivalent of a shrug) with more-advanced expressions like BOSMKL ("bending over smacking my knee laughing") and HFACTDEWARIUCSMNUWKIASLAMB ("holy flipping animal crackers, that doesn't even warrant a response; if you could see me now, you would know that I am shrugging like a mofu, biotch"). Students will be encouraged to nurture their craft, free of the restraints of punctuation, syntax, and grammar.

Week 6:
140 Characters or Less

Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets come alive with shallow wit. They'll learn how to construct Facebook status updates that glitter with irony, absurdity, and dramatic glibness. When tweeting, for instance, that "John is enjoying a buttery English muffin," why not add a link to an image of a muffin with butter oozing from its nooks and crannies? Or why not exaggerate a tad and say that there's bacon on that muffin, even if there's not? It's called poetic license when writers do it! Students will be encouraged to show honesty and vulnerability in their tweets: "Lydia is lounging about in her underwear at 401 Park Street apartment #2, feeling guilty about telling her boss that her uncle died but enjoying the day off." There's no such thing as oversharing when you're a writer.

Week 7:

No postprint writing class would be complete without a comprehensive overview of blog writing. Students will work to make their blogging more vivid using the fundamentals of the craft, such as imagery, foreshadowing, symbolism, and viral paparazzi photos of celebrity nip slips. Students will practice posting viral YouTube videos with eye-catching headlines like "Check this out," "BOSMKL," and "Doesn't this CRAZY cat look like she's giving that ferret a high-five?" Students will learn time-saving tricks, like how to construct an 800-word blog entry in 30 seconds using a simple news article and copy-and-paste. And, as an exercise in the first-person narrative form, students will blog intimate details about their lives, their studies, and their sexual histories (with pictures), with the intent of being linked to by gossip sites and/or discovered by future employers.


The Industry—Getting Published

Students will learn inside knowledge about the industry—getting published, getting paid, dealing with agents and editors—and assess why all the aforementioned are no longer applicable in the postprint, post-reading age.

Week 8:
New Rules

Students will analyze the publishing industry and learn how to be more innovative than the bards of yesteryear. They'll be asked to consider, for instance, Thomas Pynchon. How much more successful would Gravity's Rainbow have been if it were two paragraphs long and posted on a blog beneath a picture of scantily clad coeds? And why not add a Google search box? Or what if Susan Sontag had friended 10 million people on Facebook and then published a shorter version of The Volcano Lover as a status update: "Susan thinks a volcano is a great metaphor for primal passion. Also, streak of my hair turning white—d'oh!"

Attendance: Unnecessary, but students should be signed onto IM and/or have their phones turned on.

Evaluation: Students will be graded on the RBBEAW* system, developed to assess and score students based on their own relative merit.

A+ = 100–90
A = 89–80
A- = 79–70
A-- = 69–60
A--- = 59–50
A---- = 49–0

Instructor: Robert Lanham, star of the vblog series Writer's Block: Embrace It—Stop Wasting Time and Live!

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* Raised by Boomers, Everyone's a Winner


The Wexner Center for the Arts and Performance Space 122 are co-producing my second project, Gin&”It”. The world premiere will be March '10 at Wexner followed by the NY premiere in May '10 at PS 122.

Currently, during a five-month residency at EYEBEAM Art & Technology Center, I’m developing the video score and project specific software that will run the technical elements of the piece. Beginning Oct. ’09, during a nine-week residency at 3LD Art & Technology Center, I will complete the integration of video installation and live performance.

ROPE, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film, is the source material for this piece. Based on the Leopold and Loeb murder, the story is of two young men who murder a friend just for a thrill. They then host a dinner party for friends and family of the victim, serving the main course on the trunk that is hiding the corpse.

Working with the Warner Bros. Archive and the University of Southern California, I have collected the final screenplay containing Hitchcock’s notes, the scale plan of the set, and photos of the making of the film.

All this information allows me to project the film onto a stage the exact size of the original film set. Five performers, representing the film crew, will capture the projected images on film equipment such as: C-stands, flags, lighting units, and wild walls.

Utilizing the editing technique I developed for The Wooster Group’s HAMLET, I will separate the performers in the film from their backgrounds, creating multiple planes of video. Similar to my directorial debut, THE PASSION PROJECT, I’m developing software that will allow these images (the actors from the film) to be placed on stage relative to their original positions according to the scale plan of the set.

Relationship to Proposal

THE PASSION PROJECT (TPP) is an integration of projected image and live performance. It compresses the timeline of Carl Dreyer’s 1928 film “The Passion of Joan of Arc” and intersects it with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, and the story of Joan of Arc.

I’m expanding the software developed to run TPP to accomplish the challenges presented by Gin & It. I’m programming software to run HD video and network over multiple computers, using projected images to reconstruct all occurrences in the murderers apt. I’ll mix 10 independent video sources over a space 24 ft sq. to construct the video environment, expanding on the 5 sources and 10 ft sq. environment used in TPP.

Working with the Warner Bros. Archive and USC has allowed me to gather all available archival material on the making of ROPE. I will use Hitchcock’s final shoot script, containing his notes on staging/camera action, as the blueprint for my own stage action. Using the scale drawing of the film set as my guide to size and place the projected characters as Alfred Hitchcock directed them in 1948, will recreate the staging of the 1st historical attempt to film an entire movie in one take.

Unlike Dreyers film, which is constructed from a large number of cuts, I especially chose ROPE because it has none. Hitchcock’s vision was to make a film in only one camera shot as if he were filming a stage play.

I’ll be using Hitchcock’s narrative rhythm as my main theme and intersecting it with the choreography of the camera and the film crew. My technique used in TPP allows me to explore the untold story of the technical ballet occurring off-camera during the making of the film. Blurring the separation between on and off-camera action by projecting the on-camera action (the actors in the film) and staging the off-camera action (the crew making the film) the audience will witness why Alfred Hitchcock called ROPE “an experiment that didn’t work out”.

Artist Credentials

Gin&”It” is a huge step in my career as an individual artist. It’s an expansion on techniques that I have been developing to integrate projected image with live performance. It also expands on my fascination of utilizing the archival material surrounding a film as a source to build a new work of art.

The success of my directorial debut, TPP has allowed me to maintain the support of PS 122 and 3LD. The noted enthusiasm from artists in the community has enlisted Wexner and EYEBEAM as supporters of my second piece.

The creative commission by Wexner is an incredible opportunity. It is a stepping-stone towards building a larger audience and national touring, which will create an income stream making my work sustainable. EYEBEAM has broadened the exposure of my work by introducing me to galleries and museums in the NY area.

I pride myself on understanding all of the technical elements that I utilize to create my work, while still striving to make the work larger than myself. I have a unique blend of technical ingenuity and artistic training. This is combined with a desire to share my obsession with adapting current technology to innovate new forms of performance.

My theater training enables me to utilize collaboration to expand the scope of my productions. Currently at Eyebeam I have a staff of seven intern editors whom I’m training to use After Effects and Photoshop to accomplish the immense amount of rotoscoping necessary to create the video score. I am also training two other interns to program in Max and Jitter.

To be able to fully express my vision, it is essential for me to be a self-producing artist. The last ten years working in New York Theater have been an apprenticeship, particularly the seven years I spent working with The Wooster Group. In this time I have grown into a teacher and an artist with a unique vision. I feel that I have the ability to direct and complete a project as vast and technically challenging as Gin&”It”.

Production Schedule

The early work on Gin&”It” began in Nov ‘08 with researching into the history behind the making of ROPE at the Warner Bros Archive. Being well received by the archive I was able to locate many essential elements such as Hitchcock’s final shoot script.

Building on the process developed for TPP, I have begun mapping the positions of the characters in the film relative to the scale drawing of the film set. I’m focusing on the 24’ x 24’ living room in the apt. where the majority of the film takes place. I have a projection environment set up to this scale at EYEBEAM.

The residency at EYEBEAM is providing my intern staff and me a professional environment to work on the editing of HD media and the development of the software that will control the projection, lighting, and sound playback for Gin&”It”.

The last two months of my residency at EYEBEAM will be divided into two periods of stimulated development. May will consist of preliminary rehearsals with five performers and three days of showings in late May allowing for feedback from artists in the community. June will be dedicated to completing the software and further editing.

Immediately thereafter I’ll be setting up two editing suites in my personal studio to continue developing the video score with my intern editors until Sept ‘09.

Oct 11 begins my nine-week residency at 3LD. The entirety of this time will be used to complete the production. Three of these weeks will be used for workshop showings at night while rehearsing in the day. This is an opportunity to receive feedback from a new audience. The feedback is essential to sculpt this new form of performance while still staying true to Hitchcock’s “failed” experiment.

The world premiere of Gin&”It” is scheduled for Mar 3 ‘10 at Wexner. Following each performance the company will be offering a talk back with theater and film students, as well as the local community. We have a three-week engagement with PS 122 for the NY Premier in May ‘10.

Graffiti FAIL

Mandiberg Solving Problems... Advertising is not Graffitti. Graffitti Walls are not places for Advertising, especially on the front of Eyebeam's space in Chelsea.

for work by Michael: mandiberg.com
for more anti-advertising work: antiadvertisingagency.com

Cast: Michael Mandiberg

Audiovisual paintings by Osada Genki

17 Apr 2009

Osada Genki, a physicist turned painter and ambient noise artist, creates highly textural, abstract audiovisual paintings using snippets of altered video — often of human faces and forms — smothered under thick layers of kaleidoscopic digital glitchiness and wrapped in lush, gritty soundscapes.

+ Kao Study

+ Abura Ponchi E

+ Hanpa Nai Tomo

More on Osada Genki’s YouTube channel and website.

The Wire 300: Alan Cummings on the origins of the Tokyo underground sound

Image: Minor
Previously unpublished essay commissioned to celebrate The Wire's 300th issue.
In an 1889 essay entitled “The Decay Of Lying”, Oscar Wilde commented astutely that “the whole of Japan is a pure invention. There is no such country, no such people”. Japan’s value, for the late 19th century aesthete (and just as much for his 21st century equivalent), lay in its distance and strangeness, which allowed it to exist as an endlessly malleable foil for the imagination. Western artists in particular saw in Japanese objects a way to break out of European orthodoxies, though the fruits of the Japonisme boom would have made little sense to their original creators or consumers. Think, for example, of Madame Monet in her gaudy kimono in Monet’s La Japonaise, or of Van Gogh’s painted copies of Hiroshige – the flat planes of the printed surface remodeled in thick oils, the cheap and mass-produced commodity turned into a one-off piece of art. But if the West’s engagement with Japanese culture has been dominated by fantasy and projection, Japan’s engagement with Western culture has followed an equal path of appropriation, creative (mis)usages and imagined narratives.

This trope is particularly apparent in the genesis of the Tokyo underground sound best associated with the PSF label. While groups like Fushitsusha, High Rise, Kousokuya, Ché-SHIZU and Maher Shalal Hash Baz only began reaching Western ears in the early 90s, their sonic strategies were formulated a good decade earlier. Pivotal in the development of the Tokyo underground sound was Minor, a tiny, cold live space in the Western suburb of Kichijoji, 20 minutes by train out of Shinjuku. Incongruously located on the third floor of a mixed-use building in Kichijoji’s red-light district, for two and a half years from 1978 to September 1980, Minor served as the crucible for the creation of a new Tokyo music. Minor began life as a more or less conventional jazu kissa (jazz coffee house) – a hangout for students and wannabe intellectuals, invariably equipped with an expensive stereo and a huge library of jazz records. Its proprietor was a frustrated painter and free jazz pianist called Takafumi Sato. But gradually the tablecloths and menus disappeared, to be followed by the tables and chairs as Minor transformed itself into a bare walled live space with a freewheeling booking policy. Minor situated itself in an interzone both geographically and chronologically, half between the hippy 70s underground rock scene that clung on further west, and the newly emerged punk sound of groups like Friction, Mirrors and Lizard who were associated with live spaces further east in Shinjuku and Roppongi.

Underground heads like Masashi Kitamura, editor of Fool’s Mate magazine and later founder of the heavy rock group YBO2, held record parties where he would spin European Prog rock. Saxophonist Tamio Shiraishi booked the Aiyoku Jinmin Juji Gekijo (Ten O’Clock Theatre of the Lust People) series of events, kicking off daily at 10pm. The space, cheap prices and laissez faire booking policy attracted misfits from across Tokyo, those who couldn’t or wouldn’t conform to the stylistic demands of the city’s multiple other scenes. The result was that it became a gathering ground for refuseniks of all stripes, a space in which anything went, no matter how amateur, inept, aggressive or just plain weird. A glance at the few surviving gig lists at Minor provides a glimpse of just how cross-genre it was - and how crucial in the creation of the Tokyo underground sound. Free jazz heads like Tamio Shiraishi, Motoharu Yoshizawa and Tori Kudo, outlaw punks like Michio Kadotani, Gaseneta and Honeymoons, and free Improv/unclassifiable types like Keiji Haino, Chie Mukai, Ken’ichi Takeda and Toshi Tanaka were all regulars. The creative ferment threw up large, ad-hoc free Improv workshop groups like The Vedda Music Workshop, Factory or Sighing-P Orchestra, as well as a stream of small, incestuous groups such as Noise, Kyoaku no Intentions, Taco or Kousokuya that tried to weld Improv, psychedelic rock, primitive electronics and No Wave into some kind of emotionally meaningful amalgam. Tori Kudo remembers the music created at Minor as coming from an absolute zero – “The sounds we created there had absolutely no musical potential. We were always starting from somewhere below the proper starting point for music. Normally that would be zero, but at Minor somehow we always seemed to be starting from minus. If playing three notes of a scale would be 0.01, no one at Minor ever got that far. But it was the only place we could play.”

Hearing the results of these experiments ten years down the line in the late 80s and early 90s was a dislocating experience for many Western listeners. The dislocation lay in hearing the familiar tropes of Western psychedelic rock, punk, free jazz and collective improvisation borrowed and turned to entirely other purposes. The Japanese take on these sounds seemed to suggest the exciting possibility of new syncretic forms, ones that admitted no contradiction in allaying the structural and performance strategies of free jazz and free improvisation with the dynamics and aesthetics of rock. And like reading any alternative history, this music raised intriguing questions. Why shouldn’t riff-based composition and improvisational structure co-exist? Why shouldn’t distortion be used as a textural tool?

If much of the Tokyo underground sound was driven by an obsessive love of rock and a strong belief in its validity as an ongoing aesthetic choice, misreadings and misapprehensions too played their part. Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple, for one, has spoken of understanding Pete Townshend’s wind-milling right arm not as an occasional piece of grandstanding but as his normal approach to playing. The Japanese musicians’ isolation from the socio-cultural background of the music they loved also seems to have played a part. Appreciation and understanding of rock music, particularly in the generation of Japanese underground musicians who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, was a hard-won prize, based on close listening, intensive thought, and the creation of personal rock narratives. Many of these musicians display a sensitivity to purely musical nuance - rather than the trite mythmaking that Western rock journalism seems to have created. It’s the sound and effect of Syd Barrett’s rhythm guitar playing that’s important, not the retelling of yet another crazy diamond drug loon story.

Complaints from neighbours and the police finally put paid to Minor in September 1980. The musicians eventually found new spaces in which to play – Goodman, Gyati, Hakkyo no Yoru, and Takafumi Sato would go on to start the Pinakotheca label which released Keiji Haino’s first solo album and the Aiyoku Jinmin Juji Gekijo compilation LP documenting the Minor scene. But that tenacious sense of syncretic creativity unleashed at Minor has continued to drive the Tokyo underground sound.

Shared by eyebeam

Great to see another phone with an alternative energy source.

Kyocera Concept Phon

The Kyocera mark has just presented this concept of telephone with foldable screen OLED in three parts a such wallet. Equipped with a keyboard, backlighted buttons and entirely propelled by the kinetic energy. More images of the project in the continuation.





This entry was posted Tuesday, 31 March, 2009 at 2:23 pm


Nick Cave’s Soundsuits are physical manifestations of his energy. He has said, ‘I believe that the familiar must move towards the fantastic. I want to evoke feelings that are unnamed, that aren’t realized except in dreams.

More info and pictures after the jump:

via: \\\

Cave explores and reiterates cultural, ritualistic and ceremonial concepts. Concurrently, his focus on the connotations of materials as a way to construct narratives, coupled with the fact that the wearer is at times completely concealed, allows the work to transcend preconceived notions of class, race, and sexuality. Cave, who studied fiber arts at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, is Associate Professor and Chairman of the Fashion Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

April 18th, 2009


Here’s a selection of projects by architect Peter Zumthor, who was named 2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate earlier this week (see our previous story).


Captions are from Peter Zumthor. Above photo by Walter Mair.


Above: Brother Klaus Field Chapel, 2007
Wachendorf, Eifel, Germany

The field chapel dedicated to Swiss Saint Nicholas von der Flüe (1417–1487), known as Brother Klaus, was commissioned by farmer Hermann-Josef Scheidtweiler and his wife Trudel and largely constructed by them, with the help of friends, acquaintances and craftsmen on one of their fields above the village. Photos above and below by Pietro Savorelli.


The interior of the chapel room was formed out of 112 tree trunks, which were configured like a tent. In twenty-four working days, layer after layer of concrete, each layer 50 cm thick, was poured and rammed around the tent-like structure.


In the autumn of 2006, a special smouldering fire was kept burning for three weeks inside the log tent, after which time the tree trunks were dry and could easily be removed from the concrete shell.


The chapel floor was covered with lead, which was melted on site in a crucible and manually ladled onto the floor. The bronze relief figure in the chapel is by sculptor Hans Josephsohn.

The Gadget Orchestra

Posted by Miss Cellania in Gadget, Music, Video Clips on April 20, 2009 at 8:54 am

(YouTube link)

Can you get any geekier than Bohemian Rhapsody played by an orchestra of vintage gadgets? I think not. From the YouTube page:

Please note no effects or sampling was used. What you see is what you hear (does that even make sense?)
Atari 800XL was used for the lead piano/organ sound
Texas Instruments TI-99/4a as lead guitar
8 Inch Floppy Disk as Bass
3.5 inch Harddrive as the gong
HP ScanJet 3C was used for all vocals. Please note I had to record the HP scanner 4 seperate times for each voice. I tried to buy 4 HP scanners but for some reason sellers on E-Bay expect you to pay $80-$100, I got mine for $30.

I wonder if it takes requests? -via Arbroath

Giant robot spider in Yokohama (pics/ video)

19 Apr 2009

La Princesse mechanized spider in Yokohama --

A pair of giant robotic spiders designed and built by French performance art group La Machine have come to Yokohama to take part in the upcoming Expo Y150, a 5-month festival commemorating the 150th anniversary of the opening of the city’s port.

La Princesse giant spider robot in Yokohama --

Although the Expo Y150 festivities are not scheduled to officially begin until the end of April, the enormous steampunk spiders could be seen prowling the Yokohama waterfront this weekend.

Here is some superb video of the spectacle on Friday (April 17) night, when one of the 12-meter (40-ft) tall, 37-ton mechanical spiders was observed in the red brick warehouse area of Yokohama — far from its natural habitat of Nantes, France.

+ Video

On Saturday (April 18) evening, one of the mechanical spiders performed a water dance at Shinko Pier while the other looked on from its perch atop a nearby shipping container. For the performance, the spider moved its mechanical legs and shot steam and water and from its mouth and rear end, while suspended over the water from a large crane. Water cannons, fog machines, lights and live atmospheric music added to the drama.

La Machine's mechanical spider in Yokohama --

On Sunday (April 19), both spiders were scheduled to depart Shinko Pier, take a stroll up Nihon-Odori street, and head back to the red brick warehouse area.

La Machine's giant arachnid robot in Yokohama --

La Machine’s giant spiders will be on public display at Expo Y150 from April 28 to September 27.