You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

As promised, I’m actually adding some content to my Local Food Resources pages.  It’s not meant to be exhaustive or even necessarily well-rounded, but as I gather a variety of sources for my final project and other readings, I thought it would be nice to produce a page or two of bibliography (ideally annotated, at the very least well-ordered) for others looking to get an idea of what’s going on in the field.

To start, and in the interest of shameless self-promotion, I’ve included two reports I did last semester on different aspects of regional food systems.  They can be found on the Local Food Resources page, or the individual reports here and here.

I’ll also soon be posting a PDF spreadsheet of various urban agriculture projects I’m aware of (sorry, creating HTML tables was a huge pain in the ass), as well as in-page lists of readings on various topics.

And as a side note, in the further interest of shameless self-promotion, I will also be creating a Writing Samples page on this site and posting a couple things I’ve done recently.  I also consider the entries on this blog to be writing samples, though they may or may not be planning-related.

And finally, I will soon get around to editing and posting the rest of my photos from my January trip to Chicago, including those of the Chicago International Produce Market, my subject of study for the report I’ll be submitting to CMAP in late spring.

Lincoln Park Bus Stop

Chicago, Not Food: Lincoln Park Bus Stop

More to come, when I find the time!

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I’m sidestepping planning for the moment to make some brief comments about Girl Talk’s album All Day.  (If you haven’t heard and are feeling up to the challenge, download here for free.)

Driving back from Ohio, I decided to use one of the (seven) hours to listen to the album.  I had tried before, but was pretty much overwhelmed by the first three minutes of the first track.  The second time, however, I made it through, and I’m listening to it again now in fact.

Here’s my take on the album, or more specifically its style of hyper-mashup:  it’s not so much music, a series of songs, as it is a 71-minute manipulation of the brain to experience music.

What I mean by this is, that it’s not original music in the traditional sense of composition and performance, it’s a collage, like other mashups.  What stood out to me in this work, however, was that unlike other mashups (which generally combine two songs, or take brief samples from a couple songs and other places) the entire thing is just a series of brief references mixed to sound like a comprehensible song.  This creation of “meta art” seems to be a more and more common form of work on the Internet, with mashup videos of all the times Don Draper says “what?” in Mad Men (sorry, it’s not up anymore) or the massive infographics of every kind of beer or the Batmobile.  The skill lies not in inventing something out of nothing, but clever manipulation of found materials, so to speak, by wading through a massive pile of already-known objects of pop culture.

For it to make sense, then, we (the reader, listener, viewer) must already know most, if not all, of its constituent parts – otherwise it’s just noise.  This is particularly true of All Day; if you don’t know most of the songs, it’s almost unlistenable because it just jumps from one short clip to another, chaotic with multiple layers of different genres, sometimes three or four songs at a time.  We enjoy it only because we’ve really heard it all before.

What’s going on, it seems, is that we may like listening to it because of its technical quality, the way seemingly incongruous songs fit together, etc., but we’re really enjoying it because it’s triggering a constant sense of nostalgia in our brains, hearing those songs we recognize instantly and probably know by heart.  Each small sample is enough to make us hear the rest of the song in our heads, making the experience of listening not one that engages with the song actually playing, but one in which we actively play all the songs over ourselves in memory.  The album is basically a rapid series of memory-triggers, and makes no sense unless we already have those memories (songs) stored away for easy reference.

That isn’t to say it’s not a fun experience, even if you don’t know all the songs (I certainly don’t).  It’s just a notably different experience that says something about where culture is going.  Now that it’s technically possible, it’s also artistically acceptable to build something out of a mass of existing data – not simply through influences or lyric references or homages, as has been done for centuries, but by actually constructing a new work solely with the pieces of others, on a scale which would have been imprecise and extremely time-consuming using non-digital methods.

It feeds into some larger questions I have about the Internet and where we’re headed:  Are we really stretching our minds to take in and process more information?  Will we eventually find single-stream information too boring?  What are we giving up in return?  Are we losing the ability to think deeply about one thing because we are pushed to constantly think about so many things?  What are the consequences of our speeding up and layering and augmenting of reality, the real-life equivalent of constant footnotes and marginalia and cross-references?

And, of course, there is a Girl Talk infographic explaining the whole thing.  Actually, there’s one from Fast Company, Wired, and a real-time sampling list from Travis McLeskey.  Not to mention all the people who have populated the album’s Wikipedia page.  Meta squared, if you will.

For a similarly interesting pop song mashup, check this out (via Urlesque).

Gosh, it’s been a while and I’ve neglected this site (not least those food links I promised!).  In honor of the new year, I decided to start by sprucing the page up with a fresher photo and a couple of other tweaks.  I’ve also posted an updated resume on my About page, as I’m officially in the home stretch and graduating in May!

Please also note that I’ve added many new photos to my Flickr page, and will be adding more from my research trip this month.  I’m currently in the writing stage of my capstone report, focusing on the relocation in 2000 of the Chicago South Water Market, now the Chicago International Produce Market, one of the few remaining wholesale produce market facilities in the U.S.  I’ll post some cool history, interview tidbits, and other things as I work through the project this semester.  And of course, photos of the market.

More to come soon.  In the meantime, do you like the new header image?  Below are the runners up, photos from Chicago and elsewhere I’ve seen in the past year.  Should I have chosen a different one?  Which one do you like best?

Header 1, "Urbs in Horto" (Chicago)

Header 1, "Urbs in Horto" (Chicago)

Header 2, "Times Square" (NYC)

Header 2, "Times Square" (NYC)

Header 3, "Windows" (Chicago)

Header 3, "Windows" (Chicago)

Header 4, "Long Island City" (NYC)

Header 4, "Long Island City" (NYC)

Header 5, "Getty Museum" (LA)

Header 5, "Getty Museum" (LA)