Wandering Into Inter_

Wandering Inter_

My wife and I had a great weekend in New York City, and one of the strange but interesting places we wandered into on a whim was an interactive museum called “Inter_” in the city.

The place is designed as a series of themed interactive rooms, where the walls respond to your touch (through some sort of haptic system, I guess) and colors and designs were part of the experience. The New Age-y narration and music didn’t do much for us, but the interactive elements drew us in.

Peace (and interaction),

Book Review: High Bias (The Distorted History of the Cassette Tape)

High Bias: The Distorted History of the Cassette Tape

Marc Masters’ expansive exploration of the birth and continued surprising life of cassette tapes for music, for sharing, for documenting a scene or a life, for remix and more, is a fascinating exploration of a media format that was once ubiquitous (mostly, thanks to the Sony Walkman) but is now finding space in creative corners of the collecting world.

High Bias (The Distorted History of the Cassette Tape) covers a lot of ground, from the invention of the pocket-sized recording/listening objects to the world of mix-tapes, and the book is loaded with lots of interviews with the world of tape cassette collectors.

Masters gives the tape format its due, celebrating the ways that the tape cassette freed listeners to make their own albums of recorded materials, allowed them to share their passions with others, provided independent musicians a chance to record on the cheap (thanks in part to the emergence of inexpensive four-track cassette recorders), and brought World Music and musical oddities to the ears of listeners that would have otherwise been out of earshot, because the large music companies would have ignored the music and sounds.

As I was reading the book, my mind kept heading towards my basement and bedroom closet, where I still have boxes of tapes of my own song recorders from decades ago, and I even have a four-track recorder in the house and at a tag sale, I picked up a little cassette player that works (I never use it but I have it). My tapes are probably degraded at this point in time, but I can’t seem to toss them out — the tapes, even in physical format, represent a part of me, an emotional element of a time in my life when recording on cassette tape was central to my sense of self.

This emotional response to cassette tapes is something Masters explores in his book, and tapes are so unlike CDs and digital files and streaming. The physical aspect — the pocket-sized object — is an emotional anchor to many. Add in the element of making and receiving mix-tapes from others (which seems so different from digital playlists), and you have a resonance that continues to this day, in some circles.

That’s a good thing, in my opinion, even if the world of cassette tapes is now small, just like the object it celebrates.

Peace (recording it),

In Bloom: Flower Show Collage

Flower Show Collage

Smith College, down the street from us, hosts two flower shows a year, in its greenhouse. Right now, its the Chrysanthemums coming into bloom, along with other assorted flowers and interesting plants.

Peace (in beautiful colors),

Graphic Memoir: Artificial (A Love Story)

The cover of Amy Kurzweil's book Artificial: A Love Story.

Graphic Novelist/Cartoonist Amy Kurzweil explores the intersections of family, of story, of technology and of Generative Artificial Intelligence in her new graphic memoir — Artificial (A Love Story) — and it sure seems like a book for the age we are in right now.

Her father – Ray Kurzweil — is a well-known figure in the technological world, always seeming to be a few years or decades ahead of others in thinking of the possibilities of technology. He has long talked of his concept of the “Singularity” where computers and humans will be fully entangled in common life experiences. His work is far-reaching, and he is a writer, creator, thinker, teacher.

Amy Kurweil, known for her art as a cartoonist in The New Yorker and beyond, weaves the story in graphic format of her father’s attempts to use the writings of his own father — Amy’s grandfather, Fred Kurzweil, a musician and conductor — to create an early version of an AI Chatbot that will allow Ray and Amy to converse with Fred, long deceased.

This fascinating book explores Amy’s early interactions with the Chatbot created with the words of a grandfather she never knew, as she and her father wrestle with the large questions that emerge from such an experiment, such as where does a person’s life really end, how authentic are the words we leave behind to the person we are, what are the ethics of create an AI Chatbot out of someone’s textual trail, and much more.

Amy Kurzweil captures the confusion of these moments of introspection in this world of advancing technology and what it means to have the possibility of reconnecting or just connecting with family through time, through the use of Generative AI platforms seeded with their words but not their personalities.

Although her book just came out this year, the events that she captures take place over the last few years, way before the release of ChatGPT and Bard and others in the recent wave of Generative AI. This gives an interesting resonance to her story, though, for while the Chatbot of her grandfather — it never quite works as she imagines it might — is revolutionary in many ways and before its time, one can easily imagine some company somewhere is already pitching this as a way for family to “remember” a lost relative through an AI Chatbot App.


Peace (writing it down),

Music: Melody Meets Motion

I’m working on a music compositional project of “small songs” and am about 14 songs in. These are pieces less than 2 minutes long. Yesterday, I finished this one, with a guitar focus.

Peace (with six strings or more),

Saturday Morning: Poems and Music

Exceptional Sounds

A few things emerging from a creative Saturday morning … the poem above is from a one-word prompt (“exceptional”); the comic poem comes from Grant Snyder’s Comic Poetry Month daily prompts (“messy”); and the music track was something I tinkered with, liked and completed, and the title (“In An Otherwise Odd World”) was strange enough to generate an interesting image via Adobe Firefly.

Words in Motion comic poem

Peace (making it),

Assorted Poems (A Remembering)

Mourn The Changing Season

Most of these poems are from my morning writing, either from one-word prompts off Mastodon or from Open Write or from Write Out or from the nothingness that is the mind at work.

Piano Keys

May Morning Poem

A Path Winds Through

Listening To The Woods

Garbled Poem

Peace (and thought),