There is no such thing as >Black Music<

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Can we please somehow stop the blockheadedness of calling a certain kind of music genre “black music”?!
Thank you!

Otherwise I would need to insist on introducing another pigeonhole called “white music”. Sounds foolish, doesn’t it?!
Well, that’s because it is foolish!
Thank you once again! 

 

Mal angenommen, eine der großen Ketten […] käme auf die Idee, alles von Beethoven bis Strawinsky, von Elton John bis THE SMITHS, von Udo Jürgens bis Johnny Cash, unter die gemeinsame Rubrik “White Music” zu stellen – das Geschrei wäre groß. Undenkbar, eine so große kulturelle Vielfalt unter die banale, alles vereinende und damit nivellierende Kategorie der Hautfarbe zu stellen! Aber warum eigentlich nicht? Waren bzw. sind Beethoven und Morrisey nicht gleichermaßen “weiß”? Und könnte man nicht sogar aufgrund einer musikhistorischen, spitzfindig theoretisch untermauerten Genealogie erklären, dass es jenseits der gängigen Unterscheidung zwischen “E” und “U” eine ganze spezielle, alle oben genannten einende Tradition “weißer” Musikästhetik gäbe, deren Gemeinsamkeit beispielsweise in der auffälligen Abwesenheit von Groove liege? – So absurd diese Argumentation auch erscheinen mag, liegt ihr doch eine andernorts alltäglich wie selbstverständlich vollzogene Praxis zugrunde: Daran, dass sich in zahlreichen Plattenläden eine eigene Rubrik namens “Black Music” finden lässt, dass es Radiosendungen und Zeitschriften mit diesem Titel gibt […] und dass “Black Music” seit Beginn der (vornehmlich weißen) Pop-Geschichtsschreibung zu einem feststehenden Begriff geworden ist unter den sich heute je nach Belieben alles von Soul bis HipHop, von R&B bis House subsumieren lässt – daran haben wir uns längst gewöhnt.

Wenn aber das Spezifische oder doch zumindest Einende an so extrem unterschiedlichen Künstlern wie Richie Havens und Aretha Franklin, George Clinton und Cody Chesnutt ihre “Blackness” sein soll, dann wäre es nur zuträglich, diese banale Verengung auch auf Musikerinnen und Musiker weißer Hautfarbe anzuwenden. Dann nämlich erst, im Spiegel einer beleidigten, weil sich stets als künstlerisch gegenüber ‘Banalitäten’ wie Hautfarbe erhaben gerierenden, auf ‘individuelle Werdegänge’ beharrenden Hegemonialkultur, könnte entlarvend deutlich werden, mit welch diskursiv diskriminierender Gewalt der Begriff “Black Music” seitens weißer […] Geschichtsschreibung immer schon marginalisierende Zwecke verfolgte – nicht zuletzt jenen Zweck, mit einer Verengung auf “Soul-Disco-Dance-Groove” zu suggerieren, das ‘Schwarze’ in einer (implizit als hochwertiger gehandelten) Rockkultur keinen Platz haben und sich dort ja aufgrund ihrer musikalischen Tradition auch gar nicht aufgehoben fänden.

Dies ist nur eine der stillschweigend, also meist unausgesprochen mit dem Begriff der “Black Music” vorgenommenen Zuweisung und Ausgrenzung, deren essenzialistisches Vokabular sich selbst dort noch zu erkennen gibt, wo wohlwollend von der “Spiritualität” des Souls, vom Blues “im Blut” oder von der “Ursprünglichkeit”, wenn nicht gar “Besessenheit” des Grooves die Rede ist. Ausdrücke dieser Art, denen die alte Dichotomie zugrund liegt, “schwarze Kultur” als “körperlich” und “weiße” als “geistig” aufzufassen […], sind schon lange zu Gemeinplätzen im Musikjournalismus geworden. Testcard #13, 2004. Editorial, S. 4-6

Daran scheint sich, auch gut 10 Jahre nachdem Obenstehendes verfasst wurde, kaum etwas geändert zu haben.

 

Mehr zum Thema:

Arndt, Susan (2004): Kolonialismus, Rassismus und Sprache. Kritische Betrachtungen der deutschen Afrikaterminologie. Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: Online verfügbar.

Arndt, Susan; Ofuatey-Alazard, Nadja (Hrsg.) (2011): Wie Rassismus aus Wörtern spricht: (K)Erben des Kolonialismus im Wissensarchiv deutsche Sprache. Ein kritisches Nachschlagewerk. Münster: Unrast.

Hall, Stuart; Evans, Jessica; Nixon, Sean (Hrsg.) (2013): Representation. London: u.a.: Sage; The Open University.

Rodman, Gilbert B. (Hrsg.) (2014): The Race and Media Reader. New York; London: Routledge.

Waltinger, Michael (2013): Afrika(ner)bilder in westlichen Medien. Ungleichheit und die Repräsentation des Anderen im Zuge globaler Kommunikationsflüsse. [Africa(ns) in Western Media. Inequality and Representation of the Other in Global Flows of Communication.] In: Maurer, Bjoern; Reinhard-Hauck, Petra; Schluchter, Jan-René; von Zimmermann, Martina (eds.:): Medienbildung in einer sich wandelnden Gesellschaft. Festschrift für Horst Niesyto. Muenchen: kopaed, pp. 279-290.

Minimalism in Germany (and Kenya?)

minimalism-9_jpg

The article Throwing Ballast Overboard – Minimalism as a lifestyle is a very brief but fairly interesting account of the „minimalism“-lifestyle movement. Since the short article is posted on the website of the Goethe Institute, it uses Germany as a case in point to illustrate some lifestyle peculiarities.

However, since the article is also posted on the dedicated website of the Kenyan branch of the Goethe Institute in Nairobi, I would have found it very interesting to contrast Germany and Kenya in terms of this said concept of  “minimalism as a lifestyle culture”.

I pondered:

What can “minimalism” mean in a Kenyan sense; how would it be defined and perceived – if such a thing existed at all? Would it be a lifestyle that – in it´s voluntary practice – could be associated with elites only? Is it the default-lifestyle of the non-elites in its pervert inversion and with an entirely different meaning – “minimalism as struggle”? What if we further take into account rural-urban contrasts?

I have some hunches, but do not really know for now.

“HAMSTER-HIPSTER-MOBILE” – an exhibition on cell phones at the Museum for Applied Arts in Frankfurt

For many people, life without a mobile phone is inconceivable. For the cell phone provides more than the opportunity merely to telephone: it is also a camera, a computer, a calendar, a flashlight and more. It shapes communication, influences consumer behaviour and makes transparent our preferences. The exhibition Hamster-Hipster-Handy (i.e. Hamster-Hipster-Mobile) focuses on these aspects and shows that the mobile phone is an object which shapes our cultural understanding of ourselves.

The hamster and the hipster function thereby as two opposing central figures. Around the turn of the millennium Cell Phone Radiation Tests, with whose help possible injuries to people can be detected, were conducted on rodents. The hamster therefore stands symbolically for the negative effects of mobile phones on human life. The hipster, on the other hand, represents the consumer of the twenty-first century and a new culture of mobile users which avails itself of the seemingly limitless possibilities of the device and the narcissistic self-presentation associated with it.

The exhibition broaches the issues of the use of mobile phones, the wasteful use of resources demanded by their production and the possibilities of global positioning and monitoring.

On display are photographs, interactive installations, video art, painting, Street Art and a collection of various mobile phone models.

24.04.2015 to 05.07.2015 
Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt (Germany)
Schaumainkai 17
60594 Frankfurt am Main

Source:
Art Calendar – Goethe-Institut

Africans don’t want your stinky T-Shirts!

“The Ambiguity of (Media-)Technology – and how to deal with it”: Expert-table @ the “Datafication of the Public Sphere”-Symposium (AIL, Vienna)

I have recently been invited to participate in an expert-table format at the symposium “The datafication of the public sphere”, which was held from May 7th – 10th, @ Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL), The University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Essentially, the symposium – which was an inspiring and exciting event – was generally elaborating on the everyday use of smartphones from a rather artistic-scientific angle, I would say. It was great having been together in a panel with Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber and my college Leonida Mutuku from iHub Nairobi.

The expert-table starts with an introduction of all three speakers. Leonida Mutuku opens the round with a talk on the ICT-scene in Kenya (00:05:50 – 00:23:00) followed by Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber with insights into the latest (mobile)media-devleopments in China (00:24:00 – 00:59:00). Is is then my turn to speak about the ambiguities that are inherent in (media-)technology and how to deal with those from a perspective of media pedagogy and media ethics (00:59:15 – 01:14:30). The session is followed by a discussion of about half an hour.

You may download the paper of my talk here

 

Bastard CROWD [mobile] Expert-talks: Leonida Mutuku, Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Michael Waltinger from Angewandte Innovation Lab on Vimeo.

Expert-talks:

Leonida Mutuku,
Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber,
Michael Waltinger.

Bastard CROWD [mobile] The performative installation bastardCROWD[mobile] of choreographer and performer Daniel Aschwanden and media artist Conny Zenk, uses the text “Bastard Culture” by media theorist Mirko Schäfer as a starting point for investigating and questioning the everyday use of smartphones.

The “Selfie”-culture is only one phenomenon in the context of virally spreading digital communication devices. Aschwanden/Zenk, having performed artistic interventions in Beijing, Accra, Addis Ababa and Vienna, emphasize the global phenomenon of superposition of traditional forms of communication through new interface cultures.

The symposium “The datafication of the public sphere” examines the implications of a rapidly increasing digitalization of society and questions the limits of participation. It also asks for options how to embrace and learn about technologies when it comes to monitoring, controlling and exploiting.
08.05.2015

http://www.ailab.at

Video: Edward Chapon

Dear CNN, what, please, is ‚African food‘? Thank you!

African Food, CNN

I mean, honestly – we go to Italian, Greek and Croatian restaurants. We might even go out for a Thai dinner or to the Chinese guy around the corner. Why on earth do we, then, have to eat ‚African food‘? Why can’t we simply enjoy Ethiopian, Gambian, South African, or Tunisian cuisine? Just asking.

Anyway, the people you interview, like Pierre Thiam, try really hard to give you a nuanced feel of e.g. different West African countries and even ethnicities. But why bother listening and pick up on that in your online-reporting.

Source:
New York’s African food porn moment – CNN.com

African Slum Journal – giving the slums of Nairobi a voice

African Slum Journal is a  biweekly video episode which tells about the life of people living in slum communities. A weak media sector provides scope for corruption and inequality. By giving African slums a voice we will strengthen the local media sector together with the people who live in the slum.

The video journal is mostly from Nairobi (Kenya) – at times from other parts of East Africa. It’s a great source of non-mainstream coverage of the everyday lives of a certain urban population. Often hopeful, sometimes less – but always real, at last.

Source:
African Slum Journal – Giving the slums of Nairobi, Kenya a voice | African Slum Journal

10 Things Europe can learn from Kenya in Media and Innovation

1. Social Community Management
E.g. rural politics and governance via Twitter

2. Maximizing the Utility of Simple Technology (e.g. Feature Phones) that almost everyone has access to
Dating services, fan culture, market price-information, mobile healthcare, job listing-services, and many more

3. Political and Social Activism
Using widely available mobile media technology such as WhatsApp and Twitter to mobilize society e.g. against gender violence (here: #mydressmychoice)

4. Social Media for Formal Functions
Applying for a passport, locking a SIM-card, complaining about power cuts, applying for higher education college loans  – all via Twitter and SMS. And get sorted out!

5. Mobile Banking (m-Pesa)
Workforce from the cities can send money to rural relatives; pay for airtime, bills and taxes; allow for ‚online banking‘ without having access to the internet; micro-credits without complicated bureaucracy; withdraw money from mobile money agents; substitute for credit cards and formal banking while ‚banking the unbanked‘ – all via SMS and even with a simple ‚brick phone‘

6. Mobile Learning and Education
Allowing for exam preparation and revision with other students; substitute for expensive text-books in certain income levels (not a perfect substitute, though – but better than no text-book at all); child development information for young mothers for early disorder/disease prevention and support-information for raising and educating kids

7. Keeping up and Simplifying Diaspora-Home-Relations
Sending gifts, school fees or money for projects from the diaspora back home

8. Chamas (engl.: Merry-go-Round)
I.e. saving groups and small-scale bureaucracy-circumnavigating ‚community banking‘ (via mobile phones)

9. Accounting
‚Mama Mbogas‘ (grocery selling women in estates’ streets) use phone apps to track stocks, income and expenses and do some business analytics

10. Crowdsourcing
Extending the longstanding harmabee-culture and taking it ‘online’, e.g. a child from a certain village shall go to university and the whole community contributes to the admission/tuition-fees // crowdsourcing traffic information for circumnavigating massive traffic jams, e.g. ma3route.com // crowdsourcing information for conflict, crises or hate speech mapping, e.g. ushahidi.com

Many thanks to the colleagues from iHub, Nairobi!

Soon: Conference-participation “The Datafication of the Public Sphere” investigating the everyday uses of smartphones

bastardCROWD [mobile]_pogramme overview

Are you interested in artistic-scientific explorations on the everyday use of smartphones? Come to the “The datafication of the public sphere”-symposium, May 7th – 10th, @ Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL), The University of Applied Arts Vienna. I will be there, talking about the ambiguities of media and technology. I will share the paper on this blog here, afterwards.
See you there!

What? 

The performative installation bastardCROWD[mobile] of choreographer and performer Daniel Aschwanden and media artist Conny Zenk, uses the text “Bastard Culture” by media theorist Mirko Schäfer as a starting point for investigating and questioning the everyday use of smartphones.

The “Selfie”-culture is only one phenomenon in the context of virally spreading digital communication devices. Aschwanden/Zenk, having performed artistic interventions in Beijing, Accra, Addis Ababa and Vienna, emphasize the global phenomenon of superposition of traditional forms of communication through new interface cultures.

The symposium “The datafication of the public sphere” examines the implications of a rapidly increasing digitalization of society and questions the limits of participation. It also asks for optios how to embrace and learn about technologies when it comes to monitoring, controlling and exploiting.

Programme:

Thursday, 7 May 2015

19:00 Opening

19:30 Keynote by Mirko Tobias Schäfer

21:00 Performance: Daniel Aschwanden, Conny Zenk, Veronika Mayer

Friday, 8 May 2015

10:00-13:00 Masterclass Mirko Tobias Schäfer

14:00-16:00 Expert-talks: Leonida Mutuku, Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Michael Waltinger

16:30-18:30 Expert-talks: Philipp Ehmann, Wolfgang Fiel, Matthias Tarasiewicz, Stefanie Wuschitz

19:30-20:30 Performance: bastardCROWD[mobile] Daniel Aschwanden, Conny Zenk, Veronika Mayer, Raphael Michon, Indira Nunez, Nici Rutrecht

20:30-24:00 DJ sound chill-out: David Scheidl

Saturday, 9 May 2015

10:00-13:00 Workshop masterclass: Mirko Tobias Schäfer

14:00-15:00 Lecture: Konrad Becker

15:00-16:00 Expert-talks: Bogomir Doringer, Pinar Yoldas

16:15-17:15 Lecture: Thomas Ballhausen, 17:15-19:15 Expert-talks: Boyan Manchev, Andreas Spiegl

Sunday, 10 May 2015

11:00-17:00 Workshop 1: Making Artistic Technology #2: studio praxistext: playful technologies

Where? 

ANGEWANDTE INNOVATION LABORATORY (AIL)
FRANZ JOSEFS KAI  3
1010 VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The University of Applied Arts Vienna presents the Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL) , an ambitious project whose goal is to facilitate an exchange between various disciplines such as art, design, economy, science, and technology.

Links:

Symposium: The Datafication of the Public Sphere
Bastard CROWD [mobile]
bastardCROWD [mobile] (Facebook-Event)