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Holly Herndon composes music with machine learning.

I learned of her thanks to Bruce Sterling‘s mention in his 2020 State of the World, wherein he defines her music one of the few current examples of “genuine technical novelty”.

She used machine learning to train a program (referring to it as “AI” seems popular but I’ll refrain) that could reproduce human voices, and then used that software as a vocalist for PROTO. Neat.

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Rams

In 2018 I went to the San Francisco premier of Rams at The Castro Theatre.

Rams Premier at The Castro

I’d previously seen the other documentaries made by Gary Hustwist, but had not found them to be especially relevant to my interests. Rams, however, I greatly enjoyed. On the whole I think that German industrial design is best industrial design, both functionally and aesthetically. I was familiar with many of the designs of Deiter Rams that the documentary highlights, but seeing all the objects together in Rams’ home – not as a museum display, but as practical tools for living – really drives home his skill and vision.

I’d been wanting to watch the film again for a while. Last month I decided to purchase it on Vimeo. I’d never done this before, and was nervous of the experience. Vimeo claims to provide a DRM-free download, but I was concerned that their definition of “download” may be different from mine, or that they would attempt to serve it through some some platform-specific crapware. Fortunately this was not the case. After completing the purchase, it was simple to navigate to the download link, which was a straightforward URL to a DRM-free 1920x1080 MP4 file. Purchasing and downloading the video on Vimeo was just as simple as purchasing and downloading music on Bandcamp, which is the standard against which I judge all other digital media distributors (it is a low bar, but many seem to fail).

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The Watchmen TV series takes place in an alternate dystopic timeline where there are locking holsters that are even worse than the Blackhawk Serpa.

I fully expected the next frame to be this guy shooting himself in the leg, but the scene just ignores his sloppy trigger finger and complete disregard for safety.

Other than that scene, I’ve enjoyed the first couple episodes of the show and its soundtrack so far.

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Around the turn of the century there was an ambient music transmission called Blue Mars.

It and Rant Radio Industrial were important sources of music in the early days of streaming. Blue Mars described itself as Music for the Space Traveller:

Long ago, when the waters of Mars were still under the ground and above the sky, our ancestors came to this place and called it “Home”. And from the high Plains of Tharsis to the Elysium Ocean, from as high as Mount Olympus to as deep as the floor of the Hellas sea, one can still hear the song of our brothers and sisters chanting to us throughout the ages.

This melody is one that is made of hopes… It is sang with the voice of nostalgia, and looks ahead with pride. Listen…

Blue Mars: Signal Lost

The transmission ceased some years ago. For a time, recordings of the stream were rebroadcast at a site called Echoes of Blue Mars, but that too seems to have come to an end. Recently I stumbled across someone who had created YouTube playlists of much of the original music.

There are also playlists for Blue Mars’ two alternative stations. Cryosleep, which was described:

Most people who underwent cryosleep have reported that the mind seems to naturally retreat into a place of infinite tranquility, where the experience of Time itself is distorted in a subtle way.

Although there is no trace of conscious activity in the brain of sleepers, it appears that Experience itself never ceases, creating atemporals bubbles of memories of transcendental calm when the subject awakes.

It may be possible that chemicals used in the cryosleep process alter the outer cortex in a way that is not yet understood, however we believe cryosleep is a perfectly safe means of interstellar travel.

And Voices from Within, explained:

In these days of stellar explorations, encountering alien lifeforms is the dream of many space-travellers, but Language will always hinder the realization of the full potential of such an event.

Thus, Voices from Within tries to prepare cosmonauts for the experience by focusing on the abandonment of Words in favor of Vibrations, which, being uniquely suited to channel your Emotions, will usher Comprehension into the Mind of your new alien friends.

  • Blue Mars: Cryosleep
  • Blue Mars: Voices from Within

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The score to Blade Runner 2049 failed to live up to the original, and is the only thing that prevented me from scoring the film 10/10.

But as an ambient soundscape, it excels. The soundscape creator wrote about his experience cutting, slowing, and mixing the score. I keep a copy of his audio on my phone and play it whenever I need white noise – concentration, meditation, sleep. It proved excellent on an airplane a couple weeks ago.

Ambiance

Luv loop via reddit.

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