In the first part of the 20th century, classical music was stripped of its majesty and injected with a healthy dose of discord and dissonance by avant-garde pioneers like Arnold Schoenberg, Pierre Boulez, and John Cage. Then in 1950s California and New York, a new form of contemporary classical music emerged: minimalism. "Tones, Drones and Arpeggios" is a terrific two episode BBC Four documentary on American minimalism pioneers La Monte Young, Terry Riley (above), Steve Reich, and Philip Glass who reimagined "classical" music and had a massive and continuing influence on punk, experimental, ambient, and electronic music.
Watch Episode 1 below. More about the documentary here: "Tones, Drones and Arpeggios: The Magic of Minimalism"
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Low-poly sculpturist Pellegrino Cucciniello of Italy has rethought the ordinary. He's taken an icon of outdoor kitsch, the garden gnome, and stripped it of its details and paint job. His angular, concrete creation is named Nino.
Nino is produced by Rome-based studio Plato Design who sells the 14-inch indoor/outdoor figures in three monochromatic colors for $108.46 each.
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Madeline Cameron's Tube is a minimalist YouTube search engine: no recommendations, no nonsense, just a search bar, a list of results with thumbnails, and clean chromeless full-screen video embeds. [via] Read the rest
Wired published an article about txt.fyi, the minimalist publishing "platform" I made: "Write something, hit Publish, and voilà: your deathless prose, online. "
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But here’s the thing: txt.fyi has no social mechanics. None. No Like button, no Share button, no comments. No feed showing which posts are most popular. Each post has a tag telling search engines not to index it, so it won’t even show up on Google. The only way anyone will see it is if you send them the URL or post it somewhere. ... So, does antivirality actually affect what people do and say?
Muji -- the Japanese minimalist design house that's something of a local equivalent to Ikea, but with clothes, stationery, toiletries and groceries -- has finally shipped its long-awaited Mujirushi micro-home, a ¥3,000,000 (USD27,000) "hut" with a slanting roof that can be ordered for delivery and assembly in many Japanese suburbs.
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Ben Stewart's Sword Shop is a minimalist buy-and-sell game. Every day, people come into your sword shop wanting to sell your their old gear. And, hopefully, more will come it to buy it.
Everyday you will be offered swords at different conditions and rarities, your goal is to make a profit. This is accomplished by buying swords for low prices and selling them at higher ones. Every sword you buy has a certain chance to sell at night, and if it does, you will see if you have made a profit.
You can plow profits into upgrading the store, or buying fancier swords. It's like running a pawn store, but with gorgeous pixel art stabbers.
It's fun figuring out the basic value ranges for each kind of sword and the materials, and I love its aesthetic and how it puts the exclusive focus on one tiny yet key mechanism of computer role-playing games (cf. my own Character creation is the whole game). However, the mechanism selected is the loot grind.
You quickly realize that you're on that particular treadmill and that the treadmill is randomness within a range: if there is any narrative support for the grind, or interesting "handmade" loot to cherish, I didn't get there before hopping off. Go play it and tell me if I missed something cool. Read the rest
Damien Henry, co-inventor of Google Cardboard, trained a machine learning algorithm using footage shot from a moving vehicle and then had the machine generate this beautiful video.
"Graphics are 100% generated by an algorithm in one shot. No edit or post-processing," Henry writes. "Except the first one, all frames are calculated one by one by a prediction algorithm that tries to predict the next frame from the previous one."
The soundtrack is the Steve Reich masterpiece "Music for 18 Musicians."
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Wikipedia on composer Alvin Lucier's I am sitting in a room (1969):
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I am sitting in a room (1969) is one of composer Alvin Lucier's best known sound art works.
The piece features Lucier recording himself narrating a text, and then playing the tape recording back into the room, re-recording it. The new recording is then played back and re-recorded, and this process is repeated. Since all rooms have characteristic resonance or formant frequencies (e.g. different between a large hall and a small room), the effect is that certain frequencies are emphasized as they resonate in the room, until eventually the words become unintelligible, replaced by the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself.
In his book on the origins of minimalism, Edward Strickland wrote that "In its repetition and limited means, I am sitting in a room ranks with the finest achievements of Minimal tape music. Furthermore, in its ambient conversion of speech modules into drone frequencies, it unites the two principal structural components of Minimal music in general."
Check out txt.fyi, a toy "publishing platform" I made. I put that phrase in quotes because it's designed to be as lightweight as possible: you type in text and hit publish, and your work is live on the internet. From the "about" page:
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But it is legible, no-nonsense static hypertext, good for short stories, not-short-enough tweets and adventures and all your numbers station or internet dead drop needs. Here you can scream into the void and know the form of your voice is out there forever.
Search engines are instructed not to index posts and I'll do my best to make sure this isn't used as a tool by spammers or other abusers. Nonetheless, posting will be turned off if anything bad grows out of it.
Use Dumbdown to format posts: #header, **bold**, *italic*, `code`, quote, and hyperlinks in the format [link](http://example.com). Try !hacker and !professor and !timestamp too. ...
Long live the independent web!
Seth Kranzler created "Steve Reich is calling," a delightful composition for two iPhones that celebrates (and parodies) legendary minimalist composer Reich's early phase music. This form of composition employs two or more identical phrases of music played at slightly different tempos so that they shift in and out of phase. Reich's most famous phase music compositions are "Clapping Music" (1972), "Piano Phase" (1967), and the fantastic tape music pieces "Come Out" (1966) and "It's Gonna Rain" (1965). Listen to the latter two below.
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Jenny Mustard has a wonderful channel on minimalism. To help her viewers make the leap themselves, she created a a video on how to get there in 30 days. Read the rest
Kyle Chayka hates minimalism, a consumer product like any other, a class signifier, a "slightly intriguing perversion, like drinking at breakfast" for the insincere global elite.
...an outgrowth of a peculiarly American (that is to say, paradoxical and self-defeating) brand of Puritanical asceticism, this new minimalist lifestyle always seems to end in enabling new modes of consumption, a veritable excess of less. It’s not really minimal at all. ...
...it comes with an inherent pressure to conform to its precepts. Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad — the opposite impulse of artistic minimalism. It is anxiety-inducing in a manner indistinguishable from other forms of consumerism, not revolutionary at all. Do I own the right things? Have I jettisoned enough of the wrong ones? In a recent interview with Apartamento magazine set against interior shots of his all-white home in Rockaway, Queens, the tastemaker and director of MoMA PS1 Klaus Biesenbach explained, “I don’t aim to own things.”
... it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet.
It seems a bit confused on the relationships between different things and people calling themselves "minimalist," and the snark verges on how dare you – but yeah, fuck Soylent.
These are great tweets, also:
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The Encrypted Page Maker lets you paste in a HTML document, pick a password, and then hosts the resulting page at its own site. Simple public publishing, with the source code available in the page source.
The contents of you page is compressed using LZString.js and optionally encrypted using mjsCrypt.js, and stored in the hash of a loader URL. The page loader reads the contents of the URL hash and decrypts and expands the page, setting the value of body.outerHTML. Scripts will work as they are compiled and executed after the page is loaded. Cookies and localStorage will not work between pages as they are both wiped clean when the page loads.
The encryption is unproven, and may only act as a deterent. This page and the loading pages are served over HTTP without SSL so do not trust it with actual confidential infomation. This is a toy. I hope you can have fun with it. All source code is freely avaliable in the page source.
I hope you like long URLs! The author has some other cool toys at their homepage -- Ascii to Icon is great. Read the rest
SpareOne Emergency Phone is a basic cellphone powered by AA batteries. This gives it a relatively short time on a charge, but means that it will have a charge after being stuffed in a drawer or glove box for months.
I came across this during my search for the perfect basic phone, but be warned: it has no display, and therefore no text messaging. It has a glow-in-the-dark keypad, a 10-number phonebook, and an "SOS" button that sends texts to 5 contacts with your location.
The AT&T GoPhone model is 3G and costs $60 at Target stores, or $50 at Amazon. Some users report that AT&T doesn't really understand the gadget; be sure to activate it according to the handset instructions, not AT&T's instructions, which require you to receive a text message.
A 2G GSM model, requiring only a single AA battery, is officially available only in the UK, for some reason. Perhaps because it's a pain to activate on an off-brand carrier and US carriers periodically expire your minutes on SIM-only plans. But it's offered in the US for $30 on Amazon if you fancy your chances.
Something tickles me about the first-aid medical design. Read the rest
Brutalist websites: "In its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy, Brutalism can be seen as a reaction by a younger generation to the lightness, optimism, and frivolity of todays webdesign."
An evocative (if imperfect) word for the combination of considered minimalism and retro-HTML design that's coming into vogue as a reaction to the overtracked bloat of the modern web. I'll take it! But "brutalism" doesn't seem to account for the nostalgic component that suffuses a lot of the entries, even if the materials match. Brutalism didn't look like something from 20 years ago until it was 20 years old.
P.S. There are many ways to view Boing Boing, but ASCII is worstbest. Read the rest
After a lifetime of Walkmans and iPods and computer speakers and all that, I thought: why don't I just get a standalone stereo like a normal person? To sit down and listen to music that isn't stereo-fielded inside my own head or competing with error messages on a screen.
But I didn't want to spend any money, and certainly didn't want to obey that familiar, sinister calling to begin researching things. So I got some speakers from the thift store ($5), an old iPhone at the back of a drawer (free), a basic mini-amp I had lying around ($20 for the legendary Lepai will do). Voila! Works fine: the iPhone's in its dock; the headphone-out is connected to RCA stereo inputs on the amp.
The original iPhones are slow! They play songs just fine, though, and the decent music apps will still install over wifi. But I'm really posting this because when I took a photo, it struck me that the tableaux – thrifted vintage gear, an original iphone, a cult cheapo amp, on a metal cabinet against a whitewashed brick wall – represents exactly the sort of minimalism that seems to really annoy people on the internet. So I pulled my MacBook (12-inch with Retina Display) out of my 1950s school satchel (inherited from Great Uncle Etsy) and decided to tell y'all about it.
P.S. the iPhone is currently loaded exclusively with 1970s childrens' library music, an acid house remix of Philip Glass's score for Koyaanisqatsi that no natural-born American has ever heard, and albums by The Lickets. Read the rest