real name: Paul D. Miller
Paul D. Miller, refracted holographic, spectral projection from another dimension, shapeshifting Hannuman, Seven Chuen, Elegba, Loki, Heyokehya, inspiring illusion, channeling magic. Vectors open wide, no influence discrimination, the only limits are the body and time. The records are all there, akashically speaking, cylinders of prehistory, elements of chants, Harry Smith's Folkways originals, down to deep DC Trouble Funk. Watch him drop ill-science, watch him bust a little Deleuze. Voodoo meets Heisenberg and the body is only held together by sympathetic vibration.
1. Suggestive of ghosts or a ghost; eerie.
2. Easily startled; skittish.
- spook´ily adverb
- spook´iness noun
Emotion, religion and morality:
spooky, spookish, ghostly,
nightmarish, macabre, frightening
weird, uncanny, unearthly, eldritch, abnormal
eerie, numinous, supernatural, supernormal
spectral, apparitional, wraithlike
disembodied, discarnate, immaterial
ectoplasmic, astral, spiritualistic, mediumistic, psychical
insubstantial: ghostly, spectral, spooky
cabbalistic: ghosty, poltergeistish, spooky
To me sampling is, in essence, like psychological time travel. You take the resonances of what was going on at a different time period, and reach back. That's what I mean, the Burroughs connection. The same thing with Octavia Butler, sampling has all this resonance with two areas, no three. One is genetic engineering, where you splice, and take DNA samples. That's the obvious reference. The other one's are architecture and code writing. The rhythms become their own code structure. To me sample, or when people are dancing, they're adjusting their bodies to these psychological puleses in the music, but you can sit down and dance in your head just the same.
A lot of my albums are about reflecting the environment. New York sends different signals to you at all times. The new album is more like what I call virtual theater. The other ones, the rhythms themselves were the theater. A lot of people were like "Oh, there are no vocals on the album", I was like "Yeah, the beats speak for themselves".
To me, djing is a digital exorcism. I been collecting records for years. It all has a resonance with the entire culture, when something travels that quickly. It's pretty intense when you get down to it. I travel a lot, I've dj'ed in Venezuela and the kids... it's consolidated at a very rapid rate, like most industrial, electronicized cultures. It's truly Global.. the dress codes are very similar, the styles of dancing, everything has been streamlined. There's definately been a massive psychological remix going on.
- dj spooky, that subliminal kid
_Songs Of A Dead Dreamer_ CDbon Asphodel (1996)
"Flow My Blood the DJ Said"
_from Philip K. Dick's _Flow My Tears The Policeman Said__
"The twentieth century encounter between alphabetic and electronic faces of culture confers on the printed word a crucial role in staying the return to the Africa within..." - Marshall McLuhan - _The Gutenberg Galaxy_
One of the first bootleggers, in this case one of the first people to sample music, Lionel Mapleson, used a phonograph recorder given to him by his close personal friend, Thomas Edison, to record extracts of his favorite moments from the various operas that played at New York's Metropolitan Opera house when he was working there during the years 1901-1903. These recordings of various arias comprise the first known texts created by the recording medium (all puns intended). With his recording-phonograph in hand Lionel Mapleson may just have written himself into history books as the first DJ. His phonograph, to me, was a new way of data-handling that allowed the mechanical implementation of a non-sequential form of text, one including associative trails, dynamic annotations, and cross references a host of characteristics one finds as common features of computers in our modern hypertext formatted world. A journalist writes of the experience of listening to these recordings as being a little something like this:
"The sense is one of listening from backstage, through a door that keeps opening and closing, to bits and pieces of performances. The vantage point is at a little distance from the singers, and they seem to be heard through a certain amount of backstage clatter; sometimes they move out of line of hearing, and sometimes the noise obscures the voices. But mostly, they can be heard quite well enough for the listener to get a very definite sense of personalities and occasionally of the full impact of virtuosity, that in terms of the opera house today, is quite beyond the wildest imagination..."
Partioned Subjectivity, cross-fades, sonic shock-wave sounds of seismic bass disruption, pitch, tempo, the inertial drag of bass de-tuned, compressed and pitch-shifted down, drums pitched upwards and downwards, sound as a unified field of spatial representation with its own aural logic, ego become a sonic wave form in the chaotic urban landscape of inner city pressure... these are things that go through my mind when I make music. On "Songs Of A Dead Dreamer", it was my intention to create electronic hybrids (some people still call them songs) that would create a milieu where a previously interior world could be brought to light through methods like keyboard mapping (delineating zones of aural speed) and time stretching words until they become an elemental part of the song etc. I wanted to create music that would reflect the extreme density of the urban landscape and the way its geometric regularity contours and configuresperception. Thus the album was put together like I would put together one of my mixed tapes. To me, assembly is the invisible language of our time and DJ'ing is the forefront art form of the late 20th Century.
"Assemblages are passional, they are compositions of desire. Desire has nothing to do with a natural and spontaneous determination; there is no desire by assembling, assembled, engineered desire (agencant, agence, machine). The rationality, the efficiency of an assemblage does not exist without the passions that the assemblage puts into play, without the desires that constitute it as much as it constitutes them..." - Deleuze and Guattari, "Nomadology"
DJ culture - urban youth culture - is all about recombinant potential. It has as a central feature a eugenics of the imagination. Each and every source sample is fragmented and bereft of prior meaning - kind of like a future without a past. The samples are given meaning only when re-presented in the assemblage of the mix. In this way the DJ acts as the cybernetic inheritor of the improvisational tradition of jazz, where various motifs would be used and recycled by the various musicians of the genre, in this case, however, the records become the notes. Also there is the repetitive nature of the music that allows for the unfolding in time of a recursive spatial arrangement of tones whos parallel can be found in the world of architecture where structural integrity requires the modular deployment of building materials to create a building's framework.
Triggered by the sensuous touch of the DJ's hands guiding the mix, the spectral trace of sounds in your mind that existed before you heard them, telling your memory that the mixed feelings you get, the conflicting impulses you feel when you hear it are impressions - externalized thoughts that tell you you only know that you have never felt what you thought you were feeling because you have never really listened to what you were hearing. The sounds of the ultra futuristic streetsoul of the urban jungle shimmering at the edge of perception.
"We have also sound houses, where we practice and demonstrate all sounds and their generation. We have harmonies which you have not, of quarter sounds and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have; together with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep; likewise divers tremblings and warblings of founds, which in their original are entire. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and the voices of beasts and birds. We have certain helps which set to the ear do further the hearing greatly. We have also divers strange and artificial echoes, reflecting the voice many times, and as it were tossing it; and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some shriller and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice, differing in the letters or articulate sound from that they receive. We have also means to convey sounds in tubes and pipes, in strange lines and distances..." - Francis Bacon - _New Atlantis_ circa 1591 A.D.
sound as an isolated object of reproduction, call it our collective memory bank, is the focal point in my work. Like KRS One said a while back, "See how it sound, a little unrational.." - DJ Spooky
Beats don't lie and sound is all about flow: don't push the river. - DJ Spooky
"The basic unit of contemporary art is not the idea, but the analysis of and extension of sensations..." - Susan Sontag
I consider the mixes created by a DJ to be mood sculptures operating in a recombinant fashion. Based on the notion that all sonic material can be manipulated with the same ease that computers now generate composite images, the DJ combines the musical expression of other musicians with their own and in the process creates a seamless flow of music. In this light, the sample operates as a kind of synecdoche - a focal/coordinate points in the dramaturgical grid of life. Call the mixes and songs generated by the assembly process of DJ'ing and sequencing etc. the social construction of memory. This album is a parallel of the Happenings and Conceptual art events that I have played at and helped put together in NYC over the last several years. A mix, for me, is a way of providing a rare and intimate glimpse into the process of cultural production in the late 20th Century.
Notion of intellectual property and copyright law, are brought into question as the communal reception of music takes on
the significances of being the sonic equivalent to alchemy. The mix speaks to you of the bricolage of a place where the "self" exists as a deployed network of personae (the latin root of personae means "that through which sound enters"), music created out of a particular scene or social grouping and it shows the inexplicable mutability of sound as different people share the memories brought about by the same songs. It demonstrates the uncanny power of metamorphosize, through audio alchemy, the passage of sound into a kind of unspoken story, that like its predecessor, the oral tradition, can pass on "tales" of songs.
In the electronic milieu that we all move in today, the DJ is a custodian of aural history. In the mix, creator and re-mixer are woven together in the syncretic space of the text of samples and other sonic material to create a seamless fabric of sound that in a strange way mirrors the modern macrocosm of cyberspace where different voices and visions constantly collide and cross fertilize one another. The linkages between memory, time, and place, are all externalized and made accessible to the listener from the viewpoint of the DJ who makes the mix. Thus, the mix acts as a continuously moving still frame ca camera lucida capturing moment-events. The mix, in this picture, allows the invocation of different languages, texts, and sounds to converge, meld, and create a new medium that transcends its original components. The sum created from this audio collage leaves its original elements far behind.
As a conceptual artist, my work focuses on what I call "Differentiated Being," and its rapport with the electronically accelerated culture of the late 20th Century. The core elements that comprise my "art" are derived from my experiences as a young African American male living as an object of history rather than its subject, and the social construction of subjectivity. For me, my world represents an artistic attempt at understanding the role of intersubjectivity and the creation of the art object. My work highlights the tenuous relationship of a youth culture based on rapid change, i.e. extreme cultural velocity, a paradigm in which what Lucy Lippard called "the dematerialized art object" holds sway - to the static art object of the traditional European museum structure.
I feel that because it is in a state of discrepant engagement with modern electro culture, the conventional museum structure is rapidly moving towards a state of desuetude with regards to modern electronic media's impact on the generation to which I belong. Kinetic potential and its manifestation in cultural productiona re core tenets of my work. A short hand way of describing its presence in the art objects (some still call them songs) I create, would be to see that they focus on "art as potentiality" with regard to a state of being as void, or continuous becoming. There are many problems one encounters in the attempt to reconcile conventional "art" with the culture that I call home. But to me, fragmentation is what all of this is about. My work as a DJ is my prime inspiration, and it is the memories that I have gained from my various experiences as a DJ that fuel my inquiry into the art object as a vessel of cultural representation. I do not call my constructs paintings, but rather "objectiles" - that is, objects imbued with an extreme sense of cultural velocity - object + projectile.
In DJ culture music is carried by shards of time - records, CD's, and most popular amongst the inititate - the "mixed tape." All of the previously listed objects are activated by various electronic applicances, thus the kinetic potential - the movement of a static object into a relation of dynamic movement with regards to a social function of electricity - that lies at the center of my oeuvre. To me, the mixed tape is the ultimate example of a new art object. By using a found object - the cassette - that has the ability to hold replicated information, and in turn can be used to reproduce that very same information whenever it is activated: the cassette arrives at a point where it is the electromagnetic equivalent of the blank canvas, and "all the world is in the mix." The mix of found objects or self generated music that a DJ records to tape, is representative of a style that s/he uses to evoke emotive responses in the listener, thus involving the spectator and creator in a situation where the boundaries dividing the two blur. Dj'ing is also informed by a fluid dialectics of culture that places it at the center of the transition from mimetic to semiotic representation that electronic artforms are highlightning. What these diverse new forms of representation indicate is a migration of human cognitive structures into the abstract "machinery" of the electronic environment.
"I am you, you are me, with language, we are three" - Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
Ideas improve, the meaning of words participates. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It presses after an authors phrase, uses his expressions, erases a false idea, replaces it with the correct one. - Lautremont, Poesies
The style a DJ uses is their imprimatur, their way of appropriating the psychological environment that the people that made the records put into their mix, and sharing it with those who attend the performance. In this way the DJ acts as a cipher, translating thought and sound into functional mood units whos accumulated meanings can be found in the audio equivalent of a parataxic structure of linguistic elements or what I like to call "the body telematic," or what Artaud liked to call "the body without organs." In this sense, the records, samples, and varius other sonic material the DJ uses to construct their mix, act as a sort of externalized memory that breaks down previous notions of intellectual property and copyright law that Western Society has used inthe past. It is in this singularly improvisational role of "recombinaer" that the DJ creates what I like to call a "post symbolic mood sculpture," or the mix; a disembodied and transient text thaat mirrors the dematerialized art object mentioned earlier. The implications of the style of creating art are three fold:
1) by its very nature it critiques the entire idea
of intellectual property and copyright law.
2) it reifies a communal art value structure in contrast to most forms of art in late capitalist social contexts.
3) it interfaces communications technology in a manner tha anthropomorphisizes it.
In this manner, DJ'ing posits music as an extension of a neurolinguistic relationship of human beings to their, as Marx put it, "alienated life elements." Those "elements," seen through the medium of the mix - reveal to us a place where different voices, rhythms, and tones fuse to creat a syncretic flow of sound as externalized memory. They become epiphenomena whose central purpose is to act as a mnemonic device: the social construction of subjectivity is informed by the memories that become the shared text of an attenuated media environment made possible by a variable architecture synthesized from the tones that comprise its forms. C.S. Pierce noted in his idea of semiosis a similar unfolding of human expression, albeit without its cybernetic inplications (although they are implicit in his work I believe), when he wrote back in the 19th century "that since any thought, there must have been a thought, has its analogue in the fact that, since any past time, there must have been an infinite series of times. To say, therefore, that thought cannot happen in an instant, but requires time, is but another way of saying that every thought must be interpreted in another, or that all thought is in signs."
Memory and temporal structure are the new spaces of art to me. Deleuze and Guattari arrive at similar point in their critique of late capital and schizophrenia with the rhizome structure, a decentered and nonhierarchical form that perfectly illustrates their metaphor for counter culture. Among philosophers like David Hume, Giordano Bruno, Frantz Fanon, Martin Luther King, Friedrich Hegel, Nietzsche, and Malcolm X, a fixation on multiplicity gives their expression all the more immediacy because of its fragmented nature. This, to me is almost the equivalent of time travel along psychological association lines that artists and writer as diverse as Brion Gysin, Sun Ra, Alain Robbe-Grillet, William S. Burroughs, Marcel Duchamp, Rammetzee, Samuel Delaney, H.G. Wells, Greg Tate, Tricia Rose, Grand Master Flash, Sol Lewitt, and Yevgeny Zamyatin, to name a few, have based their works on. Adrift etymologically, the word "Phonograph", means "sound writing". In literature, the methodologies used to assemble the mix a DJ creates could be called stream of conscious narratives (roman fleuve), or nonsequential (roman mallaparte). The previous meanings, geographic regions, and temporal placement of the elements that comprise the mix, are coralled into a space where the differences in time, place, and culture, are collapsed to create a recombinant text or autonomous zone of expression based on what I like to call "cartographic failure."
"Autonomous zones are interstitial, they inhabit the in-between of socially significant constellations, they are where our bodies in the world but between identities go; liminal sites of syncretic unorthodoxy... Autonomous zones may be thought of, in temporal terms, as shreds of futurity. Like "outside", "future" is only an approximation: there are any number of potential futures in the cracks of the present order, but only a few will unfold. Think of autonomous zones in terms of time, but tenseless: time out of joint, in an immanent outside (Nietzsche's untimely)." - Brian Masumi - _A Users Guide To Capitalism and Schizophrenia_
All I can say is that in this era of hypermodernity, the current message has been deleted. Any sound can be you. It is through the mix and all that it entails - the re-configuration of ethnic, national, and sexual identity - that humanity will, hopefully, move into another era of socialevolution. I can only hope that the world can shift into this new matrix without too much disruption. The other options: genocide, intercine ethnic strife and warfare, the complete destruction of the environment, and the creation of a permanent underclass that doesn't have access to technology, are what the future holds if humanity can't come to grips with these new and explosive forces technology has released in us all.
Paul D. Miller
aka DJ Spooky, Spatial Engineer of the Invisible City
_Riddim Warfare_ MixCDon Outpost/Asphodel (1998)
_Necropolis: The Dialogic Project_ on Knitting (1996)
_File Under Futurism_ by DJ Spooky vs. Freight Elevator Quartet on Caipirinha (1999)
_Under The Influence_ MixCD on Six Degrees (2001)
_Synthetic Fury_ 12" on Asphodel (1998)
release _Modern Mantra_ MixCD on Shadow (2002)
electro jazz release _Optometry_ on Thirsty Ear (2002)
release _Adbusters: Live Without Dead Time_ MixCD (included in Adbusters subscription)
appeared in the films:
Science Fiction is the literature of alienation. I'm really influenced by Phillip K. Dick, Samuel Delaney, and also a lot of the Cyberpunk guys, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, William Gibson, Pat Cadigan. Another writer, Octavia Butler, uses genetic mutation as a metaphor for what's going on in society, psychologically, emotionally, and economically. It's all being determined by genetic type in her books.
- dj spooky
We're looking at these creative records here, in this hypothetical crate of records. You ever read Umberto Ecco or--what's the writer from South America? Borges! Most of their narrative structures are againhypertext--where the surface narrative is a shimmering kind of mirage and you fall into it. Sound is like that. I was trying to deal with that with my sound.
- Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
witnessed Paul D. Miller speak @
he hasn't come up with anything new in awhile, but one interesting point he brought up was that the record album (12", vinyl), was an important medium to transfer sound waves into the home on a mass scale. that's a given. what's more important was that it was also piggybacked (viral like) by visual artists via record cover art. it was the first time that art could be appreciated outside of the act of going to a museum and buying the actual piece. it was reproduced on a mass scale, and was included with the sound waves. that is why vinyl still lingers. it has just the right size and interface as that of a painting that fit in the home - and you can collect a lot of them... i have quite a few prizes myself based on this idea - hand silkscreened covers, personalized inserts, numbered presses, included fanzines, vinyl etching messages, etc. all play into the notion that we don't pay just for the music - it's almost like the music became advertising for an experience - you look at pictures of the band, find out facts, absorb their expression... when the big labels take over, it all becomes depersonalized. - the other factor is dj culture - in this realm, the more faceless and blank, the more provocative - you are effectivly hiding and seeking memetic information based on competition (to get the latest and rarest tracks) - historically this can be seen way back in Jamaican dub culture with an almost mafioesque vibe, including "spies" and "bouncers" that help wage warfare to find out what the latest tracks from america were, or what studio was employing which vocalists to toast over the drum and bass - this was happening in the early sixties and eventually morphed into dj culture, with the hip hop/breaks/drum & bass scene carrying those potent hints of violence surrounding those early days (a la gunshots, braggadacio, etc.) - @Om* 2/28/02