White + Black = Grey

Submitted by Kaitlin R. Silkowitz on Monday, 9/20/2010, at 12:52 AM

Watching Kutiman reminded me of this video from the “Grey Album.”  My dad has always told me that The Beatles were far and away the greatest rock ‘n roll band.   During a period when I was listening exclusively to The Notorious B.I.G. and Kanye West, it was my dad who gave me Jay-Z’s Black Album.  Later, I found out that DJ Danger mouse mixed The Beatles’ famous White Album with Jay-Z’s classic Black Album and ended up with the Grey Album.  Beyond the fact that Kutiman reminded me of the Grey Album, I’m not sure how far one could take the analogy.  Does globalization mean sampling from  Liverpool, England (The Beatles) and Brooklyn, NY (Jay-Z)?  Probably not.  Some people may find the Grey Album and other mash-ups to be disconcerting because of the mix of two completely different genres, feeling they do not belong together.  But can’t the same be said of Kutiman? After all, it is an acquired taste.  I find the Kutiman’s mixing of different genres, instruments, and individuals from around the world to often sound as if they were meant to be together.  Similarly, many people find the Grey Album to be a perfect blend;  hence, it’s cult status. 

Here’s the one video done from the Grey Album.  It’s The Beatles doing “Glass Onion” as background to Jay-Z’s “Encore:"

More Grey Album:

99 Problems


Moment of Clarity


What More Can I Say?


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Imagination as Society

Submitted by Adam E. Gerchick on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 12:23 PM

In his essay, Appadurai argues that imagination has come to define the fundamental cultural facets of societies, with people attempting to make their fantasies into reality through a form of mimicry.  Through imagery, film, and sound, cultures attempt to recreate themselves to fit a desired imaginary norm.  Kutiman mixes the musics of various cultures to create new, hybrid cultural products, introducing Western sounds that mix with traditional Eastern musics to create music of an imaginary cultural heritage, much like the Westernization of Middle Eastern, East Asian, and Latin American music through their melding with rock 'n' roll, pop, and rap.

This mixing, and potential threat to cultural heritage, became apparent to me recently.  Last month, while working as a summer intern for a major airline, I had the opportunity to visit Tokyo for a long weekend.  A globally critical financial, political, and cultural hub, the city has an extraordinarily rich history and national culture to embody, yet many Tokyoites seem determined to live in a more youthful alternate reality.

       Though in no way unique in having quirks, Tokyo has chosen to define itself pop-culturally through an extraordinary affinity for everything young-teen.  Middle-aged women very frequently plaster Hello Kitty stickers on their designer handbags with no hint of irony; the most common recorded mechanical voice over the phone, in stores, and within transit stations seems to be that of a ten-year-old girl; college-aged girls dress like traditional middle-schoolers (here); grown businessmen crowd video arcades to “fight” on dueling SEGAs; and adult magazines are illustrated in the style of a Pokemon comic book.

       With the distinct exception of Tokyo’s multitudes of identically dressed, short-sleeves-and-black-slacks-wearing Japanese businessmen, city society has apparently embraced the child’s image of Japan initially portrayed in the mass-media cartoons and illustrations of the 1990s.  With its cultural heritage humiliatingly and inexorably linked to its aggression, and subsequent loss, in World War II, Japan and its contemporary citizens sought to reinvent their culture as a modern and, more importantly, innocent one.  Finally achieving its economic potential in the 1980s and able to grapple with less pressing matters of national popular culture, Japan, seeking a visible alternative to the harshness of its pre- and mid-war self image, developed its softer presentation. 

Regrettably, American cultural exports seem to have defined that transition. Cartoons, pop music, and Western styles and appearances have become pervasive and a central medium of Japanese entertainment and a source of fashion and object of mimicry in real life.  In time, the Japanese have come to appropriate the fashion styles and physical appearances of their favorite art form.  Illustrations now define, rather than imitate, the styles and appearances of the Japanese people.  That such images are so pervasive in daily Japanese life, from video games to Denny’s commercials to official safety pamphlets suggests the influence of this medium of artistic imagination on the Japanese psyche.  

Subtly, Americanization has become not only a major influence on Japanese culture in general and Tokyoite culture specifically, but it has made itself a sort of aspiration for many of the people of the city, something to project as comprehensively as possible.  If the goal of American fashion is to appear as wealthy and high-bred as possible, the dueling aspirations of Tokyoite culture, splitting its residents into one of two camps, is either to express that same high social status or as closely mimic the imported ideal of youth as much as possible.  The importation of Western media has enabled the latter goal.

With the success of this “cartoon culture” to dominate the Tokyoite physical and social landscape, it has achieved an ideal of post-war Japan: to create a passive yet unified society.  It has done so, however, at the expense of its comprehensive and distinct, yet subtle, traditions and identity.  Thousands of years of the national culture are simple written off as no longer fashionable, and, from wearing kimonos to enjoying fine sushi, rich traditions are progressively eliminated from regular schedules and interacts as “dated.  Tokyo is living is a societal Appaduraian fantasy. 

Global Scapes and Self-Created Fantasy

Submitted by Wangene Hall on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 12:14 PM

 Prompt #2


“Record it, upload it, remix it, ant tell your story.” This is a common meme among advertisers recently. Youtube, Facebook and Apple : the world’s major technological companies at present all base their companies on the idea of constant interactive communication. This is an entirely new model of understanding consumerism—a shift in how global interfaces function. Now, the consumer is told he is a free agent and the creator of his own reality. Ideas about culture, place and self can transferred almost instantaneously to distant places, conveying messages that would otherwise be obscured by geographical location or sociopolical conventions.

Historically, sustained cultural transaction occurred through warfare and religious conversion. Empires would amass their lands rather violently, allowing their religious code to spread through the subjugated people and act as a social control. Colonialism updated this theme, bringing technology and ideas about traffic, by it of ideas or goods, to newfound communities. “Print capitalism”, another European focused social tool, enhanced inter-group communication, allowing distinctive cultures to further define their identities religiously, culturally and politically. This mode of communication led to cultural expansion and eventually dispersal of cultural codes of conduct that bled through geographical barriers.

            In the article by Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”, technology becomes a lens through which cultural ideas, and self-identification ideals, are refracted and remediated. In the case of Phillipino singers copying American pop music styles, “nolstagia for the present” is one of example of intercultural exchange. Part of the implication on the author’s point is that in past times, the Philippine people were presented with a glorified American culture that reflects values modern-day Americans no longer universally uphold. In essence, they are taking back a world they never lost. They are taking back an illusion presented to them as the ideal, making ‘their past a normalized modality of their present’.

            The articles discusses ‘ethnoscapes’, ‘mediascapes’, ‘technoscapes’, ‘finanscapes’, and ‘ideoscapes’ as socio-cultural models. The first recalls ethnic aspects of a persons experience, as related by relatives, religion and larger culture. Mediascapes refers to the images and soundbites presented to us as we engage technology that attempts to tell us about ourselves. Technoscapes deals with how our existences are mediated by the internet and technological devices. Finanscapes engage the complex give and take between money transfers and global commodities, with new focus on motivations for product flow. Ideoscapes are the realm of spoken and printed ideas about the world in which we live, also newly mediated by the internet and the availability of opinions in this time. These models explain some aspects of the global interactions newly mediated by the internet and the ease of flow between locations.

An interesting view of technoscapes and mediascapes, concerning how we can further our own ignorance by filtering out information we do not wish to know:


The author makes the point that any culture introduced to a group of people becomes absorbed and remediated through their experience. Re-claiming references and subverting cultural norms has long been a celebrated practice, especially in hip-hop, but more so today personal culture makes up a person’s experience. Using ‘the imagination as a social practice’ is a large part of the reason this is so successful.

The B.E.P show this well here: http://www.pri.org/theworld/?q=node/7121

Kutiman explores how mediascapes and ideoscapes present blurred-fiction informational realities based in perspectives that are subjectively true. In new media, the imagination as social practice is a unifying force that translates everything that can be understood into soundbites and cartoons, making all things knowable and comprehensible to all. New media is the medium and the objective for the new forms of agency. Kutiman in particular explores a currently well-used technique for incorporation of experiences. In his YouTube mash-ups, many people’s contributions are used as open source material for re-imagined pieces of music and art.

The imagination is closely associated with a force that ushers in new world-changing technologies and a force that imprison masses of people. In its most negative incarnation, images of violent/negative behaviors are linked to aspirations for community in some imagined world. In its best aspects, the imagination can blend genres and styles that can bring disparate influences, and individuals together. In Kutiman’s work, the imagination is a source of a really interesting sonic experience. His work begs the question of whether the new media has meaning at all, when all aspects are taken out of context. Does the remediation render meaning or take it away? The answer, as suggested by the article, seems to be unimportant, as the listener is allowed to engage in the reimagining and imbue upon the experience his own meaning.

Does Kutiman make his mash-ups for a specific reason? Is he trying to convey anything through his work? Does that even matter?


A mash-up of biggest pop songs of 2009 shows that the process of remediation does not necessarily convey new meaning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNzrwh2Z2hQ

The re-imagined assemblage of past influences is prominent in a very prominent pop cultural example. Lady Gaga, another musician who works in the same media forums as Kutiman, has been noted for her visual spectacles, which are an assemblage of cultural references and pastiche. Her best feature is giving her fans the illusion that they are the actor/agent/producer of her reality, when indeed they are choosing from the buffet of experiences she has assembled for them.

Does Gaga mean anything, in her own mind, when she says she is so happy she could die? How much of her presentation is art, and how much is re-assimilation of other concepts?


Gaga on herself, her biggest lie, her art, her self-mythologized reality: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/04/arts/music/04gaga.html

In the end, the consumer would have to work significantly harder to create his own reality, however, with the advent of new media, the re-creation of work could be attempted even by those who are content to be presented with a fantastic half-truth. Inventing personal reality is an old practice, abetted by modern day luxuries and exponentially accelerated by new technology. It remains to be seen whether the inventions we re-create will bring us to a more unified ideal of of hybridity or to disjointed assemblages of personal "truth".

Appadurai and Global Cultural Economy

Submitted by Joseph W. Higgs on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 12:00 PM

For Appadurai, the new global economy is one big, confusing hullabaloo, causing all sorts of trouble for economic and global development theorists everywhere. The complexity of the system, according to Appadurai, is from “certain fundamental disjunctures between economy, culture and politics.” In order to explore these “fundamental disjunctures,” Appadurai establishes an “elementary framework” that can be used to highlight five aspects of “global cultural flow” and by understanding these aspects (and their relationships with one another) we may achieve an understanding of the new global economy.

Now to understand Appadurai's terms

Ethnoscape- this term refers to people's movement and travel around the world, for any reason. People can move as professionals, as tourists, as refugees etc. In the ThruYOU project, Kutiman's videos reveal how real, and important ethnoscapes are in globalization and the global economy. In his video Babylon Band, there are distinctive cultural instruments and sounds that are absent in his other videos.

Babylon Band Check out :33, 1:43 and 2:28 to see what I mean about the cultural aspects.

What you just saw (in order as they appear) are a traditional Greek Bazuki, a Middle Eastern Darbuka and the Mawal style of singing. So, how this relates to ethnoscapes? Well, while each of these musicians are representing distinct cultures from separate parts of the world, according to their Youtube channels, they're all from Australia. Assuming these people have actual geographical ties to the cultures they're representing, this shows that somewhere down the line these people and/or their families and moved for some reason or another. While the reasons could be different they are all participating in global cultural exchange by retaining aspects of their home culture in their new environment.

Technoscape- Appadurai describes this as “the global configuration of technology.” In english, this means the movement and location of technology. Assuming no country's technological situation is exactly the same each country has interest in what everyone else has to offer. It could mean computers from America, cars from Japan, and construction materials from Italy. Technoscapes highlight the differences of countries through their distribution of technologies.

Finanscapes- While the finanscapes are a “more mysterious, rapid and difficult landscape to follow than ever before,” they simply are the movement of capital around the world. Things like starting a company in another country or giving foreign loans are examples of this scape.

Mediascape- This scape, while easy to understand, does a good job of complicating the aforementioned scapes. Mediascape refers to the ability to produce and spread information and it refers to the images that are actually created by these media outlets. A prime example of this is the Playing for Change project (intro to what they're all about.) The project relates to mediascapes in several ways. One is because of it's ability to have a mobile recording studio to produce and spread its media around the world.

One example of the projects work is this arrangement of the song Stand By Me

In addition, the project's use of images and sound to create a narrative is indicative of it being a mediascape. The universality and beauty of music are two major themes in the video that carry a powerful message. The Playing for Change project is an optimistic documentary and like other mediascapes it “help[s] to constitute narratives of the Other and proto-nanatives of possible lives, fantasies which could become prolegomena to the desire for acquisition and movement.” Essentially, Playing for Change has to capacity to influence people in their views and behavior, particularly with regards to the other -scapes.

Ideoscapes- While this concept is admittedly similar to mediascapes, the main focus of the ideoscape images is politics and those issues concerning the state. It highlights how “keywords” resonate with people from different countries and the subtle differences in meaning of those same words. The American concept of "separation of church and state" and is totally different from the French understanding, in that the French understanding would probably be considered more “extreme.” In these context sensitive situations, the ideoscape looks to create clarity and common understandings even when the words are the same.

You can't escape the "scapes".

Submitted by Adam D. Ketchum on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 11:57 AM

    Globalization expert Arjun Appaduri wrote an incredibly fascinating, though jargon packed, article for the academic journal Public Culture (of which, interestingly enough, he was a co-founder).  In this piece he coined several terms which describe the new emerging global world.  They are:
    - ethnoscapes
    - mediascapes
    - technoscapes
    - financescapes
    - ideoscapes
    The most obvious feature that all of these terms have in common are the suffix “-scape”.  These concepts, Appaduri says, are “fluid, irregular shapes” which influence everything in a culture from finance to fashion.  Due to their fluid nature, they are very similar to a landscape, which have borders defined by what we can see, as opposed to a specific geographic location.  These various “scapes” are the the modes of cultural transmission in this new, quickly emerging, global world.  Since they are of obvious relevance to us all, it is a good idea if we understand fully what they are.  While the root words of the terms give strong clues to their subject matter, a more in-depth look is probably best.
    Ethnoscapes are defined most basically as the influence of any particular culture through people from another culture moving throughout the globe for whatever reason (work, tourism, forced exile, etc.).  This idea should be very familiar to anyone in the U.S. as our own culture has been repeatedly changed, (whether for better or worse) by a relatively constant influx of immigrants.
    Mediascapes are quite straight-forward, as this particular term has entered into common usage.  They are cultural influences transmitted through media.  This happens daily.  Many people glean what little they know of other cultures through television shows which typically reduce cultures to widely acknowledged stereotypes.  This can have a positive effect in some cases (Asian people are smart) or negative effects in others (French are snobbish and smoke too much).
    Technoscapes are the transmission of cultures through technology.  Technology, particularly the Internet, has radically changed both the ability of cultures to interact with each other, and the manner in which they do so.  It is very easy to enter into an online forum and hear Iranian nationalists complain about their ethnically Arab president, or have an Internet Relay Chat with a Korean about the deliciousness of kimchi.  However, few (though this number is growing) of these Internet interactions are face to face encounters.  This means that some things are lost not only in the translation of text, but in the loss of body language.  Despite this shortcoming the Internet remains a powerful tool in shaping how culture is transmitted in our ever shrinking world.  It is perhaps the most powerful.
    Another good example of how technology influences the transmission of culture is through the Youtube project Thru You.  In this project an Israeli man called Kutiman took music from performers who loaded themselves onto Youtube.  Musicians from all over the world are sampled, remixed, and cleverly spliced together to synthesize something new.  
    One of the most obvious cases of this is in the track entitled Babylon Band.  This track features a sound that is paradoxical as it is both global and regional as well as traditional and more modern.  The track is dominated by a bouzouki (a traditional Greek stringed instrument) riff and is complimented by other instruments found traditionally in eastern Mediterranean cultures (like the darbuka for example).  However the dominate percussion is a very American originated style.  We hear a percussion that is Rock oriented with more middle eastern melody which is an interesting and decidedly global juxtaposition of sounds.  This same juxtaposition also highlights the traditional and modern paradoxical nature of the track.  For another fun example of a very similar juxtaposition take a listen to the band Secret Chiefs 3.  An mp3 that demonstrates the contrast can be found at the end of this entry.
    Financescapes are a force that every U.S. citizen should at least be vaguely familiar with.  Consider the following joke found in a popular online forum, and pay particular attention to the sentence which starts “And this is sent to you by”:

    Clearly the forces shaping finance are not localized, though this shouldn’t come as any surprise as global trade has existed for a long time.  The difference between now and the past is that now each stage of production seems to take place in a different area.  This has created a tension in the U.S. brought about primarily from a fear that jobs once based locally have vanished overseas forever.  Such a tension most definitely influences the way people look at other cultures, usually for the worse, as geocentricity can lead to scapegoating.  For an excellent example of this sort of behavior we could look at a recent article in The New York Times:

    Finally we have ideoscapes, which is the transmission of culture through ideology.  Once again we can look to Kutiman for an interesting example.  In the second track of his Thru You project entitled This Is What It Became, we hear all the hallmarks of a Reggae song.  What is interesting is that the performers Kutiman has chosen for this track, with very few exceptions, are Caucasian.  In fact, towards the end of the track a speech by a young Swiss man speaking English, with what sounds like a Jamaican accent, about Rastafarian ideals.  The ideology of Rastafarianism is transmitting the culture of a Caribbean country.  Granted it is a bastardized, irreverent version of the movement (which is subtlety hinted at in the title of the track and illustrated by the Swiss man's focus on Marijuana), but it’s a transmission nevertheless.

Here is the mp3 mentioned above.


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Jabalqa by The Secret Chiefs 3Jabalqa
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Imaginary Places

Submitted by Taylor L. Heacock on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 11:57 AM

Arjun Appadurai’s essay “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”   that the complex nature of globalization through the effects of images and imagination. He states that, “The imagination is now central to all forms of agency, is itself a social fact and is the key component of the new global order.” ( p.5) Images and sounds are used to synthesize a picture of a region, more so than readings or oral accounts which affects our social experiences as people's sense of the world is broadened through so many technological outlets. This takes out one step in the imaginary process and leaves the media in control of ideas of foreign culture.  The media controls so much of what we think of another culture. For instance, one of my favorite movies, Slumdog Millionaire, immediately immerses the audience of the film in India, but is it accurately portraying India and its culture? Regardless, now all who have seen the movie have a view of India shaped in some way by the portrayal of India in the movie. 


Appadurai  describes an “organized field of social practice” that is the imagination. We have to use our imaginations in order to form pictures of foreign places and cultures. With less “face- to- face” contact this is the means by which one must rely on for visually and auditory access to this other places and cultures and more quickly. Appadurai makes the point that through globalization people have become more able to express their work. Kutiman broadens the scope for the material he uses and create a diverse range of ethnic, regional, cultural sounds and images but in a modern way. Through youtube he is able to capture glimpses of different cultures and puts them together in a remarkable way.  Kutiman’s ThruYOU video Babylon Band also lends images and sounds to his audience. Many of the artists were found to be from Australia and not the area which the music is meant to reflect. This is a testament to the effects of globalization.  The sound of the bazuki and the vocals of the singer in front of the Babylon Band sign give the video a Middle Eastern vibe which viewers hear and watch and then associate with this region of the world.



Our Modus, the Imaginary and Superorganisms

Submitted by Ernesto A. Alvarez on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 11:50 AM

Appadurai elevates the imagination from the level of personal and whimsical abstraction, usually contingent on one's own experience, to an aggregate mode of being constantly defined and re-defined by the dynamic operation of each of his five -scapes. In its elevation to a practice of the global multitude, the imaginary is at once more unanimous and more diverse; more fluid and more effective; and, last, more real and less artificial than ever before. As the primordial Enlightenment backbone of the ideoscape guides (with its concepts of freedom, autonomy, and representation) the spread of the imaginary through an acute proliferation of the capital modus—a modus which Appadurai seems to suggest lies directly behind the technoscape and the finanscape, and indirectly behind the mediascape and ethnoscape—humanity becomes progressively more aware of its place and its circumstance. The social practice of the imaginary thus becomes an awareness of the truths manufactured by our modus operandi, truths are increasingly available, but also seem to reinforce the regime on which they are inevitably indexed.

 The media figures into this -scape symbiosis quite literally by continually providing ever efficient mediums by which to communicate the subjective and objective truths which lead to the formation of our 'real' imaginary conglomerate. As wonderful a tool as media may seem for granting more and more access to our place and circumstance, it must be remembered that the majority of media platforms (especially new Internet technologies) operate under the same overarching modus which underlies and fuels the fervent social practice of the imagination. This is not to say that media may lead us to biased and pigeonholed conclusions and opinions as to the goingson of our world, however, it is to say that the very means by which we access, use and contribute to this new imagination entrench us deeper into the modus behind it all.

Kutiman's work as-such, for instance, represents the ease of access to the imagination discussed by Appadurai. Kutiman undertakes his ThruYOU project via the infinite archives of YouTube videos available for free to any Internet user. While his motive may be prompted simply by the knowledge that the pieces to the puzzle he seeks to author lie at his fingertips, Kutiman labors to create a lasting representative piece of the universal affinity and compatibility of sound. Kutiman authors a never-changing work of art, that can be accessed at any time. This, however, seems less a testament to Appadurai's notion of the social practice of imagination than the Playing for Change series. Although I hesitate to speak for the musicians involved, it seems like the latter represents a more authentic and organic display of the ubiquity of the imaginary. The momentary feeling of the musician who is playing in concert with a number of people so geographically spread out exemplifies the imaginary less so as a static but universal image, than it does as a fluid and moving act.

 I believe that Robert Wright's conjecture as to the idea of new technologies and media facilitating the construction of a phenomenological superorganism with one 'brain' will add, if anything at all, some much-needed color to Appadurai's imaginary. Below is the link to Wright.

Robert Wright, "With Liberty and Connectivity for All"

Imagination and Cultural Diffusion

Submitted by Joseph B. Nassirian on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 11:26 AM

            Appaduri’s “-scapes” as mentioned in his piece “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” serve as vessels through which globalization can occur.  Ethnoscapes serve as a catalyst for cultural diffusion because when a people move from one part of the world to another for whatever reason (be it curiosity, business or refuge) they tend to bring their cultural customs along with them (this could include traditional dances, songs, certain instruments, etc.).  Mediascapes and technoscapes are closely intertwined.  Mediascapes are cultural influences whose message is conveyed through newspapers, magazines, radio or television.  Technoscapes are cultural influences whose message is conveyed through technology.  With the speed of the Internet being so fast wherever you go it has become so easy to connect ourselves with others around the world through forums or medias like facebook or youtube. 

It is because of these three scapes that Kutiman’s Thru You project and Playing for Change are possible.  Though the imagination and creativity of Kutiman and the Playing for Change project have created some sense of “deterritorialization” of sound, is it really these two projects that have created this deterritorialization or has this deterritorialization already occurred?  In one of Kutiman’s compositions, “Babylon Band”, one can trace almost all of the instrumentalists’ playing styles back to some type of Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern culture’s music.  Yet when further research is done it can be found that none of these musicians whom Kutiman remixes into his composition live in the Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern area (at least not anymore).  In “Babylon Band” we can see that immigration (ethnoscape) has caused cultural diffusion through music.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JffZFRM3X6M We see an Australian man playing a type of drum (the darbuka) that belongs to a Middle Eastern country, a group of (presumably) Middle Eastern men singing their music in a country that is not their own, and a kid playing a Greek styled sitar-like instrument in another country.  Playing for Change’s rendition of the famed Ben E. King song, “Stand By Me”features musicians from The United States, Italy, Spain, Holland, South Africa, the Congo, France, and Russia (there may be one or two others I am forgetting).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM  We see multiple styles of music being played in the United States alone while we also see music like jazz being played in Italy and Brazil while on of the lead singers is from Holland.   This song and style of music can be considered “American” and yet people from around the globe are familiar with it and bring put their own cultural twist on it. 

As we can see from these two videos alone, the deterritorialization has already occurred in music.  The imagination of Kutiman and the producers of Playing for Change combined with the technology available to them allowed them to simply bring the deterritorialization together and compose a song.

Kutiman and Americanization

Submitted by Katherine W. Cole on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 11:18 AM

Appadurai contests the conventional notion that globalization is at some level a form of homogenization, of Americanization. The various "-scapes," he argues, complicate that simplistic notion of the global flow of people/media/technology/money/ideas. In class, we've been talking a lot about deterritorialization as it relates to projects like Kutiman's. Kutiman is a great example of Appadurai's argument in many ways in the ThruYOU project, as he exposes us to people all over the world (unconsciously) collaborating to create a unified flow. That's all true, that's all awesome.

But since I like being difficult, I thought I'd take a bit of a different position and talk about the way Kutiman reinforces of a certain set of values--not just any values, but good ol' American values. Since we've all been poking around on Kutiman's YouTube page, you've probably run into his non-ThruYOU productions. I want to write a bit about the Craftsman mix:


Super cool, yeah? I watched it about 10 times and can imagine listening to it for pleasure. But what an intensely American piece! Guys playing with tools, buildin' stuff, breakin' stuff. Rather than deterritorializing, this piece is intensely connected to place. I'd bet tea rolls that all of these clips were filmed in the USA. In fact, it turns out that this is a competition of sorts to create a mix using Craftsman-provided clips. You can even create your own, in the Bb 2.0 style (and it's just as fun--http://www.craftsman.com/shc/s/BrowseStaticPageCmd?storeId=10155&vName=CraftsmanLabs&catalogInd=DZD&dzName=W3&catalogId=12602#/build-your-own-mix). In fact #2, there's a a guy sponsored by Craftsman riding across the US in a lawnmower, and although that reinforces the sense of Americanism in play here, I'm a little confused about how that relates to the music project: http://craftsmanacrossamerica.posterous.com/

Anyway, it turns out that our man Kutiman is participating in and promoting an intensely American, entirely capitalist, basically prefabricated project. Does that lessen our appreciation of him/the piece? Is his Craftsman work somehow lesser (in whatever sense of the word) than his ThruYOU videos? Does this count as deterritorialization since he's Israeli, or is this just another way American ideals/values/powertools are taking over the world?

Appadurai's scapes

Submitted by Katharine J. Planson on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 10:16 AM

Arjun Appadurai, an anthropologist born in India, writes of five “dimensions of global cultural flow” (6) in his piece, Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy. Appadurai uses the terms ethnoscapes, mediascapes, tecnoscapes, finanscapes, and ideoscapes to depict “imagined worlds”.  The “imagined worlds” are described as “the multiple worlds which are constituted by the historically situated imaginations of persons and groups spread around the globe.” (7)  The five scapes are what make up these “imagined worlds” in which people live. 

These five terms clearly all share the same suffix, scape.  The suffix scape seems to refer to related elements that are distributed throughout nations worldwide which can be viewed as landscapes.  Appadurai describes these landscapes as “fluid” and “irregular” in their shapes.  Every scape effects and interacts with the others, they all restrict and promote one another but, their relations are not concrete, consistent, or regular.          

Ethnoscapes essentially refer to the actors within landscapes, the people who are agents of change in the world (whether consciously attempting to influence or by the mere affect of their presence).  An ethnoscape could be a person who has been displaced by a war in their native country and lives as a refugee in a foreign country.   Mediascapes can be described as the way visual imagery and forms of media influences the world and contributes to the “imagined worlds” such as a newspaper or a documentary.  The in Bb 2.0 project would not have been possible without mediascapes because, Soloman had to advertise his project around the globe in order to get submissions to make the project work.  Technoscapes pertain to the way technology impacts the landscapes.  Technology, such as the internet, has made it possible for information to be rapidly transmitted and shared across vast expanse.   Technoscapes made Kutimans ThruYOU project possible.  Kutiman was able to access millions of videos from all over the world through YouTube to create his songs for his album.  Ideoscapes are similar to ideologies or a string of connected images like democracy.    And, lastly financescapes are the financial landscapes/markets and the shifting relationships that come along with the financial world.   The stock market would be within a financescape. 


Submitted by Theresa L. Kelley on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 9:37 AM

Appadurai “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”



It seems to me in the modern era that I personally reside in, the saying, “leave some to the imagination” no longer applies, but that is not to say that imagination is dead, just that we are now forced to use our imaginations in a different way. With so much advanced technology that has the ability to connect people and to make a plethora of information available, there is a need for instant gratification that is not only expected, but in many cases demanded. The ever so present “smart phone” is a prime example of the fact that many people will not even take the time to ponder a predicament before they find the answer somewhere in the vast abyss that is the internet. Instead of waiting to hear about a friend’s semester abroad and imagining how they are feeling and what they are seeing, we can simply follow their blog to see pictures and hear stories, or better yet, have a video chat session via skype.

This new sense of worldliness and connectedness has not eradicated the ability for humankind to use their imaginations, it means that we have now moved on to an entirely new level of possibilities, as Appadurai points out. He states that now imagination can be seen as something that is more concrete in terms of its importance in cultural and social components of life. The concept of globalization has helped a society that is obsessed with the new, with whatever is different and entertaining, and in many cases, as Appadurai points out, a manifestation of something that happened in the past with a new spin on it. Music is one of the largest examples of how globalization has the ability to be an extremely large proponent of imagination thru the means of both an influencing and transforming factor. One can experience the musical sound of so many regions of the world without leaving their home. It is no wonder then, that people like Kutiman, or Dan Solomon have explored and created using the resources available to them thru the medium that is the youtube video. Specifically speaking, Kutiman uses sounds and instruments from all over the world, and though the videos are not always from those countries, the fact that someone in the United States, or Australia has traveled to learn, or perhaps taken lessons from someone who is skilled at that instrument proves that globalization is a very big part of the Thru You project. 

There is so much to be discovered on the internet. This is a cool world music blog that I frequent. http://www.soundroots.org/

Five Scapes

Submitted by Risa Nakamura on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 9:09 AM

‘Globalization’ makes me sick.

Just thinking about what it is makes my head hurt. It is something you cannot see, touch or grab onto. It even seems impossible for us to finally reach the conclusion for another century. In that sense, what Arjun Appadurai, a social-cultural anthropologist specializing in globalization, says about globalization, or ‘disjunctures between economy, culture and politics’ makes perfect sense. Appadurai proposes new perspectives to the world of globalization-study which are ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, finanscapes and ideoscapes. Yes, that’s right. Because of the suffix ‘-scape’, your Microsoft Word underlines each and every word for you. Thank you, Microsoft. And, it is all because of this suffix that we can now discuss a matter that deals with something shapeless.

 These five ‘scapes’ which Appadurai claims to be an elementary framework for exploring globalization interact with each other and become contributing factors to globalization:


   -n. People moving, whether literally, or in fantasy.



   -n. Any kind of media that allows one-way, back-and-forth, or more-than-you-can-imagine ways of communication amongst people in various places.  Examples include newspapers, books, magazines, TV and the Internet.

* YouTube definitely falls into the mediascapes; it not only allows Kutiman to make music videos which feature people from various places, but also allows him to share his videos with millions of people around the world. (Click on the ‘view’ counter below the video, and see the world map.+) It is interesting to know that some viewers of Kutiman’s music videos visit his webpage using its hyperlink link on other websites. (Click on the ‘view’ counter below the video, and see ‘Links’.+)

+To see the world map and 'Links', you need to open the file below in another page. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tprMEs-zfQA



   -n. Any kind of technology that allows any kind of communication at a high speed.

* Thanks to the Internet and other devices that enabled Kutiman and the musicians in his videos to capture and upload their works, they could achieve something they couldn’t have done at all without the technologies. Without them, anyone who has something to do with Kutiman’s videos (Kutiman, the musicians and the viewers) would have no pieces of thought about the people in the videos.



   -n. Financial movement taken place by various people in various places.

*YouTube is not a non-profit organization: they do business and make money. If Kutiman was part of the YouTube partnership program (link: http://www.youtube.com/partners ) which I don’t think he is for now, that’s where an interesting case of finanscapes would come in. This is what could happen if I watched one of Kutiman’s videos on YouTube in Japan: YouTube, whose company is located in San Bruno, California, shares its revenue with Kutiman, who broadcasts his videos from Israel, since his videos have relevant in-video ads overlaid on, and also banner ads next to them. While I watch Kutiman’s video, I un/consciously see an ad by the Australian government for promoting tourism in Australia, and I later un/consciously type in ‘Australia’ in Google search engine, start thinking about traveling to Australia using Air China.



   -n. Thoughts and ideas often to do with politics.


Vessels of Globalization

Submitted by Gaju E. Muhigi on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 8:55 AM

In "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Culture Economy", Appadurai lists five different theoretical landscapes of global cultural flow: ethnoscapes, mediascapes, ideaoscapes, technoscapes, and financescapes. Each of these streams represents one of the many facets of cultural exchange.

Ethnoscapes reflect "human motion", or the constant shifting of people from one place to another. For example, tourists, immigrants, and refugees would all fall under the category of an ethnoscape. These travelers transport cultural ideals and traditions from their point of origin to wherever it is they end up going. Ethnoscapes are greatly showcased in Kutiman's "Babylon Band" track. In class, we looked at some of the source material for the track. A lot of the musicians were playing instruments that originated in countries outside of where they were broadcasting (The mawal band and darbuka players living in Australia, the buzuki player with a Spanish flag hanging on his wall, etc.) This suggests that these people had moved from one country to a very different one, blending the cultures of these countries together. 

KUTIMAN - "Babylon Band"


Technoscapes reflect the movement of technology throughout various nations. This could be mechanical or informational. For example, many of the high-tech computers and cell phones we use today originated in Japan, a nation more technologically advanced than the U.S. in many ways. With the blending of technology comes the blending of culture.

Financescapes are the flow of global capital. Appadurai stresses that financescapes are very complex in their pathways, never simply transferring from one nation to another. During times of economic hardship, such as the period right after defeat in a great war, one country may borrow money from another, simultaneously gaining capital and losing it by becoming indebted to that other country. Such fiscal exchange can lead to a kind of bond between nations, opening many doorways for cultural meshing.

Mediascapes represent the ability to electronically produce information, and the images of the world created by such electronic media. The media is one of the prime factors of globalization, allowing us to view entire other worlds via computer or television screen. In Kutiman's "Babylon Band", the German teenager playing the drums has on his wall a poster of Kurt Cobain, an American rock icon. His appreciation of  one of America's most famous musicians suggests that American culture is broadcast to other countries like Germany in a manner that is easily accessible.

Finally, ideaoscapes are closely related to mediascapes. They are the flow of ideas - mainly political ones - among various nations and states. A prime example that springs to mind is the American invasion of Iraq, and our attempt to impose our idea of democracy on the country. 

These five "-scapes" are, according to Appadurai, the main vessels through which globalization occurs. They overlap in an erratic way that causes instability in patterns of globalization. This leads to infinitely complex relationships between nations and states, ones that we have only just begun to understand.

My Roommate's "Scapes"

Submitted by Jasmine A. Slater on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 7:42 AM

In Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy, Appadurai discusses five key words concerning globalization: ethnoscapes; mediascapes; technoscapes; finananscapes and ideoscapes.

                Three days ago, my roommate (a Yemeni) poses a question to me that I thought would be easy to answer. She asked me what it means to be an American.  Surprisingly, the question wasn’t as easy as I anticipated.  Without thinking, I wanted to respond by saying, “If you are born in America then you are an American.” If only it were that simple.  “What is the exact definition”, she said. A girl eavesdropping replied, “It means that you shop at Wal-Mart and go to Mc Donald’s. Of course,  Wal-Mart and Mc Donald’s can both be found outside the U.S. and every American does not visit these establishments. But as we began to speak, we came to the conclusion that America cannot be distinguished by race or religion. America has nothing to hold on to simply because of migration and immigration. Appadurai describes ethnoscape as a group of people moving internationally, such as the sudden influx of North Africans to France.

                I then posed a question to my roommate. “In Yemen, where exactly does the idea of the American dream come from”, I said. Of course I knew what was coming. “Media.”, she said. “No matter if the movie is good or bad, everyone looks at the movie with the longing of America.” She explained how her friends see children with iPods, exquisite cars in the driveway and green grass. “Even the background music is looked at as more professionally done.” Mediascapes exhibit images of fictional ethnoscapes.

                Appadurai describes technoscapes as the distribution of technology sent abroad. An example of Appardurai’s technoscape would include China. American businesses are established in China. The products are made by Chinese and shipped back to America.

                Finanscapes can be described as the movement of money internationally. The competition for jobs by immigrants and the “native-born workers” is a great example. Michael Fix provides a great explanation.


For Appardurai’s last term , Ideoscape.  I return to my roommate once more. I first define the word. “Ideoscape is the movement of a group’s cultures and ideas”, I said. Before I posed a question, she had a response. She told me that in Yemen the English language is needed for practically any good job. “…if you want to work with computers, practice medicine or become a lawyer, you must learn English.” This movement of the English language aids the movement of culture.



                The Playing for Change project exhibits the term mediascape. In this video, we see a variety of people from all parts of the globe singing the same song. As we view each person in their own country, the audience is only able to see a small part of what is actually there. This creates a false sense of reality.

                Kutiman’s Thu You project comes to mind when I think of ethnoscape. In this video, the audience views people of different cultures and nationalities all located on the same continent.


Deterritorialization in Playing for Change

Submitted by Shyloe Katherine Musu Jones on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 2:25 AM

Appadurai argues that “deterritorialization, in general, is one of the central forces of the modern world, since it brings laboring populations into the lower-class sectors and spaces of relatively wealthy societies” (Appadurai 11).  He goes on to describe deterritorialization as the transfer of cultures and certain practices from one geographic location to another.  If we broaden the scope of this definition, deterritiorialization can simply refer to the delocalization of cultural ideas and practices.  With this designation, I think both Kutiman and the Playing For Change Foundation achieve deterritorialization in their songs and videos. 

Deterritorialization has been primarily driven by ever shifting technoscapes, the distribution of the technology, and mediascapes, the modes in which information is shared globally. The Playing for Change Foundation is a great example of an organization achieving deterritorialization not through , in which musicians travel the world in hopes of creating a global community brought together through music and sound.  Mark Johnson, the founder of the foundation, describes music as having “the power to break down the walls between cultures, to raise the level of human understanding”.  Playing for Change features musicians from across the world, from Denmark to Santa Monica, performing the same song or sample. The result is a unified yet distinctly heterogeneous finished piece. 


Playing For Change’s “Stand By Me” particularly resonated with me because it depticts deterritorialism in that it pursuades the listener to imagine the cultural ideal of peace and nonviolence as a globally universal goal.  Adding the name of each musician, the city they are performing in, in addition to making an effort to combine all their voices in a chronological and cohesive way gives the video the feel of an orchestrated, yet free-styled performance.  In contrast, Appadurai presents a more cynical view on on the reception of deterritorialized ideals by other cultures: “The idea of deterritorialization can be applied to money and finance… these movements of monies are the basis of new kinds of conflict, as [for example] Los Angelenos worry about the Japanese buying up their city” (Appadurai 12).  Playing For Change  represents a much more positive impact deterritorialization can have on a culture: delocalizing an idea as broad and widespread as peace from the domestic to global truly means they were playing for change.