The first part of Warren Ellis’ three-part miniseries, Reload, is out. Justified paranoia, government conspiracies, Presidential assassination, electromagnetic pulse bombs. Good stuff. In this series, as well as in the recently-completed Transmetropolitan, and the ongoing Global Frequency (that I commented upon here), Warren Ellis has his finger on the pulse of the 21st century.
Archive for March, 2003
DJ Krush makes mostly vocal-less hiphip. His music is all about textures and rhythms. His latest album, The Message At the Depth, is pounding and aggressive, but still seems to me to be mostly dedicated to the pursuit of beauty, as Charles Mudede suggests. The early tracks sound like the music of twittering, highly propulsive machines. The later tracks get somewhat lighter: they sound to me more like the song of birds–not actual birds, exactly, but genetically and cybernetically enhanced birds. (Or even, perhaps, the golden birds of Byzantium).
Everybody seems to be linking to the story about how Benetton is tagging all its clothes with RFID chips, tiny radio transmitters embedded in the clothing that allow the clothing to be tracked from factory to store–and possibly beyond. This is supposed to reduce theft, as well as letting “business managers easily store detailed information about customers’ buying habits that could spur further sales. For example, when a Benetton customer makes a purchase, a sales clerk could pull up that client’s history and say, ‘Last time you were here, you bought a black skirt. We have a sweater that matches that skirt.'” Of course, the potential for the police to track people this way hasn’t been ignored either, though the story says something about deactivating the chips at the cash registers, so that customers can walk out unmarked. Frankly, I’m less worried about being tracked in my everyday motions by RFIDs–since I always assume that this can be done anyway, if the FBI really wants to have me followed–than about how this sort of device could be used by corporations to enforce brand loyalty, for instance (as in, “you’d better not ware our competitor’s shirt with our pants”), or to preserve trademarks and copyrights (no removing the corporate logos from your clothes, the way Cayce Pollard, the heroine of Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, does). I’m sure science ficton writers can come up with some even more creepy uses for this technology… Not to mention the use of guerrilla RFID readers as a counter-measure, as Rick Bradley suggests on nettime. The possibilities are endless.
I was a bit disappointed by the American debut of Ms Dynamite on Saturday Night Live last night. I like her music; it creatively mixes UK 2-step/garage (I am not entirely clear on the British subgenres) and US R&B; and the lyrics are sharp, and pointedly both personal and political (or, as a UK radio DJ says on my mp3 rip of one track, “wicked tune, wicked lyrics, very conscious”). Ms. Dynamite has been a big hit in the UK, and now they are trying to import her here. But in live performance on SNL, her self-presentation was a bit unfortunate. She was so smiley and upbeat, it almost seemed as if she were channelling Mariah Carey (not in terms of vocal style, but in terms of performative affect). The question is: is she that way in the UK as well? Or is this a cynical retooling of her image for the American market?
Alan Moore and J. H. Williams III’s comic book Promethea is witty and inventive, if not as mindblowing as some of Moore’s earlier work (such as his two best known graphic novels, Watchmen and From Hell). I’ve only read the first paperback volume, containing issues 1-6 of an ongoing series that is already up to issue 25; but I’m hooked…