First up, let me quote Robbie Wiliams, who sometime back was the recipient of an £80 million record deal by EMI :
OK, the relevance of that quote may become apparent later…
The best thing I’ve seen this week, came from techcrunch. An article about a guy called Kutiman, (MySpace page) who has very recently produced a series of musical mash-ups of various YouTube videos, weaving them together, creating credible and quite sublime musical pieces in themselves. The collection is at: www.thru-you.com .
Comments on the original techcrunch article are overwhelmingly positive, although some have questioned whether the ‘thru-you’ clips could in themselves really qualify as ‘music’ or as ‘art’… – They most definitely are both.
If these people are reacting to the ‘many-authors’ attribute of these works as somehow diminishing Kutiman’s achievement, they are totally missing the point. – Kutiman is a musician of considerable skill, and what he has done, is actually to create a highly evolved crowd-sourced composition that, (IMHO) displays a good deal of humility on his part, because he is moving beyond the common ‘self-referring’ style of most songwriters and musicians, toward a kind of ‘crowd-referring’ meme. Interestingly, one cannot consider Kutiman’s work without also considering the wider issues of copyright and the (retarded and almost misanthropic) music industry and particularly the RIAA.
(I say: ‘misanthropic’, because they are suing teenagers for using file-sharing applications, instead of realizing that the speeding freight train has already left the station… EMI and the RIAA are like the large Ice Factories that went out of business following the invention of the refrigerator)
Kutiman’s offering, coming so soon after EMI launched legal action against a Mr. Ryan Sit, the developer behind a number of popular mashups, for his application Favtape, makes an interesting juxtaposition… EMI’s action is apparently because Favtape uses the Seeqpod API, and The RIAA and the record companies are not too fond of seeqpod. What has alarmed many industry watchers is the way EMI has gone after an independent developer of an API… as this has the potential to supress what has been one of the key drivers of innovation on the web. (for a perspective openly critical of the RIAA see ‘boycott-riaa.com‘) …but, speaking of innovation:
Back to Kutiman… (as I said in my comments on techcrunch) – far from not being ‘real art’ or ‘real music’, www.thru-you.com displays the work of an artist who can not only see, but fashion the beauty and value in the scattered leaves of myriad YouTube videos, and weave them into multiple works of art, in the same way that avante guard artists from the 1960’s and 70’s juxtaposed ‘found-objects’ on boards or canvases.
His works, to coin a new term, could be called a musical ‘Folkshomily’… celebrating the mundane and the disconnected… and making stars of ordinary people… like the enigmatic woman on track #3 who soulfully repeats “I am Blue, I am Blue…” and the equally engaging young woman on track #5, who sits with a baby on her lap while playing a keyboard, singing: “…Someday I will find my soul… I, gotta have one too”… (Incidently, the definition of a ‘homily’ pertains to “spiritual edification rather than doctrinal instruction” …so that somehow works for me…)
Featuring these aspirational people and their precious human fragments is a gift to all of us… and; if the ‘form’ of this art is hard for all to comprehend, then it is yet further indication of its uniqueness and cutting-edge status.
[consider Robbie’s quote now]