DJs and configurable media

From part two of The Reconfigurable Culture of Contemporary Music, an interview with Aram Sinnreich:

if we inspect a DJ’s laptop, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to say on the face of it which sound files and applications are materials, which are tools, and which are finished products.

The interesting thing is that, unlike the rest of configurable culture, DJs have already dealt with most of these inconsistencies, and developed ethical and aesthetic systems that take them into account. They haven’t thrown out the modern framework entirely, but neither have they given up on doing stuff that violates its basic principles.

It’s worth reading the original piece for the context, but there’s a lesson to be drawn from how DJs assemble the raw materials for a set – fully finished tracks, DJ tools, extended intros and outros, live effects, loops, acapellas and rehearsed sections. Well, there’s a lesson to be drawn if you’re interested in making media/art/content/entertainment/educational tools/[insert thing here] responsive and interactive.

The same will go for VJs too and probably others – stand-up comics and improv actors come to mind as being of a kind. Their media is made to be configured. I’m interested in how currently not-so-configurable media could be adapted, broken down, augmented and given connectors.

More generally though, I like the phrase ‘configurable media’ because I can see it being useful.

Published by Chris Unitt

I work at One Further, doing digital projects with cultural organisations. Follow @ChrisUnitt or find me on LinkedIn.

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