Poster Photo: Nelisiwe Xaba in “Uncles & Angels”. Photo: Gilles Rammant
On the 8th June 2011, Haythem Zakaria, presented the notion of "Beauty is Data".
Nigerian sound artist, Emeka Ogboh, linked up – via Skype video - to the Digital Arts seminar room on a blustery Tuesday evening to deliver the 2nd Remote Lecture in the 2010 series. He discussed his exploration of the Lagos accoustic environment and played examples of his soundscapes from tracks stored on the online audio platform SoundCloud Emeka is also a photographer and video artist and illustrated his talk with images from Lagos and his sound installations. Although based in Lagos, Emeka spoke to us from Vienna, where he is stopping over on his way back to Nigeria after attending a couple of European new media festivals. He explained how his practice stems from his fascination with the intense sound environment of central Lagos, the largest megacity in Africa. There is nowhere in that city where you can escape from the noise of the place – the vibrant cacophany of traffic and music and myriad human voices that follow you everywhere, even into your sleep and dreams. By contrast, Europe, and particularly Vienna, he experiences as deathly quiet – funereal sonic deathscapes.
Many of Emeka’s sound works are focused on the bus and taxi routes around Lagos. A striking aspect of Lagos is that it lacks any consistent system of street signs or even street names. As a result, the only way to travel through the city is by ear, through verbal signals and directions, from the shouts of taxi touts at the sprawling ranks below freeway intersections to the calls of vendors at bus stations.
Emeka’s sound works track the aural patterns that emerge when he makes his way through the heaving chaos of the city. In so doing his recordings stitch together the chaotic urban energies of an African city. He records the variety of sonic geographies across the city; and captures the verbal forms of street voices, from sales pitches to the amplified soundtracks of the Nollywood dvd vendors all mixed up with the incessant hymns and sermonising of this intensely religious city.
The Johannesburg attendance at this 2nd Remote Lecture was disappointing; but the server logs of the live stream show that the international audience has grown significantly. Thanks to the Upgrade! International link viewers were recorded from a range of countries, including Brazil, USA, Canada, Austria, and Germany. The local audience sound was improved thanks to the use of omni-directional microphones and a sound mixer in the seminar room and the use of a single projection screen with multiple windows is a more efficient arrangement for the visual information. (See the images above.) Difficulties were experienced at times with the quality of the Skype link; but in general the system worked better than the first time and Emeka’s warm personality and his recordings of Lagos soundscapes were communicated successfully.
Just when you thought it was impossible to squeeze any further laughs from the Hitler video on Youtube . . . The original film’s producers demand that all clips be removed and Hitler reacts! Not only is this clip really funny - in my opinion, it rivals the classic Hitler clip on Renaldo’s departure from Manchester United – but it makes very insightful comments on the implications and politics of such remixing. Does a remixed clip devalue the original film or (as Hitler asserts) does it add value. Who would have known about the original German film if it hadn’t been popularised so massively by YouTube? Does this kind of remixing constitute a parody and should it thus be protected under American freedom of speech laws? Will the YouTube audience react to this kind of legal strong-arming by the owners of the copyrighted material or will they just return to watching the usual carnival of user-generated trivia such as dogs on skateboards and cats?