Sunday, October 12, 2008

David Byrne - On art & dance - and make your own remix

David Byrne is on tour. I’m going to see one of the shows this coming Friday in Nebraska. If you’re interested, there are many clips up on YouTube.

Anyway, David Byrne maintains a blog at

Here are a couple interesting bits he’s posted this week:

While viewing art, at least in the western sense, is not the road to self-improvement some still claim — art is not “good” for you — it still has practical and psychologically positive functions. Making it, performing it (in the case of some art forms) and the various social links and connections that arise (or don’t) in the whole world of surrounding activity are where much of the usefulness comes from. Participation (whether making it, dancing it, singing along or being together) is so obviously psychologically cathartic that it’s hardly worth mentioning. It facilitates talk, flirting, hanging out, travel, and money exchange. Isn’t that useful? The object itself might be useless, but, like paper money, it has a kind of agreed upon exchange value — it’s a kind of social currency.

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. . . our audiences, who are pretty much universally loving the dance elements, would probably, most of them, never go to see a contemporary dance performance if it was in town. We agreed that somehow this context removes any sense of pretension and fear from the viewer. There is none of the intellectual questioning and pondering by the audience that often occurs at a dance or at a performance context. No one is asking, “What does this mean? Do I get it? Do I like it? Is this over my head?”

Somehow mixed with popular music, these elements in the show bypass those critical and questioning centers and people receive them as part and parcel of the total performance. If they are enjoying it, then it must be OK. Lily suggests that dance, often marginalized but now increasingly so, needs to insert itself into other places and join with other media, as this show does in its own way. She mentioned some places dance might fit: fashion shows (which is a great idea to make those events a little more acknowledged as performance); film; fine art; and elsewhere.

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Also, if you’re interested, here’s a very fun thing to play with, where you can make your own remixes:


At 10/12/2008 4:46 AM, Blogger Andrew Shields said...

It's nice to have an intellectual out there who makes such damn good pop music -- or perhaps I should put it the other way around: it's nice to have there be an excellent pop musician out there who is such an articulate intellectual.

(If you were a pop musician, John, then I would add this: "and David Byrne is cool, too"!)

At 10/12/2008 6:12 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Aw, you can go ahead and say he's cool... I'm still trying to get the hang of the remix engine. I can't seem to make it play anything.

At 10/12/2008 6:13 AM, Blogger Andrew Shields said...

I didn't try the remixes: no time, no time, no time!

At 10/12/2008 6:42 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I couldn't do it. I no longer have any music creation software on my computer (I did the Renos thing a couple years ago...). I was hoping they'd have some sort of interface with the bundled mp3s, but no luck.

And, as you say, I really don't have any time.


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