Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Forest for the Trees

The above video is an excerpt from an upcoming film project called "A Year at the Wheel". It reached a lot of people in a short amount of time, and it has also generated many comments and questions. A recurring observation was that we seem to have a binary outlook of the nature of Christianity. I responded to this in a different forum, but it seemed worth posting here as well. It is true that many Christians in the past (and the present) have contributed to the world. The difference is that these people are/were smart and talented regardless of their religious leanings. Christianity in the 21st century has, by and large, continued to be a default ad hominem mechanism for people who are neither smart nor talented. And historically, now and as always, Christianity has been the impetus for the destruction of reason and culture in the west. It encourages war, overpopulation, fear, and a consumptive brand of commerce. Most people subscribe to this religion because they are afraid of death (and life as well). It is sometimes hard to face the idea that we may well be alone, or that there is no grandfatherly figure in the clouds who watches out for us and wants us to win the lottery or survive cancer.

People are increasingly threatened by strong opinions and straight talk, but we see little point in choosing our words based on whether or not anyone agrees or if it means one less person might buy our albums. Safe and crowd-pleasing outlooks are for politicians.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Anticipation & Hindsight

I was asked today why Averse Sefira agreed to return to Los Angeles for two shows in light of my indictment of the city in previous entries. I write this journal as a record of events at the time of their occurrence, which to me is the only way to convey my perceptions in an honest fashion. As such, I do not retract anything I have said in that regard but that does not mean I am unwilling to revisit the city under different circumstances and have my mind changed in the process. If anything, I should acknowledge that I have painted Los Angeles with a broad brush and perhaps that was unfair; my only real impression of LA is the Sunset Strip, a place that has nothing in common with our interests. Previously we performed in large commercial venues that were glitzy and expensive and not appropriate for bands like ours. This isn't a comment on anyone's efforts in terms of booking, but sometimes what is good for the whole of a tour package is not ideal for a band alone and this cannot always be remedied. This time we will perform on our own terms in dedicated venues. We expect it to be a completely different scenario, and it seems certain that we will come away with better impressions overall. In any event, we chose to do these shows in good faith and we are looking forward to them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stand Up For Art

I usually avoid topics of conventional politics, but this issue came to me by Jos A. Smith and it is of great importance to anyone who creates art or cares about protecting it. You can read about it here but in short:

  •  The Orphan Works Act of 2008 defines an 'orphan work' as any copyrighted work whose author any infringer says he is unable to locate with what the infringer himself decides has been a 'reasonably diligent search.' In a radical departure from existing copyright law and business practice, the U.S. Copyright Office has proposed that Congress grant such infringers freedom to ignore the rights of the author and use the work for any purpose, including commercial usage. In the case of visual art, the word 'author' means 'artist.'
  • The bill would substantially limit the copyright holder's ability to recover financially or protect the work, even if the work was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to infringement.
  • The bill has a disproportionate impact on visual artists because it is common for an artist's work to be published without credit lines or because credit lines can be removed by others for feckless or unscrupulous reasons. This is especially true of art published in the Internet Age.
  • The Orphan Works Act would force artists to risk their lives' work to subsidize the start-up ventures of private, profit making registries, using untested image recognition technology and untried business models. These models would inevitably favor the aggregation of images into corporate databases over the licensing of copyrights by the lone artists who create the art.

  • So basically this means that any dishonest sleaze can knowingly steal an image from the internet or wherever else and claim that, duh, he couldn't find any name or proof of ownership so that's why he should have the legal right to use the collected paintings of the Renaissance on the vinyl version of his rehearsal demo (limited to 200 copies! KVLT!). This is basically good news for thieves and bootleggers, and a nightmare for everyone who produces visual art of any kind. I'm not a big believer in petitions since I think politicians do whatever they like and would prefer that we all die of cancer (but still pay taxes in the meantime, of course) but in this case I would like to invite you to please sign one of the many petitions listed here, or if you're in Europe go here.

    There are ones for visual artists, illustrators, and photographers, among others. Sign one even if you don't fit a specific category- it still matters.