“Be careful you are so eager for the fish you end up losing the net”
This saying, from my birth place, American Samoa, refers, in the context I heard it, to the loss of cultural autonomy when it is embraced by a seemingly more liberal embrace of identity, in this case, a shift from local Samoan preservation of rights, to an expanded legislative citizenship with non-Samoan specific liberties.
This proposed work for String Quartet and recitative, takes the ‘net’ as hidden liberties, the ‘fish’ as the mobile phone and its use by individuals, and the ‘eager’(ness) as engagement with the facilitation technologies (i.e. the phone network and its buried covert agendas in the monitoring of that use).
The work will be structured as a theme with variations in several movements.
The central theme will be a musical translation of the word TWITTER as tapped on the keypad of a mobile phone – which corresponds to a series of audible pulse tones which can, in turn, translate to degrees of the diatonic scale. Taking this as a serially constructed theme, the work will move through variations employing compositional techniques from total control (serialism) to free expression (directed improvisation), reflecting the ubiquity and hidden controls of our freedoms for which mobile phone use and data monitoring can be considered as a central metaphor - as the ‘net.’
This net is woven through legislation that is propagandised as protecting our sense of personal liberty and civilised safety.
The work will in no way be a ‘rant’ that takes argument with this weave, but rather will develop through an exploration of the aesthetics of content and ideas drawing from the material.
I share with Olivier Messiaen (see Tweets) his sentiment in my art making – I compose for the pleasure of internal hearing at the precise moment of composition.
What follows is the “lake” within which my “precise moments” are at present swimming with regards to informing directions of this work – the sea into which I will cast this net.
The overarching knots of the weave will be given colour by the legislation that ‘protects’ our liberty in this, our world most free and liberal democracy.
These knots include: (a conceptual foundation)
The privacy act.
Despite being considered by some an absolute and whole violation of the right to privacy under the Privacy Act 1988 the topic, whilst debated, was never brought to light by mainstream media. The consideration was postured due to the nature of the 'metadata' being retained under the Act and the concept that whilst not directly capturing the content of communications undertaken the bill gives considerable leeway in the kind of metadata being collected.
There is no statutory definition of privacy in Australia. The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) was given a reference to review Australian privacy law in 2006. During that review it considered the definition of privacy in 2007 in its Discussion paper 72. The ALRC found there is no "precise definition of universal application" of privacy; instead it conducted the inquiry considering the contextual use of the term "privacy.” In reaching that conclusion, the ALRC began by considering the concept of privacy:
"It has been suggested that privacy can be divided into some separate, but related concepts:
Information privacy, which involves the establishment of rules governing the collection and handling of personal data such as credit information, and medical and government records. It is also known as "data protection";
Bodily privacy, which concerns the protection of people’s physical selves against invasive procedures such as genetic tests, drug testing and cavity searches;
Privacy of communications, which covers the security and privacy of mail, telephones, e-mail and other forms of communication; and
Territorial privacy, which concerns the setting of limits on intrusion into the domestic and other environments such as the workplace or public space. This includes searches, video surveillance and ID checks.
The telecommunications(interception and access) Amendment (Data retention) - Compulsory retention of metadata
The law requires telecommunications companies to store customer metadata for at least two years. Metadata from our phone calls, text messages, emails, and internet activity is now tracked by the government and accessible by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Freedom of Information act
Some agencies, such as the six intelligence agencies, are wholly exempt from the FOI Act. Furthermore, all agencies are exempt from the FOI Act in relation to documents received from or originating with those intelligence agencies .Other agencies are exempt in relation to particular documents, such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in relation to program material. There are also several agencies, such as the courts, which are only covered in respect to administrative documents.
The mobile phone and our up-take use of it, is now an integral part of our personal, business and social media communication.
Some aspects of this which I will consider as variations on the theme, given context by the enshrined laws that control us,
They will potentially become “character “ (musical) variations and part of the narrative of the recitative.
All will be developed as variations on the central mobile phone generated theme.
The extreme views as published on social media by endorsed candidates through this 2019 Federal election, can only be seen as the tip of an iceberg comprised of those who have been more circumspect with social media engagement and it is with increasing alarm that the fate of the liberty we take for granted is being normalised by extreme views. These views enter our lives unwelcomed through access provided by data collection agencies working from our mobile phone centred outreach. How,why, and who provides data is not information that is readily accessible.
Popular 'shouting out"
Tweeting:(240 characters in all languages except Chinese, Japanese and Korean)-sending messages that are welcomed on social media.
1.the chirp of a small or young bird. (musically reference Oliver Messiaen – Catalogue d’oiseaux)
2.a post made on the social media application Twitter.
'We're watching you': Why doxxing is the new weapon of choice for cyber bullies and trolls.
Doxxing is an abbreviation of the phrase "dropping documents".
It involves releasing personal information — like your phone number, address, or social media profiles — to a hostile digital audience.
The practice developed out of the hacker culture in the 1990s but gained more prominence at the beginning of this decade when the hacktivist group Anonymous deployed it against law enforcement.
(Musical reference to be determined
Trolling- sending unwanted messages in social media.
In Old Norse mythology, beings described as trolls dwell in isolated rocks, mountains or caves, live in small family units and are rarely helpful to human being
( musically referenced by Edvard Grieg - March of the Trolls, etc)
A social media troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive,extraneous, or off-topic messages in an on – line community with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalising tangential discussion .
Emoji -now part of the Unicode standard which is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world’s writing systems – often the meaning is ambiguous or differs from definitions within the emojipedia.
(Musically referenced by a graphic score of an emoji based narrative that forms a structured improvisation for the players and actor
There are many more uses of the mobile phone within our sense of ‘liberty’ communication that will inform the variations on the theme musically and within the recitative.
SMS, texting, sexting, grinr, tindr, marketing, etc. etc. – all responses to our trusting interface with the world with approaching 17 million Australian users spending 80% of their social media interface on a smartphone.
The recitative will develop a thematic narrative carried through the variations. This may be something like an intimate phone conversation between two lovers that continually is getting pinged by social media interruption – taking it and the music from light safe places to the darkest recesses of the social media sewer.
These interruptions could be as diverse as call waiting (a parent checking in ?)– emergency service warning – targeted marketing from agencies or actors monitoring the conversation or location – trolling – abusive SMS – attractive offers (free holiday if you press 1 on your keypad now etc.) – a whole range of interruptions positive and negative that will ultimately have a line of resistance that will preserve the freedom of the intimacy (or not?).
Musically this will be expressed as the theme under siege through the variations, and returning to conclude, battered, changed but recognisable.
As a minimum, within the commission budget of Hobart Current the work will be made as a single channel studio music video for gallery install. As a full possibility it could have live performance, animation and production intent that includes non-studio locations with locations for the video realisation.
Preliminary thoughts about structure:
Based around the number 240 (characters allowed for Tweets).
Theme: - 240 serialised notes on touch pad. Key of C Major – as key that is completely pure. Its character is innocence, simplicity, naivety, children’s talk.
Variation: tweets: 240 bird songs (e.g) from threatened species birds with recitative aria quoting from the clarinet solo in Olivier Messiaen’s “Abyss of the Birds” from his Quartet For The End of Time
Variation: (emoji): 240 emojis as a literary narrative, plus arranged harmonically and melodically: - graphically scored for structured improvisation with recitation/actor face-miming the emoji narrative: in the key of C minor, the key for the declaration of love and at the same time, lament for unhappy love.
Variation: (Doxxing) 240 recited statements from legislated acts ‘protecting’ our personal liberty underneath a soft melancholy quartet version of Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind.
Variation:(Trolls) If your attacked by a troll the best way to survive is to keep talking. (old saying from Nordic mythology)
The members of the quartet and narrator will read as a structured poem, from 240 pieces of legislation protecting our ‘liberty’ from doxxing, with musical staccato interjections in the key of B flat minor (the attributed mood of this key is that it is: “A quaint creature, often dressed in the garment of the night. It is somewhat surly and very seldom takes on a pleasant countenance. Mocking God and the world: discontented with itself and with everything: preparation for suicide sounds in this key.”
Other variations I will consider include those apps associated with pro-active and re-active communication through the mobile phone that enhance or impinge on our personal free, personally controlled space.