shows, lectures, ecc.

sergio messina/radiogladio online

in italiano
(links open in new windows)

Realcore: the digital porno revolution
(Realcore page and blog here)

An historical overview of digital porno, from the BBS movement to the webcams. It's the developement of my Ars Electronica 2000 talk.
This talk is very political and it has to do with grassroots porno (the so called amateur movement), the political battles of beauty vs desire, of reality vs gloss, of standardized desires (such as the ones imposed by advertising) vs personal ones. Here's the short description I wrote for the Ars Electronica:

"An overview of pictorial sex online. Tired of Pamela Anderson and the likes, online pornography users (which still account for the majority of the whole web traffic) are producing and exchanging original material (carefully categorized) that questions concepts such as pornography, beauty and radical behavior, while incarnating - in a quite unexpected way - many of the visions of internet pioneers."

This show has 100 images, unsuitable for minors.

Ctrl alt tie me
BDSM in the virtual space
(this talk has its own english presentation here)

Of all the possible human sexual interactions, BDSM seems the most apt to happen in a 3D virtual environment (such as Second Life). For many people this is very surprising: one tends to associate BDSM to an intense and radical physicality. The main reason is of course that this kind of sexual expression (and behavior) mostly happend in the mind, which happens to be the same in the person and in the avatar (this text continues here).

This lecture has 100 slides, unsuitable for minors.

Illegal Music
hot to write a song and go to jail

The history of music is a history of theft, and still today, in a healthy educational environment, young musicians and composers are encouraged to copy. In the past, the inclusion of other people's music in one's own was considered normal, and often a tribute (as in "Variations from a theme by..."). This tradition was kept alive by Jazz, a genre often based on citations, imitation and the adoption of other people's techniques, styles and harmonies. Also, due to its structure, Jazz allows players to improvise within a given harmonic structure, creating an intense interplay between the original composer and the performers, and blurring the concept of authorship. In this time music was a service, and it was indissoluble from the musician.

All this changed with the birth of recording, the creation of the music industry and the commoditization of music. Compositions were no longer magmatic entities subject to mutations (as they have been for thousands of years) but crystallized pieces of "sound estate", whose protection and integrity was essential for the survival of the industry. Many creative freedoms started to dwindle; quoting and citation, variations on popular themes, the use of a pre existing harmonic progression to create a new melody and, in Europe, even the simple covering of music. This process lasted 100 years, roughly corresponding the 20th century. The system collapsed with the appearance of digital tools, that give composers the possibility to use existing music as a building block to create their own, to mix and mash up music, to create original material out of sampled sounds - all very exciting, and very illegal.

Today we're living this contradition in the fullest way: on one hand modern, contemporary music, divided in micro-genres that coagulate around small indie labels. This music has no names under it, and it's often hard to tell one artist fron the other. Melody, the main ingredient of western music (and the object of many legal litigations of the past), is disappearing. What's more, much of this music is dance, and so it's devised to be part of another important, and controversial, "composition" technique of today: the Dj set. And on the other hand, the old and new catalogues of corporate music are on their way to being fully armoured against any theft: copy control, melody analysis software (to spot plagiarism), litigations over single sentences (such as "I can't get no"). And it can only get worst: if music follows software (as it has in many cases: they are both very precious and sought after digital content), tomorrow someone might copyright the twelve bar blues. The main reason for tight protection is that music has become an important ingredient of our everyday life, from shopping to radio, and is an essential component of contemporary media; sometimes crucial, like in advertising. The music business today is by far the biggest "art" business in the world, and provides relevant content to many other industries, like film or games.

This presentation gives a fast but complete ride through the history of music copyright (with many musical examples), from the times when copying was right, to today - where copyright seems every day more wrong.

Available in italian and english. For all details please send an email to the address below.