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“Rhythm Science”: The DJ as artist


by Alan Melson 29 Nov 2007

Paul D. Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid), long one of the most eclectic and thoughtful personalities of the trip-hop/electronic set, has transmogrified over the years into a full-blown conceptual artist. Miller first illuminated his theories of using found sound and aural textures to create new kinds of art in a critically-lauded 2004 book […]

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DJ SpookyPaul D. Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid), long one of the most eclectic and thoughtful personalities of the trip-hop/electronic set, has transmogrified over the years into a full-blown conceptual artist.

Miller first illuminated his theories of using found sound and aural textures to create new kinds of art in a critically-lauded 2004 book entitled Rhythm Science. More recently, he applied those theories to a DJ set inspired by sounds he heard in Angola, Ghana and other African countries that was included in the Venice Biennial’s 52nd International Art Exhibition, which closed on Nov. 21 after a successful five-month run.

The mix (click for audio and playlist) covers over a dozen genres of music, sound effects, spoken word and ambient noise, but is highly listenable and worth downloading when you have time to absorb it properly. Where else will you hear Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, ” Public Enemy, David Byrne, Orson Welles, Duke Ellington and a Malcolm X speech along with all manner of African rappers, singers and instrumentalists rolled into a cohesive sound collage?

Spooky appeared in September at the Dallas Museum of Art as part of their Late Nights series, and their fine multimedia folks put together a nice interview clip shot during his visit in which he talks about Marcel Duchamp‘s influence on his compositional work, “found sounds” and sampling technique, interspersed with footage and audio from his appearance. Enjoy the clip!

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