Evolution Control Committee

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To begin, a note from Mark Gunderson of the Evolution Control Committee (ECC)

At 06:22 AM 8/27/2007, you wrote:

Hey Mark, some Wikipedia editors are getting pissy about image copyrights. Would you mind providing a quote I could put on the images I uploaded from your website? Something to the effect of "I'm Mark Gunderson and I approve this image." Thanks!

Have fun at the burn! (jealous)

-Nathan

Hi Nathan; you have the permission of myself (TradeMark Gunderson) and The Evolution Control Committee to use materials of all kinds (including images, audio, video, and text) in any way you see fit. Such as Wikipedia. Thanks!

  • TradeMark G.
    :.e.c.c.:


ecc@evolution-control.com "It was twenty years ago today..."
or ecc@pobox.com The Evolution Control Committee http://evolution-control.com Established 1987

SKYPE: trademarkg ... ICQ: 1353166 ... AIM: TradeMarkECC
MYSPACE: www.myspace.com/theecc ... YAHOO: evolution_controlled_creations
TRIBE: http://people.tribe.net/trademarkg ... GMail/GTalk: gunderson.mark@gmail.com

To the anarchistic, culture jamming, kopyright liberating post-punk pranksters who make it known that music is free, sampling is an end in itself, not a means. It is both art, canvas, paint and brush. But it is more than just a form of music. It is an ideology, encapsulated within the fundamental belief that art is an expression, not property. It is to be explored, not controlled. Yet this simple recognition of the aesthetic worshipping of sonic liberty has made it the most illegal music in the world. But you know what? They don't care. They will sample anything they damn well please. You can not stop them. They will sample your hit single. They will sample you complaining about sampling your hit single. They will sample you trying to stop them from sampling your hit single. And when you sue them, they will sample that too. They will take anything that fuels culture and powers society, and appropriate it for their own uses. To them, anything you say is simply raw material.

from "Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music"
http://techno.org/electronic-music-guide/

The Evolution Control Committee is a sound-video-performance-artist-band-collective (originally) from Columbus, Ohio. Founded by Mark Gunderson in 1987 (otherwise known as Trademark G.) in 1987, the ECC "produses" sample-based works whose source material ranges from audio samples of news coverage to video clips from popular music videos.

Work

Rocked By Rape

In 1998, the ECC released a 7" single entitled "Rocked By Rape" through an independent label, Eerie Materials. This mashup consists of audio samples of Dan Rather's news reportage on top of the title track of AC/DC's top selling album "Back in Black" (This album sold 22 million copies in the US, making it the 5th top selling album in the United States according to the RIAA website. The RIAA also cites them as the 10th top selling artist of all time. To look at these statistics go here: http://www.riaa.com/index.php.) Side B encourages the listener to create his/her own Dan Rather mash-up, and offers the audio text from Rocked by Rape without the layer of AC/DC's "Back in Black" for the listener to appropriate for his/her own uses.

Heres a short video introduction to the problems surrounding "Rocked by Rape." http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2205571028805419191

The work itself can be accessed and downloaded as an mp3 from the ECC's website. http://evolution-control.com/index.php?view=article&catid=37%3Apast-releases&id=62%3Arocked-by-rape-7q-on-eerie-materials&option=com_content&Itemid=67

Run-in with CBS

Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 11:17:42 -0500
From: Kryle, Sanford I <sikryle@CBS.com>
To: "'eerie@crl.com'" <eerie@crl.com>
Subject: ROCKED BY RAPE
Re: ROCKED BY RAPE
Ladies/Gentlemen: January 19, 2000
A matter of serious concern has come to our attention. We have learned that
you are offering for sale a sound recording containing the CBS EVENING NEWS
opening theme and Dan Rather's voice (the "Materials").
Your use of the Materials significantly infringes upon the copyrights owned
by CBS. We hereby advise you that to copy, record, perform, exhibit,
exploit, or otherwise use, CBS-owned, copyrighted material in whole or in
part without its express written permission constitutes a serious
infringement of CBS's exclusive rights in such material. Furthermore, your
use of Mr. Rather's voice is interfering with his right of publicity and has
created a false impression that Mr. Rather and CBS have endorsed or are
connected with the sound recording which is misleading and deceptive to the
public.
Unless you immediately remove the Materials and any related material from
distribution and display, and provide us with written assurances that all
such use has stopped, and will not resume in the future, we will have no
alternative but to take appropriate action to protect CBS's rights. We
require receipt of such written assurance from you by no later than January
21, 2000.
CBS specifically reserves any and all rights and remedies with respect to
your unauthorized use of the Material.
Very truly yours,
Sanford I. Kryle
Associate General Counsel

reply:

Mr. Kryle,

I am writing to you as a member of the audio art group, The Evolution Control Committee, authors of the record "Rocked By Rape". I have been made aware of your threat to Eerie Materials over our record and have been forwarded a copy of your message to them.
Frankly, I am OUTRAGED. Our piece is very obviously a PARODY of Dan Rather and his role as (literally) the face of the CBS Evening News, as well as his role in the lives of millions of Americans every night. It is often said that art reflects life – we of The ECC believe that needs to be interpreted literally. Using Dan Rather's voice, and even using the very words broadcast and heard by over 7 million people nightly, was an essential element in our piece. To address issues of violence on the TV news, we felt that to do it generically would produce a generic and ambiguous result. Television is all about personalities, and we knew our piece had to be about personalities too.
As we watched Rather convey the news each night, we were struck at the brutal violence that was delivered, day in, day out. Unfailingly, the good news ALWAYS appeared as the very last segment of each broadcast. You may call it dessert, but we call it empty calories – a meaningless gesture; an insincere smile to follow 25 minutes of carnage. How can we sit idly by, watching that insincere smile on Dan Rather's face? When you offer a daily parade like that, you must expect that some people will wonder just what the emperor is wearing.
Even going beyond this bit of common sense, the copyright law itself allows for people to make "fair use" of copyrighted materials for purposes of parody. "Rocked By Rape" is NOTHING if not parody. The suggestion that a listener might mistakenly presume that CBS would have endorsed such a recording as you suggest is simply ludicrous. The title itself, "Rocked By Rape", is not the result of some clever editing trick on our part but was actually spoken by Rather during one broadcast. While the context of that phrase and others we included in our piece may differ from the original, we feel that these "shock phrases" are often all that remain in a viewer's mind after each broadcast. Our critique – our parody – makes this point plainly.
But perhaps the real tragedy here is beyond your mere allegations – it is the fact that we literally will probably never see our day in court over this and the chance to defend ourselves and our work. I firmly believe that we have broken no laws in the music we've done, but to defend this belief in a court of law is impossible because your deep corporate pockets would simply drown us before we got before the judge. Seeing corporations stampede towards the almighty dollar while individual rights get crushed underfoot is what truly makes my blood boil.

Sincerely,

Mark Gunderson
The Evolution Control Committee

P.S.: Below is a message to you from Don Joyce, a member of the musical group Negativland. Negativland has appeared in court before to defend their legal rights as collage-based musicians. His experience with and knowledge about these issues far surpasses mine, and he eloquently states many additional relevant points.

From: Don Joyce <dj@webbnet.com>

Dear Mark,
The ECC situation is ridiculous. I wrote the following reply of support if
you care to forward it to him. (I have not.)
DJ

Dear Mr. Kryle,
Your recent objection to Eerie Materials use of CBS News music and Dan
Rather's voice is ill-informed, particularly in terms of the NEED for
modern art to be able to directly reference the world around it. Have you
heard the record? Really, you must HEAR the work before you presume to
crush it! You might find, as I do, that this musical collage is
interesting, humorous, and a perfectly valid public response to the totally
public and unavoidable media machine you happen to work for. Of course the
CBS news is important, serious stuff and Dan Rather is a national icon
among stone faced teleprompter readers - that's precisely why the Evolution
Control Committee used them! If you're going to bombard us with that stuff
every day without our permission, you can't expect that it's not going to
make an impression on creative minds out here, no matter how much your
network wishes we were all just complacent sponges soaking up all those
tediously interruptive commercials like good citizens should.
But since I'm almost sure this kind of creative logic will not cause you to
threaten your position with CBS in the slightest, you should also be aware
that such a usage as is found in "Rocked By Rape" is pretty clearly an
example of Fair Use as allowed by copyright law. This is art as parody, and
as social "commentary and criticism," and is precisely why copyright
ownership is NOT an "exclusive" right as you mistakenly state in your
letter. Fair Use bypasses owner's rights for a VERY GOOD REASON. To allow
valid new works of parody, commentary, and criticism to be made when the
owners of included material would otherwise prevent it. Grow up and try to
enjoy art a little. It is no threat to, nor is it in competition with CBS
News. Exactly what in the heck are you afraid of happening here? Your
employers are in no danger of losing their global grip on... anything.
Small, independent audio collage artists like ECC however ARE in constant
danger from kneejerk corporate repressions of their sampled work like the
one you are pursuing here, in which you hope to intimidate this perfectly
valid work of art out of existence with the spectre of your bottomless
pockets and presumed ability to legally and economically ruin their lives.
This is an anti-art position which is being contemplated by CBS and we can
assure you it will be publicized as such.
Please reconsider the social, cultural, and image implications of a huge
corporation thoughtlessly stomping all over tiny independent artists with
comparitively miniscule distribution. You don't have to like what they do
to want them to be allowed to do it. And in case you don't, reread the Fair
Use clause in copyright law and try to fathom why such a concept was
written into law. The most surprising phrase in all of copyright law is
where it says that they are intended to ENCOURAGE new work to be created.
(Nowhere does it say that they can or should be used to censor and inhibit
NEW work.)
Fair Use allows appropriated usages in new works without payment or
permission precisely because of "owner" attitudes like those of CBS which
suggest that "free speech" must be bought and paid for and given
permission to exist by the subject of criticism. Misusing otherwise useful
copyright law to prevent new work like this (as opposed to counterfeiting
or bootlegging which is all this whole technologically antique body of law
was ever INTENDED to prevent) leads only to the death of modern "found
sound" critical art and to the death of free speech and free expression.
We know CBS encourages free speech so sometimes you have to grit your teeth
and walk the walk when it comes to unwanted criticism of CBS too, EVEN
WHEN YOUR OWN WORDS ARE USED AGAINST YOU. This relatively new way to
comment and criticise is not only implied, but also absolutely inevitable
in this age when cheap capturing technology is in the hands of EVERYONE.
This is a GOOD thing for democracy, not a BAD thing! Where in the world is
your bigger picture hiding?

"FAIR USE FOR COLLAGE!"
Don Joyce
Negativland

Production inspired by "Rocked by Rape" and CBS threats

After CBS threatened to take "legal action" (ie sue) ECC for illegal use of the voice of Dan Rather, the ECC posted "Rocked by Rape" as an mp3 from their website for free. To further maximize distribution, the ECC and fans circulated "Rocked by Rape" under fake file names on Napster (which they have coined "Napster Bombs").

Here are the titles and the number downloads received from ECC.

99 ACDC - Rocked By Rape (bootleg).mp3
119 Aphex Twin - Rocked By Rave (bootleg).mp3
121 Beck - Slap Happy Mentos Eater (live - rare).mp3
31 Chumbawumba - CBS Is Dumb (bootleg - rare).mp3
81 Current 93 - The Magick Element (unreleased).mp3
55 Grateful Dead - Rocket By Space (live 5-12-86).mp3
37 Negativland - Sporting Dude (unreleased).mp3
200 Nirvana - Rocked By Rape (bootleg - rare).mp3
96 Prince (The Artist) - gR00ve nUwz (rare).mp3
65 The Orb - Spotless Nancy (promo only).mp3
79 The Residents - Racked By Rope (bootleg - rare).mp3
118 Sonic Youth - Rocked By Rape (bootleg - rare).mp3
121 Tom Waits - Dinner With Dan (rare Bone Machine outtake).mp3
74 XTC - Sunshine Bonnet Pylon (bootleg - rare).mp3

and here are the number of downloads received from the "official" titles

6 The Evolution Control Committee - Rocked By Rape.mp3
6 The Evolution Control Committee - Racked By Rope.mp3
15 The Evolution Control Committee - Rocked By Rave.mp3

Videos

The "official" music video (I do not think ECC would make this distinction. This video was made by a personal colleague of Mark and documented under the ECC's google video page). http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3023656684625489073&q=evolution-control.com+site%3Avideo.google.com&total=15&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=2

Something I found on youtube.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2290651474568733329

Analysis

Formal

Piece begins with found audio telling the viewer they are listening to the news (with that weird, spacey trumpet stuff in the background). As the announcer informs the listener he/she will be "with" Dan Rather, drums begin and list of words ("danger, war, killer, fraud, CIA, crisis, horrible") accompany the drums on beat. Guitars begin around 20 seconds into the piece. Words continue to follow in time with guitars and drums. Around 1:15 into the song, the words "Rocked by Rape" repeat several times, ending with "sex, drugs, and rocked by rape." List of words begin again ("murder, tourist,semi-automatic hand gun, ethnic war, CIA narcotic operations"), and words "Rocked by Rape" begin again around 2:45. Same process continues throughout the 4:30 second piece. At the conclusion, the voice speaks in full sentences, "and that's part of our world tonight. For the CBS evening news Dan Rather, good night and have a great weekend." This is articulated in conjunction with the reinscription of the weird trumpet stuff that fades out as the voice ends.

Through composing the piece as such the ECC creates a clearly delineated beginning and end through opening and closing with the weird trumpet stuff that begins and ends each news cast (I never realized how offensive it was until I heard it sans-image). The piece maintains a "song-like" aesthetic by editing the words in beat with the music, and maintains the verse-chorus, verse-chorus structure by repeating the words "Rocked by Rape" in the song sections that switch tempo, and whose phrases contain three chords followed by a riff the concludes each phrase (repeated 3x with slight variation in each ending riff, ending with longer final phrase with words "sex, drugs and rocked by rape").

Content

By repeating words associated with "crisis" and "catastrophe," his piece demonstrates the way the US news both plays on (and undoubtedly feeds) the generation of anxiety. Strangely enough, once the words are extracted from the image, we can discern the odd impersonality with which anchors speak. After being bombarded with these anxiety-producing words (without accompanying imagery) the "good night" Dan Rather wishes the listener is rendered a meaningless false assurance.

On the one hand (as I showed you with the statistics), this song has captured mass-consciousness, and is easily recognizable by a wide audience. Thus, by using such familiar music the ECC is able to grab a listener's attention through the familiarity of the song. Next, pairing AC/DC with the voice of a news anchor is odd/humorous, so via the "shock value" of the words and familiarity of the song the piece holds the listener's attention pretty well. Paradoxically the familiarity of the music allows the listener to focus in on the "spoken" vocal parts, and is distractedly "carried along" by the music. Certainly, the pairing is thematically sound--with the introduction of "heavy-metal" around the 1970's and its immediate popularity, a lot of parents were convinced they needed to conduct exorcisms on their children.

Question

How does the piece change with the introduction of visuals? Do you find it more or less effective (or does the critique change)?

Some Good References (if you are interested in the construction of the news and issues of viewership associated with it)

Jane Feuer, "The Concept of Live Television"
Margaret Morse, "The Television News Personality and Credibility"
Mary Ann Doane, "Information, Crisis, Catastrophe"
Patricia Mellencamp, "Beyond the Pleasure Principle of Television" <--good for brushing up on Freud's repetition-compulsion, and thinking through the possible effects these images of violence might have on the television spectator


"Food for Thought," Gunderphonic cover.
(I initially interpreted as "Meat-head," close enough).

Gunderphonic (named in homage to John Oswald's "Plunderphonic") was ECC's first album entirely composed of samples. This album was created using analog media (a 4-track cassette deck and turntable with no speed control) and was first released personally by ECC in 1994. ECC claims the album cost around $150 (the cost of the cassette deck), and, I assume, the cost of 700 individually-copied cassette tapes.

Gunderphonic is available for full download from the ECC's website. http://evolution-control.com/index.php?view=article&catid=37%3Apast-releases&id=65%3Agunderphonics-cassette-self-released&option=com_content&Itemid=67

Here is the audio-bibliograpy the ECC offers on their website.
:audio bibliography:: [1] Public Enemy, "The Rhythm, The Rebel", Prophets Of Rage EP. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, "Bittersweet Samba", Whipped Cream and Other Delights. [2] Led Zepplin, various, Led Zepplin (Box Set). [3] Unknown; thought to be flexi-disc advertisement for Reader's Digest of Time-Life collection of early century music. [4] Unknown. [5] Magic Media, "Cry-Baby Duck", children's cassette. [6] Focus on the Family, "Adventures in Odyssey: Our Best Vacation Ever", found cassette. [7] George Bush, "First State Of The Union Address", nationwide broadcast. [8] Poem unknown. United States Steel, various, The Sounds of Steelmaking. [9] Public Enemy, "Arizona Assassination Attempt Acca-Double Dub", Shut Em Down EP. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, "Whipped Cream", Whipped Cream and Other Delights. [10] Chet Huntley, various, radio segment demonstration record. [11] Donovan, "Hurdy-Gurdy Man", Donovan's Greatest Hits. Butthole Surfers, "Hurdy-Gurdy Man", PIOUHGD. [12] Focus on the Family, "Adventures in Odyssey: Choices", Puns, Parables, and Perilous Predicaments. [13] See [7]. [14] U2, "Where The Streets Have No Name", The Joshua Tree. All samples used without permission.

As you can see, the thematic content of the tracks is not homogenous (though ECC shows a continued interest in media coverage and popular music, as they "correct" two Bush speeches and remix the music of U2 and Led Zeppelin). Though ECC is involved in a number of critiques, their main project seems to be exercising creative rights and encouraging others to do so (and also encouraging exchange less-mediated through corporate enterprise).

Fun Stuff

ECC is currently making a new website, and in the new one, TradeMark created a blog (and gives a link to a old one). There are only two entries so far, but in the entries he "reveals" the inspiration for a piece he has been working on.

http://evolution-control.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=44&Itemid=79

Questions to consider

In what ways does ECC utilize digital media differently than other artists using digital means thus far (in terms or archiving, distribution, creating a persona, etc)?
If we were to attempt to construct a canon of ECC's work, what would we be more inclined to include? How might digital media change (or help us rethink) what counts as production?

Stuff I Found Along the Way

The story of a particular break beat used in various contexts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj0vfU0vFSs
Larry Lessig Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/187
Seven ways to ruin a technological revolution http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8WuPVFdUZM
Faux-disneylandian take on copyright http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJn_jC4FNDo

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