Against Branding

This great essay by Jason Grant takes on branding as a kind of visual communication great homogenizing factor that is progressively hollowing out the messages not only of corporate brands but of the very people and institutions that are the gatekeepers of diversity, educational institutions, geographical regions, NGOs, etc.

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“Ask anyone who works in a public university, for example, how deep the bureaucratic agendas of corporate marketing have seeped into the fabric of their institution. This communication is not just “consumer facing;” it is internally absorbed and manifested at best as a demoralized academic culture, and at worst as a debased common good. The cynical advertisements become hallowed mission-statements. And increasingly, the reputational contrivance and competitiveness of branding in the public university sector does not merely reflect its gradually corporatized culture—it is also fueling the change. Here in Brisbane, higher learning institutions are all “Universities for the Real World” (so goes a prominent institution’s brand statement). Perhaps “Universities for the Perverse Whims of the Marketplace” just lacked a little poetry? For students, that’s the reality of “reducing the worth of a thing to the price of the thing, and the worth of a person to the wealth of the person… of defining your value exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace” as William Deresiewicz recently put it. And for staff, it’s the real world of pressurized and precarious contract employment, bureaucratic barriers, and impossible workloads.”

(source)

Clavilux

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Birth of music visualization, 1924.

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WaveNet Generative Audio

Some recent results from DeepMind on acoustic AI: “WaveNet a generative model for generated audio”