Newsletter #3 December 2000

From: Larry Cuba (cuba@WELL.COM)
Date: Wed Dec 13 2000 - 00:23:47 PST


5. The iotaCenter Blasted in Vicious Indictment

[Pellegrino - That's an awfully strong title. My purpose in writing the essay was a thoughtful, thoroughly considered and reasoned analysis and assessment of the behavior of a group's online list ostensibly devoted to visual music and closely related subjects. The articulation of what I experienced and observed on that list obviously touched some raw nerve ends but that doesn't make it "vicious". If one wastes perfectly good words like "vicious" on intellectual arguments that take positions other than yours what'll be left to refer to mad dogs who tear out people's throats? Have all those university courses in Critical Thinking been for naught?]

The iotaCenter's online discussion list was the
target of a vicious indictment in an essay by
Ron Pellegrino entitled, "Visual Music and the
iota List."

In describing our group, Mr. Pellegrino used such
inflammatory language as "followers," "appropriators,"
and "intellectual property thieves."

[Pellegrino - The previous sentence is typical of the sort of misrepresentation that occurred on the iota List on a regular basis. Those quotations out of context serve to reduce my essay to an exercise in name-calling, an implication that's a character smear. That technique for misrepresentation is little more than thinly veiled lying as I mentioned more than once to offending subscribers on the iota List. It's also a slippery way of avoiding coming to terms with the issues, the main purpose of intellectual arguments. Each of those quotations was plucked from a fleshed out context critical to maintaining integrity in the visual music field.

Furthermore, it seems to have escaped Larry Cuba's attention that item 6 in this iota Newsletter - Copyright Infringement Battle Rages - is about a controversy directly related to the three plucked quotations - "followers," "appropriators," and "intellectual property thieves.". Item 6 is about a person, Chris Casady, who not only bases his work on an historical figure (follower) but also actually takes that historical figure's work as the substance for his piece (appropriator and intellectual property thief). Of course the copyright holder is going to object! That neither Larry Cuba nor Chris Casady recognizes the immorality of this sort of behavior says a whole lot about the current state of the culture. Intellectual property and appropriation are among the ethical and aesthetic issues I examine in my essay. As I write this the Napster issue is still in the courts and I have in front of me an August 2000 Macworld that says with a flourish and a consenting nod, "Napster Lets You Steal Your Songs."]

Rather than rebut his unfounded charges
here, I'll post my comments to the list itself.

[Pellegrino - The use of language like "unfounded charges" is just one more misrepresentation of my essay. The use of language like "charges" and "indictment" makes it sound as though I'm taking the iota List to court. Just go to my essay to find a solid foundation for my observations.]

Mr. Pellegrino writes that he, "... joined the iota list
at its inception searching for other artistic
perspectives on plumbing the depths of visual
music and as a field test of the tenor of those
expressing interest in visual music."

After Mr. Pellegrino spent "about a year and half of
researching the iota list," he unsubscribed and published
his evaluation on his site: "The Electronic Arts of Sound
and Light."

[Pellegrino - I'm pleased to see the use of the expression "evaluation" rather than "indictment". Evaluation is accurate whereas indictment sounds hysterical.]

When I started the discussion list, I was gratified to
have Mr. Pellegrino involved. Because of his pioneering
work in this field, I considered him one of our elder statesmen
and was appreciative of his support.
It's disappointing to find that rather than joining our effort to
form a coalition of all practitioners of our artform,
he was merely testing us and so ready to disown us
at the tender age of one and a half.

[Pellegrino - I have to admit that being called an "elder statesman" by Larry makes me chuckle - he's 50 and I'm 60 so that 10 year gap must seem like a long time to him. News flash - it ain't! And the idea of being a statesman, of having anything to do with government or bureaucratic affairs is completely out of tune with my nature. Check out my site; I'm a cage rattler, an experimenter, an explorer, a free player, a Libertarian at heart.

I'm virtually religious about learning and my MO is to approach new experiences with a mind as open as possible, an attitude that's looking for what it's actually like not what I want it to be like. That's the true meaning of field testing regardless of where the principle is applied - science, art, social systems, etc. Larry's reduction of that notion to "merely testing" demonstrates the sort of skewed attitude characteristic of the politically correct, people who want you to say what they want to hear you say, not what you have to say. Field-testing or searching, in other words, is my reason for being; it's the best way to learn. For decades with the IRS I've identified myself as an "electronic arts researcher" and my experimentation in that field has gone on continuously since 1967. And that includes social experiments, which is how I approached the iota List; I never said otherwise. I never owned the iota List so there was no way I could disown it.

I include as some of my life's most important activities gardening, tree tending, parenting, grand parenting, and the unabated study of life curves in all forms. In other words, I'm a serious student of evolution. I'm amused by Larry's disappointment with me for evaluating the iota List "at the tender age of one and a half." A period of eighteen months in the evolution of human cultural experiments like the iota List is more than sufficient to see repeated behavioral patterns giving rise to forms, expectations, dispositions, and directions. The conclusion of my essay was that what I experienced of the iota List in the way of momentum and direction was not in the creative service of the visual music field. So once that was clear to me and I sensed that the law of diminishing returns was taking hold I unsubscribed and wrote down my observations just like any conscientious researcher would do and put them in the form of an essay to answer that question I get so often from people about activities related to my work - "Well, what did you think?"]

The full text of his article can be found here:

Please post your comments about this article by
sending an email to

6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6

6. Copyright Infringement Battle Rages

As an homage to Oskar Fischinger, and a test
of his own abilities with FLASH (the software for
web-based animation), Chris Casady created
a Flash-based animation of a segment of the
film, "Allegretto."

He posted the animation as a Quicktime clip
on his website along with a short clip of
Fischinger's original version of "Allegretto"
for comparison.

Oskar Fischinger's daughter, Barbara Fischinger,
representing the current copyright holder of
"Allegretto," The Fischinger Trust, requested that
Mr. Casady remove the material from the web
and destroy all the files.

Mr. Casady has complied by removing the clips
from his website, but these events have sparked
a lively debate on both the legal questions involved
and whether the parties acted in the best interest
of either themselves or the community.

You can check out the progress of this discussion
by visiting the list's archive or you can join the fray
by becoming a member of the list via the links
mentioned above.


A. About The iotaCenter

"Color Music," "Visual Music," "MusiColor,"
"Mobilcolor," "Lumia," "Absolute Film," "Video Synthesis,"
"Image Processing," "Abstract Animation,"...

The iotaCenter is a non-profit organization dedicated
to preserving, promoting and celebrating the art of sound
and light and movement in all its many forms and under
all its various names.

The iotaCenter's Research Library in Los Angeles
houses the world's largest collection of materials devoted
to abstraction in film, video, performance, installation and
computer-animated art. Its website is the neighborhood
center for a growing worldwide community of artists,
writers, scholars and supporters involved in this art form.

More information on The iotaCenter and abstraction in
media art can be found at


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If you have any questions about this email or any of the
activities of The iotaCenter, please write to me at
I welcome your comments.
Thank you.

Larry Cuba

The iotaCenter
3765 Cardiff Avenue #305
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 842 8704


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