Spuds & Loops

Somehow forgot to repost this here: from CommonSense (2008, opens PDF), organised by Sheffield's Access Space and edited by Dougald Hine. Was looking for it again, thinking about takebacktheflour's protest.

Potatoes and sound loops: two of my favourite things, and cut from the same cloth. How so? Start with spuds. Raleigh didn’t discover them - Peruvian farmers have been growing potatoes for millennia. The homogenised chips, crisps and ‘product’ we eat are one tiny genetic fibre. They’ve developed thousands of varieties, all the time experimenting in chacritas - their gardens - talking, testing, exchanging, cross-breeding. They’ve woven a tapestry of genetic diversity over the Andes. It’s a living, breathing quilt a million miles from IP-protected superspuds owned by multinationals. In Monsanto-world, farmers are reduced to mindless labourers. And loops? A 21st century global colony of music-makers forage for sounds, recombining them endlessly. Coldcut call it an ‘elaborate megamix’ – a seething evolution that acknowledges its sources as it giggles at copyright. Loops leap from net to mix to dancefloor and back again: we’re the landscape where they thrive or die. So? For us, it’s about freedom to create; in Peru it has meant survival. Open source isn’t new, then. It’s always been about control. In the Andes, autonomy, creativity and survival are entwined threads. Our own cultural viability means heeding the spuds and loops, and binding our own threads together.