Off the Record: Turntablism and Controllerism in the 21st Century (Part 1)
California State University, Northridge
What constitutes the “art” of turntablism? If it is an art, how has it changed with the advent of digital formats and the discontinuation of the longstanding Technics SL 1200 turntable? What changes are occurring to the performativity, tactility and improvisation inherent to DJing with the introduction of the laptop, digital music files, and software organisation and visualisation of DJ processes, either with Digital Vinyl Systems (DVS) such as Traktor and Serato to entirely other performative interfaces? How significant is it for a DJ to beatmatch “live”, and what is the significance of automated sync functions in DJing software? Where and how does one situate the paradigm shift occuring with the use of controller interfaces, from drumpads to various loop-and-knob boxes, leading to the development of “controllerism”, and possibly an entirely new set of cultural aesthetics and values of “authenticity”? How are audiences and DJs alike responding to and crafting these changes?
In this exchange, Los Angeles electronic dance music DJ and communications studies Professor Bernardo Attias (aka dj professor ben) discusses the question of turntablism in the 21st century with tobias c. van Veen, techno-turntablist and scholar in philosophy and communication studies. We begin with a back-and-forth that expands, like a mix, into various questions and ideas concerning authenticity, performance, virtuosity, the instrument, risk, tactility, feedback, interface....
tobias c. van Veen: I'd love to hear more about what constitutes the art of DJing, especially in relation to learned and acquired skills. The DMCs are now allowing Digital Vinyl Systems (DVS), but this is still a competitive performance of virtuosity. If you showed up with a laptop and pressed the spacebar so that “autoscratch” and “autobeatmatch” do all the work while waving your hands in the air, or perhaps using an integrated touchpad unit while, still, the laptop does the dirty work, you wouldn't even be allowed to compete—however I now see such “performances” all the time at clubs with little or no distinction made between such “software performance” and a turntablist who is performing learned and acquired skills that constitute the virtuosity of playing an instrument (which for me, is primarily defined by risk-enabled practices), whether DVS or vinyl (the format is now, I think, somewhat an irrelevance and a red herring; what is at stake here are fundamental skills such as beatmatching, scratching, EQing, record selection, long mixes, cuts, etc., all without being prompted, automated, visually represented, or cued by a “cheat sheet” computer program).
So this has little to do with “authenticity” and a lot more to do with the difference between playing an instrument and pressing play on a glorified software jukebox—unless you want to take the “authenticity” argument all the way down and glory in the old postmodernism of a constructivist approach to the cultural core of technics, which ultimately leads us to a kind of banal cultural nihilism (why give respect to the talented at all then, as evidently various cultures do, as evidently the DMC is designed to do, etc?). Yet this latter path is implicitly what is at stake, I believe, with the commodification of “DJ culture” as it loses touch not with the vinyl format, but with what constitutes the virtuosity of playing an inventive instrument—RISK. Without risk of fucking-up (trainwrecking, skipping the needle, a bad mix, etc), there is no need for the human whatsoever. Why not just “play” iTunes Genius? This is, afterall, how ClearChannel radio operates—the role of the DJ as human agent of music selection has been removed completely now in commercial/corporate contexts in favour of algorithmic-based programming designed to sell consumer objects, the first and foremost that of music itself and the advertising that supports it. I see this attitudinal adjustment to invasive consumerism hitting DJ culture in more ways than one. So I think a lot more is at stake here in losing the performativity of an instrument than just switching from analog to digital. It's something else that has happened, almost under the radar: losing an instrument which was, in itself, a radical device of archive exappropriation, around which a culture grew that created its own performative inventions of risk, thus enabling the cultural development of a new technological performativity.
Controllerism offers more possibilities here as a way forward (rather than just a reactionary stance), by which I mean controllerism also entertains virtuosity....
Ben Attias: I totally agree about the idea of risk and virtuosity, though I think you overstate the importance of the risk involved in the beatmatching piece of it—for anyone who practices regularly, beatmatching records/CDs you know is only slightly more difficult than pressing “sync”. Sure, there's still a risk of trainwrecking but there's also a risk of pushing sync on the wrong beat or of making other mistakes with computers. (In fact, even pressing sync is harder than it looks, as the DJ usually has to create beatgrids that require similar attention to the music as beatmatching requires, though of course that's a different issue since they presumably don't beatgrid during live performances.) And as you say, a new generation of controllerists really shake this question up as they do some incredibly complicated things with arrays of buttons and knobs even if they aren't beatmatching live—the dynamism and the sense of risk is still very much there, especially if they're adding layered effects and toying with loops, samples, etc. In this sense the computer isn't just a “cheat sheet”—it enables the performer to do things that are completely impossible with vinyl or CDs.
But it all brings up another question entirely, which is the difference between a DJ and a performer (or between a DJ and a DJ-as-performer)—as you say, there are many DJs out there who do very little of interest in terms of showing skills, and frankly this is true whatever format they are using. I've heard and seen plenty of vinyl-only DJs with uninspired song selections and little if any mixing and beatmatching skills. This annoys the crap out of other DJs but more often than not the majority of the audience couldn’t care less.
van Veen: Indeed, in the rave-era there were plenty of “DJs” who couldn't mix their way out of a cocktail lounge....
However, I would differ insofar as beatmatching is much more of a skill inherent to techno/house/dance oriented music when pushing mixes into minutes of seamless matches, on hopefully more than two decks. I've been DJing since 1993, and beatmatching in foreign set-ups to a full floor of hundreds/thousands and holding a mix for minutes on end is still a thrilling and dangerous experience, as correcting the record in-the-mix while EQing, slicing & dicing and preparing the next record is a skill indeed. Doing so without the audience noticing corrections is quite an art. As many DJs only ever hold a mix for two bars, whether beatmatching or not, the entire point drives to the heart of the matter: when you can beatmatch well, and for a long time, and are willing to do so, the overall mix is a much more driving experience for the dancefloor too. Though not all dancers might understand what is happening, I would argue that dancefloors instinctively respond to longer-held mixes as the affect of blended sounds creates heightened tension as the tracks play off each other. And once dancers realise you are mixing, bringing a record in and out repeatedly, and building the two records together to a mutual climax, the audience, well, err.. comes along with you....
For hip-hop, beatmatching is much less of a defined skill, insofar as rarely in hip-hop does one hold a mix, which leads me to another avenue of thought: that controllerism favours hip-hop slice & dice methods. The art of techno-turntablism or house music mixing, I think, is falling by the wayside in this respect, as it appears easily replaced by automated solutions. Where is the new Jeff Mills? Richie Hawtin? Algorithm? Etc. All of these DJs perfected the art of long mixes while performing turntablist tricks (Mills) or overlaying other elements (Hawtin, and Mills—drum machines etc). Point being, beatmatching enters a whole other level when it's part of an extended mix, and when it extends to 3 decks, beatmatching becomes a three-dimensional sonic skill....
So I wouldn't be so quick to write off beatmatching. I think it's the fundamental skill of associating two rhythms to each other and finding their pitch by ear, without visual indicators. I took Suzuki violin for 7 years and this is the same way they taught it: you played back what you heard without notation (no visual script). Nonvisual aural repetition is the basis of teaching instrumentality for orchestral improvisation using stringed instruments. With computerization allowing the use of a screen to tell you BPMs and/or grids and/or software that beatmatches for you, the basic skill of an auditory instrument is lost. Quite simply, new DJ-performers without this auditory skill would be lost without the screen telling them if their records are in sync... which means that, fundamentally, their hearing, and their fingers as intuitive adjusters, is not as developed in regards to picking up subtle rhythm/pitch cues. Much to think about there in this respect, insofar as a privileging of the visual over the aural in a fundamentally sonic culture (or what was a soniculture) is now at stake with the invasive presence of the (laptop) screen—or screens otherwise (indeed clubs/bars can't seem to exist now without the distraction not of abstracted “visuals” but representational “screens”).
As for controllerism creating new genres of tactile interface performativity, yes, I am with you, precisely with your comment that it must further the art, pushing past previous impossibilities, thereby freeing up the hands/ears/eyes to do something else. In this respect, controllerism shifts from turntablism entirely and is closer to the “live” performativity of an electronic musician (or at least a good one) which has been the case since Akai released pressure-sensitive drum samplers and even, one could argue, since stage synths. The main difference is that instead of playing one's own compositions, one is re/mixing the work of others, and the hybridity between the two is now the de facto state of many mash-up DJs (most digital DJs I know play-out their own remixes of mainstream music tracks/dubstep/fidget etc. as “original remixes”—this is what Hawtin envisioned in 2000 when I interviewed him and he talked about the digitization of music furthering remix possibilities for DJing as an artform (see van Veen 2002)).
Attias: Quickly, on beatmatching, of course you're right, but you're describing beatmatching skills that go well beyond what 90% or so of even house/techno/trance DJs do regularly. And of course the beatmatching skills come in handy whether or not you push a “sync” button on your software—as you point out it's really about learning to listen and learning to let your body interact physically with the music; what Richie Hawtin can do during a mix even with the computer doing the beatmatching—and what a DJ who never beatmatched by ear simply cannot do—is due in part to years of training his ears to distinguish subtle differences in rhythm and pitch that make some mixes work and others fail even when the tempos are technically matched. You make a good point about visual input as well—I sometimes find myself explaining to Traktor DJs that they aren't really “beatmatching by ear” just because they turned off the sync button—although of course one doesn't DJ blind with vinyl either; the appearance of the grooves of the record give important cues to the DJ about upcoming breakdowns, and I know I'm not the only one who writes notes down on record labels such as BPM, number of bars for intro, etc. But, yeah, it's a far cry from seeing a line on every transient, heh....
van Veen: In the technoculture I'm from (West Coast Canada, but through Toronto/Windsor/Detroit), if you couldn't hold a mix for the entire length of two records, you sucked and were subject to getting deckjumped & dissed. Ditto with all Detroit/Chicago/NYC DJs I knew who played techno & house (though especially techno). Jungle DJs also had high expectations in regards to innovative cutting. With techno one had to beatmatch fast, especially with the Mills tracks which were routinely under 3 minutes and repetitive, as the floor would demand fast & furious mixing (which inevitably got rougher as its own aesthetic of “collision engineering”).
That said, the technoculture was a minority one amongst Vancouver/West Coast rave culture where DJs lacking abilities abounded. They were the gatekeepers and “hometown heroes” as we called them, who had all the connections (usually as suppliers of the party favours), and of course for the most part kept anyone with talent out of the clubs as it would upset the dancefloor expectations of what a DJ could do.
Detroit is very different in this respect. You couldn't get away with bullshit there and, for the most part, still can't. The history of radio plays large there, with Mills as the Wizard on one radio station and The Electrifyin’ Mojo on the other, hosting mixes by other DJs (Derrick May etc.). Point being people heard what could be done and the bar was set very, very high.Jeff Mills aka The Wizard - WJLB Radio Detroit - 1985 by R_co
This sense of pushing the skillz of DJing has been somewhat lost, I feel, to an increasing reliance on technological gimmickry which, moreover, absorbs the DJ in the screen and disconnects the affective feedback relay with the dancefloor. Everyone is absorbed in screens: the dancefloor with their mobile phones, texting each other, with no one really dancing; the DJ in their laptop, which in the worst case scenario is placed directly in front of their head, so they don't see the dancefloor and we don't even see them.
I hate the laptop screen and bring a long extension cable to put it all behind me, like I would with a record crate. Thus when I am mixing, I don't see the DVS.
So yes, these days, without distribution nor record stores, I use Traktor Scratch Pro now for the most part. Even without sync, as you mention, it aids with beatmatching although the DVS system is slower than my ear is, and sometimes wrong, showing incorrect BPMs. So I beatmatch first and then inevitably glance at it, like some kind of addiction. It's handy in clubs as I can check what's going on, especially in cases of feedback, and it saves the ears as I don't have to rely upon overblown headphones in bad monitoring situations. But I never press SYNC—it's an ethical call, really, like plagiarism in my books. I do however use the slight gain to do other things, and so I've purchased an X1 controller and gone heavier into effects and looping (as well as a Mackie D4 Pro mixer). That said, most effective DJ turntablism for techno is still based around effective EQing and texture layering with drop-outs corresponding to innovative cutting over a long, sustained mix of two to three very well chosen records that are, to a degree, nonetheless improvised throughout the night (the old aesthetic was complete improv with harder techno: we would often hand each other records at random during sets, challenging each other to mix in—with flair—whatever was given over). To this end, one can pursue longer and more sustained effects—effects are affectively invigorating with dub-style rimshots and long breakdowns with echo drop-outs.
To switch thoughts for a second, I think one could argue with some force that, from a Deleuzean perspective where affect is correlated to different sensory modes, in short, a materialist phenomenology corresponding to different modes-of-being, learning to hear and beatmatch by ear as a tactile art of manipulating physical objects lends itself to an entirely different affective register being transmitted through the speakers. I can hear when a DJ is mixing-by-ear versus a sync'ed mix, each and every time, as the slight imperfections are precisely what renders the risk of the mix and its tension aurally palpable. Now, a trained ear is not necessary here to hear this tension. The affective resonance of this tension is felt and heard—as subliminal affect—in the slight imperfections of mismatched soundwaves through the speakers and direct to the dancefloor collective's bodymind.
When the mix is riding through a beatmatch, even if seamless, the risk of failure is transferred as tension-affect through the soundsystem's relays. This tension in turn generates feedback for the DJ who feels it from the dancefloor as the intensity of the room increases, leading to heightened mixing, etc. When this feedback loop is in place it is, I would argue, a quasi-cybernetic stimulus-response of affect engendered by the phenomenology of slightly imperfect rhythms—what Henri Lefebvre called arrhythmia but with a strong overmasked standing rhythm (I’m thinking of his later work on rhythmanalysis (see van Veen 2010)).
I strongly believe that, from a philosophical background in phenomenology of affect, that non-computer assisted mixing translates into a more focused, ritual dancefloor experience insofar as it heightens the affect of tension and release necessary for the long arcs and releases of the dancefloor's jouissance journey. This would have to be developed but I throw it out here, as it ties into similar and much earlier research pursued by Michel Gaillot on ritual and technics (1999). The point being that the digital/analog distinction is somewhat irrelevant here in regards to affect—indeed in all cases the soundwaves from the speakers are always analog and the body is always analog (see Massumi 2002)—and what matters entirely is the transmission of imperfection. Kim Cascone called this the “aesthetics of failure” and circa 2000 it became the centrepiece of discussions surrounding discussions of laptop performance in experimental electronic music (notably around the MUTEK festival and carried on in Leonardo Music Journal).
So I believe there is a phenomenological basis—drawn from radical empiricism—for arguing in favour of imperfect instrumentality and its virtuosity over machine-made sync'ed mixes, and that this argument overrides “cultural construction” arguments on the one channel, and what would be the simplism of technological determinism on the other (as this isn't merely nor mainly about the technology per se, but whether it enables what engenders humanity as-such: imperfection).
Attias: I think translating the “aesthetics of failure” into materially perceivable tension through which the DJ interacts with the dancefloor is right on. My own DJ background is quite different from yours; I first started DJing long before I understood much about genres per se, but I was most influenced by the Chicago acid house scene in the late 1980s (where I first learned an appreciation for beatmatching) and southern California turntablist subcultures in the late 1990s and early 2000s (where I began to understand and practice turntable tricks like scratching and juggling, which I’m still not very good at). Needless to say, your point about a phenomenological basis for performance on the brink of failure rings true in these subcultures as well, though in very different ways.
However, I am still going to argue with you on your conclusion—at the very least, I don't think I understand the assumption that an aesthetics of failure is impossible when software makes sync easier. Beatmatching isn't the only point of failure in DJing, and the computer actually introduces a host of new possibilities for screwup. It will certainly sound different than a vinyl aesthetic of failure—just like a CD skipping sounds different than a vinyl record skipping (and no question I will agree with you about which one of those I'd rather hear). You can trainwreck disastrously with software too, of course—try pushing the wrong button in Traktor sometimes, heh. Improperly gridded tracks will beatclash horribly with sync depressed, and you can clash keys while mixing, improperly phrase a perfectly gridded mix, and you can overdo the effects to the point of nausea—as the joke goes, to err is human, but to really fuck things up requires a computer. Though perhaps stated like that it only supports your point insofar as the difference between “human” and “computer” fuckups can be perceived in sound—but honestly I think there we are back to the issue of authentication and cultural factors rather than sound per se; in fact, it's trivial to mimic the feeling of tension from a slightly off vinyl mix using slight tempo adjustments from a “perfectly” sync'd beat (and perhaps it won't be long before it's included in DJ software as an effect, just like the plugins that exist for Ableton Live currently to mimic the rhythms of a human drummer by inserting tiny tempo alterations).
Now admittedly I'm making arguments based on technologies and techniques that are not in widespread use—there are a few people using sync as I described but it's not common practice among digital DJs by any means, and I'm suggesting software plugins that don't even exist yet for DJ software. But the point is there is nothing inherently grounded in the technology itself that prevents audible human imperfection from manifesting itself, deliberately or accidentally, or from skill sets being developed around such imperfection (or dancing around to avoid it) that could be authenticated by particular audiences in specific contexts, and there's nothing inherently impossible about a controllerist culture surrounding button pushers and knob twiddlers, however tedious that might be to watch for many of us who grew up appreciating vinyl. In fact such subcultures already exist. That doesn't mean it's widespread—the subcultures you describe around techno may be small and aging but they're still far larger than the subcultures surrounding the Moldovers and Ean Goldens out there—but I'm not convinced there's anything inherent in the sound of sync-enabled musical performance that makes such subcultures impossible. And yeah, it probably wouldn't fly in Detroit—then again, even vinyl DJ culture has a hard time flying in New Orleans or Memphis, cities with musical cultures even stronger than Detroit's, where if you can't play an instrument that doesn't have to be plugged in, you're wasting everyone's time.
This brings me back to my argument about authenticity and authentication—and as much as you say authenticity is a side issue, I think it plays a pretty central role in your argument, to the point of drawing a line between “real DJs” and the other 90% or so. The tension that you describe here and the DJ's ability to ride that tension is the signature of the “true” artist. In that light, it's an interesting choice to ignore a button on your computer screen on ethical grounds—particularly interesting that you consider it like plagiarism, an act that is unethical precisely because one represents oneself dishonestly; one lays claim to originality using someone else's work. It's exactly the charge that is often raised against mashup/sample artists and remixers as well as DJs more generally by many guitar-rock types—you guys are just playing other people's records, and claiming to be original by doing so! It appears that we are talking about authenticity all along here.
As an aside, the fact that your computer screen sometimes shows incorrect BPM for a song helps illustrate my point—the computer can only do what humans tell it to do. The imperfection (and it is particularly imperfect for more syncopated genres; my dubstep and dnb tracks are auto-beatgridded incorrectly at least 5-10% of the time) requires human intervention, which is why Traktor has beatgrids and most DJ software has a “tap” button. The same way a vinyl DJ needs to know his or her records, a digital DJ (or a sync-DJ to focus on your main distinction) needs to know their tracks, and you can tell by ear whether or not they do when they mix them together. The tech may make it easier for them to get lucky and produce a mix that will work, but it will become clear pretty quickly if they haven't listened to their tracks.
Of course Serato—which is by far the most popular DJ software in LA and probably in the entire US save Detroit (and Miami-in-March)—has no sync button so the same aesthetics you attach to vinyl mixing apply there too; although of course your earlier point about the visual cues still applies. Serato actually makes it pretty easy to mix visually, and I've tested it by mixing two songs only visually (kind of the opposite of what you do by hiding your computer screen).
Let me ask this—for you is the sync capability the tragic flaw in the computer for all of this? And is the human ability to beat match then the core of the DJ's virtuosity? Are CD DJs still considered DJs under a strict definition? Does it matter what kind of CD players they use? Would a CDJ that could detect and sync BPMs be an illegitimate tool from this perspective? What about a mixer with such functionality? It may not beatsync for you but there's a host of recent mixers with digital effects that include beat counters; should one put duct tape over the LEDs to cripple the machines' ability to help the DJ beatmatch? Would software be acceptable that crippled any kind of sync functionality or beatmatching assistance? What if it was just bad at it intentionally; is my cheapo Behringer DDM4000 actually a better mixer than the Pioneer DJM 800 because the Behringer's BPM readout is far less reliable?
And how much assistance beatmatching is too much—would it be cool if a DJ played on vinyl but had mapped their set out ahead of time and calculated BPM and wrote down a list of numbers so that every single transition is completely canned to the decimal point? What about writing BPM values on record sleeves like I used to do? What if they bring a handheld calculator to a gig to help them decide where to put the pitch fader? Absurd, of course, but what I'm trying to say is this—ultimately, beatmatching is just math, something that computers excel at. So it seems strange to me to base an argument that the true humanity of the DJ is exposed in their ability to do math by hand in public. I'm not saying it's not an amazing musical skill set, but it troubles me to place it at the core of the human aspect of DJing when in fact it's the part that is most easily handled by a machine. Meanwhile, I would suggest that mixing music can still be a human skill with beat syncing—in fact, even with key recognition software and pandora-like algorithms, computers still won't be able to read a crowd and respond the way a human DJ can.
Hrm, I may have to rethink that last bit—I recall someone working on software to do exactly that, based on cameras tracking movement and facial expressions, and I could even imagine such software scanning people's clothes and making reasonably accurate determinations about what old chestnuts could be tossed in to make them go wild... (see Gates 2006). Even then though I think I would say that song selection could not completely be imitated by machine because there are so many factors that go into it. And I would say it's there that the risk of failure is most palpable, far more so than the subtle but important rhythmic variations that you're talking about. I think we also have to acknowledge that there are many different DJ subcultures even within vinyl/CD-only DJs—many who couldn't give a rat's ass about beatmatching for more than a few bars if at all. I was amazed when I went to Kingston that I was hearing DJ after DJ sloppily slamming one song into another, usually with a tell tale backspin. It was annoying as hell to me, but the crowds loved it; when they heard that backspin they just knew the banger was coming.
Ultimately I think I absolutely agree with you that there's an audible and tangible tension created by the sense of a human riding a machine in such a way as to illustrate virtuosity and that virtuosity depends in part in the performer practicing a particular technique to the point that it becomes a physical memory and then demonstrating that physical memory in a public practice that risks failure. But I think that can be true whether that machine is a turntable, a guitar, a drum set, or an unholy combination of MIDI controllers and screens. I think what is cultural is our expectation of being able to perceive that kind of virtuosity with specific machines and not with others—and indeed for the phonograph the expectation was quite the opposite until very recently; in the 1970s and early 1980s there were precious few people who would have truly considered the turntable a musical instrument in this way (and John Philip Sousa’s notorious condemnation of “the menace of mechanical music” at the turn of the 20th century sounds similar in some ways to the arguments against computers (Sousa 1906)).
Part 2 to follow in the next issue of Dancecult.
Bernardo Alexander Attias (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is Professor of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge. His research is primarily in cultural studies, performance studies, and critical theory; his current projects focus on the legal, aesthetic, and cultural implications of the phonograph. He has been a DJ for over twenty years, spinning eclectic sets incorporating house, hip-hop, and drum ‘n’ bass as well as funk, jazz, and swing. He occasionally blogs at http://turntablepoetry.com.
tobias c. van Veen, b. 1978, is doctoral candidate in Philosophy & Communication Studies at McGill University, Managing Editor at Dancecult and a turntablist practitioner of the technology arts. Since 1993 he has disseminated and exhibited work in sound, radio and net-art, performing and intervening with laptop and turntables, renegade soundsystems and sonic rituals. His writing on philosophy of technology, AfroFuturism and technoculture has been disseminated worldwide. His next publication, an edited volume tentatively titled Afrofuturism: Interstellar Transmissions from Remix Culture, is forthcoming from Wayne State UP. He also mixes a mean absynthe martini. His research blog can be found at [fugitive.quadrantcrossing.org].
Burns, Todd L. 2009. “Jeff Mills: The Wizard”. ResidentAdvisor. 3 June: <http://www.residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?1056> (accessed 25 May 2011).
Cascone, Kim. 2000. “Post-Digital Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music”. Computer Music Journal 24 (4): 12–18.
Gaillot, Michel. 1999. Multiple Meaning: Techno, An Artistic and Political Laboratory of the Present. Trans. Warren Niesluchowski. Paris: Éditions dis Voir.
Gates, Carrie, Sriram Subramanian and Carl Gutwin. 2006. “DJ's Perspectives on Interaction and Awareness in Nightclubs”. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS'06): 70-79. <http://hci.usask.ca/publications/view.php?id=44> (accessed 25 May 2011).
Massumi, Brian. 2002. Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham and London: Duke UP.
Sousa, John Philip. 1906. “The Menace of Mechanical Music”. Appleton’s Magazine 8, 278–284. <http://www.phonozoic.net/n0155.htm> (accessed 25 May 2011).
Thompson, Clive. 2008. “If You Like This, You’re Sure To Like That”. New York Times Magazine. 21 November: <https://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/magazine/23Netflix-t.html?_r=1&_r=1&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink> (accessed 20 April 2011).
TokyoReporter.com. 2010. “Dead spin: Panasonic discontinues Technics analog turntables”. Tokyo Reporter. 28 October: <http://www.tokyoreporter.com/2010/10/28/dead-spin-panasonic-discontinues-technics-analog-turntables> (accessed 20 April 2011).
van Veen, tobias c. 2002. “Digital DJing: Richie Hawtin and (the) Final Scratch”. Discorder (Jancember): <http://quadrantcrossing.org/papers/DigitalDJing(Hawtin)02-Disc-van Veen.pdf> (accessed 19 April 2011).
———. 2010. “Cities of Rhythm and Revolution”. Circulation and the City: Essays on Mobility and Urban Culture. Ed. Alexandra Boutros and Will Straw. Montréal: McGill-Queens UP,153–192.
 Exappropriation has particular relevance to discussions of technology. A neologism coined by Jacques Derrida, it is used specifically in Echographies of Television to trace another “logic” at work in teletechnology—all the technical movements of an arkhe-writing, or writing-in-general—which refuses the opposition between property/expropriation, mastery/nonmastery. From this other “logic” of an “original expropriation” one is faced with a “‘choice’ between multiple configurations of mastery without mastery”, which Derrida has called exappropriation (2002: 37). Here I deploy exappropriation as neither the expropriation of a technology nor its appropriation; rather, it constitutes a double movement, a movement away-from an appropriation (which would signify a possession, a taking for one’s own use, a mastery of a property), as well as the simplex of an expropriation (in which possession-taking disposseses an-other, and overtakes the proprietary aspects of a property from the other). Nonetheless one propriates—though without depossessing; one takes—without stealing. This mastery without mastery, or taking without taking, possessing without possessing, can be expressed as the rendering other of the otherwise proper (and what is proper to it; its structures of the proprietary, property, etc.).