Art Is Resistance

Art Is Resistance

I have broken a golden rule in my challenge. I have been listening to a commercial music track. In the back of my head there is a band which in 2008 ignited a change in my mind. I had not given the idea of legally free music a lot of thought, that was not the way that I had come in contact with free music. Back then, the name of Nine Inch Nails, released its album Ghosts I-IV under the Creative Commons license.


But the band tried with a similar project before, however this time in another situation, with a different setup and starting position. This album had a very interesting marketing campaign which involved an ARG (Alternative Reality Game) which included sites like, I Am Trying To Believe, Art Is Resistance and Open Source Resistance, which were masked to seem independent. They were all a part of a well planned scheme to raise attention for the release as fans started making noise about it and to upload material from their participation in the ARG such as this underground concert video where unreleased songs were peformed. The video down below is another video which ends with a very interesting features that is a part of the ARG.

Nine Inch Nails – We’re In This Together & The Frail (Live OSR Meeting)

Year Zero was released in 2007 under Interscope Records, a part of Universal Music Group conglomerate which priced the album too expensive and the band actually encouraged fans to steal the album. Later in 2007, the band’s contract with the record label ran out and the band looked forward to be involved in a “direct relationship with the audience” that could be managed seamlessly now in an independent manner. Throughout the living era of the band, fanmade remix sites such as NINRemixes where fans can access source files have been encouraged by Trent Reznor who stated that “there is no agenda here” and then started the band’s own remix site for fans to manipulate the works. There was also a contest encouraging remixes of album songs which later were released as a torrent album named “The Limitless Potential” which can be torrented here and downloaded as a RAR-archive.

From the visual work in Ghosts I-IV release. Released by Nine Inch Nails under Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA


What started with Year Zero can have fueled enough marketing to get attention to help a self-sufficient release of Ghosts I-IV. The band let Ghosts I free, legally. Once this generated enough attention, it had the rest consumed from the varied sorts of limited editions sold out in analog and digital formats in which the procreation was available in. That itself was very different from what other releases had been like. As Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails writes on the official Ghosts website, the concept had had a broader perspective and was throughout the process a collaboration and a project different from other musical albums. It was the perfect timing for the idea;

“I’ve been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn’t have made sense until this point. This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective – dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I’m very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference. I hope you enjoy the first four volumes of Ghosts.”

One can diminish certain features which are apparent to be coincidentally present in this project as it often is in open source projects where collaboration is key. Many creative minds such as long-time collaborators Atticus Ross, Alan Moulder along with guest artists such as guitarist Adrian Belew, Buchla-artist Alessandro Cortini, drummer Brian Viglione, as well as Rob Sheridan who teamed up with Artists in Residence, were all contributing and they produced the whole project in mere 10 weeks.

Alessandro Cortini & Atticus Ross. Licensed by Nine Inch Nails under Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA.

Nominated for Best Indie Album and Best Rock Performance, it was the first time ever that works licensed under Creative Commons attributions received those kinds of appreciation.The album was released without any advertisement and it can be argued that it lived on the ideas and new notions that the Year Zero album had inaugurated people to. Even without any specific advertisement for the album, it sold quite thoroughly throughout the year and became the best selling on Amazon digital sales in 2008. One week after the release, the project expanded into another phase being the “Ghosts Film Festival“. It was not

said out loud in the announcement on YouTube that was made by Trent Reznor but the idea was basically to a circulation of music videos that users created and shared themselves which could create a viral marketing campaign by itself.

Guitarist Adrian Belew in the studio. Licensed by Nine Inch Nails under Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA.

With the release of The Slip and following tour, a fan-made open sourced concert footage was promoted by the band and

embraced by its fans, turning the material into a free concert video also distributed as a DVD. One could argue that the band became the first open sourced band utilizing fans participation in major throughout the latter years of activity. The album The Slip was not acknowledged in the same positive way and had lost its stargaze – as far as commercial interests saw as it became more marginalized in the independent sphere. But that was not the intention, it was an album that could stand tall as a thankful gift for the fans’ cult-like devotion since the late 1980s when the band was founded. There was a new time that would inspire many others.

You can stream the entire works at where one also can download numerous variations such as the open formats .OGG and .FLAC.

From the artwork in the limited editions of Ghosts I-IV. Released by Nine Inch Nails, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA.


It has had its effects on the music industry, indirectly as more bands such as Radiohead competed with Nine Inch Nails in 2008 about who had the most interesting marketing campaign but also directly with the future of the band itself. I think that the band has been able to put a couple of different terms at the table since last time they had any contracts with larger record labels. With the release of Ghosts I-IV they showed the world that there are numerous ways to work with the release of an album. Sometimes it can be revolutionary to the industry to show what kind of terms an artist can agree on, which emphasizes the importance of the circle of the product. From an open and collaborative production process, to letting the art’s expression reach listeners who are free to manipulate and expand on their own ideas but more importantly letting its independence from selling goals be a statement in the medial noise of profit-driven music industry in the informational age.

The band has successfully got the record label to agree on more consumer friendly with wider options with a larger range of pricing for their latest EP released today. It also features free streaming through other platforms and fans can get in direct contact with the band through Twitter which follows the open path that the band built during their time as a free agent on the market. One can also notice how the video of the single “Keep it together” itself is a work based upon New Order’s “The Perfect Kiss“, as one can notice a similar visual language presented. One can argue it is a sort of a remix of the video but reinterpreted and adapted to 2012.

Now working with the new band, one can see similarities in the structure of how the project works. Atticus Ross is now a member of the band and not a producer involved in the background. Rob Sheridan is now in the band as a member working mostly with visuals, similar to what he did for the Ghosts I-IV, The Slip and the tours following those releases. Now they’re back in the old costume manners with the typical record label Columbia, however they are not doing business-as-usual. They are doing what the music industry in most cases have started to adapt to but the band have brought their way of communicating and price modelling with them because they know from the previous releases that it is a working concept which fans and new listeners will enjoy.

Even though the Ghosts I-IV and The Slip releases were not released with commercial licenses, the way of launching them and with help generated from the Year Zero release and other releases in 2007 made it a more profitable work. As a free agent, the band could draw from previous successful marketing strategies and create chaos in a business where there was too much order. And throughout the process, before, under and post-release, they got a lot of attention drawn to them because of the open sourced ways of working, in contrast to former situations. Art is Resistance, and open sourcing the music industry is a way of letting consumers to become more than listeners. By collaborating in this unorthodox fashion, artists and fans create an ecosystem which provides income for the artist and interesting ways for the fans to get involved and to contribute with something of their own.

One of those demon seeds they planted was this challenge.

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I want to Believe.

But what I actually do know is that there are people out in space. But they are on a space station named the ISS which is orbiting the Earth. I want to believe that there still are something more of our presence out there in the endless space. The plot of this pilot starts out with an object crashing on the border of Canada and the US and spreads radiation. As the U.S. suspects a terrorist scheme they send out a crew of agents from the Homeland Security to deal with the matter. What follows is what the episode is better at telling.

The story of Pioneer One is such an original idea that it after a while constantly draws one like a magnet trying to get one’s attention to follow the plot. It is understandable that it is award-winning pilot episode at the Festival for Independent Television. However the episode suffers from some dull acting and the main character does not make it very appealing to keep on watching. But there are others who do and they make it up for these other performances as they add some other perspectives to the scenes. One can also draw clear connections to other series in which characters questions the publicly accepted ideas and start digging through the past. However this differ in ways that are considerably more interesting and gives the viewer some deeper thoughts into world events that has shaped our world and our minds as it question fundamental ideas currently viewed as the truth.

The set and scenography are not that developed and this makes one wonder what kind of resources the Homeland Security really works with. Even though as it comes to this crew being dispatched for a short period, they have to face a lot of work and that would probably include more resources to work with in reality. It also does not get that interesting when the scenes seem to take place in the same settings. The script does however keep a good balance between dialogue and action which gives the episode a rather smooth pace. It is not trying too hard and that is something positive. Being too much in the beginning would probably had lost one viewer after this introductory episode but as it progresses it opens up for bolder statements for the viewer to consider.

To close, the pilot presents another crowdfunded production that has potential but unfortunately it shows that it has some way to go until it reaches its full potential. One can only hope that it will during the first season, that would be one small step for the movie industry but one giant leap for crowdfunding. You can follow the first season of Pioneer One at VODO.

Technology failed me during the writing of this review and everything had to be rewritten as the autosave function had forgotten its purpose. Hope you can forgive your sincere author as the author forgave the autosave function.

The creators of Pioneer One has started working with a new project and it is named Control which got funding in May earlier in 2012.

There are a number of downloadable versions through the P2P-torrenting technique at the links below.

iOS / Android CompatibleLow-DefinitionHigh-DefinitionSubtitles

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I am so glad that I have started out with this journey into unknown territory. As it is right now I can only see new horizons to discover and expand this idea. I am feeling a different but warm sensation since these couple of days in the project and I have actively been trying to find new tools to implement in my life which are free or have the open source license. By doing that I did get reminded of software I use that already is open source and that has been with me for a long time. These licenses are the pillars of foundation when it comes to this project and I will write a longer post about them soon and have a shorter explanation in the description About this blog.

Now on to the main point with this entry. During the last couple of days I have figured that it would be interesting to add two more categories for the blog; Games and Software. The reason for this decision is mainly because playing video games used to be an interest of mine. Furthermore I also think that this is a good idea because there has always been a DIY culture within gaming communities from what I have experienced. Why I want to work and integrate open software in my challenge is because I think it is a shift in power when comes to the control of the ownership of data and information, the User Data Manifesto being an example promoting this. Not only does it change the type of licenses but it can also have another objective than commercial software and that is user freedom. The growing sucess of the open source mobile operating system Android is one example which currently is outcompeting the closed iOS system soon to be joined by the newcomer Firefox OS. That is it for now!

What different values will Firefox OS bring to cellphone arena?

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As many original series start out in science fiction, L5 makes no one disappointed beautifully philosophical introduction;

“Life on Earth was beyond repair. The planet’s resources spent, it’s capacity for life diminished. Mankind was within mere generations from extinction.”

L5 is a very interesting example of crowdfunding as it was intended to be a mini-series of “hard science fiction”. It started out as a Kickstarter campaign in September, 2010 co-founded with concept artist Stanley von Medvey. The storyline of L5 is very interesting and it takes place on the huge spaceship Argo, in which the cabin has been in cryosleep for 200 years. After an unsuccessful mission trying to find an inhabitable planet, they have awaited their return to their home, planet Earth. The dilemma is that their cryosleep intentionally got prolonged and thus they should have woken up and returned much earlier. However there are some legitimate reasons to why their awakening was delayed by the ship’s computer and they are in for an interesting future.

I was stunned from the first couple of frames by the computer generated images that have been created for this project. After the great introduction which got me curious about what this was about, the story progresses about how the ship’s personnel will cope with the confusing circumstances. The animation flows very well but there are a couple of scenes in which one can distinguish this production’s quality from some commercial ones, however it can compete with many of those (even if those would be running on much more than a $12,000 budget). The CGI makes it seem viable to continue with these sorts of projects because it does so much to emphasize the work. It can be succesful and look great even if they are in the genre of sci-fi, heavily dependent on demanding CGI animation, in this example produced by Studio Hemoglobin. Watch the trailer below to get a tease of what the project managed to create.


This is one of the aspects to highlight that stands out of the crowd with this production. It is a trend that is growing more nowadays with fan-made productions which are often crowdfunded. There also seemed to be a certain openness throughout the production and it could be followed at a blog. It proves how Kickstarter-projects can be leading examples of how the money that crowdfunders invest are correctly spent. It is also interesting to see how the attitude almost automatically creates a more detailed and participatory circle of production instead of a line of production, where the results and input of funders from the crowd finances the possible sequels.

The part of L5 that I feared the most was the acting one but I must admit that the acting does not feel affected by the budget at all. It actually feels like believable performances that are carried out by the actors and one can only assume that it is due to their passion. Set and scenography also feels better than expected, much because of the  works with CGI but probably a lot due to the amount of money that was spent in the budget on this, e.g. the costume designers to create space suits that look like they could work in reality.

However the big negative sides of L5 that I experienced was the sound and audio mixing. Sometimes I felt it being very difficult to hear the dialogue due to an imbalanced mixing of the background noises and music that went on as the actors were talking. Furthermore I do believe that the script could have been improved as there is not almost any introduction to the characters and development of these which seem like the main characters. The project might have been a really tough start for the production team behind L5. Things like an original score seemed to have gotten put in a bit late in production and it had to get its own funding through IndieGoGo.

I must say that one can feel it was thirty well-spent minutes watching this work. Although I believe it would have needed more development in some aspects in order to become a full-fledged competitor for the hard-core sci-fi fans out on the Web.

I decided to watch the first part of L5 even though the project has been put on hold for now. This is because I have always had an immense interest in space and science fiction since childhood years. I also think that this is a pinnacle to what crowdfunded low-budget projects can achieve in terms of product quality, especially with CGI technology.

You can download the first part of L5 from VODO where there also are torrents for low-resolutioned (SD) and high-resolutioned (HD) formats. If you like the idea and concept and want to support the project there are also ways through VODO to do exactly that with various flexible options to choose from. If you are interested in reading more about the project, head over to the official page here. It is also available for streaming on the closed source streaming service Vimeo. Edit 8/11: Here are subtitles in 5 languages for the episode compatible with the Xvid format.

Over and out,

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