Seriously, this is the coolest website I’ve seen in a long time. Check out Griffonage-Dot-Com, which is the fabulous creation of Patrick Feaster (ethnomusicologist, media historian, and three-time Grammy nominee for voice and sound resurrection). In the driest terms the site is devoted to historical media. And if you just say Feaster explores historical media you’re still not doing justice to the site. Rather, he brings forth or, to use his term, “educes” media–makes it accessible to the senses, transformatively I’d say.
For starters, what’s griffonage? Explains Feaster, “It’s generally defined as careless or illegible handwriting, and that’s one of the meanings I mean to invoke here. The materials I’ll be examining are typically challenging to decipher, so “illegible handwriting” is either a good metaphor for them or, in some cases, literally true of them… I wanted to find some new domain name that would reflect my interest in deciphering, educing, and interpreting old media of various kinds. Alas, every promising combination of “media” with other words seemed to be taken at the dot-com level, no matter how obscure. So I turned to the auspicously-named thesaurus.com for ideas, seeking synonyms for “media,” “writing,” and so forth, which is where I ran across the word griffonage. I’d never encountered it before, but its rich mix of denotative and connotative meanings seemed perfect for what I wanted to do—whether digging up nuggets of gold out of the dross or deciphering semi-legible traces scratched with a stylus.”
As for categories on the site, topics range from speech synthesis to tintypes, from face averaging tor image morphing, and from animation to waveforms. Last November he posted a fascinating piece on how to make sound out of a picture of a sound wave. Say what? It’s all rather technical…and arty, and philosophical…and technical back again.
If you want more Patrick Feaster, his previous home on the internet was Phonozoic, dedicated to the history of the phonograph and related material. But these days he’s broadened his interest to visual media as well.