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Saga Is An Exciting New Piece Of Software Fighting Artist Exploitation

Holly Herndon-collaborator Mat Dryhurst is the lead architect behind the project.
October 27, 2015, 5:15pm
Graphic for "Happy," from Saga

In an interview with DIS magazine earlier this year, Holly Herndon-collaborator Mathew Dryhurst announced that he had created an exciting new piece of software called Saga. Its basic premise is described in a promo video shared with piece: "It allows for you to self-host your work, track its location, and track each instance where your work finds itself online." The major difference between Saga and existing hosting platforms like SoundCloud or YouTube is that it seeks to give artists more agency when their work is hosted online, say on someone's Facebook page, a Tumblr, or on a website. In a tweet earlier this morning, Dryhurst clarified that "Saga works for music, text, images—anything you can fit in a frame."

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The software gives the artist the ability to change their work in specific locations where it is hosted, so they are no longer "silent guests." In that way, it hopes to give artists more freedom to express their opinions in a "website-specific fashion." So for example, if your track is used in a journalist's essay as evidence of a claim that you disagree with, you can overlay text commentary within that specific embed to make your opinion known. If it's placed next to an ad you want to make fun of, you can do that too. Along with the function of overlays triggered on a timeline, modular video and audio sequences may be added, removed, and rearranged "to respond to changing conditions."

Yesterday, Saga was launched through a new online journal, aCCeSsions. In an essay shared with the launch, Dryhurst elaborates the motivations behind the project, writing that Saga is designed to fight the exploitation of artists by "[challenging] the dominant mode of the web, a landscape where platforms and syndicators profit from fixed work that people share for free." He goes on to emphasize that you can negotiate the meaning your work has in different contexts, "depending upon whether it's shared on a personal blog, on a company blog, or as part of an ad-revenue supported magazine." Whether this piece of software lives up to its promise remains to be seen—but its capacity for changing the game could be enormous. Check it out here.

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