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Steven Conner on Michel Serres and the hard and the soft.

We seem to have been talking a lot about information and noise, below is a lengthy passage from Professor of English, Steven Connor’s recent talk on the hard and the soft in the work of the French philosopher Michel Serres. We can see that a simple notion like the hard and the soft can become a very complex and fascinating object of investigation.

Link to the complete article here

” One of the strangest and most intriguing of the problems involved in bringing together the two scales or ‘energy-budgets’, the entropic and the informational, is that it seems at once to take place on the scale of entropy and on the scale of information. In the case of thermodynamic systems, the relations of noise and information, or order and disorder seem to be of the order of physical facts. But, when commuted to the order of the soft – of language, say, or of literature – then the difference between the hard and the soft does not seem hard, but rather soft, which is to say, easily reversible. Depending on the observer, Finnegans Wake is either noise or the most exquisitely filtered, filigreed, lacy, high-definition information. How is it that information emerges out of primal noise? The closest  Serres, or perhaps anyone comes to an answer to this is in ‘Origin of Language’, where Serres writes ‘The whole theory of information and thus, correlatively, that of noise, makes sense only in relation to an observer, who finds himself linked in being to them’ (Serres 1977, 264). So where does this observer-eavesdropper come from? Serres looks like he is going to answer this question when he says ‘Who, here, is the observer? The simplest thing would be to say that, for our own organic system, we are the observer or observers in question’ (Serres 1977, 264). But this is not, even, as good an explanation as it may first appear. Is this observer an effect of noise or information? Is it on the hard side, or the soft side of things? And if so, in relation to what further observer, mooted, imputed, or muted, exactly? Does the system begin to do this work of self-mollifying unobserved, or is it its own observer? Does it give rise to the observer that gives rise to it?

In the ‘Boxes’ chapter of The Five Senses, Serres comes at this problem by arguing for the difficulty of understanding the nature of reception. If one tries to imagine what happens on the inside of a black box – in the very quick of the transformation from noise to information – one finds oneself unable to imagine quite what is happening during the reception. As soon as I have received something, it seems already to have been transformed into what has been received, which is then ready for onward transmission. In is therefore always forced to imagine a further coupling, on one side of which is noise, on the other side of which is information, or, in other words, a box on the inside of the box. The observer is in the box, the observer is the box, the observer is the operator, the discriminator, the integrator, but is also produced by what it produces.

Serres has also begun to emphasise the ways in which, in passing over into the soft, the indefinite, the incandescent, we are not stepping outside history, or marking a definitive or decisive break with what has come before. For we have come to appreciate that, wherever we may look, in the genome, in the molecule, in the vibrating particle, there is no brute, inert, formless matter to be found, but rather that coding, information, writing, goes all the way down, and all the way back.

But, once again, who has memory? Tradition replies: humans, in their cognition, their mnemonic faculty, their traces, written, engraved or drawn, those they decipher. No, for things themselves memorise, by themselves and directly. The past is inscribed in them, it is enough to decipher it from them… We are in want of a general theory of marks, traces and signals to go with the physics of forces, to teach us to remember the world and remember as it does, to write on it and like it. Things are also symbols. There is more than chemistry in chemistry. Why does this element react or not in the presence of some other element? Why does it choose it in this way? What ‘faculty’ in it makes election? Large masses write, molecules read. And, even more then inert matter, living matter writes, reads, decides, chooses, reacts – one would have thought it long endowed with intentions. An hour of biochemistry will quickly persuade one of the refined shrewdness of proteins. (Serres 2003, 70, 73)

This means that ‘Hard things display a soft side; material, of course, they engram and programme themselves like software. There is software [logiciel] in the hardware [matériel]’ (Serres 2003, 73). History does not move uniformly from the hard to the soft, or only one filament of its current does. For in doing so, it also moves backwards, to the disclosing of its generative origins. Moving from the hard to the soft discloses the softness of the hard in the first place. Is history itself not thereby ‘softened’ – turned from the line in which one distinct and finite state gives way to another to another shape of relation, characterised by foldings-over, infiltrations of earlier and later?

Serres occasionally offers hints that, rather than taking the world as the mute object of knowledge, we might find in the objects of our knowledge models of our way of knowing:

Phases are phases, they are not phases alone, they are models of knowledge. They are not solely objects. A cloud is cloud, it is not solely an object. A river is not just an object, neither is an island nor a lake. Likewise the noise of the sea. As I proceed further along, a harmony is taking shape, unexpected. The phases, gaseous, liquid, solid, the clouds, the river, the jagged coastline, the plateau, all of them express par excellence a given mode of knowledge, they construct the world I am in. I can imagine the point at which the description of phenomena and that of knowing will knit together. The world carries in itself its gnoseology. It is no longer incomprehensible that the world is comprehensible. (Serres 1995b, 112)

On Artists Statements. Photomedia 4 Third year

How to write an artists statement

The link above is to a useful article, it provides advice about what to avoid but still doesn’t provide all the answers, none the less I think there are some useful things in there.

And here is a link to an artists statement generator, it is totally satirical but the algorithm they use is rather cute.

Artists Statement generator

This very extensive and rather brilliant essay on International Art English is a must read

Link to International Art English

Second Year Photomedia 2 Project 1 Week 1. 2017

we talked of breaking glass

Link to original article  ( Thanks to Issy for the link and suggestion )

https://eastman.org/robert-cumming

Robert Cumming: The Secret Life of Objects

February 18–May 28, 2017, Main Galleries

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    Caption:

    Robert Cumming (American, b. 1943). Theater for Two, Easy Analogies, 1978. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the artist. © Robert Cumming

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    Caption:

    Robert Cumming (American, b. 1943). Watermelon and Chair, 1982. Archival pigment ink print. Courtesy of the artist. © Robert Cumming

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    Caption:

    Robert Cumming (American, b. 1943). Mishap of Minor Consequence, 1973. Gelatin silver prints. Courtesy of the artist. © Robert Cumming

Perception, language, and the nuances of photographic vision are common themes in the work of Robert Cumming (American, b. 1943). His method of portraying the physically impossible so that it appears visually accurate has its roots in his early career as a painter, sculptor, performance artist, and mail artist. This exhibition traces the trajectory of Cumming’s work through several decades and focuses on his singular appreciation for the power of objects in art.

In his photographic work—the majority of which he made in Southern California during the 1970s—Cumming embraced the illusion and reality of the medium: that photographs can spin artifice regardless of how true they appear. By intentionally including studio lighting, wires, and messy elements of construction, or “a means by which one can unravel the fabrication,” he creates visual narratives that unfold over time.

With a focus on his work from the 1970s, the exhibition features Cumming’s photographs of ingenious fictions using mundane materials, as well as other non-photographic works: sculpture, mail art, printmaking, painting, and objects from the artist’s ongoing exploration of nautical architecture.

Guest curated by Sarah Bay Gachot, this is the first major museum survey in nearly twenty years dedicated to Robert Cumming’s exceptional photographic projects.

Robert Cumming: The Secret Life of Objects is supported by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Experimental Writing Week 6

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_eye/2014/04/04/typewriter_art_a_modern_anthology_by_barry_tullett_photos.html

8/04/2014

 

Experimental Writing Studio

 

The aim of today’s class is to produce a completed work of experimental writing that is published by the end of the class.

Because this is a studio exercise the following dogma must be followed to the letter.

The work must be made from no more than five colours.

The work must be as flat as possible.

The work must have at least 10 pages.

The work must contain some kind of text on each page.

The work must be digital and use the following software

Adobe Illustrator to produce the pages

Converted to an appropriate format for online publishing.

Non Originality shall be highly praised.

Originality shall be highly praised.

Diagrammatic invention and fields of colour shall be highly praised.

THE HOURS

The hour of the first shall be research and when you will write your text.

The hour of the second shall be when you make your pages in adobe illustrator.

The hour of the third shall be when you upload and complete the assignment.

 

 

 

Experimental Writing Week 5.

Simon Critchley: art to wake us up

This appeared in the Brooklyn Rail in summer 2012.   The writer is a philosopher on the faculty of the New School.

Absolutely-Too-Much

by Simon Critchley

Contemporary art is an easy thing to hate. All the meaningless hype, the identikit openings in cities that blur into one long, banal, Beck’s beer fuelled anxiety dream from which there is no escape. The seemingly endless proliferation of biennials—the biennialization or banalization of the world. One begins to think that everything aspires to resemble the opening of a Frieze art fair and every culture wants its own cheeky Damien or spunky Tracey. Glamour, celebrity, business, and radiant superficiality blend together to give each location the patina of globality with just a frisson of local color. People talk excitedly of what’s hot and what’s selling for millions. Capricious and seemingly tyrannical übercurators wander around quickly with their assistants talking on cell phones. The sharp eyes of eager young gallerists track them like prey, waiting for the moment to pounce. Everyone is either on the make or wants to be on the make. Contemporary art has become a high-end, global culture mall, which requires very little previous literacy and where the routine flatness of the gossip allows you to get up to speed very quickly. People with the right connections or serious amounts of money or sheer stubborn persistence or who are prepared to do anything can quickly gain access to what has the appearance of a cultural experience. God, it’s awful isn’t it? And I haven’t even mentioned how this art system is fed by the seemingly endless proliferation of art schools, M.F.A. programs, and the progressive inflation of graduate degrees, where Ph.D.s in fine art are scattered like confetti.

It is difficult not to be cynical about contemporary art. Maybe the whole category of the “contemporary” needs much more reflection. Maybe it needs replacing. When does the contemporary cease to be contemporary and become something past? When did the modern become the contemporary? Will the contemporary one day become modern or will there, in the future, be museums of postmodern art: MOPMAs? Why not call contemporary “present art” or “actual art” or “potential art,” or, better, “actually potential art” (APA)? At least it sounds more Aristotelian. But, then again, why use temporal categories at all? Why not use spatial terms instead? Some have spoken of visual art as spatial art, which is an attractive idea. Whichever way one approaches it, however, the categories need to be seriously rethought through research that is historiographical, institutional, and anthropological. The problem with contemporary art is that we all think we know what it means and we don’t. As a consequence, the discourse that surrounds it is drastically impoverished.

But despite such confusions of reference and the horrors of the contemporary art business model—or perhaps even because of it—I want to defend contemporary art, up to a point. It is simply a fact that contemporary art has become the central placeholder for the articulation of cultural meanings—good, bad, or indifferent. I am middle-aged enough to remember when literature, especially the novel, played this role and when cultural gatekeepers were literary critics, or social critics, often from literary backgrounds. That world is gone. The novel has become a quaint, emotively life-changing, and utterly marginal phenomenon. The heroic critics of the past are no more. I watched this change happen slowly when I still lived in England in the sensation-soaked 1990s and recall, as a kind of cultural marker, the opening of Tate Modern in 2000 and immensely long lines queuing up to see a vast spider by Louise Bourgeois in the Turbine Hall. It was clear that something had shifted in the culture.

Even more, the contemporary artist has become the aspirational paradigm of the new worker: creative, unconventional, flexible, nomadic, creating value, and endlessly travelling. In a post-Fordist work paradigm defined by immaterial labor, artists are the perfect entrepreneurs and incarnate the new faux bohemianization of the workplace. Being a contemporary artist looks like a lot of fun, like being a rock star in the 1970s, except you get to live a little longer.

Perversely perhaps, what I admire about much contemporary art is the negotiation of its own relentless commodification, the consciousness of its capture by the circuits of casino capitalism. To work in a university is to be aware that money is changing hands, but the money is hidden and professors like myself can still give themselves the illusion that they are clean-handed, authentic educators and not money-laundering knowledge pimps. But artists do not have that luxury, which gives them a certain honest edginess and less chronic institutional dependency than academics.

The question is whether art is simply a symptom of the rampant capitalization of the mind or whether it can still engage a critical space of distance and even resistance. This might not be the autonomy of Greenbergian modernism, but is closer to what Liam Gillick calls “semi-autonomy.” Not fully free, but not fully compromised either. A space between critical abstraction and commodification. One thinks here of a project like “No Ghost Just a Shell,” by Philippe Parreno and Pierre Huyghe from the early 2000s, which flaunts its commodified character with a manga character bought for 46,000 yen, but manages to subvert it as well. Maybe there is a certain dialectical inversion at work here, where the compromised character of contemporary art also occasionally permits the opposite to come into being.

One might also note the odd way in which the vocabulary of contemporary art, in particular those tendencies that one associates with the brand “relational aesthetics,” with its emphasis on collaboration, participation, and community, has crept into contemporary forms of radical politics. A friend of mine worked on a book about OWS that is prefaced by an aerial, two-dimensional plan of Zuccotti Park. Looking at it, I thought “Jesus, this looks like an installation.” More specifically, it looks like the kinds of wonderful transient structures built by Thomas Hirschhorn, complete with a kitchen, a media space, a library, a discussion space, and so on. So, if there is a rampant commodification of contemporary art, on the one hand, then there is also the bleeding of art practice into novel forms of sociality and politics on the other.

What might “contemporary” art be doing that it is not doing? I have a modest and uncertain proposal to make. Art should not be comfortable. It should be a blow to the back of the neck, as Bruce Nauman says. But what might that mean now? How might that blow be administered?

Let me shift briefly here into a more philosophical register. In Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment, he makes a passing, but suggestive set of distinctions between the beautiful, the sublime, and the monstrous. The beautiful is the free play of the imagination and understanding, when everything seems to hang together, rather like driving a humming-engined expensive German car through the California desert. The sublime is what is refractory to the formal harmony of the experience of beauty, something formless, indefinite, and mighty, but still containable within the realm of the aesthetic. For Kant, the sublime is “the almost-too-much,” and is distinguished from the monstrous understood as “the absolutely-too-much.” That which is monstrous defeats our capacity for conceptual comprehension. Kant simply asserts that the monstrous has no place in the realm of aesthetics. The great aesthetic danger is the moment when the tamed terror of sublimity—the Alps or Mount Snowden for the English Romantics—might tip over into the monstrous. Indeed, in the founding text of philosophical aesthetics, Poetics, Aristotle makes an analogous gesture when he makes a distinction between the fearful (to phoberon), which has a legitimate place within tragedy, and the monstrous (to teratodes), which has no place at all.

To put this in other terms, we might say that a certain dominant strain in the history of philosophical aesthetics might be seen as trying to contain a dimension of experience that we might call the uncontainable. This is the dimension of experience that Nietzsche names the Dionysian, Hölderlin calls the monstrous, Bataille calls the formless, and Lacan calls the real.

But what might art be when it exceeds the relative comfort of the almost-too-much of the sublime or the fearful and moves toward the absolutely-too-much of the monstrous? What happens when the uncontainable can’t be contained? When art bears at its core something unbearable? At this point, art becomes anti-art and we experience discomfort—the Naumanian blow to the back of the neck. I would argue that this is what has been happening for the past century or so in various arts and media as a way of dealing with our presentiment of the unbearable pressure of reality, however we want to capture that experience—the shocking trauma of the First World War, poetry after Auschwitz is barbarism, or whatever—has been the experimentation with what we might call an art of the monstrous. Examples proliferate here, from Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty, to Bataille’s holy disgust, to Hermann Nitsch’s blood orgies and the theatre of Heiner Müller, even through to that most jaded and overworked of academic tropes: the abject.

It seems to me that if we look back at much of what is most radical and interesting in the art of the last century, we can see that we are no longer dealing with the sublime or indeed with art as the possibility of aesthetic sublimation, but with an art of de-sublimation that attempts to adumbrate the monstrous, the uncontainable, the unreconciled, that which is unbearable in our experience of reality.

Here is my modest proposal: beyond endless video montages and the cold mannerist obsessionality of the taste for appropriation and reenactment that has become hegemonic in the art world, the heart of any artistic response to the present should perhaps be the cultivation of the monstrous and its concomitant affect, namely disgust. Disgust here can be thought of as the visceral register of a monstrosity that can no longer be excluded from the realm of the aesthetic, as it was for Aristotle and Kant, but should be its arrhythmic heart, its hot and volatile core. It is important to keep in mind the link to aesthetic judgments of taste orgustus, which gives us the “gust” in dis-gust, the ill wind in the soft-flapping sails of revulsion. Dis-gust is an aesthetic judgement of dis-taste.

What I am calling for, then, is a new art of monstrosity which is able to occupy a certain semi-autonomous distance from the circuits of capture and commodification. Art now must fix its stare unblinkingly at the monstrous, the unbearable, the unreconciled, and the insanely troubling. The disgust that we feel might not simply repulse or repel us. It might also wake us up.

It is a question of how we think through and deploy the essential violence of art, and perhaps understand art as violence against the violence of reality, a violence that presses back against the violence of reality, which is perhaps the artistic task, thinking of Hamlet, in a state that is rotten and in a time that is out of joint. I think of Francis Bacon. When he was asked to reflect on the purported violence of his painting. Bacon said,

When talking about the violence of paint, it’s nothing to do with the violence of war. It’s to do with an attempt to remake the violence of reality.

He goes on,

We nearly always live through screens—a screened existence. And I sometimes think, when people say my work looks violent, that I have been able to clear away one or two of the veils or screens.

Existence seems to me ever more screened and distanced. This is the risk of a shallow shadow-world whose ideological pancake patina is an empty empathy for a suffering that we do nothing to stop and everything to abet in our passivity, dispersal, and narcissism. None of us is free of this. Maybe art, in its essential violence, can tear away one or two of these screens. Maybe then we’d begin to see. We do not see as we are seen because we are wrapped in a screen. Art might unwrap us a little through its violence.

But what is it that disgusts us? Ay, there’s the rub. I remember giving a Halloween sermon called “How to Become God” in the Cabinet space in Brooklyn a couple of years back. I was dressed as a priest and my friend Aaron was clad as a kind of Satanic elf. We sat on 15-foot-high chairs while on a wall behind us a film of Nitsch’s blood orgies played in gory and graphic detail. Punters happily sipped their cocktails and smiled benignly as they gazed at the spectacle. There was even some playful heckling.

The problem with disgust is that it is a moving limit. What outrages one generation—Bacon, say—becomes slothful banality to the next. The problem here is that art, which is meant to enable or produce some kind of experience of the real in our pushing back against it, might finally be a protection against that experience and end up as a kind of decoration. Perhaps, then, art has to become the enemy of aesthetic experience. In which case, we should become the enemies of art in order to reclaim it. Here anti-art becomes true art in a constant war of position with the degeneration of art’s critical potential into the lethean waters of the contemporary.

-end-

Posted in advice for artistsDavid Parker Art Advisory – news.

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Experimental Writing Studio:Week 4

Samuel Beckett

samuel-beckett

Quad I[edit]

Quad is based on a geometrical figure and on permutations of regular movements. First one, then two, then three, then four figures, dancers or mime artistes, dressed in coloured djellabas[11] (white, yellow, blue and red) appear one after another to scurry along the sides and across the diagonals of a square, shuffling in strict rhythm to a rapid percussion beat. Each figure then departs in the order in which he appeared, leaving another to recommence the sequence … Strikingly all of them avoid the centre which is clearly visible in the middle of the square.”[12]

Movements and Stages
Stage Series 1 Series 2 Series 3 Series 4
One white yellow blue red
Two white blue yellow white blue yellow red blue
Three white blue red yellow white red blue yellow white red blue yellow
Four white blue red yellow yellow white red blue blue yellow white red red blue yellow white
Five blue red yellow white red blue yellow white red blue yellow white
Six red yellow red blue white red yellow white
Courses
Course 1 AC CB BA AD DB BC CD DA
Course 2 BA AD DB BC CD DA AC CB
Course 3 CD DA AC CB BA AD DB BC
Course 4 DB BC CD DA AC CB BA AD

Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett, Faber and Faber, 1984, p 293

The four series of six stages each produce a total of twenty-four stages suggesting, as in Lessness, the measurement of time.

According to the script each character was to be unique in a number of ways. Apart from the colour of the outfit, they were to be “[a]s alike in build as possible. Short and slight for preference … Adolescents a possibility. Sex indifferent.”[13]That said, each player’s footsteps were to be distinctive, each was to be accompanied by their own musical instrument and illuminated by a light, the same colour as their outfit. For technical reasons, in the original broadcast, white light was used. To help the performers cope with the rhythmic chaos “[t]hey wore headphones under their hoods, so they could hear the percussion beats.”[14]

Most unusually there is an element of chance in this piece in that Beckett does not indicate how the footsteps should differ nor which instruments should be used other than they should be percussive (“say drumgongtrianglewood block[13]), he doesn’t even specify a required sequence for the colours. The four percussionists also have some freedom in how they play enabling the footsteps to be able to be heard on their own at intervals. Of course, as you would expect, the four instruments Beckett suggests have quite different timbres.

It is hard not to think of the work of John Cage when considering this piece though the two men’s approach to work could hardly be different: Beckett argues that it is “the shape”[15] that matters in his work whereas Cage evades conventional form in order to reveal “a harmony to which many are unaccustomed.”[16] That said, it is not unimaginable that Beckett might have come up with a version of 4′33″ if Cage hadn’t thought of it first.

There are no cuts, just one fixed long take. Beckett had originally calculated its length at 25 minutes but, in reality, the whole set was completed in nine-an-a-half minutes.

Quad II[edit]

“Near the end of the taping, Beckett created what amounted to an unplanned second act for the play. When he saw the colour production of Quad rebroadcast on a black and white monitor, he decided instantly to create Quad II. [As with Film] Beckett’s printed text (in any language) was, however, never revised to acknowledge this remarkable revision of the work’s fundamental structure. No printed version of the play bears the title of the production, and so no accurate version, one that includes Beckett’s revisions, exists in print. Beckett’s own videotaped German production, then, remains the only ‘final’ text for Quad.”[17]

The story goes that, watching technicians testing the image quality of Quad, the most hectic and raucous piece that Beckett ever wrote, for reception by monochrome receivers, and running the tape through in slow motion and in black and white, Beckett suddenly exclaimed: `My God, it’s a hundred thousand years later!’[18] Seeing the hectic bustle of the performance he had already recorded transformed into the slow, dim shuffle, suggested to Beckett a fast-forward to a time when everything will have nearly gone.[19]

“The fast percussion beats were … removed and the only sounds that were heard were the slower, shuffling steps of the weary figures and, almost inaudibly, the tick of a metronome.”[14] The performers now wore identical robes and moved at half the pace. The new section, called Quad II, lasts four minutes as it only allows for one series of movements, compared to the four in Quad I.

“The second version was a masterstroke, a second act to dramatize the entropy of the motion. And, since the figures always turn left, not only at the centre but at all the corners also, the pattern is that of the damned in the InfernoQuad is indeed a sinister piece.”[20]

The director Alan Schneider wrote to Beckett (13 November 1981) after viewing the television programme several times: “much moved, especially by the slower section. Want to work on that as a stage piece with some of my students here – no audience – would you mind?”[21] Beckett replied (20 November 1981): “Can’t see Quad on stage. But by all means have a go.”[22] Later (6 February 1982) he made a qualifying remark: “Quad can’t work on stage. But no doubt interesting for students, gymnastically.”[23] These are fascinating remarks considering the fact that Beckett takes no real advantage of the many televisual techniques available, no close-upsfreeze frames, pans, cuts, zooms, slow-motion shots or split screens – simply a fixed camera “far South of the circle, overlooking it”[24] that might represent any member of a theatre-going audience.

Interpretation[edit]

“Modern works of art often call for prolonged continuous close attention if one is to appreciate them. The same is true of a gator basking in the sun on a mud bank in a swamp. Anything viewed makes demands.”[25]

The building blocks of Quad can be found in a number of Beckett’s other works:

“In Play, there is a correlation between light and voice, and a da capo structure that forms an image of hell, but the voices of W1, W2 and M (an eternal triangle) do not follow a predictable sequence. In this respect, action and dialogue differs from that of Come and Go, where it is shaped by the mathematical sequence, a series of ritual movements: as one character leaves, another moves up into the vacant centre.”[26] Both Come and Go and Quad trace shapes through highly patterned movements and interaction that mimic life through extreme abstraction. These works are the inner rhythms laid bare.”[27] “Geometrical structures of light and darkness shape the stage settings of Ghost Trio, and …but the clouds…; while in Breath and Not I the light is arithmetical, changing in time. Quad integrates both forms: the quad is set out geometrically, but the movements of the players defined arithmetically, with absolute precision. Behind the dramaticule is a metaphor of coincidence, or meeting in time and space, and hence the ‘danger zone’[13] where this might happen.”[26] Even “the “perpetual separation and reunion of Vladimir and Estragon[28] which has been described as “a choreography of the void, a search for stepping-stones to best approach or avoid the other”,[29] can be seen to anticipate Quad, as can the fact that Act II covers the same ground as Act I in the same way that Quad II literally covers the same ground as Quad I.

Why are these four pacing so? Martin Esslin believes they “are clearly engaged in a quest for an Other.”[30] He reads “the centre that the hooded wanderers have so fearfully to avoid is obviously the point at which real communication, a real ‘encounter,’ would be potentially possible but inevitably proves – by the very nature of existence itself – impossible.[31]

Sidney Homan describes Quad’s world as a “faceless, emotionless one of the far future, a world where people are born, go through prescribed movements, fear non-being (E) even though their lives are meaningless, and then they disappear or die.”[32] This raises a philosophical question, one the writer Albert Camus tried to answer in his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus: Face to face with the meaninglessness of existence, what keeps us from suicide? What stops any of the four players from simply hurling themselves into the “danger zone”? To a large extent, Camus suggests that our instinct for life is much stronger than our reasons for suicide: “We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking.”[33] We instinctively avoid facing the full consequences of the meaningless nature of life, through what Camus calls an “act of eluding.”[34]

The following section from Camus’s essay could almost sum up both Quad I and Quad II:

[Quad I] “It happens that the stage-sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm-this path is easily followed most of the time.
[Quad II] But one day the ‘why’ arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. …Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness … What follows is the gradual return into the chain or it is the definitive awakening.”[35]

The ‘danger zone’ may not, of course, signify death but it would take an act of faith – or “an act of lucidity”[36] – to find out for sure. When Sidney Homan was rehearsing his version of Quad, to learn more about the piece the players improvised, what one of the actors called “a real ending, something more than the final character’s just disappearing”[37] where the last character about the leave the stage, halts, turns, removes her hood and then, as if being beckoned by the centre, hesitantly makes her way there where the lights fade down on her.

If recourse to Beckett’s own attitude is necessary, it is well documented that Beckett favoured the mere physicality of his work over interpretative readings. With Not I he stated explicitly that he was not “unduly concerned with intelligibility. [He wanted] “the piece to work on the nerves of the audience, not its intellect.”[38] With Quad, there are no longer any ‘nasty words’ for that to be an issue. During filming Beckett “spoke to the SDR cameraman, Jim Lewis about the difficulty that he now had in writing down any words without having the intense feeling that they would inevitably be lies.”[39]

Rather than trying to make ‘sense’ of Quad, it is perhaps better to consider the ‘sensation’ caused by Quad. It presents us with the ‘meaning’ behind the words. The problem with meanings is that we’re used to having them wrapped up IN words. They are like masks behind expressionless masks. Quad exposes the mechanism underneath the actors’ actions; the clock’s face and hands have been removed and all we are left with are the exposed workings, which can be a thing of beauty in its own right, and, of course, makes perfect sense in itself.

“As Susan D. Brienza indicates, in … Quad the four characters rhythmically draw mandala pictures that reveal concentric circles and include four quadrants. The dancers’ counter-clockwise pacing evokes Jung’s patient’s leftward movement, which is equivalent to a progress towards the unconscious. They desperately attempt to achieve ‘centering’ and reinstate order and peace, to abolish the separation between the unconscious and the conscious mind.”[40]

“The avoidance of the centre is clearly a metaphor capable of wide interpretation, as with Winnie’s mound in Happy Days. The small empty square … could suggest the flight from self, the ‘I’ Beckett’s characters so carefully avoid … The deliberate avoidance of contact with each other, though present in the same square of light, is also a familiar theme in Beckett, whose characters frequently choose isolation as with Krapp or the Listener in That Time.”[41]

Eckart Voigts-Virchow presents an interesting – and amusing – comparison between Beckett’s play and the 1990s BBC children’s TV show Teletubbies:

“Whereas the Teletubbies have presumably only just started to acquire the apparatus of human articulation (“Eh-oh!”) and are trapped in their progress for hundreds of episodes by the requirements of serialization, Beckett’s hooded figures totally relinquish expressiveness beyond their coloured gowns, leitmotiv percussion, and racecourse. They are defined by mere physical exertion. The Quad figures are probably an image of how the Teletubbies will behave when they are close to death and their belly monitors have long gone blank and become sightless windows.”[42]

“That there is a pun in ‘quad’ and ‘quod’ (slang for gaol) can hardly have escaped Beckett. Since one of his Paris apartments overlooked the Santé Prison, he must have been conscious of the rhythm of life as lived in a prison over a long period. With this in mind the players following their prescribed course of movements around a square could be seen as ‘doing time’ in the most literal sense of the term and exercising within the precise limits of the prison yard.”[43]

http://youtu.be/c6Bkr_udado

 

http://www.ubu.com/sound/schwitters.html

 

Experimental Writing Week 3

MANIFESTO

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_manifesto#Futurist_Manifesto_1909

Manifest_I_of_De_Stijl

http://youtu.be/6rBKD708MB4

 

The Futurist Manifesto

F. T. Marinetti, 1909

We have been up all night, my friends and I, beneath mosque lamps whose brass cupolas are bright as our souls, because like them they were illuminated by the internal glow of electric hearts. And trampling underfoot our native sloth on opulent Persian carpets, we have been discussing right up to the limits of logic and scrawling the paper with demented writing.

Our hearts were filled with an immense pride at feeling ourselves standing quite alone, like lighthouses or like the sentinels in an outpost, facing the army of enemy stars encamped in their celestial bivouacs. Alone with the engineers in the infernal stokeholes of great ships, alone with the black spirits which rage in the belly of rogue locomotives, alone with the drunkards beating their wings against the walls.

Then we were suddenly distracted by the rumbling of huge double decker trams that went leaping by, streaked with light like the villages celebrating their festivals, which the Po in flood suddenly knocks down and uproots, and, in the rapids and eddies of a deluge, drags down to the sea.

Then the silence increased. As we listened to the last faint prayer of the old canal and the crumbling of the bones of the moribund palaces with their green growth of beard, suddenly the hungry automobiles roared beneath our windows.

“Come, my friends!” I said. “Let us go! At last Mythology and the mystic cult of the ideal have been left behind. We are going to be present at the birth of the centaur and we shall soon see the first angels fly! We must break down the gates of life to test the bolts and the padlocks! Let us go! Here is they very first sunrise on earth! Nothing equals the splendor of its red sword which strikes for the first time in our millennial darkness.”

We went up to the three snorting machines to caress their breasts. I lay along mine like a corpse on its bier, but I suddenly revived again beneath the steering wheel — a guillotine knife — which threatened my stomach. A great sweep of madness brought us sharply back to ourselves and drove us through the streets, steep and deep, like dried up torrents. Here and there unhappy lamps in the windows taught us to despise our mathematical eyes. “Smell,” I exclaimed, “smell is good enough for wild beasts!”

And we hunted, like young lions, death with its black fur dappled with pale crosses, who ran before us in the vast violet sky, palpable and living.

And yet we had no ideal Mistress stretching her form up to the clouds, nor yet a cruel Queen to whom to offer our corpses twisted into the shape of Byzantine rings! No reason to die unless it is the desire to be rid of the too great weight of our courage!

We drove on, crushing beneath our burning wheels, like shirt-collars under the iron, the watch dogs on the steps of the houses.

Death, tamed, went in front of me at each corner offering me his hand nicely, and sometimes lay on the ground with a noise of creaking jaws giving me velvet glances from the bottom of puddles.

“Let us leave good sense behind like a hideous husk and let us hurl ourselves, like fruit spiced with pride, into the immense mouth and breast of the world! Let us feed the unknown, not from despair, but simply to enrich the unfathomable reservoirs of the Absurd!”

As soon as I had said these words, I turned sharply back on my tracks with the mad intoxication of puppies biting their tails, and suddenly there were two cyclists disapproving of me and tottering in front of me like two persuasive but contradictory reasons. Their stupid swaying got in my way. What a bore! Pouah! I stopped short, and in disgust hurled myself — vlan! — head over heels in a ditch.

Oh, maternal ditch, half full of muddy water! A factory gutter! I savored a mouthful of strengthening muck which recalled the black teat of my Sudanese nurse!

As I raised my body, mud-spattered and smelly, I felt the red hot poker of joy deliciously pierce my heart. A crowd of fishermen and gouty naturalists crowded terrified around this marvel. With patient and tentative care they raised high enormous grappling irons to fish up my car, like a vast shark that had run aground. It rose slowly leaving in the ditch, like scales, its heavy coachwork of good sense and its upholstery of comfort.

We thought it was dead, my good shark, but I woke it with a single caress of its powerful back, and it was revived running as fast as it could on its fins.

Then with my face covered in good factory mud, covered with metal scratches, useless sweat and celestial grime, amidst the complaint of staid fishermen and angry naturalists, we dictated our first will and testament to all the living men on earth.

MANIFESTO OF FUTURISM

  1. We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness.
  2. The essential elements of our poetry will be courage, audacity and revolt.
  3. Literature has up to now magnified pensive immobility, ecstasy and slumber. We want to exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the slap and the blow with the fist.
  4. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath … a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
  5. We want to sing the man at the wheel, the ideal axis of which crosses the earth, itself hurled along its orbit.
  6. The poet must spend himself with warmth, glamour and prodigality to increase the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
  7. Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Poetry must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man.
  8. We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! What is the use of looking behind at the moment when we must open the mysterious shutters of the impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We are already living in the absolute, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed.
  9. We want to glorify war — the only cure for the world — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.
  10. We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice.
  11. We will sing of the great crowds agitated by work, pleasure and revolt; the multi-colored and polyphonic surf of revolutions in modern capitals: the nocturnal vibration of the arsenals and the workshops beneath their violent electric moons: the gluttonous railway stations devouring smoking serpents; factories suspended from the clouds by the thread of their smoke; bridges with the leap of gymnasts flung across the diabolic cutlery of sunny rivers: adventurous steamers sniffing the horizon; great-breasted locomotives, puffing on the rails like enormous steel horses with long tubes for bridle, and the gliding flight of aeroplanes whose propeller sounds like the flapping of a flag and the applause of enthusiastic crowds.

It is in Italy that we are issuing this manifesto of ruinous and incendiary violence, by which we today are founding Futurism, because we want to deliver Italy from its gangrene of professors, archaeologists, tourist guides and antiquaries.

Italy has been too long the great second-hand market. We want to get rid of the innumerable museums which cover it with innumerable cemeteries.

Museums, cemeteries! Truly identical in their sinister juxtaposition of bodies that do not know each other. Public dormitories where you sleep side by side for ever with beings you hate or do not know. Reciprocal ferocity of the painters and sculptors who murder each other in the same museum with blows of line and color. To make a visit once a year, as one goes to see the graves of our dead once a year, that we could allow! We can even imagine placing flowers once a year at the feet of the Gioconda! But to take our sadness, our fragile courage and our anxiety to the museum every day, that we cannot admit! Do you want to poison yourselves? Do you want to rot?

What can you find in an old picture except the painful contortions of the artist trying to break uncrossable barriers which obstruct the full expression of his dream?

To admire an old picture is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it forward with violent spurts of creation and action. Do you want to waste the best part of your strength in a useless admiration of the past, from which you will emerge exhausted, diminished, trampled on?

Indeed daily visits to museums, libraries and academies (those cemeteries of wasted effort, calvaries of crucified dreams, registers of false starts!) is for artists what prolonged supervision by the parents is for intelligent young men, drunk with their own talent and ambition.

For the dying, for invalids and for prisoners it may be all right. It is, perhaps, some sort of balm for their wounds, the admirable past, at a moment when the future is denied them. But we will have none of it, we, the young, strong and living Futurists!

Let the good incendiaries with charred fingers come! Here they are! Heap up the fire to the shelves of the libraries! Divert the canals to flood the cellars of the museums! Let the glorious canvases swim ashore! Take the picks and hammers! Undermine the foundation of venerable towns!

The oldest among us are not yet thirty years old: we have therefore at least ten years to accomplish our task. When we are forty let younger and stronger men than we throw us in the waste paper basket like useless manuscripts! They will come against us from afar, leaping on the light cadence of their first poems, clutching the air with their predatory fingers and sniffing at the gates of the academies the good scent of our decaying spirits, already promised to the catacombs of the libraries.

But we shall not be there. They will find us at last one winter’s night in the depths of the country in a sad hangar echoing with the notes of the monotonous rain, crouched near our trembling aeroplanes, warming our hands at the wretched fire which our books of today will make when they flame gaily beneath the glittering flight of their pictures.

They will crowd around us, panting with anguish and disappointment, and exasperated by our proud indefatigable courage, will hurl themselves forward to kill us, with all the more hatred as their hearts will be drunk with love and admiration for us. And strong healthy Injustice will shine radiantly from their eyes. For art can only be violence, cruelty, injustice.

The oldest among us are not yet thirty, and yet we have already wasted treasures, treasures of strength, love, courage and keen will, hastily, deliriously, without thinking, with all our might, till we are out of breath.

Look at us! We are not out of breath, our hearts are not in the least tired. For they are nourished by fire, hatred and speed! Does this surprise you? it is because you do not even remember being alive! Standing on the world’s summit, we launch once more our challenge to the stars!

Your objections? All right! I know them! Of course! We know just what our beautiful false intelligence affirms: “We are only the sum and the prolongation of our ancestors,” it says. Perhaps! All right! What does it matter? But we will not listen! Take care not to repeat those infamous words! Instead, lift up your head!

Standing on the world’s summit we launch once again our insolent challenge to the stars!


(Text of translation taken from James Joll, Three Intellectuals in Politics)

Tate-blast

Vorticism was a short-lived modernist movement in British art and poetry of the early 20th century.[1] It was partly inspired by Cubism. The movement was announced in 1914 in the first issue of BLAST, which contained its manifesto and the movement’s rejection of landscape and nudes in favour of a geometric style tending towards abstraction. Ultimately, it was their witnessing of unfolding human disaster in World War I that “drained these artists of their Vorticist zeal”.[2] Vorticism was based in London but international in make-up and ambition.

VORTICISM

    1. Beyond Action and Reaction we would establish ourselves.
    2. We start from opposite statements of a chosen world. Set up violent structure of adolescent clearness between two extremes.
    3. We discharge ourselves on both sides.
    4. We fight first on one side, then on the other, but always for the SAME cause, which is neither side or both sides and ours.
    5. Mercenaries were always the best troops.
    6. We are primitive Mercenaries in the Modern World.
    7. Our Cause is NO-MAN’S.
    8. We set Humour at Humour’s throat. Stir up Civil War among peaceful apes.
    9. We only want Humour if it has fought like Tragedy.
    10. We only want Tragedy if it can clench its side-muscles like hands on its belly, and bring to the surface a laugh like a bomb.

DADA MANIFESTO HUGO BALL Hugoball

Read at the first public by Dada soirée, Zurich, July 14, 1916.

Dada is a new tendency in art. One can tell this from the fact that until now nobody knew anything about it, and tomorrow everyone in Zurich will be talking about it. Dada comes from the dictionary. It is terribly simple. In French it means “hobby horse”. In German it means “good-bye”, “Get off my back”, “Be seeing you sometime”. In Romanian: “Yes, indeed, you are right, that’s it. But of course, yes, definitely, right”. And so forth.

An International word. Just a word, and the word a movement. Very easy to understand. Quite terribly simple. To make of it an artistic tendency must mean that one is anticipating complications. Dada psychology, dada Germany cum indigestion and fog paroxysm, dada literature, dada bourgeoisie, and yourselves, honoured poets, who are always writing with words but never writing the word itself, who are always writing around the actual point. Dada world war without end, dada revolution without beginning, dada, you friends and also-poets, esteemed sirs, manufacturers, and evangelists. Dada Tzara, dada Huelsenbeck, dada m’dada, dada m’dada dada mhm, dada dera dada, dada Hue, dada Tza.

How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanised, enervated? By saying dada. Dada is the world soul, dada is the pawnshop. Dada is the world’s best lily-milk soap. Dada Mr Rubiner, dada Mr Korrodi. Dada Mr Anastasius Lilienstein. In plain language: the hospitality of the Swiss is something to be profoundly appreciated. And in questions of aesthetics the key is quality.

I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language, no less, and to have done with it. Dada Johann Fuchsgang Goethe. Dada Stendhal. Dada Dalai Lama, Buddha, Bible, and Nietzsche. Dada m’dada. Dada mhm dada da. It’s a question of connections, and of loosening them up a bit to start with. I don’t want words that other people have invented. All the words are other people’s inventions. I want my own stuff, my own rhythm, and vowels and consonants too, matching the rhythm and all my own. If this pulsation is seven yards long, I want words for it that are seven yards long. Mr Schulz’s words are only two and a half centimetres long.

It will serve to show how articulated language comes into being. I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat meows . . . Words emerge, shoulders of words, legs, arms, hands of words. Au, oi, uh. One shouldn’t let too many words out. A line of poetry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this accursed language, as if put there by stockbrokers’ hands, hands worn smooth by coins. I want the word where it ends and begins. Dada is the heart of words.

Each thing has its word, but the word has become a thing by itself. Why shouldn’t I find it? Why can’t a tree be called Pluplusch, and Pluplubasch when it has been raining? The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous smugness, outside all the parrotry of your self-evident limitedness. The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance.

vnsmnfst

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Scrivner

Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991), pp.149-181.


AN IRONIC DREAM OF A COMMON LANGUAGE FOR WOMEN IN THE INTEGRATED CIRCUIT

This chapter is an effort to build an ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism. Perhaps more faithful as blasphemy is faithful, than as reverent worship and identification. Blasphemy has always seemed to require taking things very seriously. I know no better stance to adopt from within the secular-religious, evangelical traditions of United States politics, including the politics of socialist feminism. Blasphemy protects one from the moral majority within, while still insisting on the need for community. Blasphemy is not apostasy. Irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes, even dialectically, about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. Irony is about humour and serious play. It is also a rhetorical strategy and a political method, one I would like to see more honoured within socialist-feminism. At the centre of my ironic faith, my blasphemy, is the image of the cyborg.

A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction. The international women’s movements have constructed ‘women’s experience’, as well as uncovered or discovered this crucial collective object. This experience is a fiction and fact of the most crucial, political kind. Liberation rests on the construction of the consciousness, the imaginative apprehension, of oppression, and so of possibility. The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experience that changes what counts as women’s experience in the late twentieth century. This is a struggle over life and death, but the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.

Contemporary science fiction is full of cyborgs – creatures simultaneously animal and machine, who populate worlds ambiguously natural and crafted.

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Modern medicine is also full of cyborgs, of couplings between organism and machine, each conceived as coded devices, in an intimacy and with a power that was not generated in the history of sexuality. Cyborg ‘sex’ restores some of the lovely replicative baroque of ferns and invertebrates (such nice organic prophylactics against heterosexism). Cyborg replication is uncoupled from organic reproduction. Modern production seems like a dream of cyborg colonization work, a dream that makes the nightmare of Taylorism seem idyllic. And modern war is a cyborg orgy, coded by C3I, command-control-communication-intelligence, an $84 billion item in 1984’sUS defence budget. I am making an argument for the cyborg as a fiction mapping our social and bodily reality and as an imaginative resource suggesting some very fruitful couplings. Michael Foucault’s biopolitics is a flaccid premonition of cyborg politics, a very open field.

By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. Ths cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centres structuring any possibility of historical transformation. In the traditions of ‘Western’ science and politics–the tradition of racist, male-dominant capitalism; the tradition of progress; the tradition of the appropriation of nature as resource for the productions of culture; the tradition of reproduction of the self from the reflections of the other – the relation between organism and machine has been a border war. The stakes in the border war have been the territories of production, reproduction, and imagination. This chapter is an argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction. It is also an effort to contribute to socialist-feminist culture and theory in a postmodernist, non-naturalist mode and in the utopian tradition of imagining a world without gender, which is perhaps a world without genesis, but maybe also a world without end. The cyborg incarnation is outside salvation history. Nor does it mark time on an oedipal calendar, attempting to heal the terrible cleavages of gender in an oral symbiotic utopia or post-oedipal apocalypse. As Zoe Sofoulis argues in her unpublished manuscript on Jacques Lacan, Melanie Klein, and nuclear culture, Lacklein, the most terrible and perhaps the most promising monsters in cyborg worlds are embodied in non-oedipal narratives with a different logic of repression, which we need to understand for our survival.

The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity. In a sense, the cyborg has no origin story in the Western sense – a ‘final’ irony since the cyborg is also the awful apocalyptic telos of the

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‘West’s’ escalating dominations of abstract individuation, an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency, a man in space. An origin story in the ‘Western’, humanist sense depends on the myth of original unity, fullness, bliss and terror, represented by the phallic mother from whom all humans must separate, the task of individual development and of history, the twin potent myths inscribed most powerfully for us in psychoanalysis and Marxism. Hilary Klein has argued that both Marxism and psychoanalysis, in their concepts of labour and of individuation and gender formation, depend on the plot of original unity out of which difference must be produced and enlisted in a drama of escalating domination of woman/nature. The cyborg skips the step of original unity, of identification with nature in the Western sense. This is its illegitimate promise that might lead to subversion of its teleology as star wars.

The cyborg is resolutely committed to partiality, irony, intimacy, and perversity. It is oppositional, utopian, and completely without innocence. No longer structured by the polarity of public and private, the cyborg defines a technological polls based partly on a revolution of social relations in the oikos, the household. Nature and culture are reworked; the one can no longer be the resource for appropriation or incorporation by the other. The rela-tionships for forming wholes from parts, including those of polarity and hierarchical domination, are at issue in the cyborg world. Unlike the hopes of Frankenstein’s monster, the cyborg does not expect its father to save it through a restoration of the garden; that is, through the fabrication of a heterosexual mate, through its completion in a finished whole, a city and cosmos. The eyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust. Perhaps that is why I want to see if eyborgs can subvert the apocalypse of returning to nuclear dust in the manic compulsion to name the Enemy. Cyborgs are not reverent; they do not re-member the cosmos. They are wary of holism, but needy for connection- they seem to have a natural feel for united front politics, but without the vanguard party. The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential.

I will return to the science fiction of cyborgs at the end of this chapter, but now I want to signal three crucial boundary breakdowns that make the following political-fictional (political-scientific) analysis possible. By the late twentieth century in United States scientific culture, the boundary between human and animal is thoroughly breached. The last beachheads of uniqueness have been polluted if not turned into amusement parks–language tool

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use, social behaviour, mental events, nothing really convincingly settles the separation of human and animal. And many people no longer feel the need for such a separation; indeed, many branches of feminist culture affirm the pleasure of connection of human and other living creatures. Movements for animal rights are not irrational denials of human uniqueness; they are a clear-sighted recognition of connection across the discredited breach of nature and culture. Biology and evolutionary theory over the last two centuries have simultaneously produced modern organisms as objects of knowledge and reduced the line between humans and animals to a faint trace re-etched in ideological struggle or professional disputes between life and social science. Within this framework, teaching modern Christian creationism should be fought as a form of child abuse.

Biological-determinist ideology is only one position opened up in scientific culture for arguing the meanings of human animality. There is much room for radical political people to contest the meanings of the breached boundary.2 The cyborg appears in myth precisely where the boundary between human and animal is transgressed. Far from signalling a walling off of people from other living beings, cyborgs signal distrurbingly and pleasurably tight coupling. Bestiality has a new status in this cycle of marriage exchange.

The second leaky distinction is between animal-human (organism) and machine. Pre-cybernetic machines could be haunted; there was always the spectre of the ghost in the machine. This dualism structured the dialogue between materialism and idealism that was settled by a dialectical progeny, called spirit or history, according to taste. But basically machines were not self-moving, self-designing, autonomous. They could not achieve man’s dream, only mock it. They were not man, an author to himself, but only a caricature of that masculinist reproductive dream. To think they were otherwise was paranoid. Now we are not so sure. Late twentieth-century machines have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and art)ficial, mind and body, self-developing and externally designed, and many other distinctions that used to apply to organisms and machines. Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.

Technological determination is only one ideological space opened up by the reconceptions of machine and organism as coded texts through which we engage in the play of writing and reading the world.3 ‘Textualization’ of everything in poststructuralist, postmodernist theory has been damned by Marxists and socialist feminists for its utopian disregard for the lived relations of domination that ground the ‘play’ of arbitrary reading.4 It is certainly true that postmodernist strategies, like my cyborg myth, subvert myriad organic wholes (for example, the poem, the primitive culture, the biological organism). In short, the certainty of what counts as nature — a

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source of insight and promise of innocence — is undermined, probably fatally. The transcendent authorization of interpretation is lost, and with it the ontology grounding ‘Western’ epistemology. But the alternative is not cynicism or faithlessness, that is, some version of abstract existence, like the accounts of technological determinism destroying ‘man’ by the ‘machine’ or ‘meaningful political action’ by the ‘text’. Who cyborgs will be is a radical question; the answers are a matter of survival. Both chimpanzees and artefacts have politics, so why shouldn’t we (de Waal, 1982; Winner, 1980)?

The third distinction is a subset of the second: the boundary between physical and non-physical is very imprecise for us. Pop physics books on the consequences of quantum theory and the indeterminacy principle are a kind of popular scientific equivalent to Harlequin romances* as a marker of radical change in American white heterosexuality: they get it wrong, but they are on the right subject. Modern machines are quintessentially microelectronic devices: they are everywhere and they are invisible. Modern machinery is an irreverent upstart god, mocking the Father’s ubiquity and spirituality. The silicon chip is a surface for writing; it is etched in molecular scales disturbed only by atomic noise, the ultimate interference for nuclear scores. Writing, power, and technology are old partners in Western stories of the origin of civilization, but miniaturization has changed our experience of mechanism. Miniaturization has turned out to be about power; small is not so much beautiful as pre-eminently dangerous, as in cruise missiles. Contrast the TV sets of the 1950s or the news cameras of the 1970s with the TV wrist bands or hand-sized video cameras now advertised. Our best machines are made of sunshine; they are all light and clean because they are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section of a spectrum, and these machines are eminently portable, mobile — a matter of immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore. People are nowhere near so fluid, being both material and opaque. Cyborgs are ether, quintessence.

The ubiquity and invisibility of cyborgs is precisely why these sunshine-belt machines are so deadly. They are as hard to see politically as materially. They are about consciousness – or its simulation.5 They are floating signIfiers moving in pickup trucks across Europe, blocked more effectively by the witch-weavings of the displaced and so unnatural Greenham women, who read the cyborg webs of power so very well, than by the militant labour of older masculinist politics, whose natural constituency needs defence jobs. Ultimately the ‘hardest’ science is about the realm of greatest boundary confusion, the realm of pure number, pure spirit, C3I, cryptography, and the preservation of potent secrets. The new machines are so clean and light. Their engineers are sun-worshippers mediating a new scientific revolution

*The US equivalent of Mills & Boon.

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associated with the night dream of post-industrial society. The diseases evoked by these clean machines are ‘no more’ than the minuscule coding changes of an antigen in the immune system, ‘no more’ than the experience of stress. The nimble fingers of ‘Oriental’ women, the old fascination of little Anglo-Saxon Victorian girls with doll’s houses, women’s enforced attention to the small take on quite new dimensions in this world. There might be a cyborg Alice taking account of these new dimensions. Ironically, it might be the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita jail* whose constructed unities will guide effective oppositional strategies.

So my cyborg myth is about transgressed boundaries, potent fusions, and dangerous possibilities which progressive people might explore as one part of needed political work. One of my premises is that most American socialists and feminists see deepened dualisms of mind and body, animal and machine, idealism and materialism in the social practices, symbolic formula-tions, and physical artefacts associated with ‘high technology’ and scientific culture. From One-DimensionalMan (Marcuse, 1964) to The Death of Nature (Merchant, 1980), the analytic resources developed by progressives have insisted on the necessary domination of technics and recalled us to an imagined organic body to integrate our resistance. Another of my premises is that the need for unity of people trying to resist world-wide intensification of domination has never been more acute. But a slightly perverse shift of perspective might better enable us to contest for meanings, as well as for other forms of power and pleasure in technologically mediated societies.

From one perspective, a cyborg world is about the final imposition of a grid of control on the planet, about the final abstraction embodied in a Star Wars apocalypse waged in the name of defence, about the final appropriation of women’s bodies in a masculinist orgy of war (Sofia, 1984). From another perspective, a cyborg world might be about lived social and bodily realities in which people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints. The political struggle is to see from both perspectives at once because each reveals both dominations and possibilities unimaginable from the other vantage point. Single vision produces worse illusions than double vision or many-headed monsters. Cyborg unities are monstrous and illegitimate; in our present political circumstances, we could hardly hope for more potent myths for resistance and recoupling. I like to imagine LAG, the Livermore Action Group, as a kind of cyborg society, dedicated to realistically converting the laboratories that most fiercely embody and spew out the tools

* A practice at once both spiritual and political that linked guards and arrested anti-nuclear demonstrators in the Alameda County jail in California in the early 1985.

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Of technological apocalypse, and committed to building a political form that acutally manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state. Fission Impossible is the name of the affinity group in my town.(Affinity: related not by blood but by choice, the appeal of one chemical nuclear group for another, avidiy.)6

FRACTURED IDENTITIES

It has become difficult to name one’s feminism by a single adjective — or even to insist in every circumstance upon the noun. Consciousness of exclusion through naming is acute. Identities seem contradictory, partial, and strategic. With the hard-won recognition of their social and historical constitution, gender, race, and class cannot provide the basis for belief in ‘essential’ unity. There is nothing about teeing ‘female’ that naturally binds women. There is not even such a state as ‘being’ female, itself a highly complex category constructed in contested sexual scientific discourses and other social practices. Gender, race, or class consciousness is an achievement forced on us by the terrible historica experience of the contradictory social realities of patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism. And who counts as ‘us’ in my own rhetoric? Which identities are available to ground such a potent political myth called ‘us’, and what could motivate enlistment in this collectivity? Painful fragmentation among feminists (not to mention among women) along every possible fault line has made the concept of woman elusive, an excuse for the matrix of women’s dominations of each other. For me – and for many who share a similar historical location in white, professional middle-class, female, radical, North American, mid-adult bodies – the sources of a crisis in political identity are legion. The recent history for much of the US left and US feminism has been a response to this kind of crisis by endless splitting and searches for a new essential unity. But there has also been a growing recognition of another response through coalition – affinity, not identity.7

Chela Sandoval (n.d., 1984), from a consideration of specific historical moments in the formation of the new political voice called women of colour, has theorized a hopeful model of political identity called ‘oppositional consciousness’, born of the skills for reading webs of power by those refused stable membership in the social categories of race, sex, or class. ‘Women of color’, a name contested at its origins by those whom it would incorporate, as well as a historical consciousness marking systematic breakdown of all the signs of Man in ‘Western’ traditions, constructs a kind of postmodernist identity out of otherness, difference, and specificity. This postmodernist identity is fully political, whatever might be said abut other possible postmodernisms. Sandoval’s oppositional consciousness is about contradic-

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tory locations and heterochronic calendars, not about relativisms and pluralisms.

Sandoval emphasizes the lack of any essential criterion for identifying who is a woman of colour. She notes that the definition of the group has been by conscious appropriation of negation. For example, a Chicana or US black woman has not been able to speak as a woman or as a black person or as a Chicano. Thus, she was at the bottom of a cascade of negative identities, left out of even the privileged oppressed authorial categories called ‘women and blacks’, who claimed to make the important revolutions. The category ‘woman’ negated all non-white women; ‘black’ negated all non-black people, as well as all black women. But there was also no ‘she’, no singularity, but a sea of differences among US women who have affirmed their historical identity as US women of colour. This identity marks out a self-consciously constructed space that cannot affirm the capacity to act on the basis of natural identification, but only on the basis of conscious coalition, of affinity, of political kinship.8 Unlike the ‘woman’ of some streams of the white women’s movement in the United States, there is no naturalization of the matrix, or at least this is what Sandoval argues is uniquely available through the power of oppositional consciousness.

Sandoval’s argument has to be seen as one potent formulation for feminists out of the world-wide development of anti-colonialist discourse; that is to say, discourse dissolving the ‘West’ and its highest product – the one who is not animal, barbarian, or woman; man, that is, the author of a cosmos called history. As orientalism is deconstructed politically and semiotically, the identities of the occident destabilize, including those of feminists.9 Sandoval argues that ‘women of colour’ have a chance to build an effective unity that does not replicate the imperializing, totalizing revolutionary subjects of previous Marxisms and feminisms which had not faced the consequences of the disorderly polyphony emerging from decolonization.

Katie King has emphasized the limits of identification and the political/ poetic mechanics of identification built into reading ‘the poem’, that generative core of cultural feminism. King criticizes the persistent tendency among contemporary feminists from different ‘moments’ or ‘conversations’ in feminist practice to taxonomize the women’s movement to make one’s own political tendencies appear to be the telos of the whole. These taxonomies tend to remake feminist history so that it appears to be an ideological struggle among coherent types persisting over time, especially those typical units called radical, liberal, and socialist-feminism. Literally, all other feminisms are either incorporated or marginalized, usually by building an explicit ontology and epistemology.10 Taxonomies of feminism produce epistemologies to police deviation from official women’s experience. And of course, ‘women’s culture’, like women of colour, is consciously created by

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mechanisms inducing affinity. The rituals of poetry, music, and certain forms of academic practice have been pre-eminent. The politics of race and culture in the US women’s movements are intimately interwoven. The common achievement of King and Sandoval is learning how to craft a poetic/political unity without relying on a logic of appropriation, incorpora-tion, and taxonomic identification.

The theoretical and practical struggle against unity-through-domination or unity-through-incorporation ironically not only undermines the justifica-tions for patriarchy, colonialism, humanism, positivism, essentialism, scient-ism, and other unlamented -isms, but all claims for an organic or natural standpoint. I think that radical and socialist/Marxist-feminisms have also undermined their/our own epistemological strategies and that this is a crucially valuable step in imagining possible unities. It remains to be seen whether all ‘epistemologies’ as Western political people have known them fail us in the task to build effective affinities.

It is important to note that the effort to construct revolutionary stand-points, epistemologies as achievements of people committed to changing the world, has been part of the process showing the limits of identification. The acid tools of postmodernist theory and the constructive tools of ontological discourse about revolutionary subjects might be seen as ironic allies in dissolving Western selves in the interests of survival. We are excruciatingly conscious of what it means to have a historically constituted body. But with the loss of innocence in our origin, there is no expulsion from the Garden either. Our politics lose the indulgence of guilt with the naivete of innocence. But what would another political myth for socialist-feminism look like? What kind of politics could embrace partial, contradictory, permanently unclosed constructions of personal and collective selves and still be faithful, effective – and, ironically, socialist-feminist?

I do not know of any other time in history when there was greater need for political unity to confront effectively the dominations of ‘race’, ‘gender’, ‘sexuality’, and ‘class’. I also do not know of any other time when the kind of unity we might help build could have been possible. None of ‘us’ have any longer the symbolic or material capability of dictating the shape of reality to any of’them’. Or at least ‘we’ cannot claim innocence from practicing such dominations. White women, including socialist feminists, discovered (that is, were forced kicking and screaming to notice) the non-innocence of the category ‘woman’. That consciousness changes the geography of all previous categories; it denatures them as heat denatures a fragile protein. Cyborg feminists have to argue that ‘we’ do not want any more natural matrix of unity and that no construction is whole. Innocence, and the corollary insistence on victimhood as the only ground for insight, has done enough damage. But the constructed revolutionary subject must give late-twentieth-

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century people pause as well. In the fraying of identities and in the reflexive strategies for constructing them, the possibility opens up for weaving something other than a shroud for the day after the apocalypse that so prophetically ends salvation history.

Both Marxist/socialist-feminisms and radical feminisms have simul-taneously naturalized and denatured the category ‘woman’ and conscious-ness of the social lives of ‘women’. Perhaps a schematic caricature can highlight both kinds of moves. Marxian socialism is rooted in an analysis of wage labour which reveals class structure. The consequence of the wage relationship is systematic alienation, as the worker is dissociated from his (sic) product. Abstraction and illusion rule in knowledge, domination rules in practice. Labour is the pre-eminently privileged category enabling the Marxist to overcome illusion and find that point of view which is necessary for changing the world. Labour is the humanizing activity that makes man; labour is an ontological category permitting the knowledge of a subject, and so the knowledge of subjugation and alienation.

In faithful filiation, socialist-feminism advanced by allying itself with the basic analytic strategies of Marxism. The main achievement of both Marxist feminists and socialist feminists was to expand the category of labour to accommodate what (some) women did, even when the wage relation was subordinated to a more comprehensive view of labour under capitalist patriarchy. In particular, women’s labour in the household and women’s activity as mothers generally (that is, reproduction in the socialist-feminist sense), entered theory on the authority of analogy to the Marxian concept of labour. The unity of women here rests on an epistemology based on the ontological structure of’labour’. Marxist/socialist-feminism does not ‘natur-alize’ unity; it is a possible achievement based on a possible standpoint rooted in social relations. The essentializing move is in the ontological structure of labour or of its analogue, women’s activity.11 The inheritance of Marxian humanism, with its pre-eminently Western self, is the difficulty for me. The contribution from these formulations has been the emphasis on the daily responsibility of real women to build unities, rather than to naturalize them.

Catherine MacKinnon’s (198Z, 1987) version of radical feminism is itself a caricature of the appropriating, incorporating, totalizing tendencies of Western theories of identity grounding action.12 It is factually and politically wrong to assimilate all of the diverse ‘moments’ or ‘conversations’ in recent women’s politics named radical feminism to MacKinnon’s version. But the teleological logic of her theory shows how an epistemology and ontology – including their negations – erase or police difference. Only one of the effects of MacKinnon’s theory is the rewriting of the history of the polymorphous field called radical feminism. The major effect is the production of a theory

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of experience, of women’s identity, that is a kind of apocalypse for all revolutionary standpoints. That is, the totalization built into this tale of radical feminism achieves its end – the unity of women – by enforcing the experience of and testimony to radical non-being. As for the Marxist/ socialist feminist, consciousness is an achievement, not a natural fact. And MacKinnon’s theory eliminates some of the difficulties built into humanist revolutionary subjects, but at the cost of radical reductionism.

MacKinnon argues that feminism necessarily adopted a different analyt-ical strategy from Marxism, looking first not at the structure of class, but at the structure of sex/gender and its generative relationship, men’s constitu-tion and appropriation of women sexually. Ironically, MacKinnon’s ‘ontology’ constructs a non-subject, a non-being. Another’s desire, not the self’s labour, is the origin of ‘woman’. She therefore develops a theory of consciousness that enforces what can count as ‘women’s’ experience – anything that names sexual violation, indeed, sex itself as far as ‘women’ can be concerned. Feminist practice is the construction of this form of consciousness; that is, the self-knowledge of a self-who-is-not.

Perversely, sexual appropriation in this feminism still has the epistemolo-gical status of labour; that is to say, the point from which an analysis able to contribute to changing the world must flow. But sexual object)fication, not alienation, is the consequence of the structure of sex/gender. In the realm of knowledge, the result of sexual objectification is illusion and abstraction. However, a woman is not simply alienated from her product, but in a deep sense does not exist as a subject, or even potential subject, since she owes her existence as a woman to sexual appropriation. To be constituted by another’s desire is not the same thing as to be alienated in the violent separation of the labourer from his product.

MacKinnon’s radical theory of experience is totalizing in the extreme; it does not so much marginalize as obliterate the authority of any other women’s political speech and action. It is a totalization producing what Western patriarchy itself never succeeded in doing – feminists’ consciousness of the non-existence of women, except as products of men’s desire. I think MacKinnon correctly argues that no Marxian version of identity can firmly ground women’s unity. But in solving the problem of the contradictions of any Western revolutionary subject for feminist purposes, she develops an even more authoritarian doctrine of experience. If my complaint about socialist/Marxian standpoints is their unintended erasure of polyvocal, unassimilable, radical difference made visible in anti-colonial discourse and practice, MacKinnon’s intentional erasure of all difference through the device of the ‘essential’ non-existence of women is not reassuring.

In my taxonomy, which like any other taxonomy is a re-inscription of history, radical feminism can accommodate all the activities of women named by socialist feminists as forms of labour only if the activity can somehow be sexualized. Reproduction had different tones of meanings for the two tendencies, one rooted in labour, one in sex, both calling the consequences of domination and ignorance of social and personal reality ‘false consciousness’.

Beyond either the diff~culties or the contributions in the argument of any one author, neither Marxist nor radical feminist points of view have tended to embrace the status of a partial explanation; both were regularly constituted as totalities. Western explanation has demanded as much; how else could the ‘Western’ author incorporate its others? Each tried to annex other forms of domination by expanding its basic categories through analogy, simple listing, or addition. Embarrassed silence about race among white radical and socialist feminists was one major, devastating political consequence. History and polyvocality disappear into political taxonomies that try to establish genealogies. There was no structural room for race (or for much else) in theory claiming to reveal the construction of the category woman and social group women as a unified or totalizable whole. The structure of my caricature looks like this:

socialist feminism–structure of class // wage labour // alienation labour, by analogy reproduction, by extension sex, by addition race radical feminism – structure of gender // sexual appropriation // objectification

sex, by analogy labour, by extension reproduction, by addition race

In another context, the French theorist, Julia Kristeva, claimed women appeared as a historical group after the Second World War, along with groups like youth. Her dates are doubtful; but we are now accustomed to remembering that as objects of knowledge and as historical actors, ‘race’ did not always exist, ‘class’ has a historical genesis, and ‘homosexuals’ are quite junior. It is no accident that the symbolic system of the family of man – and so the essence of woman – breaks up at the same moment that networks of connection among people on the planet are unprecedentedly multiple, pregnant, and complex. ‘Advanced capitalism’ is inadequate to convey the structure of this historical moment. In the ‘Western’ sense, the end of man is at stake. It is no accident that woman disintegrates into women in our time. Perhaps socialist feminists were not substantially guilty of producing essentialist theory that suppressed women’s particularity and contradictory interests. I think we have been, at least through unreflective participation in the logics, languages, and practices of white humanism and through searching for a single ground of domination to secure our revolutionary voice. Now we have less excuse. But in the consciousness of our failures, we

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risk lapsing into boundless difference and giving up on the confusing task of making partial, real connection. Some differences are playful; some are poles of world historical systems of domination. ‘Epistemology’ is about knowing the difference.

THE INFORMATICS OF DOMINATION

In this attempt at an epistemological and political position, I would like to sketch a picture of possible unity, a picture indebted to socialist and feminist principles of design. The frame for my sketch is set by the extent and importance of rearrangements in world-wide social relations tied to science and technology. I argue for a politics rooted in claims about fundamental changes in the nature of class, race, and gender in an emerging system of world order analogous in its novelty and scope to that created by industrial capitalism; we are living through a movement from an organic, industrial society to a polymorphous, information system–from all work to all play, a deadly game. Simultaneously material and ideological, the dichotomies may be expressed in the following chart of transitions from the comfortable old hierarchical dominations to the scary new networks I have called the informatics of domination:

Representation Simulation
Bourgeois novel, realism Science fiction, postmodernism
Organism Biotic Component
Depth, integrity Surface, boundary
Heat Noise
Biology as clinical practice Biology as inscription
Physiology Communications engineering
Small group Subsystem
Perfection Optimization
Eugenics Population Control
Decadence, Magic Mountain Obsolescence, Future Shock
Hygiene Stress Management
Microbiology, tuberculosis Immunology, AIDS
Organic division of labour Ergonomics/cybernetics of labour
Functional specialization Modular construction
Reproduction Replication
Organic sex role specialization Optimal genetic strategies
Bioogical determinism Evolutionary inertia, constraints
Community ecology Ecosystem
Racial chain of being Neo-imperialism, United Nations humanism
Scientific management in home/factory Global factory/Electronid cottage
Family/Market/Factory Women in the Integrated Circuit
Family wage Comparable worth
Public/Private Cyborg citizenship
Nature/Culture fields of difference
Co-operation Communicatins enhancemenet
Freud Lacan
Sex Genetic engineering
labour Robotics
Mind Artificial Intelligence
Second World War Star Wars
White Capitalist Patriarchy Informatics of Domination

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This list suggests several interesting things.13 First, the objects on the right-hand side cannot be coded as ‘natural’, a realization that subverts naturalistic coding for the left-hand side as well. We cannot go back ideologically or materially. It’s not just that igod’is dead; so is the ‘goddess’. Or both are revivified in the worlds charged with microelectronic and biotechnological politics. In relation to objects like biotic components, one must not think in terms of essential properties, but in terms of design, boundary constraints, rates of flows, systems logics, costs of lowering constraints. Sexual reproduction is one kind of reproductive strategy among many, with costs and benefits as a function of the system environment. Ideologies of sexual reproduction can no longer reasonably call on notions of sex and sex role as organic aspects in natural objects like organisms and families. Such reasoning will be unmasked as irrational, and ironically corporate executives reading Playboy and anti-porn radical feminists will make strange bedfellows in jointly unmasking the irrationalism.

Likewise for race, ideologies about human diversity have to be formulated in terms of frequencies of parameters, like blood groups or intelligence scores. It is ‘irrational’ to invoke concepts like primitive and civilized. For liberals and radicals, the search for integrated social systems gives way to a new practice called ‘experimental ethnography’ in which an organic object dissipates in attention to the play of writing. At the level of ideology, we see translations of racism and colonialism into languages of development and under-development, rates and constraints of modernization. Any objects or persons can be reasonably thought of in terms of disassembly and reassembly; no ‘natural’ architectures constrain system design. The financial districts in all the world’s cities, as well as the export-processing and free-trade zones, proclaim this elementary fact of’late capitalism’. The entire universe of objects that can be known scientifically must be formulated as problems in

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communications engineering (for the managers) or theories of the text (for those who would resist). Both are cyborg semiologies.

One should expect control strategies to concentrate on boundary conditions and interfaces, on rates of flow across boundaries– and not on the integrity of natural objects. ‘Integrity’ or ‘sincerity’ of the Western self gives way to decision procedures and expert systems. For example, control strategies applied to women’s capacities to give birth to new human beings will be developed in the languages of population control and maximization of goal achievement for individual decision-makers. Control strategies will be formulated in terms of rates, costs of constraints, degrees of freedom. Human beings, like any other component or subsystem, must be localized in a system architecture whose basic modes of operation are probabilistic, statistical. No objects, spaces, or bodies are sacred in themselves; any component can be interfaced with any other if the proper standard, the proper code, can be constructed for processing signals in a common language. Exchange in this world transcends the universal translation effected by capitalist markets that Marx analysed so well. The privileged pathology affecting all kinds of components in this universe is stress – communications breakdown (Hogness, 1983). The cyborg is not subject to Foucault’s biopolitics; the cyborg simulates politics, a much more potent field of operations.

This kind of analysis of scientific and cultural objects of knowledge which have appeared historically since the Second World War prepares us to notice some important inadequacies in feminist analysis which has proceeded as if the organic, hierarchical dualisms ordering discourse in ‘the West’ since Aristotle still ruled. They have been cannibalized, or as Zoe Sofia (Sofoulis) might put it, they have been ‘techno-digested’. The dichotomies between mind and body, animal and human, organism and machine, public and private, nature and culture, men and women, primitive and civilized are all in question ideologically. The actual situation of women is their integration/ exploitation into a world system of production/reproduction and com-munication called the informatics of domination. The home, workplace, market, public arena, the body itself- all can be dispersed and interfaced in nearly infinite, polymorphous ways, with large consequences for women and others – consequences that themselves are very different for different people and which make potent oppositional international movements difficult to imagine and essential for survival. One important route for reconstructing socialist-feminist politics is through theory and practice addressed to the social relations of science and technology, including crucially the systems of myth and meanings structuring our imaginations. The cyborg is a kind of disassembled and reassembled, postmodern collective and personal self. This is the self feminists must code.

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Communications technologies and biotechnologies are the crucial tools recrafting our bodies. These tools embody and enforce new social relations for women world-wide. Technologies and scientific discourses can be partially understood as formalizations, i.e., as frozen moments, of the fluid social interactions constituting them, but they should also be viewed as instruments for enforcing meanings. The boundary is permeable between tool and myth, instrument and concept, historical systems of social relations and historical anatomies of possible bodies, including objects of knowledge. Indeed, myth and tool mutually constitute each other.

Furthermore, communications sciences and modern biologies are constructed by a common move – the translation of the world into a problem of coding, a search for a common language in which all resistance to instrumental control disappears and all heterogeneity can be submitted to disassembly, reassembly, investment, and exchange.

In communications sciences, the translation of the world into a problem in coding can be illustrated by looking at cybernetic (feedback-controlled) systems theories applied to telephone technology, computer design, weapons deployment, or data base construction and maintenance. In each case, solution to the key questions rests on a theory of language and control; the key operation is determining the rates, directions, and probabilities of flow of a quantity called information. The world is subdivided by boundaries differentially permeable to information. Information is just that kind of quantifiable element (unit, basis of unity) which allows universal translation, and so unhindered instrumental power (called effective communication). The biggest threat to such power is interruption of communication. Any system breakdown is a function of stress. The fundamentals of this technology can be condensed into the metaphor C31, command-controlcommunication-intelligence, the military’s symbol for its operations theory.

In modern biologies, the translation of the world into a problem in coding can be illustrated by molecular genetics, ecology, sociobiological evolutionary theory, and immunobiology. The organism has been translated into prob-lems of genetic coding and read-out. Biotechnology, a writing technology, informs research broadly.14 In a sense, organisms have ceased to exist as objects of knowledge, giving way to biotic components, i.e., special kinds of information-processing devices. The analogous moves in ecology could be examined by probing the history and utility of the concept of the ecosystem. Immunobiology and associated medical practices are rich exemplars of the privilege of coding and recognition systems as objects of knowledge, as constructions of bodily reality for us. Biology here is a kind of cryptography. Research is necessarily a kind of intelligence activity. Ironies abound. A stressed system goes awry; its communication processes break down; it fails to recognize the difference between self and other. Human babies with

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baboon hearts evoke national ethical perplexity– for animal rights activists at least as much as for the guardians of human purity. In the US gay men and intravenous drug users are the ‘privileged’ victims of an awful immune system disease that marks (inscribes on the body) confusion of boundaries and moral pollution (Treichler, 1987).

But these excursions into communications sciences and biology have been at a rarefied level; there is a mundane, largely economic reality to support my claim that these sciences and technologies indicate fundamental transforma-tions in the structure of the world for us. Communications technologies depend on electronics. Modern states, multinational corporations, military power, welfare state apparatuses, satellite systems, political processes, fabrication of our imaginations, labour-control systems, medical construc-tions of our bodies, commercial pornography, the international division of labour, and religious evangelism depend intimately upon electronics. Micro-electronics is the technical basis of simulacra; that is, of copies without originals.

Microelectronics mediates the translations of labour into robotics and word processing, sex into genetic engineering and reproductive technologies, and mind into artificial intelligence and decision procedures. The new biotechnologies concern more than human reproducdon. Biology as a powerful engineering science for redesigning materials and processes has revolutionary implications for industry, perhaps most obvious today in areas of fermentadon, agriculture, and energy. Communicadons sciences and biology are construcdons of natural-technical objects of knowledge in which the difference between machine and organism is thoroughly blurred; mind, body, and tool are on very intimate terms. The ‘multinational’ material organization of the production and reproduction of daily life and the symbolic organization of the production and reproduction of culture and imagination seem equally implicated. The boundary-maintaining images of base and superstructure, public and private, or material and ideal never seemed more feeble.

I have used Rachel Grossman’s (1980) image of women in the integrated circuit to name the situation of women in a world so intimately restructured through the social relations of science and technology.15 I used the odd circumlocution, ‘the social relations of science and technology’, to indicate that we are not dealing with a technological determinism, but with a historical system depending upon structured relations among people. But the phrase should also indicate that science and technology provide fresh sources of power, that we need fresh sources of analysis and political action (Latour, 1984). Some of the rearrangements of race, sex, and class rooted in high-tech-facilitated social relations can make socialist-feminism more relevant to effective progressive politics.

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THE ‘HOMEWORK ECONOMY’ OUTSIDE ‘THE HOME’

The ‘New Industrial Revolution’ is producing a new world-wide working class, as well as new sexualities and ethnicities. The extreme mobility of capital and the emerging international division of labour are intertwined with the emergence of new collecdvities, and the weakening of familiar groupings. These developments are neither gender- nor race-neutral. White men in advanced industrial societies have become newly vulnerable to permanent job loss, and women are not disappearing from the job rolls at the same rates as men. It is not simply that women in Third World countries are the preferred labour force for the science-based multinationals in the export-processing sectors, particularly in electronics. The picture is more systematic and involves reproduction, sexuality, culture, consumphon, and producdon. In the prototypical Silicon Valley, many women’s lives have been structured around employment in electronics-dependent jobs, and their intimate realities include serial heterosexual monogamy, negotiating childcare, distance from extended kin or most other forms of traditional community, a high likelihood of loneliness and extreme economic vulnerability as they age. The ethnic and racial diversity of women in Silicon Valley structures a microcosm of conflicting differences in culture, family, religion, education, and language.

Richard Gordon has called this new situation the ‘homework economy’.16 Although he includes the phenomenon of literal homework emerging in connecdon with electronics assembly, Gordon intends ‘homework economy’ to name a restructuring of work that broadly has the characteristics formerly ascribed to female jobs, jobs literally done only by women. Work is being redefined as both literally female and feminized, whether performed by men or women. To be feminized means to be made extremely vulnerable; able to be disassembled, reassembled, exploited as a reserve labour force; seen less as workers than as servers; subjected to dme arrangements on and off the paid job that make a mockery of a limited work day; leading an existence that always borders on being obscene, out of place, and reducible to sex. Deskilling is an old strategy newly applicable to formerly privileged workers. However, the homework economy does not refer only to large-scale deskilling, nor does it deny that new areas of high skill are emerging, even for women and men previously excluded from skilled employment. Rather, the concept indicates that factory, home, and market are integrated on a new scale and that the places of women are crucial – and need to be analysed for differences among women and for meanings for relations between men and women in various situations.

The homework economy as a world capitalist organizational structure is made possible by (not caused by) the new technologies. The success of the attack on relatively privileged, mostly white, men’s unionized jobs is deaf to

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the power of the new communications technologies to integrate and control labour despite extensive dispersion and decentralization. The consequences of the new technologies are felt by women both in the loss of the family (male) wage (if they ever had access to this white privilege) and in the character of their own jobs, which are becoming capital-intensive; for example, office work and nursing.

The new economic and technological arrangements are also related to the collapsing welfare state and the ensuing intensification of demands on women to sustain daily life for themselves as well as for men, children, and old people. The feminization of poverty– generated by dismantling the welfare state, by the homework economy where stable jobs become the exception, and sustained by the expectation that women’s wages will not be matched by a male income for the support of children– has become an urgent focus. The causes of various women-headed households are a function of race, class, or sexuality; but their increasing generality is a ground for coalitions of women on many issues. That women regularly sustain daily life partly as a funcdon of their enforced status as mothers is hardly new; the kind of integration with the overall capitalist and progressively war-based economy is new. The particular pressure, for example, on US black women, who have achieved an escape from (barely) paid domeshc service and who now hold clerical and similar jobs in large numbers, has large implicadons for condnued enforced black poverty with employment. Teenage women in industrializing areas of the Third World increasingly find themselves the sole or major source of a cash wage for their families, while access to land is ever more problemadc. These developments must have major consequences in the psychodynamics and politics of gender and race.

Within the framework of three major stages of capitalism (commercial/ early industrial, monopoly, multinational) –tied to nationalism, imperialism, and multinationalism, and related to Jameson’s three dominant aesthetic periods of realism, modernism, and postmodernism –I would argue that specific forms of families dialectically relate to forms of capital and to its political and cultural concomitants. Although lived problematically and unequally, ideal forms of these families might be schematized as (1) the patriarchal nuclear family, structured by the dichotomy between public and private and accompanied by the white bourgeois ideology of separate spheres and nineteenth-century Anglo-American bourgeois feminism; (2) the modern family mediated (or enforced) by the welfare state and institutions like the family wage, with a flowering of a-feminist heterosexual ideologies, including their radical versions represented in Greenwich Village around the First World War; and (3) the ‘family’ of the homework economy with its oxymoronic structure of women-headed households and its explosion of feminisms and the paradoxical intensification and erosion of gender itself.

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This is the context in which the projections for world-wide structural unemployment stemming from the new technologies are part of the picture of the homework economy. As robodcs and related technologies put men out of work in ‘developed’ countries and exacerbate failure to generate male jobs in Third World ‘development’, and as the automated of fice becomes the rule even in labour-surplus countries, the feminization of work intensifies. Black women in the United States have long known what it looks like to face the structural underemployment (‘feminization’) of black men, as well as their own highly vulnerable position in the wage economy. It is no longer a secret that sexuality, reproduction, family, and community life are interwoven with this economic structure in myriad ways which have also differentiated the situations of white and black women. Many more women and men will contend with similar situations, which will make cross-gender and race alliances on issues of basic life support (with or without jobs) necessary, not just mice.

The new technologies also have a profound effect on hunger and on food production for subsistence world-wide. Rae Lessor Blumberg (1983) estimates that women produce about 50 per cent of the world’s subsistence food.17 Women are excluded generally from benefiting from the increased high-tech commodification of food and energy crops, their days are made more arduous because their responsibilides to provide food do not diminish, and their reproductive situations are made more complex. Green Revolution technologies interact with other high-tech industrial production to alter gender divisions of labour and differential gender migration patterns.

The new technologies seem deeply involved in the forms of’privatization’ that Ros Petchesky (1981) has analysed, in which militarization, right-wing family ideologies and policies, and intensified definitions of corporate (and state) property as private synergistically interact.18 The new communications technologies are fundamental to the eradication of ‘public life’ for everyone. This facilitates the mushrooming of a permanent high-tech military establishment at the cultural and economic expense of most people, but especially of women. Technologies like video games and highly miniaturized televi-sions seem crucial to production of modern forms of ‘private life’. The culture of video games is heavily orientated to individual compedtion and extraterrestrial warfare. High-tech, gendered imaginations are produced here, imaginations that can contemplate destruction of the planet and a sci-fi escape from its consequences. More than our imaginations is militarized; and the other realities of electronic and nuclear warfare are inescapable. These are the technologies that promise ultimate mobility and perfect exchange– and incidentally enable tourism, that perfect practice of mobility and exchange, to emerge as one of the world’s largest single industries.

The new technologies affect the social relations of both sexuality and of

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reproduction, and not always in the same ways. The close ties of sexuality and instrumentality, of views of the body as a kind of private satisfaction- and utility-maximizing machine, are described nicely in sociobiological origin stories that stress a genetic calculus and explain the inevitable dialectic of domination of male and female gender roles.19 These sociobiological stories depend on a high-tech view of the body as a biotic component or cybernetic communications system. Among the many transformations of reproductive situations is the medical one, where women’s bodies have boundaries newly permeable to both ‘visualization’ and ‘intervention’. Of course, who controls the interpretation of bodily boundaries in medical hermeneubcs is a major feminist issue. The speculum served as an icon of women’s claiming their bodies in the 1970S; that handcraft tool is inadequate to express our needed body politics in the negotiation of reality in the practices of cyborg reproduction. Self-help is not enough. The technologies of visualization recall the important cultural practice of hundng with the camera and the deeply predatory nature of a photographic consciousness.20 Sex, sexuality, and reproduction are central actors in high-tech myth systems structuring our imaginations of personal and social possibility.

Another critical aspect of the social relations of the new technologies is the reformulation of expectations, culture, work, and reproduction for the large scientific and technical work-force. A major social and political danger is the formation of a strongly bimodal social structure, with the masses of women and men of all ethnic groups, but especially people of colour, confined to a homework economy, illiteracy of several varieties, and general redundancy and impotence, controlled by high-tech repressive apparatuses ranging from entertainment to surveillance and disappearance. An adequate socialist-feminist politics should address women in the privileged occupational categories, and particularly in the production of science and technology that constructs scientific-technical discourses, processes, and objects.21

This issue is only one aspect of enquiry into the possibility of a feminist science, but it is important. What kind of constitutive role in the production of knowledge, imagination, and practice can new groups doing science have? How can these groups be allied with progressive social and political movements? What kind of political accountability can be constructed to the women together across the scientific-technical hierarchies separating us? Might there be ways of developing feminist science/technology politics in alliance with and-military science facility conversion action groups? Many sciendfic and technical workers in Silicon Valley, the high-tech cowboys included, do not want to work on military science.22 Can these personal preferences and cultural tendencies be welded into progressive politics among this professional middle class in which women, including women of colour, are coming to be fairly numerous?

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WOMEN IN THE INTEGRATED CIRCUIT

Let me summarize the picture of women’s historical locations in advanced industrial societies, as these positions have been restructured partly through the social relations of science and technology. If it was ever possible ideologically to characterize women’s lives by the disdnction of public and private domains– suggested by images of the division of working-class life into factory and home, of bourgeois life into market and home, and of gender existence into personal and political realms –it is now a totally misleading ideology, even to show how both terms of these dichotomies construct each other in practice and in theory. I prefer a network ideological image, suggesting the profusion of spaces and identities and the permeability of boundaries in the personal body and in the body politic. ‘Networking’ is both a feminist practice and a multinational corporate strategy — weaving is for oppositional cyborgs.

So let me return to the earlier image of the informatics of domination and trace one vision of women’s ‘place’ in the integrated circuit, touching only a few idealized social locations seen primarily from the point of view of advanced capitalist societies: Home, Market, Paid Work Place, State, School, Clinic-Hospital, and Church. Each of these idealized spaces is logically and practically implied in every other locus, perhaps analogous to a holographic photograph. I want to suggest the impact of the social relations mediated and enforced by the new technologies in order to help formulate needed analysis and practical work. However, there is no ‘place’ for women in these networks, only geometries of difference and contradiction crucial to women’s cyborg identities. If we learn how to read these webs of power and social life, we might learn new couplings, new coalitions. There is no way to read the following list from a standpoint of’idendfication’, of a unitary self. The issue is dispersion. The task is to survive in the diaspora.

Home: Women-headed households, serial monogamy, flight of men, old women alone, technology of domestic work, paid homework, re-emergence of home sweat-shops, home-based businesses and telecom-muting, electronic cottage, urban homelessness, migration, module architecture, reinforced (simulated) nuclear family, intense domestic violence.

Market: Women’s continuing consumption work, newly targeted to buy the profusion of new production from the new technologies (especially as the competitive race among industrialized and industrializing nations to avoid dangerous mass unemployment necessitates finding ever bigger new markets for ever less clearly needed commodities); bimodal buying power, coupled with advertising targeting of the numerous affluent groups and neglect of the previous mass markets; growing importance of

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informal markets in labour and commodities parallel to high-tech, affluent market structures; surveillance systems through electronic funds transfer; intensified market abstraction (commodification) of experience, resulting in ineffective utopian or equivalent cynical theories of community; extreme mobility (abstraction) of marketing/financing systems; inter-penetration of sexual and labour markets; intensified sexualization of abstracted and alienated consumption.

Paid Work Place: Continued intense sexual and racial division of labour, but considerable growth of membership in privileged occupational categories for many white women and people of colour; impact of new technologies on women’s work in clerical, service, manufacturing (especially textiles), agriculture, electronics; international restructuring of the working classes; development of new time arrangements to facilitate the homework economy (flex time, part time, over time, no time); homework and out work; increased pressures for two-tiered wage structures; significant numbers of people in cash-dependent populations world-wide with no experience or no further hope of stable employment; most labour ‘marginal’ or ‘feminized’.

State: Continued erosion of the welfare state; decentralizations with increased surveillance and control; citizenship by telematics; imperialism and political power broadly in the form of information rich/information poor differentiation; increased high-tech militarization increasingly opposed by many social groups; reduction of civil service jobs as a result of the growing capital intensification of office work, with implications for occupational mobility for women of colour; growing privadzation of material and ideological life and culture; close integration of privatization and militarization, the high-tech forms of bourgeois capitalist personal and public life; invisibility of different social groups to each other, linked to psychological mechanisms of belief in abstract enemies.

School: Deepening coupling of high-tech capital needs and public educa-tion at all levels, differentiated by race, class, and gender; managerial classes involved in educational reform and refunding at the cost of

remaining progressive educational democratic structures for children and teachers; education for mass ignorance and repression in technocratic and militarized culture; growing and-science mystery cults in dissendng and radical political movements; continued relative scientific illiteracy among white women and people of colour; growing industrial direction of education (especially higher education) by science-based multinationals (particularly in electronics- and biotechnology-dependent companies); highly educated, numerous elites in a progressively bimodal society.

Clinic-hospital: Intensified machine-body relations; renegotiations of

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public metaphors which channel personal experience of the body, particularly in relation to reproduction, immune system functions, and ‘stress’ phenomena; intensification of reproductive politics in response to world historical implications of women’s unrealized, potential control of their relation to reproduction; emergence of new, historically specific diseases; struggles over meanings and means of health in environments pervaded by high technology products and processes; continuing feminization of health work; intensified struggle over state responsibility for health; continued ideological role of popular health movements as a major form of American politics.

Church: Electronic fundamentalist ‘super-saver’ preachers solemnizing the union of electronic capital and automated fetish gods; intensified importance of churches in resisting the militarized state; central struggle over women’s meanings and authority in religion; continued relevance of spirituality, intertwined with sex and health, in political struggle.

The only way to characterize the informatics of domination is as a massive intensification of insecurity and cultural impoverishment, with common failure of subsistence networks for the most vulnerable. Since much of this picture interweaves with the social relations of science and technology, the urgency of a socialist-feminist politics addressed to science and technology is plain. There is much now being tione, and the grounds for political work are rich. For example, the efforts to develop forms of collecdve struggle for women in paid work, like SEIU’s District 925,* should be a high priority for all of us. These efforts are profoundly deaf to technical restructuring of labour processes and reformations of working classes. These efforts also are providing understanding of a more comprehensive kind of labour organization, involving community, sexuality, and family issues never privileged in the largely white male industrial unions.

The structural rearrangements related to the social relations of science and technology evoke strong ambivalence. But it is not necessary to be uldmately depressed by the implications of late twentieth-century women’s relation to all aspects of work, culture, production of knowledge, sexuality, and reproduction. For excellent reasons, most Marxisms see domination best and have trouble understanding what can only look like false consciousness and people’s complicity in their own domination in late capitalism. It is crucial to remember that what is lost, perhaps especially from women’s points of view, is often virulent forms of oppression, nostalgically naturalized in the face of current violation. Ambivalence towards the disrupted unides mediated by high-tech culture requires not sorting consciousness into categories of clear-sighted critique grounding a solid political epistemology’

*Service Employees International Union’s office workers’ organization in the US.

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versus ‘manipulated false consciousness’, but subtle understanding of emerging pleasures, experiences, and powers with serious potential for changing the rules of the game.

There are grounds for hope in the emerging bases for new kinds of unity across race, gender, and class, as these elementary units of socialist-feminist analysis themselves suffer protean transformations. Intensifications of hardship experienced world-wide in connection with the social relations of science and technology are severe. But what people are experiencing is not transparently clear, and we lack aufficiently subtle connections for collectively building effective theories of experience. Present efforts – Marxist, psychoanalytic, feminist, anthropological– to clarify even ‘our’ experience are rudimentary.

I am conscious of the odd perspecdve provided by my historical position – a PhD in biology for an Irish Catholic girl was made possible by Sputnik’s impact on US national science-education policy. I have a body and mind as much constructed by the post-Second World War arms race and cold war as by the women’s movements. There are more grounds for hope in focusing on the contradictory effects of politics designed to produce loyal American technocrats, which also produced large numbers of dissidents, than in focusing on the present defeats.

The permanent pardality of feminist points of view has consequences for our expectations of forms of political organization and participation. We do not need a totality in order to work well. The feminist dream of a common language, like all dreams for a perfectly true language, of perfectly faithful naming of experience, is a totalizing and imperialist one. In that sense, dialectics too is a dream language, longing to resolve contradiction. Perhaps, ironically, we can learn from our fusions with animals and machines how not to be Man, the embodiment of Western logos. From the point of view of pleasure in these potent and taboo fusions, made inevitable by the social relations of science and technology, there might indeed be a feminist science.

CYBORGS: A MYTH OF POLITICAL IDENTITY

I want to conclude with a myth about idendty and boundaries which might inform late twentieth-century political imaginations (Plate 1). I am indebted in this story to writers like Joanna Russ, Samuel R. Delany, John Varley, James Tiptree, Jr, Octavia Butler, Monique Wittig, and Vonda McIntyre.23 These are our story-tellers exploring what it means to be embodied in high-tech worlds. They are theorists for cyborgs. Exploring concephons of bodily boundaries and social order, the anthropologist Mary Douglas (1966, 1970) should be credited with helping us to consciousness about how fundamental body imagery is to world view, and so to political language.

French feminists like Luce Irigaray and Monique Wittig, for all their differences, know how to write the body; how to weave eroticism, cosmology, and politics from imagery of embodiment, and especially for Wittig, from imagery of fragmentation and reconstitution of bodies.24

American radical feminists like Susan Griffnn, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich have profoundly affected our political imaginations – and perhaps restricted too much what we allow as a friendly body and political language.25 They insist on the organic, opposing it to the technological. But their symbolic systems and the related positions of ecofeminism and feminist paganism, replete with organicisms, can only be understood in Sandoval’s terms as oppositional ideologies fitting the late twentieth century. They would simply bewilder anyone not preoccupied with the machines and consciousness of late capitalism. In that sense they are part of the cyborg world. But there are also great riches for feminists in explicitly embracing the possibilides inherent in the breakdown of clean disdnctions between organism and machine and similar distinctions structuring the Western self. It is the simultaneity of breakdowns that cracks the matrices of domination and opens geometric possibilities. What might be learned from personal and political ‘technological’ pollution? I look briefly at two overlapping groups of texts for their insight into the construction of a potentially helpful cyborg myth: constructions of women of colour and monstrous selves in feminist science fiction.

Earlier I suggested that ‘women of colour’ might be understood as a cyborg idendty, a potent subjecdvity synthesized from fusions of outsider identities and in the complex political-historical layerings of her ‘biomythography’, Zami (Lorde, 1982; King, 1987a, 1987b). There are material and cultural grids mapping this potential, Audre Lorde (1984) captures the tone in the title of her Sister Outsider. In my political myth, Sister Outsider is the offshore woman, whom US workers, female and feminized, are supposed to regard as the enemy prevendug their solidarity, threatening their security. Onshore, inside the boundary of the United States, Sister Outsider is a potential amidst the races and ethnic identities of women manipulated for division, competition, and exploitation in the same industries. ‘Women of colour’ are the preferred labour force for the science-based industries, the real women for whom the world-wide sexual market, labour market, and politics of reproduction kaleidoscope into daily life. Young Korean women hired in the sex industry and in electronics assembly are recruited from high schools, educated for the integrated circuit. Literacy, especially in English, distinguishes the ‘cheap’ female labour so attractive to the multinationals.

Contrary to orientalist stereotypes of the ‘oral primidve’, literacy is a special mark of women of colour, acquired by US black women as well as

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men through a history of risking death to learn and to teach reading and wridng. Writing has a special significance for all colonized groups. Writing has been crucial to the Western myth of the distinction between oral and written cultures, primitive and civilized mentalities, and more recently to the erosion of that distinction in ‘postmodernist’ theories attacking the phallogo-centrism of the West, with its worship of the monotheistic, phallic, authoritative, and singular work, the unique and perfect name.26 Contests for the meanings of writing are a major form of contemporary political struggle. Releasing the play of writing is deadly serious. The poetry and stories of US women of colour are repeatedly about writing, about access to the power to signify; but this dme that power must be neither phallic nor innocent. Cyborg writing must not be about the Fall, the imagination of a once-upon-a-time wholeness before language, before writing, before Man. Cyborg writing is about the power to survive, not on the basis of original innocence, but on the basis of seizing the tools to mark the world that marked them as other.

The tools are often stories, retold stories, versions that reverse and displace the hierarchical dualisms of naturalized identities. In retelling origin stories, cyborg authors subvert the central myths of origin of Western culture. We have all been colonized by those origin myths, with their longing for fulfilment in apocalypse. The phallogocentrie origin stories most crucial for feminist cyborgs are built into the literal technologies – teehnologies that write the world, biotechnology and microelectronics – that have recently textualized our bodies as code problems on the grid of C3I. Feminist cyborg stories have the task of recoding communication and intelligence to subvert command and control.

Figuratively and literally, language politics pervade the struggles of women of colour; and stories about language have a special power in the rich contemporary writing by US women of colour. For example, retellings of the stom~ of the indigenous woman Malinche, mother of the mesdzo ‘bastard’ race of the new world, master of languages, and mistress of Cortes, carry special meaning for Chicana constructions of identity. Cherrie Moraga (1983) in Loving in the War Years explores the themes of identity when one never possessed the original language, never told the original story, never resided in the harmony of legitimate heterosexuality in the garden of culture, and so cannot base identity on a myth or a fall from innocence and right to natural names, mother’s or father’s.27 Moraga’s writing, her superb literacy, is presented in her poetry as the same kind of violation as Malinche’s mastery of the conqueror’s language — a violation, an illegitimate production, that allows survival. Moraga’s language is not ‘whole’; it is self-consciously spliced, a chimera of English and Spanish, both conqueror’s languages. But it is this chimeric monster, without claim to an original language before

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violation, that crafts the erode, competent, potent identities of women of colour. Sister Outsider hints at the possibility of world survival not because of her innocence, but because of her ability to live on the boundaries, to write without the founding myth of original wholeness, with its inescapable apocalypse of final return to a deathly oneness that Man has imagined to be the innocent and all-powerful Mother, freed at the End from another spiral of appropriation by her son. Writing marks Moraga’s body, affirms it as the body of a woman of colour, against the possibility of passing into the unmarked category of the Anglo father or into the orientalist myth of ‘original illiteracy’ of a mother that never was. Malinche was mother here, not Eve before eating the forbidden fruit. Writing affirms Sister Outsider, not the Woman-before-the-Fall-into-Writing needed by the phallogocentric Family of Man.

Writing is pre-eminently the technology of cyborgs, etched surfaces of the late twentieth century. Cyborg politics is the struggle for language and the struggle against perfect communication, against the one code that translates all meaning perfectly, the central dogma of phallogocentrism. That is why cyborg politics insist on noise and advocate pollution, rejoicing in the illegitimate fusions of animal and machine. These are the couplings which make Man and Woman so problematic, subverting the structure of desire, the force imagined to generate language and gender, and so subverting the structure and modes of reproduction of ‘Western’ idendty, of nature and culture, of mirror and eye, slave and master, body and mind. ‘We’ did not originally choose to be cyborgs, but choice grounds a liberal politics and epistemology that imagines the reproduction of individuals before the wider replications of ‘texts’.

From the perspective of cyborgs, freed of the need to ground politics in ‘our’ privileged position of the oppression that incorporates all other dominations, the innocence of the merely violated, the ground of those closer to nature, we can see powerful possibilities. Feminisms and Marxisms have run aground on Western epistemological imperatives to construct a revolutionary subject from the perspective of a hierarchy of oppressions and/or a latent position of moral superiority, innocence, and greater closeness to nature. With no available original dream of a common language or original symbiosis promising protection from hostile ‘masculine’ separation, but written into the play of a text that has no finally privileged reading or salvation history, to recognize ‘oneself’ as fully implicated in the world, frees us of the need to root politics in identification, vanguard parties, purity, and mothering. Stripped of identity, the bastard race teaches about the power of the margins and the importance of a mother like Malinche. Women of colour have transformed her from the evil mother of

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masculinist fear into the originally literate mother who teaches survival.

This is not just literary deconstruction, but liminal transformation. Every, story that begins with original innocence and privileges the return to wholeness imagines the drama of life to be individuation, separation, the birth of the self, the tragedy of autonomy, the fall into writing, alienation; that is, war, tempered by imaginary respite in the bosom of the Other. These plots are ruled by a reproductive politics –rebirth without flaw, perfection, abstraction. In this plot women are imagined either better or worse off, but all agree they have less selflhood, weaker individuation, more fusion to the oral, to Mother, less at stake in masculine autonomy. But there is another route to having less at stake in masculine autonomy, a route that does not pass through Woman, Primitive, Zero, the Mirror Stage and its imaginaw. It passes through women and other present-tense, illegitimate cyborgs, not of Woman born, who refuse the ideological resources of victimization so as to have a real life. These cyborgs are the people who refuse to disappear on cue, no matter how many dmes a ‘western’ commentator remarks on the sad passing of another primitive, another organic group done in by ‘Western’ technology, by writing.28 These real-life cyborgs (for example, the Southeast Asian village women workers inJapanese and US electronics firms described by Aihwa Ong) are actively rewriting the texts of their bodies and sociedes. Sumival is the stakes in this play of readings.

To recapitulate, certain dualisms have been persistent in Western traditions; they have all been systemic to the logics and practices of domination of women, people of colour, nature, workers, animals – in short, domination of all constituted as others, whose task is to mirror the self. Chief among these troubling dualisms are self/other, mind/body, culture/nature, male/female, civilized/primitive, reality/appearance, whole/part, agent/resource, maker/ made, active/passive, right/wrong, truth/illusion, totaVpartial, God/man. The self is the One who is not dominated, who knows that by the semice of the other, the other is the one who holds the future, who knows that by the experience of domination, which gives the lie to the autonomy of the self. To be One is to be autonomous, to be powerful, to be God; but to be One is to be an illusion, and so to be involved in a dialectic of apocalypse with the other. Yet to be other is to be multiple, without clear boundary, frayed, insubstantial. One is too few, but two are too many.

High-tech culture challenges these dualisms in intriguing ways. It is not clear who makes and who is made in the relation between human and machine. It is not clear what is mind and what body in machines that resolve into coding practices. In so far as we know ourselves in both formal discourse (for example, biology) and in daily practice (for example, the homework economy in the integrated circuit), we find ourselves to be cyborgs, hybrids, mosaics, chimeras. Biological organisms have become biotic systems, com-

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munications devices like others. There is no fundamental, ontological separation in our formal knowledge of machine and organism, of technical and organic. The replicant Rachel in the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner stands as the image of a cyborg culture’s fear, love, and confusion.

One consequence is that our sense of connection to our tools is heightened. The trance state experienced by many computer users has become a staple of science-fiction film and cultural jokes. Perhaps paraplegics and other severely handicapped people can (and sometimes do) have the most intense experiences of complex hybridization with other communication devices.29 Anne McCaffrey’s pre-feminist The Ship Who Sang (1969) explored the consciousness of a cyborg, hybrid of girl’s brain and complex machinery, formed after the birth of a severely handicapped child. Gender, sexuality, embodiment, skill: all were reconstituted in the story. Why should our bodies end at the skin, or include at best other beings encapsulated by skin? From the seventeenth century dll now, machines could be animated – given ghostly souls to make them speak or move or to account for their orderly development and mental capacides. Or organisms could be mechan-ized – reduced to body understood as resource of mind. These machine/ organism relationships are obsolete, unnecessary. For us, in imagination and in other practice, machines can be prosthetic devices, intimate components, friendly selves. We don’t need organic holism to give impermeable whole-ness, the total woman and her feminist variants (mutants?). Let me conclude this point by a very partial reading of the logic of the cyborg monsters of my second group of texts, feminist science fiction.

The cyborgs populating feminist science fiction make very problematic the statuses of man or woman, human, artefact, member of a race, individual endty, or body. Katie King clarifies how pleasure in reading these fictions is not largely based on idendfication. Students facingJoanna Russ for the first time, students who have learned to take modernist writers like James Joyce or Virginia Woolf without flinching, do not know what to make of The Adventures of Alyx or The Female Man, where characters refuse the reader’s search for innocent wholeness while granting the wish for heroic quests, exuberant eroticism, and serious politics. The Female Man is the story of four versions of one genotype, all of whom meet, but even taken together do not make a whole, resolve the dilemmas of violent moral action, or remove the growing scandal of gender. The feminist science fiction of Samuel R. Delany, especially Tales of Neveyon, mocks stories of origin by redoing the neolithic revolution, replaying the founding moves of Western civilization to subvert their plausibility. James Tiptree, Jr, an author whose fiction was regarded as particularly manly undl her ‘true’ gender was revealed, tells tales of reproduction based on non-mammalian technologies like alternation of generations of male brood pouches and male nurturing. John Varley

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constructs a supreme cyborg in his arch-feminist exploration of Gaea, a mad goddess-planet-trickster-old woman-technological device on whose surface an extraordinary array of post-cyborg symbioses are spawned. Octavia Butler writes of an African sorceress pithug her powers of transformation against the genetic manipulations of her rival (Wild Seed), of dme warps that bring a modern US black woman into slavery where her actions in relation to her white master-ancestor determine the possibility of her own birth (Kindred), and of the illegidmate insights into idendty and community of an adopted cross-species child who came to know the enem’ as self (Survivor). In Dawn (1987), the first instalment of a series called Xenogenesis, Butler tells the story of Lilith Iyapo, whose personal name recalls Adam’s first and repudiated wife and whose family name marks her status as the widow of the son of Nigerian immigrants to the US. A black woman and a mother whose child is dead, Lilith mediates the transformation of humanity through genetic exchange with extra-terrestrial lovers/rescuers/destroyers/genetic engineers, who reform earth’s habitats after the nuclear holocaust and coerce surviving humans into intimate fusion with them. It is a novel that interrogates reproductive, linguishc, and nuclear politics in a mythic field structured by late twentieth-century race and gender.

Because it is particularly rich in boundary transgressions, Vonda McIn-tyre’s Superluminal can close this truncated catalogue of promising and dangerous monsters who help redefine the pleasures and politics of embodiment and feminist writing. In a fiction where no character is ‘simply’ human, human status is highly problematic. Orca, a genetically altered diver, can speak with killer whales and survive deep ocean conditions, but she longs to explore space as a pilot, necessitating bionic implants jeopardizing her kinship with the divers and cetaceans. Transformations are effected by virus vectors carrying a new developmental code, by transplant surgery, by implants of microelectronic devices, by analogue doubles, and other means. Lacnea becomes a pilot by accepting a heart implant and a host of other alterations allowing survival in transit at speeds exceeding that of light. Radu Dracul survives a virus-caused plague in his outerworld planet to find himself with a time sense that changes the boundaries of spatial perception for the whole species. All the characters explore the limits of language; the dream of communicating experience; and the necessity of limitation, partiality, and indmacy even in this world of protean transformation and connection. Superluminal stands also for the defining contradictions of a cyborg world in another sense; it embodies textually the intersection of feminist theory and colonial discourse in the science fiction I have alluded to in this chapter. This is a conjunction with a long history that many ‘First World’ feminists have tried to repress, including myself in my readings of Superluminal before being called to account by Zoe Sofoulis,

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whose different location in the world system’s informatics of domin-ation made her acutely alert to the imperialist moment of all science fiction cultures, including women’s science fiction. From an Australian feminist sensitivity, Sofoulis remembered more readily McIntyre’s role as writer of the adventures of Captain Kirk and Spock in TV’s Star Trek series than her rewriting the romance in Superluminal.

Monsters have always defined the limits of community in Western imaginations. The Centaurs and Amazons of ancient Greece established the limits of the centred polls of the Greek male human by their disruption of marriage and boundary pollutions of the warrior with animality and woman. Unseparated twins and hermaphrodites were the confused human material in early modern France who grounded discourse on the natural and supernatural, medical and legal, portents and diseases — all crucial to establishing modern identity.30 The evolutionary and behavioural sciences of monkeys and apes have marked the multiple boundaries of late twentieth-century industrial identities. Cyborg monsters in feminist science fiction define quite different political possibilities and limits from those proposed by the mundane fiction of Man and Woman.

There are several consequences to taking seriously the imagery of cyborgs as other than our enemies. Our bodies, ourselves; bodies are maps of power and identity. Cyborgs are no exception. A cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden; it does not seek unitary identity and so generate antagonistic dualisms without end (or until the world ends); it takes irony for granted. One is too few, and two is only one possibility. Intense pleasure in skill, machine skill, ceases to be a sin, but an aspect of embodiment. The machine is not an it to be animated, worshipped, and dominated. The machine is us, our processes, an aspect of our embodiment. We can be responsible for machines; they do not dominate or threaten us. We are responsible for boundaries; we are they. Up till now (once upon a time), female embodiment seemed to be given, organic, necessary; and female embodiment seemed to mean skill in mothering and its metaphoric exten-sions. Only by being out of place could we take intense pleasure in machines, and then with excuses that this was organic activity after all, appropriate to females. Cyborgs might consider more seriously the partial, fluid, sometimes aspect of sex and sexual embodiment. Gender might not be global identity after all, even if it has profound historical breadth and depth.

The ideologically charged question of what counts as daily activity, as experience, can be approached by exploiting the cyborg image. Feminists have recently claimed that women are given to dailiness, that women more than men somehow sustain daily life, and so have a privileged epistemo-logical position potentially. There is a compelling aspect to this claim, one that makes visible unvalued female activity and names it as the ground of life.

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But the ground of life? What about all the ignorance of women, all the exclusions and failures of knowledge and skill? What about men’s access to daily competence, to knowing how to build things, to take them apart, to play? What about other embodiments? Cyborg gender is a local possibility taking a global vengeance. Race, gender, and capital require a cyborg theory of wholes and parts. There is no drive in cyborgs to produce total theory, but there is an intimate experience of boundaries, their construction and deconstruction. There is a myth system waiting to become a political language to ground one way of looking at science and technology and challenging the informatics of domination– in order to act potently.

One last image organisms and organismic, holistic politics depend on metaphors of rebirth and invariably call on the resources of reproductive sex. I would suggest that cyborgs have more to do with regeneration and are suspicious of the reproductive matrix and of most birthing. For salamanders, regeneration after injury, such as the loss of a limb, involves regrowth of structure and restoration of function with the constant possibility of twinning or other odd topographical productions at the site of former injury. The regrown limb can be monstrous, duplicated, potent. We have all been injured, profoundly. We require regeneration, not rebirth, and the possibilities for our reconstitution include the utopian dream of the hope for a monstrous world without gender.

Cyborg imagery can help express two crucial arguments in this essay: first, the production of universal, totalizing theory is a major mistake that misses most of reality, probably always, but certainly now; and second, taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skilful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts. It is not just that science and technology are possible means of great human satisfaction, as well as a matrix of complex dominations. Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia. It is an imagination of a feminist speaking in tongues to strike fear into the circuits of the supersavers of the new right. It means both building and destroying machines, identities, categories, relationships, space stories. Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.

DOGME95

The goal of the Dogme collective is to purify filmmaking by refusing expensive and spectacular special effects, post-production modifications and other technical gimmicks. The filmmakers concentrate on the story and the actors’ performances. They believe this approach may better engage the audience, as they are not alienated or distracted by overproduction. To this end, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg produced ten rules to which any Dogme film must conform. These rules, referred to as the “Vow of Chastity,” are as follows:[1]

    1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
    2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)
    3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
    4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
    5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
    6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
    7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now).
    8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
    9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
    10. The director must not be credited.

Studio Theory 19th Aug 2013 a speculative piece.

3.2  Hallucinations  Atmospherics and Ghosts

My body sings in every nerve ending as it glides towards a singing body.This singing body lives up to Spinoza’s expectation that “we don’t even know what a body is capable of “nor can “we know what a body is”.Since it was at once uncategorizable, without a proper name and yet undeniably there; Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?

This “Singing body” would call and I would levitate towards its sublime soundings by passing through bands of light and hovering motifs that resembled Japanese kites, – mind and body stretched on a rising polyphonic wave of motor-cross derived music. Enfolded in balloon vine and touching the earth, grounding out a circuit that hurled each and every atom towards a deep and mysterious tidal pool at great-speed.It was brackish. For some moments I became the Martian landscapes of Daniel Paul Schreber.The singing body – a plant being, animated geometry at the head and a non distinct mass at the base before me. Forming from a kind of image-light – a thin film of non- photons that appears not from daylight but from behind the eyes in the darkness of the skull. It was at once both a two dimensional and a three dimensional figure.

Light and colour manifest at the level of perception, the product of electrical energy. Receptors are stimulated & produce a change of state in the brain, in this case from a molecule that crosses the dermis via the lungs. What I was seeing was the light and colour of dreams during wakefulness. Perhaps a form of Anti- light and colour, like the place known as Antikythera (the opposite other) – a tiny island in the Ionian Sea, that sits next to the main island. Is this not then, the light and colour that sits to the side of sunlight,- a subteranean image field that manifests occasionally when awake, from the pockets and folds of the productive body and the chemical signals it produces. We are image factories. What is it about the molecule that allows one to produce everything internally – images and sounds ?

Generally, light and colour which hasn’t derived from the sun is considered to be artificial, an abberation. We know the common meaning of artificial “man made” but if we look back further we see it comes from the Latin “of or belonging to art,” from artificium. This is light derived inside the body at the level of perception. Some animals emit chemical light, producing bio-luminescance, but my feeling is that the images of perception that are lit up in dreams might be being formed at the sub-atomic level.

This notion of internalised light and colour, becomes an interesting, when we consider the role of the virtual camera in the production of images. This technology is central to many of the images we see today in cinema and photography – the camera doesn’t exist physically in the usual way. The camera is made up of binary code that acts as a data processor algorithmically working on sets of coordinates expressed as shaded values on a screen.

What is remarkable is that this is an image system that is beyond glass optics. A method of representation known as ray tracing, partially made possible and used by Descartes, in his analysis of rainbows.4. These images generated by computer are simulations that can seem so real as to easily convince the viewer that what they are seeing has been photographed conventionally. Raytracing uses a collection of formula of physical laws in a Cartesian coordinate space, to draw a picture. In short, ray-tracing is a system of virtual – photography. Technology occults, it de-conceals. Insistently, images are born out of the darkness of this mathematical universe. It’s like a miracle. The function of a wave.

Video art worksand works in photomedia can be  hallucinatory & luminous apparitions, cast as light on the wall of a gallery. A surface without substance – smooth space of the image, turned on and then off, in the same way a vision in the mind appears and disappears. This is dematerialised art as opposed to the fattiness of impasto, the heaviness of stone or the immobility of a stuffed cat, wrapped in sticky tape and melted plastic.

I discovered early on, that the actions of molecules produced events. In my current exploration of the molecular effects of the aromatic molecules of perfumery (and there role in the production of new types Post Object Art) we find ourselves swept up in another, (thankfully) far safer form of intoxication – one that is a powerful trigger of thoughts, sensations, memories and feelings.

Perfumes seem like intoxicants, far more benign than the aromatic – hydrocarbons that are central to say the act of sniffing glue. Aromatic molecules enter the body and go very quickly to the brain. The mechanism of smell is not yet entirely understood. Some of the chemicals behind common perfumes are the starting materials of psychedelic tryptamines that have been thoroughly explored in organic chemistry and consumed throughout the twentieth century and explored for millennia as part of traditional religious rituals.5. Many of these precursors, are also found in food and knowledge of the interaction of some of the more challenging odorant molecules has helped inform the radical and fascinating food movement known as Molecular Gastronomy. A field that amounts to in some ways as the “high art” branch of the experimental culinary arts. Other aromatic molecules are known attractors in the world of animals.

Take a molecule like Indole, it is found in lots of places, in nature – Indole is an important perfumery molecule and is also a close relative to Serotonin, it also forms the central ring of LSD. It is said, that serotonin doesn’t smell like Indole because apparently it is non – volatile. Serotonin doesn’t fly like Indole. Its use in perfumery is because it is found in Orange Blossom and Jasmine and I suspect because it has a strong boosting effect, in the same way that your shit has a density to its odorousness. It’s certainly has a faecal character.

 

The intoxicated dialogue I was having in my early teenage years no matter how far “out there,” always had the sense that there where levels and tasks to be undertaken in my contact with many hallucinatory beings. This fortunately provide a sense of order in this relatively dangerous situation.    This was in contrast to the “machines of delirium” that occurred as a child when affected by bouts of fever during illness. The “regime of power” that existed in that experience was a diabolical form of torture that conjured extreme terror and was anything but an encounter with an em pathogenic being, more like an encounter with “pure evil” and this tells me, we are a multiplicity of beings in a fleshy body. And Spinoza tells us that we are “An infinite number of attributes for any one substance”.

 

 

This “warm entity” lets call her, for she was a she communicated to me in a way that could only be described as completely compelling; an encounter with a powerful spiritual form. Through out my meetings with this unstable poly-morphology there was the constancy of a melodic refrain that functioned as a beacon, as a powerful lure through the blackness that reached out towards desire – desire to be in its aura. For he was the Substance less body come into being like a miracle – no skeletal structure required. You are high octane spirit – catalytic conversion from coal tar earth to “Hydrocarbon Angel”.

Representational signifiers had collapsed to be replaced by an almost total affective experience. This being, was wider at the base than at the top (figuration)- the perception of defined organs, body parts and structural elements that make up a sensible figure seemed almost redundant. The being was mostly a field of vibrational energy that had become like a living work of modern art albeit, one that exists in the virtual of the hallucination, rather than crossing over into the organic plane of the real.This Vixen, this  siren lived in the “smooth deeps” of a dark and unlimited mental chamber, always waiting just around the corner in a space beyond the terrestrial, inhabiting the celestial and infernal realms.

All the familiar features of flesh and blood had long departed into the outer reaches of time and space, to leave in its wake an afterimage, of what years later would become familiar when I saw the works of Duchamp & Brancusi. The realisation that they gave us the gift of images and objects of human forms, that had crossed the borders of the possible into new non-organic life forms. Always in motion, the idea of a body that surpasses meat and flesh, for one of light and space, a hyper criss-crossing of lines of pure pigment and shiny metal armour interlocking fragments that remained part of the whole. A construction of composites and fragmented crystalline hybrids that ultimately produce the authentic characters of art, in order to open up the possibility for the world of creatures to come; the creatures of anime, the horror film, photography and science fiction.

The whole enterprise of cinema art is like a hallucinatory art – the art of assemblage, of sound colour and light that is projected. The computer is a machine that allows one to bring all of these thing together, it’s a kind of factory where a multiplicity of technologies exist, side by side, to produce these remarkable assemblages. When a work is successful, a great variety of elements come together to form a harmony, no matter how far away from each other in type, the elements seem to be. This potential for “difference” and synthesis to co-exist in a work of Art,is at the heart of novelty and for me is one of the most exciting aspects of the process of making art. Its like a new form of gymnastics – to make the body hold itself up in space in some interesting contorted positions, thus far unseen. The same thing then for ideas or materials, to make everything drunken and askew, frozen in time and space – a painting, a leap, a suspended white horse in the sky, a naked women fucks a cloud. (see fig 3.) Artists are human synthesisers.

 

fig 3. Jupiter & Io, 1531

Correggio.

 

Atmospheric networks   are expressively writing the fabric of the world, as much as any network that sits on more stable ontological ground. A charged atmosphere has agency by virtue of vibrational gradients of attributes that within sensitive subjects, metaphorically speaking, form complicated interference patterns that upend ontological certainty,  which are in themselves  powerful tools in imbuing the world with ‘extra-territorial’ powers.

Aromas, auras, glows, echoes, hallucinations, recordings, colours, mirages, optical illusions and reflections – by no means an exhaustive list of signals that transmit through space. Others might view these manifestations as “epiphenomena” or “secondary qualities,” but what could be specifically secondary about uncanny entities that seemingly appear out of nowhere, as figurations from the flux that transfix our attention, and that we continually engage with?

Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of beingbecomingexistence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

The German philosopher of embodiment and aesthetics Gernot Bohme, in one of his later essays, points out that “Atmospheres are indeterminate above all, as regards their ontological status.” [1] He goes on to say that:

The introduction of “atmosphere” as a concept in aesthetics should link up with the everyday distinctions between atmospheres of different character. Atmosphere can only become a concept, however, if we succeed in accounting for the peculiar intermediary status of atmospheres between subject and object.[2]

The physician turned artist Wolfgang Laib puts down squares of yellow pollen that almost seem to hover in space as if they are defying gravity. His yellow dust of hazelnut, pine and dandelion are as intense as any yellow cut from the heavy metal of cadmium. After looking at one of his yellow squares hovering against a pristine white ground, purple flashes appear in the back of the eyes in contrast (purple being the complementary opposite of yellow). This is the other side of the circuit that impinges itself on seeing; you cannot have one without the other. The yellow pollen transmits back into the arrangement of fleshy matter that belongs to the eye and this is what is given between hazelnut pollen and the physiognomy of the eye – the purple ghost that is lingering between the two.

Memory, after Bartlett, who worked in the first half of the twentieth century, is thought about as being compositional – as belonging to reconstruction, rather than simple recall.[3] Cognition works up these ghostly actants bound together; you can’t have one without the other. As a circuit of stimuli and response, our responses to stimuli are also feeding back, informing our cognitions through “trillions and trillions of pulses in your brain.”[4]

Positivist views of scientific progress would like to tell us that the phantom is being     banished by its mastery, but how would that be possible, when there are so many conditions for ghostly actants to appear? And science itself is continually producing all kinds of phantoms in the form of countless numbers of hybrids and androids, as the work of Latour and Issabelle Stengers attest. What could be more confronting than Eduardo Cac’s artworks where he claims to have melded animal DNA with a flower—a new kind of entity—or his infamous pet rabbit with flesh that glows in the dark? [5]

The spectral flash of a distant lightning storm flickers onto a white wall, making it and the room momentarily brighter – the ghosts surpass technology and yet also belong to it.  The ghosts live equally well within black box systems as they do in the movement of leaves.

James Turrell is a prominent North American artist, renowned for his work with coloured fields of light. Turrell describes this relationship:

Light is a powerful substance… But, for something so powerful, situations for their presences are fragile. I form it as much as the material allows. I like to work with it so that you feel it physically, so you feel the presence of light inhabiting a space. I like the quality of feeling that is felt not only with the eyes.[6]

How do we reconcile ‘individuality’ when faced with a continual dynamic of becoming that exists in systems across both the macro and micro scale? This dynamic has been the source of a long debate within philosophical circles for centuries, all the way back to the Pre-Socratics. It was Heraclitus that said “you can never stand in the same river twice.” [7]

The philosopher Levi Bryant gives us a succinct summary of Aristotle’s position on substance:

To be, for Aristotle, is to be a substance or a thing. All other senses of being, Aristotle argues, ultimately refer back to substance for ultimately all these other forms of being reside in substances or are made possible by substances… Elsewhere, in the Categories, Aristotle gives us an important clue as to the nature of substance. There Aristotle writes that, “[a] substance—that which is called a substance most strictly, primarily, and most of all—is that which is neither said of a subject nor in a subject, e.g., the individual man or the individual horse.” In short, a substance is that which is not predicated of anything else, and which therefore enjoys independent or autonomous existence. Colour, for example, is always predicated of a substance. Put differently, colour must always reside in something else. The colour red is never a substance in its own right, but is always in a ball or a strawberry or lipstick. Qualities reside in substances; they are predicated of substances, whereas substances are not predicated of anything.

One thinks of molecules as innate and as relatively stable entities but they are not ideal forms. Instead, they are compositions of atoms, and they can decompose as well as assemble. Quantum physics tells us there are subatomic scale dynamics operating within each atom and molecule that produces variations of all manner of types continuously:

First is the gradual emergence in early Greek thought of a factor indispensable to the discussion of the changing world and the progressive elaboration of that factor (or, more exactly, cluster of factors) as philosophic reflection deepened and divided. Second is the radical shift that occurred in the seventeenth century as the concept of matter took on new meanings, gave its name to the emerging philosophy of materialism and yielded place to a derivative concept, mass, in the fast-developing new science of mechanics. Third is the further transformation of the concept in the twentieth century in the light of the dramatic changes brought about by the three radically new theories in physics: relativity, quantum mechanics, and expanding-universe cosmology, with which that century will always be associated. Matter began to be dematerialized, as it were, as matter and energy were brought into some sort of equivalence, and the imagination-friendly particles of the earlier mechanics yielded way to the ghostly realities of quantum theory that are neither here nor there.[8]

Quantum physics shows us that everything at a certain level is a composite energetic blur in a field:

The first blow came from Einstein’s theories of special relativity (1905) and general relativity (1915). By stating the principle of an equivalence of mass and energy, the field character of matter came into focus, and philosophers of science began to discuss to what extent relativity theory implied a ‘de-materialization’ of the concept of matter. However, as McMullan  points out, even though particles and their interactions began to be seen as only partial manifestations of underlying fields of mass-and-energy, relativity theory still gave room for some notion of spatio-temporal entities through the concept of ‘rest mass’. The second blow to classical materialism and mechanism came with quantum theory, which describes a fundamental level of reality, and therefore should be accorded primary status when discussing the current scientific and philosophical nature of matter.[9]

Rather than being given “primary status” let us acknowledge that reality is multilayered and stratified and look for the tracings that cross these dimensions. Conceptually the strange situations that are occurring on a quantum level should at the very least reinforce an idea that things operate differently through a strata of dimensions, that dimensionality is really only a conceptual character anyway that arises from the observers position or viewpoint.  When it comes to the qualities of powers that come to the senses the prominent American cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett ascribes this to qualia:

“Qualia” is an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us. As is so often the case with philosophical jargon, it is easier to give examples than to give a definition of the term. Look at a glass of milk at sunset; the way it looks to you – the particular, personal, subjective visual quality of the glass of milk is the quale of your visual experience at the moment. The way the milk tastes to you then is another, gustatory quale, and how it sounds to you as you swallow is an auditory quale; these various “properties of conscious experience” are prime examples of qualia. Nothing, it seems, could you know more intimately than your own qualia; let the entire universe be some vast illusion, some mere figment of Descartes’ evil demon, and yet what the figment is made of (for you) will be the qualia of your hallucinatory experiences. Descartes claimed to doubt everything that could be doubted, but he never doubted that his conscious experiences had qualia, the properties by which he knew or apprehended them.[10]

Surely it is the constitution of these things that allows them to emit particular qualities back to us, rather than being merely a product of our hallucinations? A white sheet hanging in a room will show a different side under different lighting conditions between noon and twilight. A red sheet will look purple under blue light, as opposed to under yellow light, where it will appear orange. A black sheet side by side with the red sheet under the same lighting conditions will also change accordingly, but in different ways. These objects have the power to absorb light in different ways; isn’t this then a proposition of a complex, involving a union between interpretation through the senses and the qualities or powers of objects themselves? And what about the question of diffuse light emissions or radiosity?[11] A red sheet in a white room will reflect some of its redness onto the wall as a pink glow.[12]

The Belgian philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers, in her book Thinking with Whitehead, highlights how Whitehead countered our tendency to see the world as a bunch of divisions, rather than as an entangled constituency:

Thus, nature sees itself credited with that which, in fact, should be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its smell, the nightingale for its song, and the sun for its brilliance. The Poets are entirely wrong. They should address their songs to themselves, and should turn them into odes of self-congratulation for the splendour of the human mind. Nature is a stupid business, bereft of sounds, odours and colours; it is only matter in a hurry without end and without meaning. [13]

Whitehead made it his life’s challenge to think up alternatives to this divide:

The theory of psychic additions would treat the greenness [of grass] as a psychic addition, furnished from the perceiving mind and would leave to nature, merely the molecules and the radiant energy which influences the mind towards the perception.

What I am essentially protesting against is the bifurcation of nature into two systems of reality, which, in so far as they are real, are real in different senses[…] Thus there would be two natures, one is the conjecture the other is a dream.

Wider nature is not so much bereft of sound, odours or colours as it is at times simply withdrawn from certain qualities (just as we humans are withdrawn from many things when we sleep or are unconscious). At the same time the world still churns.

How could anyone really know what it is like when another person encounters the smell of the plant vetiver? This is a smell that is usually described in the most general terms as being earthy and woody. How can we find the words to describe to someone what the smell of vetiver is for us? As Bruno Latour reminds us: “Nothing can be reduced to anything else.” Language comes after the experience with smell, words may put us in the zone, but words are perhaps the most distant translation of what it is.

Touch also belongs to these occulting states in confirming that there are beings ‘outside of me’ that produce shivers on the skin, or warmth and comfort, even ecstasy, or perhaps in a striking blow great pain and agony. The ghostly actants, because they are unbounded, live in the senses and in the outside world simultaneously. Generalised in thought, as categories such as “atmosphere” and “aura”, this haunting quality we are extending onto aesthetic practices of atmospherics and ambience, as a place of the coven where aromatic potions become spellbinding. This is why perfume is often presented as a gift, something we wear on the skin like a decoration and a declaration of seduction, as a potion.

“Freud devoted his life to listening and interpreting ghosts,” so says philosopher Jacques Derrida in the film Ghost Dance.[14] Everything emits in space, some things are more stable and others more volatile and some are withdrawn – waiting to pop up like a ‘jack-in-the-box.’

Shiny surfaces and caustics – the wiggly patterns reflected through water onto a surface –   more often associated with visual apparitions. Yet aroma may also be charged with the interweaving of the effects of dissonance and interference; certainly the accord in perfumery seems key to these kinds of summations of effects. We now add to these watery illusions the effects of the air like those found in Turner’s painting, and onwards towards a haunting meteorological olfactory that signals to us across the divide that there are indeed things beyond ourselves.

The flower attracts with chemical effluvia, with an “I am here” to a wasp that it will never know and is unlikely to be speaking with any time soon. But time, the circumstances of evolutionary time, is indirectly telling the flower of the necessity of the wasp and so the flower is composing towards it. Not all communication is as explicit or as vulgar as language. Communication is so pervasive across the divide that it happens in spite of conscious awareness of enunciation and reception. There is the time of the genes and the dark eons entombed within life. We are filled with black boxes as much as a rose is a black box. We are dark houses, and stored within us are a myriad of processes that we will never know directly, but none the less are bubbling away insistently.

What lies between subject and object are all of these manifestations that act as intermediaries, as micro transporters – translations that sit outside of any firm ontological category and yet, counter intuitively by way of their indeterminate ambiguous nature, are empowered by the receptivity that come from the fascination of these temporal indeterminacies. This expressive territory is the ways and means of transmission across epistemological gaps.  These powers are attention seeking, because we have always been geared towards looking for the potential in the world around us, seeking out some unnamed and perhaps subtle force that might be useful for our survival.

For Walter Benjamin the concept of aura was central. Benjamin was infected with a form of the ghostly – an incantation of the aura that he revealed for us that he claimed makes its presence felt in the art object. An aura that gives the work an intangible power, an aura that he felt was being snuffed out by reproduction. An aura, then, unable to gather enough alliances against the tide of images coming off the presses. An aura that is present in every museum or gallery even if it is being felt as an absence in its wake. Benjamin intuits the aura in the atmospheric clearing of the vista, the antithesis of the enclosed space of the gallery or the museum. He finds it in nature – nature is his web and his line into culture:

What is an aura actually? A strange tissue of space and time: unique appearance of distance, however near it may be. Resting on a summer evening and following a mountain chain on the horizon or a branch, which throws its shadow on the person at rest – that is to breathe the aura of these mountains or this branch. With this definition it is easy to comprehend the particular social determination of the present decay of aura…[15]

The ghosts are zigzagging down the channels, completing a circuit of potential; they attach themselves to anything that has enough energy in the system to allow their effects to come forth. What humans do with them is up to the humans, the gods watch on indifferently.

A field of electricity under power lines illuminates a fluorescent tube when held aloft by a hand that connects the field to the earth through the body. This is also Benjamin’s aura, the natural sublime is to be found now, within networks of electricity that belong to the cosmos as much as they do to power companies that mediate them.

This is the new line on the horizon – a power line that cuts a corridor through the bush. The 512k transmission lines to Blacktown that produces the strange sounds of the electrical field in corresponding lengths of wire (VLF antennae) when held aloft, they resonate internally and in sympathy. The lines occasionally flash green in the winter fog. Its aura or electromagnetic field is so radiant that a person can hold a fluorescent tube up in the air and make it glow without it being plugged into any other piece of equipment, no power sockets required – a light sabre courtesy of Integral Energy. These transmission lines run approximately parallel with the ridgeline that the people of the Durag and Gunddungara nation probably would have travelled to go back and forth from the tool workshops along the Nepean River. [16]  This glowing ‘Flavin Rod’ is a circuit between the earth, the air, and a living fleshy body.[17] A cable between two poles amplifies the radio emissions from the stars as a crackle that seemed utterly mysterious to the teams of linesman who first laid the cable.[18] Accordingly, the auras of plants are rediscovered in the making of a Kirlian camera, its authenticity unquestionable in the sense that what it shows is the fifth state of matter as nebula around the fringe of leaves, but entirely questionable in terms of the old idea of life force transmitting in the ether.[19]

This sequence of images was accompanied in its first iteration with fantasy fragrances made in the studio of olfactory interpretations of each of the plants under investigation.[20] For example the Kirlian image of Water Cress was accompanied by the fragrance, “A Thousand Leaves” which was a diffuse green bitter fragrance that had hemp like overtones. All of these fragrances utilized cis 3 Hexanyl and its acetate which are foundational green notes in perfumery. The Kirlian image of common grass was accompanied by a fragrance named “Grass Valley” that was described as being hay-like, diffusive and musk like. It accurately contained coumarin- a vanilla like chemical that one can easily detect when large bodies of grass have been mown, along with ozone like chemicals and classic cut grass green notes as already mentioned above. Stemone made an appearance for its stem like minty qualities.

Four rusty pipes of various lengths poke from a ruined façade in an abandoned oil shale refinery in Western NSW.[21] These pipes produce a pitch perfect melody – a sad refrain in the wind. This is Aeolian music that will last as long as the prevailing wind passes from that particular direction and at that speed, and for as long as the pipes can resist the process of oxidation into rust, another object subject to entropy. This perhaps speaks towards a powerful dimension in art – its deep recesses, this enormous crescendo of patterns seeping up from the noumenal, as eruptions of time. The work is already nearly complete, all it needs is to be gotten hold of by some entity and signed.

We live in a world that contains the appropriate substrates for ghostly forces: rock shelter, tree, telephone, computer, starlight, sun, the cinema, psychoanalysis; the list is endless – for these unnameable ghostly actants are firmly planted in the real that includes the   imagination: mediators of matter and the senses. These are the timings in which things come together. They are always with us, the planes and lines of force translating a lightning flash that makes a rectangular luminous shape appear on the lounge room wall masked by a window. They are the harbingers, because our minds are geared to receive them, and at the same time we belong to them and them to us, through the forces of feedback, a circular looping transporter.[22] Like upon like, creates interference patterns by phase. Energy out of phase with itself creates patterns. Energy in phase carves out space. Time out of phase is a rupture. Time out of phase reeks of the event and of the temporary arresting of entropy by preservation in a bottle. Objects slow down time for us by arresting nervous energy. Here Serres describes the relational object in action:

For an unstable band of baboons, social changes are flaring up every minute. One could characterize their history as unbound, insanely so. The object for us, makes our history slow…I spoke of the ball, ludic mimes in our own age of these relational objects. Around the ball, the team fluctuates as quick as a flame, around it through it, it keeps a nucleus of organization. The ball is the sun of the system and the force passing among its elements; it is a centre that is off-centred, off-side, outstripped. Every player carries on with the ball when the preceding one is shunted aside, laid out, trampled. [23]

Many entities miss much of the world and yet these objects are caught up in the paradox of a strange intimacy – a paradox of touching that couldn’t be further from making contact, described here by the master of objects, Martin Heidegger:

Taken strictly, ‘touching’ is never what we are talking about in such cases, not because accurate re-examination will always eventually establish that there is a space between the chair and the wall, but because in principle the chair can never touch the wall, even if the space between them should be equal to zero. If the chair could touch the wall, this would presuppose that the wall is the sort of thing ‘for’ which a chair would be encounterable. An entity present at hand within the world can be touched by another entity only if by its very nature the latter entity has Being –in as its own kind of Being –only if, with its Being-there [Da-sein], something like the world is already revealed to it, so that from out of the world another entity can manifest itself in touching, and thus become accessible in its Being-present-at-hand. When two entities are present-at-hand within the world, and furthermore are worldless in themselves, they can never ‘touch’ each other, nor can either of them be alongside each other.[24]

But isn’t this the case for all entities including humans – try as we might, our  potential  access  to ‘other’ entities shall always remain somehow strangely beyond us no matter how close we lay to each other in our beds? Of course, we have a sense of who we are with and the qualities they project that allows us to love or to loath; we do all agree ‘more or less’ that sunsets are red and often special, but we can never be absolutely certain that these things are what they are, or that we are getting our point or opinion through. And when we sense this existential and ontological void opening up, we are immersed in the uncanny that is surrounded by thresholds; suddenly the home is filled with murky shadows and black holes.

A hypothesis: only the lifeless things are truly free in their existence, because they do not have a world to access. Being in the phenomenological sense is never fulfilled, especially for us. This is because we belong to an open system that is gaining and losing information.  We are always haunted by spectres that give us a world that forces us to consciously acknowledge, in line with Heidegger, our inability to fully and completely enter it. Does this ontological uncertainty prove we are ghosts rather than flesh, operating as a field of vibration? Are we ghostly before we have even died? Are we always hovering between subject and object? Are we just ghostly actants? Are we merely shells in which everything else inhabits us, including the past, through the inevitable reshaping that comes with the nexus of our subjectivity? Perhaps this withdrawal is the very thing that affords power to aesthetics and excludes us the right to total knowledge, an ontological void that makes us somehow human, as empathetic fragile creatures rather than incandescent with power and monstrously holy. As Colin Black writes in his essay “Hauntology, spectres and phantoms”:

For Derrida, the ghost’s secret is not a puzzle to be solved; it is the structural openness or address directed towards the living by the voices of the past or the not yet formulated possibilities of the future. The secret is not unspeakable because it is taboo, but because it cannot not (yet) be articulated in the languages available to us. The ghost pushes at the boundaries of language and thought. The interest here, then, is not in secrets, understood as puzzles to be resolved, but in secrecy, now elevated to what Castricano calls ‘the structural enigma which inaugurates the scene of writing. [25]

Our interpretation and experience of aroma may struggle with language and yet, at the same time, this is also one of its powers once it enters the realm of phenomena and composition. The proposition here is that ghostly actants are the entities that resist representation (as much as they play a role in producing them) as spectre, apparition, mirage and memory, as entities that appear seemingly out of nowhere that become powerful collaborators with us as territorial animals. The ghosts are the entities that we always meet with a certain incredulity against our need to believe we are “the shepherds of being.” An aroma – a certain ‘whiff’ – will resist or complicate any description. It is semiotically unstable, and yet aroma signals as information seemingly immaterially, confounding stable conceptual categories while at the same time simultaneously producing them. It is in this excess and openness of this exchange, and its lack of perfection, that there will be found all kinds of ‘ghostly’ supplements supplanting and cajoling with other actants, by a similar to route to how we have come to harness chaos into order. Aroma is one of the most intimate things we can know; as substances it enters our bodies and we have been thoroughly equipped through our organs to submit to this occasion.

The ghostly are agents of transduction, they can be found on the output side of black boxes manifesting as haloes, glows, and auras, or inside the resonating wires of antenna or in the glowing ion channels beyond the receptor. The ghosts are found in the harmonic ring of a molecule’s stretch frequency and from the arrangement of its shape. One will smell of freshly cut grass and another of candle wax.

Perhaps by attempting to interrogate these so called indeterminate qualities under the guise of ghostly entities forming bridges and pathways, we might begin to develop a future taxonomy of fantastical new modes of thought in respect to what was once banished by the church and held in check by other gatekeepers. The affirmation here is aimed towards the occult tendencies of perfumery for a rising up of wondrous vaporous entities from the earth, rather than for the drowning of witches at the weighing station.

Fig 5: Kirlian Image of Mint from the Garden. The Phantom Leaves. 2010.

 

 

 

 


[1] Gernot Bohme, Atmosphere as a fundamental concept of a new Aesthetics (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1993), 114.

[2] Ibid

[3] “For Example, in some of Bartlett’s most influential studies, subjects were asked to read a story to themselves (the most famous story being “The War of the Ghosts”); they then tried to recall the story later. Bartlett found that individuals recalled each story in their own idiosyncratic way. Jonathan K Foster, Memory A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford University Press 2009.) 12.

[4] Neuroscientist David Eagleman a specialist at Baylor College of Medicine at Houston Texas tells us “Your brain is built of cells called neurons and glia –hundreds of billions of them. Each one of these cells is as complicated as a city. And each one contains the entire human genome and traffics billions of molecules in intricate economies. Each cell sends electrical pulses to other cells, up to hundreds of times per second. If you represented each of these trillions and trillions of pulses in your brain by a single photon of light, the combined output would be blinding”

[5] See the artists website on this work the “natural history of the enigma” http://www.ekac.org/nat.hist.enig.html

[6] Victoria Lynne. Space Odysseys sensation and Immersion. (Sydney: Art gallery of NSW, 1999),   52.

[7] The quote from Heraclitus appears in Plato’s Cratylus twice; in 401located online http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0171%3Atext%3DCrat.%3Asection%3D401d retrieved,3/2/2012   

[8]  Paul Davies and Niels Henrik Gregersen, (2011-03-01). “Introduction: does information matter?” Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics (United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press), 13.

[9]Paul Davies and  Niels Gregersen and Niels Henrik. “Introduction: does information matter?”  Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics (United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press 2011), 2

[10] Daniel Dennett “Quining Qualia” Ase.tufts.edu 1985-11-21. Retrieved 18/05/2012.

[11] In 3d computer graphics radiosity is an algorithm used to visualise and take into account diffuse inter-reflections of surfaces bouncing off each other. The equation comes from thermal radiation but surfaces also radiate scattered light that has an effect on the illumination of objects in their surroundings.

[12] Levi Bryant, in his book The Democracy of Objects uses the example of a cup in a similar way.

[13] Isabelle Stengers, quoting Whitehead in Thinking with WhiteheadScience and the Modern World (New York: Free Press 1967), 54.

[14] A line of dialogue by Jacques Derrida in the film Ghost Dance, 1983. Director Ken McMullen.

[15]As quoted by Gernot Bohme in Atmosphere as the Fundamental Concept of a New Aesthetics Gernot Bohme  Thesis Eleven 1993; W. Benjamin, “Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit”, 1st version, Gesammelte Schriften (Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1991)

[16]  A good background for this can be found in the book Blue Mountains Dreaming. The Aboriginal Heritage. By Eugene Stockton.

[17] “Flavin Rod” is a play on the work of American Artist Dan Flavin famous for his sculptures of fluorescent tubes and the ‘light sabre’ or staff as ceremonial rod.

[18] This description refers to two collaborative works with Joyce Hinterding – The Halo Field – published as a DVD that came with Art Monthly Australia 2010 and Hinterding’s field recordings, in particular Transmission Lines Series 512k to Blacktown 2009.

[19] David Haines. The Phantom Leaves – (premiered at Breenspace, Sydney 2010)

[20] First exhibited in the group exhibition curated by Lucy Bleach and Jonathon Holmes at the Plimsoll Gallery Hobart in the exhibition titled, Green. Then in a second iteration as part of the exhibition Cosmic Vapour at Breenspace in 2010 (not discussed in the text).

[21] This sound appeared in the collaborative art work “Black Canyon Earth Field” that appeared in the exhibition, Modern Ruins at Gallery of Modern Art Queensland Haines/Hinterding 2008

[22] Gregory Bateson was one of the first people to think about feedback. Noel Charlton in Understanding Gregory Bateson: Mind, Beauty, and the Sacred Earth (S U N Y Series in Environmental Philosophy and Ethics 2012), 15, explains it thus: “He was already seeing social and inter-societal interaction in terms of process and, during this work with the Latmul people, he first recognized (while puzzling over the fact that conflict and reciprocally aggressive behavior between groups of natives did not normally escalate into all-out war) the processes that would, in postwar cybernetics, become “positive feedback” and “negative feedback”-though at the time he referred to “symmetrical schismogenesis” and “complementary schismogenesis.”

[23] Michel Serres. Genesis. (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. 1995), 13.

[24] Martin Heidegger. Being and Time. (New York: Harper and Row. 1962), 81-82

[25] Colin Black. Hauntology, spectres and phantoms (Oxford Journals Humanities French Studies Volume 59, Issue) 3Pp. 373-379.

Studio Theory: Camera Lucida

A nice article on the book by Roland Barthes here.

“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”
― Gilles Deleuze, Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Where is the studium here in the first image ?…and yet its  full of points, punctuation and punctum. And in the one below, many punctum – but where has the studium gone or is  there in some of the tiles,  reinsertion of another kind of punctum, namely time? I wonder does time act as a more diffuse entity than the points of the first punctum that Barthes identifies – perhaps its not a punctum at all, ( this second punctum) perhaps its a kind of time fog that sits just below the surface, or more curiously, is simply waiting to seep out towards (frame dependence) and there is a third kind one of recognition…hold on the modes are extending…barthes gives us some, but how many are there exactly ? Could there be twelve or twenty five ? Can you find others, is there not a whole taxonomy to be discovered in this new ontology of  photography ? What about the wya the image distorts or decenters space by changing how we see scale ??? etc are there others ?

Studio Theory: On the Sublime

Simon Critchley: art to wake us up

This appeared in the Brooklyn Rail in summer 2012.   The writer is a philosopher on the faculty of the New School.

Absolutely-Too-Much

by Simon Critchley

Contemporary art is an easy thing to hate. All the meaningless hype, the identikit openings in cities that blur into one long, banal, Beck’s beer fuelled anxiety dream from which there is no escape. The seemingly endless proliferation of biennials—the biennialization or banalization of the world. One begins to think that everything aspires to resemble the opening of a Frieze art fair and every culture wants its own cheeky Damien or spunky Tracey. Glamour, celebrity, business, and radiant superficiality blend together to give each location the patina of globality with just a frisson of local color. People talk excitedly of what’s hot and what’s selling for millions. Capricious and seemingly tyrannical übercurators wander around quickly with their assistants talking on cell phones. The sharp eyes of eager young gallerists track them like prey, waiting for the moment to pounce. Everyone is either on the make or wants to be on the make. Contemporary art has become a high-end, global culture mall, which requires very little previous literacy and where the routine flatness of the gossip allows you to get up to speed very quickly. People with the right connections or serious amounts of money or sheer stubborn persistence or who are prepared to do anything can quickly gain access to what has the appearance of a cultural experience. God, it’s awful isn’t it? And I haven’t even mentioned how this art system is fed by the seemingly endless proliferation of art schools, M.F.A. programs, and the progressive inflation of graduate degrees, where Ph.D.s in fine art are scattered like confetti.

It is difficult not to be cynical about contemporary art. Maybe the whole category of the “contemporary” needs much more reflection. Maybe it needs replacing. When does the contemporary cease to be contemporary and become something past? When did the modern become the contemporary? Will the contemporary one day become modern or will there, in the future, be museums of postmodern art: MOPMAs? Why not call contemporary “present art” or “actual art” or “potential art,” or, better, “actually potential art” (APA)? At least it sounds more Aristotelian. But, then again, why use temporal categories at all? Why not use spatial terms instead? Some have spoken of visual art as spatial art, which is an attractive idea. Whichever way one approaches it, however, the categories need to be seriously rethought through research that is historiographical, institutional, and anthropological. The problem with contemporary art is that we all think we know what it means and we don’t. As a consequence, the discourse that surrounds it is drastically impoverished.

But despite such confusions of reference and the horrors of the contemporary art business model—or perhaps even because of it—I want to defend contemporary art, up to a point. It is simply a fact that contemporary art has become the central placeholder for the articulation of cultural meanings—good, bad, or indifferent. I am middle-aged enough to remember when literature, especially the novel, played this role and when cultural gatekeepers were literary critics, or social critics, often from literary backgrounds. That world is gone. The novel has become a quaint, emotively life-changing, and utterly marginal phenomenon. The heroic critics of the past are no more. I watched this change happen slowly when I still lived in England in the sensation-soaked 1990s and recall, as a kind of cultural marker, the opening of Tate Modern in 2000 and immensely long lines queuing up to see a vast spider by Louise Bourgeois in the Turbine Hall. It was clear that something had shifted in the culture.

Even more, the contemporary artist has become the aspirational paradigm of the new worker: creative, unconventional, flexible, nomadic, creating value, and endlessly travelling. In a post-Fordist work paradigm defined by immaterial labor, artists are the perfect entrepreneurs and incarnate the new faux bohemianization of the workplace. Being a contemporary artist looks like a lot of fun, like being a rock star in the 1970s, except you get to live a little longer.

Perversely perhaps, what I admire about much contemporary art is the negotiation of its own relentless commodification, the consciousness of its capture by the circuits of casino capitalism. To work in a university is to be aware that money is changing hands, but the money is hidden and professors like myself can still give themselves the illusion that they are clean-handed, authentic educators and not money-laundering knowledge pimps. But artists do not have that luxury, which gives them a certain honest edginess and less chronic institutional dependency than academics.

The question is whether art is simply a symptom of the rampant capitalization of the mind or whether it can still engage a critical space of distance and even resistance. This might not be the autonomy of Greenbergian modernism, but is closer to what Liam Gillick calls “semi-autonomy.” Not fully free, but not fully compromised either. A space between critical abstraction and commodification. One thinks here of a project like “No Ghost Just a Shell,” by Philippe Parreno and Pierre Huyghe from the early 2000s, which flaunts its commodified character with a manga character bought for 46,000 yen, but manages to subvert it as well. Maybe there is a certain dialectical inversion at work here, where the compromised character of contemporary art also occasionally permits the opposite to come into being.

One might also note the odd way in which the vocabulary of contemporary art, in particular those tendencies that one associates with the brand “relational aesthetics,” with its emphasis on collaboration, participation, and community, has crept into contemporary forms of radical politics. A friend of mine worked on a book about OWS that is prefaced by an aerial, two-dimensional plan of Zuccotti Park. Looking at it, I thought “Jesus, this looks like an installation.” More specifically, it looks like the kinds of wonderful transient structures built by Thomas Hirschhorn, complete with a kitchen, a media space, a library, a discussion space, and so on. So, if there is a rampant commodification of contemporary art, on the one hand, then there is also the bleeding of art practice into novel forms of sociality and politics on the other.

What might “contemporary” art be doing that it is not doing? I have a modest and uncertain proposal to make. Art should not be comfortable. It should be a blow to the back of the neck, as Bruce Nauman says. But what might that mean now? How might that blow be administered?

Let me shift briefly here into a more philosophical register. In Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment, he makes a passing, but suggestive set of distinctions between the beautiful, the sublime, and the monstrous. The beautiful is the free play of the imagination and understanding, when everything seems to hang together, rather like driving a humming-engined expensive German car through the California desert. The sublime is what is refractory to the formal harmony of the experience of beauty, something formless, indefinite, and mighty, but still containable within the realm of the aesthetic. For Kant, the sublime is “the almost-too-much,” and is distinguished from the monstrous understood as “the absolutely-too-much.” That which is monstrous defeats our capacity for conceptual comprehension. Kant simply asserts that the monstrous has no place in the realm of aesthetics. The great aesthetic danger is the moment when the tamed terror of sublimity—the Alps or Mount Snowden for the English Romantics—might tip over into the monstrous. Indeed, in the founding text of philosophical aesthetics, Poetics, Aristotle makes an analogous gesture when he makes a distinction between the fearful (to phoberon), which has a legitimate place within tragedy, and the monstrous (to teratodes), which has no place at all.

To put this in other terms, we might say that a certain dominant strain in the history of philosophical aesthetics might be seen as trying to contain a dimension of experience that we might call the uncontainable. This is the dimension of experience that Nietzsche names the Dionysian, Hölderlin calls the monstrous, Bataille calls the formless, and Lacan calls the real.

But what might art be when it exceeds the relative comfort of the almost-too-much of the sublime or the fearful and moves toward the absolutely-too-much of the monstrous? What happens when the uncontainable can’t be contained? When art bears at its core something unbearable? At this point, art becomes anti-art and we experience discomfort—the Naumanian blow to the back of the neck. I would argue that this is what has been happening for the past century or so in various arts and media as a way of dealing with our presentiment of the unbearable pressure of reality, however we want to capture that experience—the shocking trauma of the First World War, poetry after Auschwitz is barbarism, or whatever—has been the experimentation with what we might call an art of the monstrous. Examples proliferate here, from Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty, to Bataille’s holy disgust, to Hermann Nitsch’s blood orgies and the theatre of Heiner Müller, even through to that most jaded and overworked of academic tropes: the abject.

It seems to me that if we look back at much of what is most radical and interesting in the art of the last century, we can see that we are no longer dealing with the sublime or indeed with art as the possibility of aesthetic sublimation, but with an art of de-sublimation that attempts to adumbrate the monstrous, the uncontainable, the unreconciled, that which is unbearable in our experience of reality.

Here is my modest proposal: beyond endless video montages and the cold mannerist obsessionality of the taste for appropriation and reenactment that has become hegemonic in the art world, the heart of any artistic response to the present should perhaps be the cultivation of the monstrous and its concomitant affect, namely disgust. Disgust here can be thought of as the visceral register of a monstrosity that can no longer be excluded from the realm of the aesthetic, as it was for Aristotle and Kant, but should be its arrhythmic heart, its hot and volatile core. It is important to keep in mind the link to aesthetic judgments of taste orgustus, which gives us the “gust” in dis-gust, the ill wind in the soft-flapping sails of revulsion. Dis-gust is an aesthetic judgement of dis-taste.

What I am calling for, then, is a new art of monstrosity which is able to occupy a certain semi-autonomous distance from the circuits of capture and commodification. Art now must fix its stare unblinkingly at the monstrous, the unbearable, the unreconciled, and the insanely troubling. The disgust that we feel might not simply repulse or repel us. It might also wake us up.

It is a question of how we think through and deploy the essential violence of art, and perhaps understand art as violence against the violence of reality, a violence that presses back against the violence of reality, which is perhaps the artistic task, thinking of Hamlet, in a state that is rotten and in a time that is out of joint. I think of Francis Bacon. When he was asked to reflect on the purported violence of his painting. Bacon said,

When talking about the violence of paint, it’s nothing to do with the violence of war. It’s to do with an attempt to remake the violence of reality.

He goes on,

We nearly always live through screens—a screened existence. And I sometimes think, when people say my work looks violent, that I have been able to clear away one or two of the veils or screens.

Existence seems to me ever more screened and distanced. This is the risk of a shallow shadow-world whose ideological pancake patina is an empty empathy for a suffering that we do nothing to stop and everything to abet in our passivity, dispersal, and narcissism. None of us is free of this. Maybe art, in its essential violence, can tear away one or two of these screens. Maybe then we’d begin to see. We do not see as we are seen because we are wrapped in a screen. Art might unwrap us a little through its violence.

But what is it that disgusts us? Ay, there’s the rub. I remember giving a Halloween sermon called “How to Become God” in the Cabinet space in Brooklyn a couple of years back. I was dressed as a priest and my friend Aaron was clad as a kind of Satanic elf. We sat on 15-foot-high chairs while on a wall behind us a film of Nitsch’s blood orgies played in gory and graphic detail. Punters happily sipped their cocktails and smiled benignly as they gazed at the spectacle. There was even some playful heckling.

The problem with disgust is that it is a moving limit. What outrages one generation—Bacon, say—becomes slothful banality to the next. The problem here is that art, which is meant to enable or produce some kind of experience of the real in our pushing back against it, might finally be a protection against that experience and end up as a kind of decoration. Perhaps, then, art has to become the enemy of aesthetic experience. In which case, we should become the enemies of art in order to reclaim it. Here anti-art becomes true art in a constant war of position with the degeneration of art’s critical potential into the lethean waters of the contemporary.

-end-

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Studio Theory Photomedia Second Year: Focus Images.

Week 2- 16th of August: Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes.  

Week 3 – 23rd of August:Photo-history I.
Focus Artists:Alexander Gardner, Portrait of Lewis Payne, 1865, Nadar, The Artist’s Mother (or Wife), Daniel Boudinet, Polaroid 1979

Camille Silvy, Proof sheet of Madame Silvy, c.1865;

William Henry Corkhill portrait

Mayer & Pierson portrait of Countess de Castiglione.

Annie Leibovitz celebrity portrait.

Week 4 – 6th of Sep.Landscape as Hallucination.
Focus Photographers: Andreas Gursky,Edward Burtynsky,Ansell Adams.

Andreas Gursky, Dubai World.

Edward Burtynsky, Nickel Tailings No.34 1996.

Ansell Adams. Half Dome.

Week 5: Major Assignment research week. (no class)

Week 6. Photo-Journalism.
Focus Photographers:Eugene Smith; Stephen Dupont; Tracey Moffatt, Scarred for Life series; Sophie Ristelheuber, Fait series; Gilles Perez; Charles Green and Lyndall Brown war artist series

Eugene Smith.

Week 7: On the Street.

Focus Photographers: Brassai, Paris by Night series; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Philip Lorca diCorcia; Robert Frank, Joachim Schmid, Eugene Atget, Luc Delahaye

Brassai, Paris by Night series.

Week 8: The Real Thing.
Focus Photographers:Nan Goldin (X2), Boris Mihailov, Dorothea Lange, Lewis Hine, Susan Meiselas; An-My Le; Donigan Cumming, Pretty Ribbons series; Ella Dreyfus Pregnancy series; Martha Rosler, The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems series.

Week 9: Diorama and simulation.

Focus Artists: Patricia Piccininni, Haines and Hinterding, Julie Rrap, Thomas Demand, Jeff Wall.

Week 10: The new Materiality.

Week 11: Heavy light: contemporary photography in Japan. 

Focus Artists: Daido Moriyama; Noboyushi Araki; Miwa Yanagi; Naoya Hatakeyama; Hiroshi Sugimoto; Mariko Mori; Yasumasa Morimura; Tatsumi Orimoto; Yoneda Tomeko; Isiuchi Miyako.

Tasumi Orimoto

Week 12: Reclaiming the Colonial Archive.

Focus Artists: Paul Foelsche; J W Lindt; Bishop Nixon; Baldwin Spencer; Brook Andrew; Christian Thompson; Destiny Deacon; Leah King Smith, Patterns of Connection series; Darren Siwes; Michael Riley.

Michael Riley

Week 2- Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes.  

Week 3:Photo-history I.
Focus Artists:Alexander Gardner, Portrait of Lewis Payne, 1865, Nadar, The Artist’s Mother (or Wife), Daniel Boudinet, Polaroid 1979

Camille Silvy, Proof sheet of Madame Silvy, c.1865;

William Henry Corkhill portrait

Mayer & Pierson portrait of Countess de Castiglione.

Annie Leibovitz celebrity portrait.

Week 4 –  Landscape as Hallucination.
Focus Photographers: Andreas Gursky,Edward Burtynsky,Ansell Adams.

Andreas Gursky, Dubai World.

Edward Burtynsky, Nickel Tailings No.34 1996.

Ansell Adams. Half Dome.

Week 5: Major Assignment research week. (no class)

Week 6. Photo-Journalism.
Focus Photographers:Eugene Smith; Stephen Dupont; Tracey Moffatt, Scarred for Life series; Sophie Ristelheuber, Fait series; Gilles Perez; Charles Green and Lyndall Brown war artist series

Eugene Smith.

Week 7: On the Street.

Focus Photographers: Brassai, Paris by Night series; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Philip Lorca diCorcia; Robert Frank, Joachim Schmid, Eugene Atget, Luc Delahaye

Brassai, Paris by Night series.

Week 8: The Real Thing.
Focus Photographers:Nan Goldin (X2), Boris Mihailov, Dorothea Lange, Lewis Hine, Susan Meiselas; An-My Le; Donigan Cumming, Pretty Ribbons series; Ella Dreyfus Pregnancy series; Martha Rosler, The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems series.

Week 9: Diorama and simulation.

Focus Artists: Patricia Piccininni, Haines and Hinterding, Julie Rrap, Thomas Demand, Jeff Wall.

Week 10: The new Materiality.

Week 11: Heavy light: contemporary photography in Japan.

Focus Artists: Daido Moriyama; Noboyushi Araki; Miwa Yanagi; Naoya Hatakeyama; Hiroshi Sugimoto; Mariko Mori; Yasumasa Morimura; Tatsumi Orimoto; Yoneda Tomeko; Isiuchi Miyako.

Tasumi Orimoto

Week 12: Reclaiming the Colonial Archive.

Focus Artists: Paul Foelsche; J W Lindt; Bishop Nixon; Baldwin Spencer; Brook Andrew; Christian Thompson; Destiny Deacon; Leah King Smith, Patterns of Connection series; Darren Siwes; Michael Riley.

Michael Riley

Art of Sound: Thursday 4 – 6pm.

 

 

http://youtu.be/adGyKkDxQuc


3.1 Noise Clouds d.haines (Draft)

A barrel of rotting vegetable matter after rain is brewing away, a stew, and somehow the barrel gets overturned and the most almighty stink is unleashed. It fills the surrounds with the most gut-wrenching effluvia. Amplitude arises from the noisy crowd and intensity comes from the movement of a swarm of points under pressure. A marauding density of invisible entities fills the space.

According to Hillel Schwartz, in his nine hundred page masterpiece on the subject of noise,[1] a great number of scientific specialists in chaos and complexity appear to point towards noise as the undifferentiated ‘protean’ expressive state, par excellence. Nobel Prize winner[2] Ilya Prigioni as early as 1980, in his book From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in the Physical Sciences predicted a major shift in science towards the study of open dynamic systems that would invigorate many fields including the social, biological and physical sciences:

First, irreversible processes are as real as reversible ones; they do not correspond to supplementary approximations that we of necessity superpose upon time – reversible laws. Second, irreversible processes play a fundamental constructive role in the physical world; they are at the bases of important coherent processes that appear with particular clarity on the biological level. Third, irreversibility is deeply rooted in dynamics. One may say that irreversibility starts where basic concepts of classical or quantum mechanics (such as trajectories or wave functions) cease to be observables. [3]

Below is a passage from Schwartz that introduces ‘stochastic resonance’ – a shaper of noise into structure. Stochastic resonance can be thought of as an agent of difference, an injection of an energetic stream into a receptive gathering, this is one way that structure and change appears in causal interactions:

Itself an increasingly technical tem, chaos would come to seem as “normal” to the observations of physicists, biologists, and ecologists as “a certain class of stochastic functions” whose “sufficiently common occurrence in nature” wrote Eckart, justified calling them “normal.” Normal and beneficial, for the Western Sciences operate in the best of all plausible universes, where what is normal is presumed solely by its prevalence to be of measurable and predictable value, the abnormal by its rarity to be heuristic. If there was to be unavoidable background noise as a posterior condition of the Big Bang or an axiom of thermodynamics and information processing, then it must have some earthly good, and scientists seem genuinely happiest when they can, like alchemists, transmute the pathological into the normal. Nowhere more so than, these last decades, turning the trick of noise.

Everyhow and in every which way, by resonance. Stochastic resonance (SR): “Strictly speaking, stochastic resonance occurs in bistable systems when a small periodic (sinusoidal) force is applied together with a large wide band stochastic force (noise). The system response is driven by the combination of the two forces that compete/cooperate to make the system switch between two states. [4]

Things emerge from the drama of noise.  Difference is noise reconfigured; not of an order that precedes noise, but as syntax that arises in patterns and harmonies and discordant configurations that we recognize in all manner of situations – the result of expressive forces swept up as causal interactions in a gathering.

Humans tend to conceive of unity preceding chaos. Theology – the essence – the one – that accounts for chaos. As Rudolf Anaheim points out, “order makes it possible to focus on what is alike and what is different, what belongs together and what is segregated.”[5]It is our senses and technical instruments (that extend our senses) that allow us to hear, see and smell noise and to harness the spectrum of this horde, compositionally.[6]

Territorial animals compose, and Homo sapiens are masters of composition. They harness noise through the cloak of logics and put it to work, and take pleasure from the joy of experiencing patterns and putting order in the place of chaos; or they flirt with chaos by exploiting a risk-taking thirst for creative adventure.

It is because chaos is continually differentiating that we can think of it as a protean medium, and that found within it are islands of stability that have been moulded into place by the powers of other forces. We also attempt to mould these differences into shapes; patterns, language and symbols, and we bring order into the world by way of anchoring raw expressions. We take material information out of the way of the violence of physical forces by assigning abstract value in symbolic networks that become even more powerful when they are converted between material and thought. In other words, we preserve thoughts by making them transcendent. This does not mean that the symbolic now lives in a fortress, since as Latour proposes,  everything undergoes  negotiation  and concepts and symbols are continually being eroded, as much as they are forming within all kinds of  battles.

Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher, in their article “Perfumatives: Olfactory Dimensions in Contemporary Art” tell of how:

F.T. Marinetti, the founder of Futurism, credited the smell of oil and gasoline spilled in a car accident with inspiring him to create a new artistic movement. In one of the many Futurist manifestos produced to outline their aesthetic of “simultaneity,” the use of smells, along with noise and tactility, was encouraged so as to activate all faculties of the viewer. The Futurists also advocated the use of sneezing powder during their soirées, testifying to the extremity of the actions they would take in their quest to renew their audiences’ perceptual faculties. [7]

Many artists work directly with shaping noise for sheer aesthetic reasons. Japanese artist Merzbow utilizes high volume sound in which room-filling static is analogous to the intensity that the artist claims is felt in acts of bondage and yet beats and phrases are always emerging from his modulations. In the 25 year journey undertaken by New Zealand experimental rock group The Dead C,   overdubs are said not to be utilized, as this form of composed layering would be anathema to seeking the collapse of musical structure. Each Dead C work seems to be on the threshold of collapsing into riotous chaos and within this maelstrom, structure is continually emerging in crashing crescendos and gentle murmurs.

Wave fronts push up against each other, in places where humans hardly ever go. The staccato ribbon of ironstone through a band of sandstone that resists the erosion that happens all around it.[8] A stream of water running down a slope into a rock overhang, sheltered from the masses of rain spatters outside: uncountable differences emerge from noise. Figures ribbon their way up through noise, differentiated by frequency (which is a band of energy) from what we think of as the background, however, all kinds of resonances become mobilizing forces – noise is a material that is shaped and kneaded into a topology.  It is a gathering of things folded over on itself, as in the kneading of dough. And dough is a lump from a certain frame, from another position altogether, which is made up of a vast community of coalescing molecular forces of a certain type, interwoven, elastic, and also stretchable to breaking point. This is perhaps what time looks like when we stand outside of the frame of time’s arrow. Events started long before, bubble up in the present, the perfume bottled a century ago bought on eBay, the coal released from the ground now fuel, the sun’s heat warming our summer that started as a chain reaction a million years ago, the vintage wine opened at a birthday party bottled before you were born.

Open a bottle of perfume in the room and the molecules will spread towards equal distribution; this is what the second law of thermodynamics describes.  The creative artisanal cauldron affords change and yet no fire is eternal, in the same way no aroma is fixed in one place. ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ – the matter referred to here as dust is the residue of the complex animated human being seeping back to the elements through decomposition in death. The second law is about the slide back through chaos to equilibrium, against open systems that take their energy from the sun our nearest star, a process of entanglement and tension that will endure until our star inevitably burns out and collapses. According to classical physics the universe is said to be a closed system from which all the elements are made. Turbulent arms of stability and differentiation appear momentarily and eventually returning to smooth space. Just like a perfume as a model of the universe, each material coming out of the bottle there is for a time, a stable discernible experience of a tendril of molecules that lasts as long as the time that we can smell them.

The Roman Lucretius’s scientific poem “On the Nature of Things” (c. 60 BC) contains within it an uncanny intuition of Brownian motion of dust particles. He uses this as a proof of the existence of atoms, and what a model it is. Simply replace dust with the molecules of perfumery for a vivid picture of motion in the air:

Observe what happens when sunbeams are admitted into a building and shed light on its shadowy places. You will see a multitude of tiny particles mingling in a multitude of ways… their dancing is an actual indication of underlying movements of matter that are hidden from our sight… It originates with the atoms which move of themselves [i.e., spontaneously]. Then those small compound bodies that are least removed from the impetus of the atoms are set in motion by the impact of their invisible blows and in turn cannon against slightly larger bodies. So the movement mounts up from the atoms and gradually emerges to the level of our senses, so that those bodies are in motion that we see in sunbeams, moved by blows that remain invisible.

Noise heaped upon noise is one way that noise creates, by folding back on itself as resonance.  A number of fields of expertise have shown how noise plays a role in the formation of many things. Stochastic resonance occurs when noise of a different frequency is added to a system and changes the system in some way.[9] What we have then, are structures appearing from noise and then decomposition in entropy. These two states are the heart of composition.

Within the remarkable chapter titled “Everyhow,” in Schwartz’s Making Noise,  after an expose on the ability of “pink noise” to dither and improve the quality and the “intelligibility of electronic communications and to even strengthen the coherence of audio,”  he writes of how stochastic resonance, (SR) in the text below:

may be vital to the process of driving sensory responses, as it is with the mechanoreceptors of crayfish, a phylum so ancient that biologists speculate that (SR)  had a large role in earliest animal evolution. If not primordial (SR) was primal. According to neurobiologists and microbiologists, (SR) was “evolvable” for and integral to gene expression. In the long run it made possible the detection of “quiet” events or small changes in biological systems, which are “dominated by noise, or random neural firings” – as in the Brownian motion of the stereocilia of the cochlear hair cells or the fibrillations of the heart.

“Fluctuations allow the different elements of the universe to explore any state, irrespective of its degree of stability,” wrote the physicist’s Jordi Garcia –Ojalvo and Jose M. Sancho in 1999, putting the most intrepid of spins on what had been the bane of chemical, mechanical, electrical and nuclear engineering and plasma physics… “Such newfound respect [for noise] was anchored in a review of “noise induced transitions” by Werner Horsthemke and Rene Lefever in 1984. The two physicists, situated on the opposite end of the spectrum from the continuing research on noise-induced physiological damage, had studied twenty years of experimental results in a dozen fields, starting with Radio engineering, all of which demonstrated that external noise could induce “more structured behaviour” in equilibrium systems. Through this “symbiotic relationship of order and randomness,” they heard the answer to a conundrum common to twentieth century science, philosophy and literature: how can long range macroscopic order “spontaneously appear and maintain itself in spite of molecular chaos and internal fluctuations”? With a nod to Darwin’s suggestion that random mutations, leveraged by natural selection, were the triggers of change, Horsthmenke and Lefever affirmed that noise was “omnipresent in natural systems,” whose stable states were often the creatures of noise.” In this respect the Big Bang had been less a manic solo than a downbeat for galaxies continuously configured by noise, and we would do well to abandon point-point analyses of cosmic events in favour of stochastic “densities” akin to the density of auditory experience with its simultaneities of sounds. Noise acoustic, biological, electrical, statistical, thermodynamic, and sub atomic was the Eternal Gospel, the universe’s way of perpetually revealing, renewing and creating… As Garcio–Ojalvo and Sancho would write with metaphorical verve, “In convectively unstable regimes, the presence of noise seeds the system of small perturbations everywhere, and, as a consequence, spatial structures.” The implications were grand: a universe seeded with, seething with noise must be one in which noise makes things solid. [10]

Aroma is multiplicity – noise is multiplicity. Noise is the conjoiner: Serres remarks that “there is noise in the subject and noise in the object”.[11] We can draw from this that the aromatic forms a bridge between subject and world.

Serres remarks on how Leibniz draws our attention to the word aggregate, and undervalues the concept by according them merely “the status of a heap of stones.”[12]   What could be humbler  than the enticing homely aroma of dinner being cooked, wafting up the street at night when walking home – a cloud of aroma molecules, a compendium of comforting  signals hanging in the air that instigates all kinds of thoughts, memories and sensations.

On the other hand, noise is certainly frightening in its power to cancel out the senses. However, there is something within this fear that goes beyond the agony of volume, or the terror of stampede, perhaps it is the disquiet and challenge of coming up against a formless subject and force.

A quote from Serres from the book that was originally meant to be titled Bruit in French, or ‘noise’ in English, instead became Genesis. Here Serres attempts to grasp at a pre-phenomenological Ur Noise, always in tension with concepts of unity and order – a tension that reveals an impoverished need for control against the multiple:

We are fascinated by the unit; only a unity seems rational to us. We scorn the senses, because their information reaches us in bursts. We scorn the groupings of the world and we scorn those of our bodies. For us they seem to enjoy a bit of the status of ‘being’ only when they are subsumed beneath a unity. Disaggregation and aggregation, as such, and without contradiction, are repugnant to us. Multiplicity, according to Leibniz, is only a semi-being. A cartload of bricks isn’t a house. Unity dazzles on at least two counts: by its sum and its division. That herd must be singular in its totality and it must also be made up of sheep or buffalo. We want a principle, a system, integration, and we want elements, atoms and numbers. We want them and we make them. A single God and identifiable individuals.[13]

Aggregation and disaggregation comes naturally to the artist because it is what is experienced every day within a practice. Whilst never effacing language completely, the artist seems more willing to accept the unformed. This dance with chaos and this straddling of form and formlessness has always belonged to the ‘tunings’ of art, even in its most representational moments. There are all kinds of scumblings  in the background of paintings by Courbet for example, dissonances in music, chips and gouges in sculpture and architecture, a non-linguistic material styling perhaps found most prolifically within the style known as wabi sabi  in Japanese culture. The impressionists scumbled the entire picture plane in order to represent the effects of light. And so does the actor who contorts his face in agony and the dancer that leaps and freezes momentarily, the discord that creates an accord. In perfumery, a range of unpleasant materials are utilised to mould and shape the tone of a fragrance.

Jackson Pollock’s action painting flings the paint through space in arcs of chance, landing on the canvas, which is now on the floor instead of being supported in a horizontal position. With this approach, he is able to discern the density and the direction of the paint in his noisy paintings. The accidental shatter of Duchamp’s The Large Glass is a famous example of an artist riding the aleatory. Many aspects of John Cage’s work in sound and music continually rely on chance operations, all realised within formal boundaries, except now, the frame of the work is duration, rather than a boundary of moulded timber.

Hermann Nitsch gets hold of Pollock’s methodology and reverses the terms by naming it “Painting Action” and instead of the brittle car duco that signs itself with the United States motor industry, paints with blood spatters. This is the animal blood of Europe, and the blood of the provincial farm and of peasant farmers, and of the horrors of war, and he calls on the god Dionysius as part of his cathartic ritual. At the same time his work belongs to the orgy of mass production, the sausage factory, the curtains of blood on the walls and floor of the abattoir, forming glorious patterns. In his ritual actions, one palpably smells the blood and one sees up close the separation of the iron of the red blood cells into brown stains of oxidation, and if one is holding the bucket and it happens to touch bare skin on the leg, the warmth of blood, fresh from the kill can be felt.

The smell in the space is antiseptic and also of the animal. There is a velvety thick smell in the air that tickles the trigeminal nerve system,[14] as much as it is ringing in the olfactory epithelium. Over a six week period, as the fresh blood diminishes from its almost hospital-like antiseptic olfactory qualities, the smell becomes even more of an irritant and metallic, as if the dust of crushed chilli and powdered aluminium has been flung into the air. In Nitsch’s work we have a situation of controlled decay or a tonal synthesis of the cadaver, a reduction or distillation of the carcass as only a part of the animal is in the room. Missing are the strange smells of gut and faeces and secretions from the other organs.[15]Little wonder Nitsch is an artist fascinated by the drones of musical organs as much as he is by animal organs.[16]

Fig 3. Working as an assistant to Hermann Nitsch in the 1988 Bicentennial Biennale.

Artists don’t have exclusive rights on harnessing chaos towards creative ends; this belongs to the entire world. Science moulds and studies chaos, and so does religion and politics.  We are both grounded and free. Grounded by language and our subjectivity and yet when language escapes us, ecstasy, laughter, or humiliation takes over. When our subjectivity dissipates we are heading towards nirvana, euphoria, or alternately under threat, heading into panic-stricken chaos. Could this be why aroma has been pushed aside, because it couldn’t be held in check by the comfort of critical distance, nor could it be contained by the chill of certain logics?

Let us be done for now with the ‘subject-object’ distinction and instead try to imagine ‘things’ swarming and bumping into other things. We have language and the symbolic and it gifts to us. It keeps us grounded and yet it too produces ‘ecstatic’ noises – the cries and screams of children on the beach in summer, or the cries of the crowd at the match – the angry mob. All of the cries that belong to the guttural pre-figurative sounds mixing with words, before the separation back to our houses.

The background noise is always there, the signal claps like a flash of lightning, rumour rushes forth. The signal is a unit, pandemonium is undefined, and rumour is a plurality. The ruckus fluctuates like choppy waters lapping, the signal is a fluctuation, the rumour’s noise is the flux, or the totality of fluxions. It increases, decreases, globally, locally it is multiple, various, variegated. Voices, cries, tears, thunderings, rumblings, whistles and crashes, breaths, blasts, grindings, blows, chains and beats, cracklings and sounds, growling and waves, moans that die away…the river of noise carries along a thousand tonalities.[17]

Our senses are always adjusting to noise, responding to changes in energy; we continually come up against this fabric of noise that is ridden in everything.  Our sensory organs are transducers that convert parts of this informational spectrum into other kinds of information. How is it that any dualisms hold up when we have developed within the body such incredible systems for converting information from one type to another – information that can be so distant and beyond language and yet is able to belong to it? Things are irreducible and yet its powers are converting as emanations and transmitting signals.

Saturation point – back to noise: within many of these systems there is a threshold where the intensity peaks and it is cancelled out; the flesh is fragile and sensitive. Too many chemicals bombarding the nose and the system momentarily stops working. We all experience this type of anosmia.[18]

Air is the medium that surrounds us, constantly moving in turbulent spirals, full of particles, sound, water, mist, noxious vapours, fragrance and smoke. The outside is noisy and yet so is the interior, because there is no way of escaping the spectrum, which is on the inside of the body as well. We cannot escape odours except in sleep, or inebriation, anaesthetization. We can try to filter the senses by blocking our ears, pinching our noses and breathing less deeply, or by covering our eyes, but only for as long as we can hold our hands over these openings.[19] The best method is to run away from it.

Sometimes we have to shout over ourselves to get past the noise and the fury of all the chaos that is chattering within – the noise of tinnitus versus the maelstrom of consciousness. Listen for the libido that natters endlessly and the niggling anxieties that seem to crop up all day long. We are populated by a multitude. Listen to this daily endless argument – this unceasing chatter of the laughing skull that allows things to enter – molecules and thoughts. And yes, these affects settle down and become mere chatter, though at times there are so many voices shouting within they become a crowd – stress and noise.[20] As neuroscientist David Eagleman points out:

There is an ongoing conversation amongst different factions in your brain, each competing to control the single output channel of your behaviour. As a result you can accomplish the strange feats of arguing with yourself, cursing at yourself, and cajoling yourself to do something – feats that modern computers simply do not do. [21]

Frederick Nietzsche thought about it this way:

The assumption of one single subject is perhaps unnecessary; perhaps it is just as permissible to assume a multiplicity of subjects, whose interaction and struggle is the basis of our thought and our consciousness in general? A kind of aristocracy of “cells” in which dominion resides? My Hypothesis: The subject as multiplicity.[22]

The noise of the sea and rain and storm, the howling wind, the confused patterns of deep grass, the tangle in the rainforest, the noisy crowds in a protest rally, the mists and the fogs, the plumes of vapours of frangipani and eucalyptus in summer. Or the subtle emissions of magnolia after winter rain, subdued perhaps, by a drop in air temperature. Or what about the sweet narcotic stench of death, of food rotting and of pollution, gas emissions in swamps, the tangle of scree:[23]

Noise cannot be a phenomenon; every phenomenon is separated from it, a silhouette on a backdrop, like a beacon against the fog, as every message, every cry, every call, and every signal must be separated from the hubbub that occupies silence, in order to be, to be perceived, to be known, to be exchanged. As soon as phenomenon appears, it leaves the noise; as soon as form looms up or pokes through, it reveals itself by veiling noise. So noise is not a matter of phenomenology, so it is a matter of being itself. It settles in subjects as well as in objects, in hearing as well as in space, in the observers as well as the observed, it moves through the means and tools of observation, whether material or logical, hardware or software, constructed channels or languages; it is part of the in-itself, part of the for-itself. [24]

Manual Delanda explains how information operates in all kinds of realms, how patterns emerging from chaos are expressive forces at the centre of what it means to live and to exist:

These expressive patterns are what scientists call “information”. This term does not refer to the semantic information that we may get from, say, newspapers, but to linguistically meaningless physical patterns. That physical information has nothing to do with semantic content is demonstrated by the fact that information theory was developed during World War II to deal with problems of communicating encrypted military messages, that is, messages in which the linguistic form and content were hidden. Physical information pervades the world and it is through its continuous production that matter may be said to express itself. Material expressivity, on the other hand, crossed an important threshold when it ceased to be mere fingerprint and became functional in the form of the genetic code: groups of three nucleotides, the chemical components of genes, came to correspond in a more or less unique way to a single amino acid, the component parts of proteins. Using this correspondence, genes can express themselves through the proteins for which they code.
This implies that expression has gone beyond the production of information to include its active storage and processing. And this, in turn, implies that when populations of information-storing molecules replicate themselves, and when this replication is biased in one or another direction by the interactions of proteins with each other and with their environment, the expressive capacities of material entities may evolve and expand in a multiplicity of novel ways. Like atoms, living organisms can express their identity by the emission of patterns, chemical patterns for example. But unlike atoms, this expression has functional consequences since it allows the recognition of an organism’s identity by members of the same species, a recognition that is crucial for genetic replication. [25]

And here is a provisional formula for an aromatic cloud:  a turbulent particle system that is light enough to float in the air, made up in all probability of a variety of molecules (since smells are unlikely to consist of one molecular type), each a carrier of information and each subjected to the surrounding forces, in particular temperature, air flow and gravity; moisture is a factor as well as these molecules are attracted to water. Noise is in the background, but it is not a background; it is the ground.


[1] Hillel Schwartz, Making Noise – From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (New York Zone Books 2011.) 842,

[2] Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

[3] Ilya Prigogine, From Being to Becoming: Time and complexity in the Physical Sciences (Free University of Brussels and The University of Austin Texas 1980.), 190.

[4] Hillel Schwartz, Making Noise – From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (New York Zone Books 2011.) 843,

[5] Rudolf Anaheim, Entropy and Art an Essay on Disorder and Order. (Los Angeles, London: University Of California Press, Berkeley.1971), 5.

[6] The four forces – the electromagnetic spectrum (which are frequencies of light only a band of which are visible) gravity, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force.

[7]Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fischer,  The olfactory Review The Official Publication of the Olfactory Research Fund V O L. V I I, N O. 1

[8] In the vernacular of rock climbers from the Blue Mountains, NSW these formations are known as dinner plates.

[9] See –“What Is Stochastic Resonance? Definitions, Misconceptions, Debates, and Its Relevance to Biology Mark” D. McDonnell1*, Derek Abbott21 Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, South Australia, Australia, 2 Centre for Biomedical Engineering and School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

[10] Hillel Schwartz, Making Noise – From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (New York Zone Books 2011.),  843.

[11] Michel Serres. Genesis. Translated by Genevieve James and James Nielson (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995), 61.

[12] Michel Serres. Genesis. Translated by Genevieve James and James Nielson (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995), 62.

[13] Michel Serres. Genesis. trans. Genevieve James and James Nielson (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press,1995), 63.

[14] Trigeminal Nerves are the second part of the smell system that makes menthol cool and chilli hot and some smells astringent.

[15]  I worked with Hermann Nitsch for six weeks in 1988. In my library of molecules are a few nitriles that smell of fresh air and blood. All of that iron in the blood is possibly being converted into some kind of nitrogen molecule -all of the nitrogen based molecules smelt throughout this study (and there are not that many in aroma chemistry) have a blood note lurking somewhere within them.

[16] Nitsch is a prolific producer of audio recordings of minimalist high powered organ based drone music.

[17] Serres Michel. Genesis. Translated by Genevieve James and James Nielson (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press), 65.

[18] S.Van Toller and G.H Dodd, Fragrance: the biology and psychology of perfume. (London and New York. Elsevier Applied Science 1991), 102.

[19] Strong enough smells can make one vomit or gag I know this from my own experience.

[20] One doesn’t have to be schizophrenic to hear this, if one listens during stress.

[21] David Eagleman, Incognito – The Secret Lives of the Brain (Melbourne: Text Publishing. 2011), 107.

[22] Frederick Nietzsche, Will To Power, (United Kingdom: Vintage, 1968), 490.

[23] A number of my friends and I once smelt a rotting cadaver, a man had died in the flat nearby. The air was saturated with a thick narcotic headiness – a perfume like wilting flowers. They say when the body decays it releases Indole which is an important componentry in perfumery because in heavy dilution it smells floral. See entry on Indole later in this chapter.

[24] Michel Serres. Genesis. (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. 1995), 13.

[25] Manual Delanda. “Matter Matters,”Domus, No 895, September 2006, pp. 262-63

Art of Sound: Week 1


3.1 Noise Clouds

A barrel of rotting vegetable matter after rain is brewing away, a stew, and somehow the barrel gets overturned and the most almighty stink is unleashed. It fills the surrounds with the most gut-wrenching effluvia. Amplitude arises from the noisy crowd and intensity comes from the movement of a swarm of points under pressure. A marauding density of invisible entities fills the space.

According to Hillel Schwartz, in his nine hundred page masterpiece on the subject of noise,[1] a great number of scientific specialists in chaos and complexity appear to point towards noise as the undifferentiated ‘protean’ expressive state, par excellence. Nobel Prize winner[2] Ilya Prigioni as early as 1980, in his book From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in the Physical Sciences predicted a major shift in science towards the study of open dynamic systems that would invigorate many fields including the social, biological and physical sciences:

First, irreversible processes are as real as reversible ones; they do not correspond to supplementary approximations that we of necessity superpose upon time – reversible laws. Second, irreversible processes play a fundamental constructive role in the physical world; they are at the bases of important coherent processes that appear with particular clarity on the biological level. Third, irreversibility is deeply rooted in dynamics. One may say that irreversibility starts where basic concepts of classical or quantum mechanics (such as trajectories or wave functions) cease to be observables. [3]

Below is a passage from Schwartz that introduces ‘stochastic resonance’ – a shaper of noise into structure. Stochastic resonance can be thought of as an agent of difference, an injection of an energetic stream into a receptive gathering, this is one way that structure and change appears in causal interactions:

Itself an increasingly technical tem, chaos would come to seem as “normal” to the observations of physicists, biologists, and ecologists as “a certain class of stochastic functions” whose “sufficiently common occurrence in nature” wrote Eckart, justified calling them “normal.” Normal and beneficial, for the Western Sciences operate in the best of all plausible universes, where what is normal is presumed solely by its prevalence to be of measurable and predictable value, the abnormal by its rarity to be heuristic. If there was to be unavoidable background noise as a posterior condition of the Big Bang or an axiom of thermodynamics and information processing, then it must have some earthly good, and scientists seem genuinely happiest when they can, like alchemists, transmute the pathological into the normal. Nowhere more so than, these last decades, turning the trick of noise.

Everyhow and in every which way, by resonance. Stochastic resonance (SR): “Strictly speaking, stochastic resonance occurs in bistable systems when a small periodic (sinusoidal) force is applied together with a large wide band stochastic force (noise). The system response is driven by the combination of the two forces that compete/cooperate to make the system switch between two states. [4]

Things emerge from the drama of noise.  Difference is noise reconfigured; not of an order that precedes noise, but as syntax that arises in patterns and harmonies and discordant configurations that we recognize in all manner of situations – the result of expressive forces swept up as causal interactions in a gathering.

Humans tend to conceive of unity preceding chaos. Theology – the essence – the one – that accounts for chaos. As Rudolf Anaheim points out, “order makes it possible to focus on what is alike and what is different, what belongs together and what is segregated.”[5]It is our senses and technical instruments (that extend our senses) that allow us to hear, see and smell noise and to harness the spectrum of this horde, compositionally.[6]

Territorial animals compose, and Homo sapiens are masters of composition. They harness noise through the cloak of logics and put it to work, and take pleasure from the joy of experiencing patterns and putting order in the place of chaos; or they flirt with chaos by exploiting a risk-taking thirst for creative adventure.

It is because chaos is continually differentiating that we can think of it as a protean medium, and that found within it are islands of stability that have been moulded into place by the powers of other forces. We also attempt to mould these differences into shapes; patterns, language and symbols, and we bring order into the world by way of anchoring raw expressions. We take material information out of the way of the violence of physical forces by assigning abstract value in symbolic networks that become even more powerful when they are converted between material and thought. In other words, we preserve thoughts by making them transcendent. This does not mean that the symbolic now lives in a fortress, since as Latour proposes,  everything undergoes  negotiation  and concepts and symbols are continually being eroded, as much as they are forming within all kinds of  battles.

Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher, in their article “Perfumatives: Olfactory Dimensions in Contemporary Art” tell of how:

F.T. Marinetti, the founder of Futurism, credited the smell of oil and gasoline spilled in a car accident with inspiring him to create a new artistic movement. In one of the many Futurist manifestos produced to outline their aesthetic of “simultaneity,” the use of smells, along with noise and tactility, was encouraged so as to activate all faculties of the viewer. The Futurists also advocated the use of sneezing powder during their soirées, testifying to the extremity of the actions they would take in their quest to renew their audiences’ perceptual faculties. [7]

Many artists work directly with shaping noise for sheer aesthetic reasons. Japanese artist Merzbow utilizes high volume sound in which room-filling static is analogous to the intensity that the artist claims is felt in acts of bondage and yet beats and phrases are always emerging from his modulations. In the 25 year journey undertaken by New Zealand experimental rock group The Dead C,   overdubs are said not to be utilized, as this form of composed layering would be anathema to seeking the collapse of musical structure. Each Dead C work seems to be on the threshold of collapsing into riotous chaos and within this maelstrom, structure is continually emerging in crashing crescendos and gentle murmurs.

Wave fronts push up against each other, in places where humans hardly ever go. The staccato ribbon of ironstone through a band of sandstone that resists the erosion that happens all around it.[8] A stream of water running down a slope into a rock overhang, sheltered from the masses of rain spatters outside: uncountable differences emerge from noise. Figures ribbon their way up through noise, differentiated by frequency (which is a band of energy) from what we think of as the background, however, all kinds of resonances become mobilizing forces – noise is a material that is shaped and kneaded into a topology.  It is a gathering of things folded over on itself, as in the kneading of dough. And dough is a lump from a certain frame, from another position altogether, which is made up of a vast community of coalescing molecular forces of a certain type, interwoven, elastic, and also stretchable to breaking point. This is perhaps what time looks like when we stand outside of the frame of time’s arrow. Events started long before, bubble up in the present, the perfume bottled a century ago bought on eBay, the coal released from the ground now fuel, the sun’s heat warming our summer that started as a chain reaction a million years ago, the vintage wine opened at a birthday party bottled before you were born.

Open a bottle of perfume in the room and the molecules will spread towards equal distribution; this is what the second law of thermodynamics describes.  The creative artisanal cauldron affords change and yet no fire is eternal, in the same way no aroma is fixed in one place. ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ – the matter referred to here as dust is the residue of the complex animated human being seeping back to the elements through decomposition in death. The second law is about the slide back through chaos to equilibrium, against open systems that take their energy from the sun our nearest star, a process of entanglement and tension that will endure until our star inevitably burns out and collapses. According to classical physics the universe is said to be a closed system from which all the elements are made. Turbulent arms of stability and differentiation appear momentarily and eventually returning to smooth space. Just like a perfume as a model of the universe, each material coming out of the bottle there is for a time, a stable discernible experience of a tendril of molecules that lasts as long as the time that we can smell them.

The Roman Lucretius’s scientific poem “On the Nature of Things” (c. 60 BC) contains within it an uncanny intuition of Brownian motion of dust particles. He uses this as a proof of the existence of atoms, and what a model it is. Simply replace dust with the molecules of perfumery for a vivid picture of motion in the air:

Observe what happens when sunbeams are admitted into a building and shed light on its shadowy places. You will see a multitude of tiny particles mingling in a multitude of ways… their dancing is an actual indication of underlying movements of matter that are hidden from our sight… It originates with the atoms which move of themselves [i.e., spontaneously]. Then those small compound bodies that are least removed from the impetus of the atoms are set in motion by the impact of their invisible blows and in turn cannon against slightly larger bodies. So the movement mounts up from the atoms and gradually emerges to the level of our senses, so that those bodies are in motion that we see in sunbeams, moved by blows that remain invisible.

Noise heaped upon noise is one way that noise creates, by folding back on itself as resonance.  A number of fields of expertise have shown how noise plays a role in the formation of many things. Stochastic resonance occurs when noise of a different frequency is added to a system and changes the system in some way.[9] What we have then, are structures appearing from noise and then decomposition in entropy. These two states are the heart of composition.

Within the remarkable chapter titled “Everyhow,” in Schwartz’s Making Noise,  after an expose on the ability of “pink noise” to dither and improve the quality and the “intelligibility of electronic communications and to even strengthen the coherence of audio,”  he writes of how stochastic resonance, (SR) in the text below:

may be vital to the process of driving sensory responses, as it is with the mechanoreceptors of crayfish, a phylum so ancient that biologists speculate that (SR)  had a large role in earliest animal evolution. If not primordial (SR) was primal. According to neurobiologists and microbiologists, (SR) was “evolvable” for and integral to gene expression. In the long run it made possible the detection of “quiet” events or small changes in biological systems, which are “dominated by noise, or random neural firings” – as in the Brownian motion of the stereocilia of the cochlear hair cells or the fibrillations of the heart.

“Fluctuations allow the different elements of the universe to explore any state, irrespective of its degree of stability,” wrote the physicist’s Jordi Garcia –Ojalvo and Jose M. Sancho in 1999, putting the most intrepid of spins on what had been the bane of chemical, mechanical, electrical and nuclear engineering and plasma physics… “Such newfound respect [for noise] was anchored in a review of “noise induced transitions” by Werner Horsthemke and Rene Lefever in 1984. The two physicists, situated on the opposite end of the spectrum from the continuing research on noise-induced physiological damage, had studied twenty years of experimental results in a dozen fields, starting with Radio engineering, all of which demonstrated that external noise could induce “more structured behaviour” in equilibrium systems. Through this “symbiotic relationship of order and randomness,” they heard the answer to a conundrum common to twentieth century science, philosophy and literature: how can long range macroscopic order “spontaneously appear and maintain itself in spite of molecular chaos and internal fluctuations”? With a nod to Darwin’s suggestion that random mutations, leveraged by natural selection, were the triggers of change, Horsthmenke and Lefever affirmed that noise was “omnipresent in natural systems,” whose stable states were often the creatures of noise.” In this respect the Big Bang had been less a manic solo than a downbeat for galaxies continuously configured by noise, and we would do well to abandon point-point analyses of cosmic events in favour of stochastic “densities” akin to the density of auditory experience with its simultaneities of sounds. Noise acoustic, biological, electrical, statistical, thermodynamic, and sub atomic was the Eternal Gospel, the universe’s way of perpetually revealing, renewing and creating… As Garcio–Ojalvo and Sancho would write with metaphorical verve, “In convectively unstable regimes, the presence of noise seeds the system of small perturbations everywhere, and, as a consequence, spatial structures.” The implications were grand: a universe seeded with, seething with noise must be one in which noise makes things solid. [10]

Aroma is multiplicity – noise is multiplicity. Noise is the conjoiner: Serres remarks that “there is noise in the subject and noise in the object”.[11] We can draw from this that the aromatic forms a bridge between subject and world.

Serres remarks on how Leibniz draws our attention to the word aggregate, and undervalues the concept by according them merely “the status of a heap of stones.”[12]   What could be humbler  than the enticing homely aroma of dinner being cooked, wafting up the street at night when walking home – a cloud of aroma molecules, a compendium of comforting  signals hanging in the air that instigates all kinds of thoughts, memories and sensations.

On the other hand, noise is certainly frightening in its power to cancel out the senses. However, there is something within this fear that goes beyond the agony of volume, or the terror of stampede, perhaps it is the disquiet and challenge of coming up against a formless subject and force.

A quote from Serres from the book that was originally meant to be titled Bruit in French, or ‘noise’ in English, instead became Genesis. Here Serres attempts to grasp at a pre-phenomenological Ur Noise, always in tension with concepts of unity and order – a tension that reveals an impoverished need for control against the multiple:

We are fascinated by the unit; only a unity seems rational to us. We scorn the senses, because their information reaches us in bursts. We scorn the groupings of the world and we scorn those of our bodies. For us they seem to enjoy a bit of the status of ‘being’ only when they are subsumed beneath a unity. Disaggregation and aggregation, as such, and without contradiction, are repugnant to us. Multiplicity, according to Leibniz, is only a semi-being. A cartload of bricks isn’t a house. Unity dazzles on at least two counts: by its sum and its division. That herd must be singular in its totality and it must also be made up of sheep or buffalo. We want a principle, a system, integration, and we want elements, atoms and numbers. We want them and we make them. A single God and identifiable individuals.[13]

Aggregation and disaggregation comes naturally to the artist because it is what is experienced every day within a practice. Whilst never effacing language completely, the artist seems more willing to accept the unformed. This dance with chaos and this straddling of form and formlessness has always belonged to the ‘tunings’ of art, even in its most representational moments. There are all kinds of scumblings  in the background of paintings by Courbet for example, dissonances in music, chips and gouges in sculpture and architecture, a non-linguistic material styling perhaps found most prolifically within the style known as wabi sabi  in Japanese culture. The impressionists scumbled the entire picture plane in order to represent the effects of light. And so does the actor who contorts his face in agony and the dancer that leaps and freezes momentarily, the discord that creates an accord. In perfumery, a range of unpleasant materials are utilised to mould and shape the tone of a fragrance.

Jackson Pollock’s action painting flings the paint through space in arcs of chance, landing on the canvas, which is now on the floor instead of being supported in a horizontal position. With this approach, he is able to discern the density and the direction of the paint in his noisy paintings. The accidental shatter of Duchamp’s The Large Glass is a famous example of an artist riding the aleatory. Many aspects of John Cage’s work in sound and music continually rely on chance operations, all realised within formal boundaries, except now, the frame of the work is duration, rather than a boundary of moulded timber.

Hermann Nitsch gets hold of Pollock’s methodology and reverses the terms by naming it “Painting Action” and instead of the brittle car duco that signs itself with the United States motor industry, paints with blood spatters. This is the animal blood of Europe, and the blood of the provincial farm and of peasant farmers, and of the horrors of war, and he calls on the god Dionysius as part of his cathartic ritual. At the same time his work belongs to the orgy of mass production, the sausage factory, the curtains of blood on the walls and floor of the abattoir, forming glorious patterns. In his ritual actions, one palpably smells the blood and one sees up close the separation of the iron of the red blood cells into brown stains of oxidation, and if one is holding the bucket and it happens to touch bare skin on the leg, the warmth of blood, fresh from the kill can be felt.

The smell in the space is antiseptic and also of the animal. There is a velvety thick smell in the air that tickles the trigeminal nerve system,[14] as much as it is ringing in the olfactory epithelium. Over a six week period, as the fresh blood diminishes from its almost hospital-like antiseptic olfactory qualities, the smell becomes even more of an irritant and metallic, as if the dust of crushed chilli and powdered aluminium has been flung into the air. In Nitsch’s work we have a situation of controlled decay or a tonal synthesis of the cadaver, a reduction or distillation of the carcass as only a part of the animal is in the room. Missing are the strange smells of gut and faeces and secretions from the other organs.[15]Little wonder Nitsch is an artist fascinated by the drones of musical organs as much as he is by animal organs.[16]

Fig 3. Working as an assistant to Hermann Nitsch in the 1988 Bicentennial Biennale.

Artists don’t have exclusive rights on harnessing chaos towards creative ends; this belongs to the entire world. Science moulds and studies chaos, and so does religion and politics.  We are both grounded and free. Grounded by language and our subjectivity and yet when language escapes us, ecstasy, laughter, or humiliation takes over. When our subjectivity dissipates we are heading towards nirvana, euphoria, or alternately under threat, heading into panic-stricken chaos. Could this be why aroma has been pushed aside, because it couldn’t be held in check by the comfort of critical distance, nor could it be contained by the chill of certain logics?

Let us be done for now with the ‘subject-object’ distinction and instead try to imagine ‘things’ swarming and bumping into other things. We have language and the symbolic and it gifts to us. It keeps us grounded and yet it too produces ‘ecstatic’ noises – the cries and screams of children on the beach in summer, or the cries of the crowd at the match – the angry mob. All of the cries that belong to the guttural pre-figurative sounds mixing with words, before the separation back to our houses.

The background noise is always there, the signal claps like a flash of lightning, rumour rushes forth. The signal is a unit, pandemonium is undefined, and rumour is a plurality. The ruckus fluctuates like choppy waters lapping, the signal is a fluctuation, the rumour’s noise is the flux, or the totality of fluxions. It increases, decreases, globally, locally it is multiple, various, variegated. Voices, cries, tears, thunderings, rumblings, whistles and crashes, breaths, blasts, grindings, blows, chains and beats, cracklings and sounds, growling and waves, moans that die away…the river of noise carries along a thousand tonalities.[17]

Our senses are always adjusting to noise, responding to changes in energy; we continually come up against this fabric of noise that is ridden in everything.  Our sensory organs are transducers that convert parts of this informational spectrum into other kinds of information. How is it that any dualisms hold up when we have developed within the body such incredible systems for converting information from one type to another – information that can be so distant and beyond language and yet is able to belong to it? Things are irreducible and yet its powers are converting as emanations and transmitting signals.

Saturation point – back to noise: within many of these systems there is a threshold where the intensity peaks and it is cancelled out; the flesh is fragile and sensitive. Too many chemicals bombarding the nose and the system momentarily stops working. We all experience this type of anosmia.[18]

Air is the medium that surrounds us, constantly moving in turbulent spirals, full of particles, sound, water, mist, noxious vapours, fragrance and smoke. The outside is noisy and yet so is the interior, because there is no way of escaping the spectrum, which is on the inside of the body as well. We cannot escape odours except in sleep, or inebriation, anaesthetization. We can try to filter the senses by blocking our ears, pinching our noses and breathing less deeply, or by covering our eyes, but only for as long as we can hold our hands over these openings.[19] The best method is to run away from it.

Sometimes we have to shout over ourselves to get past the noise and the fury of all the chaos that is chattering within – the noise of tinnitus versus the maelstrom of consciousness. Listen for the libido that natters endlessly and the niggling anxieties that seem to crop up all day long. We are populated by a multitude. Listen to this daily endless argument – this unceasing chatter of the laughing skull that allows things to enter – molecules and thoughts. And yes, these affects settle down and become mere chatter, though at times there are so many voices shouting within they become a crowd – stress and noise.[20] As neuroscientist David Eagleman points out:

There is an ongoing conversation amongst different factions in your brain, each competing to control the single output channel of your behaviour. As a result you can accomplish the strange feats of arguing with yourself, cursing at yourself, and cajoling yourself to do something – feats that modern computers simply do not do. [21]

Frederick Nietzsche thought about it this way:

The assumption of one single subject is perhaps unnecessary; perhaps it is just as permissible to assume a multiplicity of subjects, whose interaction and struggle is the basis of our thought and our consciousness in general? A kind of aristocracy of “cells” in which dominion resides? My Hypothesis: The subject as multiplicity.[22]

The noise of the sea and rain and storm, the howling wind, the confused patterns of deep grass, the tangle in the rainforest, the noisy crowds in a protest rally, the mists and the fogs, the plumes of vapours of frangipani and eucalyptus in summer. Or the subtle emissions of magnolia after winter rain, subdued perhaps, by a drop in air temperature. Or what about the sweet narcotic stench of death, of food rotting and of pollution, gas emissions in swamps, the tangle of scree:[23]

Noise cannot be a phenomenon; every phenomenon is separated from it, a silhouette on a backdrop, like a beacon against the fog, as every message, every cry, every call, and every signal must be separated from the hubbub that occupies silence, in order to be, to be perceived, to be known, to be exchanged. As soon as phenomenon appears, it leaves the noise; as soon as form looms up or pokes through, it reveals itself by veiling noise. So noise is not a matter of phenomenology, so it is a matter of being itself. It settles in subjects as well as in objects, in hearing as well as in space, in the observers as well as the observed, it moves through the means and tools of observation, whether material or logical, hardware or software, constructed channels or languages; it is part of the in-itself, part of the for-itself. [24]

Manual Delanda explains how information operates in all kinds of realms, how patterns emerging from chaos are expressive forces at the centre of what it means to live and to exist:

These expressive patterns are what scientists call “information”. This term does not refer to the semantic information that we may get from, say, newspapers, but to linguistically meaningless physical patterns. That physical information has nothing to do with semantic content is demonstrated by the fact that information theory was developed during World War II to deal with problems of communicating encrypted military messages, that is, messages in which the linguistic form and content were hidden. Physical information pervades the world and it is through its continuous production that matter may be said to express itself. Material expressivity, on the other hand, crossed an important threshold when it ceased to be mere fingerprint and became functional in the form of the genetic code: groups of three nucleotides, the chemical components of genes, came to correspond in a more or less unique way to a single amino acid, the component parts of proteins. Using this correspondence, genes can express themselves through the proteins for which they code.
This implies that expression has gone beyond the production of information to include its active storage and processing. And this, in turn, implies that when populations of information-storing molecules replicate themselves, and when this replication is biased in one or another direction by the interactions of proteins with each other and with their environment, the expressive capacities of material entities may evolve and expand in a multiplicity of novel ways. Like atoms, living organisms can express their identity by the emission of patterns, chemical patterns for example. But unlike atoms, this expression has functional consequences since it allows the recognition of an organism’s identity by members of the same species, a recognition that is crucial for genetic replication. [25]

And here is a provisional formula for an aromatic cloud:  a turbulent particle system that is light enough to float in the air, made up in all probability of a variety of molecules (since smells are unlikely to consist of one molecular type), each a carrier of information and each subjected to the surrounding forces, in particular temperature, air flow and gravity; moisture is a factor as well as these molecules are attracted to water. Noise is in the background, but it is not a background; it is the ground.


[1] Hillel Schwartz, Making Noise – From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (New York Zone Books 2011.) 842,

[2] Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

[3] Ilya Prigogine, From Being to Becoming: Time and complexity in the Physical Sciences (Free University of Brussels and The University of Austin Texas 1980.), 190.

[4] Hillel Schwartz, Making Noise – From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (New York Zone Books 2011.) 843,

[5] Rudolf Anaheim, Entropy and Art an Essay on Disorder and Order. (Los Angeles, London: University Of California Press, Berkeley.1971), 5.

[6] The four forces – the electromagnetic spectrum (which are frequencies of light only a band of which are visible) gravity, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force.

[7]Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fischer,  The olfactory Review The Official Publication of the Olfactory Research Fund V O L. V I I, N O. 1

[8] In the vernacular of rock climbers from the Blue Mountains, NSW these formations are known as dinner plates.

[9] See –“What Is Stochastic Resonance? Definitions, Misconceptions, Debates, and Its Relevance to Biology Mark” D. McDonnell1*, Derek Abbott21 Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, South Australia, Australia, 2 Centre for Biomedical Engineering and School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

[10] Hillel Schwartz, Making Noise – From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (New York Zone Books 2011.),  843.

[11] Michel Serres. Genesis. Translated by Genevieve James and James Nielson (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995), 61.

[12] Michel Serres. Genesis. Translated by Genevieve James and James Nielson (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995), 62.

[13] Michel Serres. Genesis. trans. Genevieve James and James Nielson (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press,1995), 63.

[14] Trigeminal Nerves are the second part of the smell system that makes menthol cool and chilli hot and some smells astringent.

[15]  I worked with Hermann Nitsch for six weeks in 1988. In my library of molecules are a few nitriles that smell of fresh air and blood. All of that iron in the blood is possibly being converted into some kind of nitrogen molecule -all of the nitrogen based molecules smelt throughout this study (and there are not that many in aroma chemistry) have a blood note lurking somewhere within them.

[16] Nitsch is a prolific producer of audio recordings of minimalist high powered organ based drone music.

[17] Serres Michel. Genesis. Translated by Genevieve James and James Nielson (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press), 65.

[18] S.Van Toller and G.H Dodd, Fragrance: the biology and psychology of perfume. (London and New York. Elsevier Applied Science 1991), 102.

[19] Strong enough smells can make one vomit or gag I know this from my own experience.

[20] One doesn’t have to be schizophrenic to hear this, if one listens during stress.

[21] David Eagleman, Incognito – The Secret Lives of the Brain (Melbourne: Text Publishing. 2011), 107.

[22] Frederick Nietzsche, Will To Power, (United Kingdom: Vintage, 1968), 490.

[23] A number of my friends and I once smelt a rotting cadaver, a man had died in the flat nearby. The air was saturated with a thick narcotic headiness – a perfume like wilting flowers. They say when the body decays it releases Indole which is an important componentry in perfumery because in heavy dilution it smells floral. See entry on Indole later in this chapter.

[24] Michel Serres. Genesis. (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. 1995), 13.

[25] Manual Delanda. “Matter Matters,”Domus, No 895, September 2006, pp. 262-63

Art of Noise Week 11

In his own words (1992): “Music on a Long Thin Wire is constructed as follows: the wire is extended across a large room, clamped to tables at both ends. The ends of the wire are connected to the loudspeaker terminals of a power amplifier placed under one of the tables. A sine wave oscillator is connected to the amplifier. A magnet straddles the wire at one end. Wooden bridges are inserted under the wire at both ends to which contact microphones are imbedded, routed to a stereo sound system. The microphones pick up the vibrations that the wire imparts to the bridges and are sent through the playback system. By varying the frequency and loudness of the oscillator, a rich variety of slides, frequency shifts, audible beats and other sonic phenomena may be produced.”[1]

Loop orchestra

The Art of Noise:The lost broadcast – (radio performance)


Live recording of class performing with radio receivers. Performed by

James Sanders, Samuel Quineros, William Bullock, Marnei Shanahan, Henry Burrows,

Hamis Stephenson, Simon Polson, Russell Phillips, Yeung Chung Mok (Andy),

Luke O Donnell, Nicola Coady, Sarah Humphrey, Anne Eglit, Jana Hawkins-Andersen,

Maiko Hina, Seraya Harding, Georgia Drew, Milica Gilgorevic, Rachel Jolly, Celeste Gubb,

Nina Buchanna, Joshua Hgkerr, Emma Varker and David Haines.

Art of Noise: Making a contact Microphone.

Sourcing the  speaker from Jaycar electronics – they have outlets all over sydney.

 

This one will work

http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=AS3002

or this one

http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=AS3004

they also have the  xlr cables,  but remember you can use  another type , mini jack, or phono.

http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=WQ7292

Studio Theory Week 2: Camera Lucida

A nice article on the book by Roland Barthes here.

“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”
― Gilles Deleuze, Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Where is the studium here in the first image ?…and yet its  full of points, punctuation and punctum. And in the one below, many punctum – but where has the studium gone or is  there in some of the tiles,  reinsertion of another kind of punctum, namely time? I wonder does time act as a more diffuse entity than the points of the first punctum that Barthes identifies – perhaps its not a punctum at all, ( this second punctum) perhaps its a kind of time fog that sits just below the surface, or more curiously, is simply waiting to seep out towards (frame dependence) and there is a third kind one of recognition…hold on the modes are extending…barthes gives us some, but how many are there exactly ? Could there be twelve or twenty five ? Can you find others, is there not a whole taxonomy to be discovered in this new ontology of  photography ? What about the wya the image distorts or decenters space by changing how we see scale ??? etc are there others ?

ART OF NOISE Week 1

The Art of Noise unit will engage a studio-based approach to the production of sound art works. The emphasis will be on the production of sound objects, sound sculpture, sound installation, performance and new ways of working with sound. The unit will begin with the physicality of sound and music physics as a starting point, listening to sonic phenomena, materials, forms and existing sound works. This unit will be conducted across various studios in an open studio framework working within a variety of workshops, sound studios and digital labs.
The Art of Noise works with experimental sound under the broadest terms, as sound crosses barriers through physical and cultural space. This unit explores the potential of new sonic sculptures, instruments and installations that cover a plethora of approaches to sound. This open studio investigates sound as a force in the world.

Artists Statement

Orgasm

The title says it all and we have almost nothing to say about it. Finally we can leave all of our words behind by choosing to embrace this singularity common to everyone. Everything from this point on in this work shall be over-loaded. We give to you pulsating fields of dust and matter, earth and sky, sun and moon and two devices that are said to be able to restore balance back in to the local environment. We also give you the sound of protean noise from which the ecstatic lightning bolt shatters the swarm, into the Z of creation.

Haines & Hinterding- 2012

Remarks for copy

Haines and Hinterding, in their new work “Orgasm” explore one of the most fundamental experiences in a stridently non-literal way. This most private of acts common to everyone and yet inexpressible is at the same time over-coded by a total excess of images, expressions and meanings. In a world of endless mediations and translations what could signal more effectively a kind of wasteland of empty gestures and little deaths at the same time as belonging to the most intensely profound form of pleasure.

The artists see in this complicated nexus, an opportunity to experiment with such a ‘loaded subject’ in another way. They want to try to somehow go into the dark interior of this singularity, in order to try to uncover its fields and vibrations. For them the meaning of this exploration is to try to uncover a plane of expression that exemplifies creatively, the life of this impulse in a flash of energy release.

In earlier works, they have created odes to a maverick psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich (student of Freud) who introduced to the world the unlikely combination of orgasm therapy and ‘orgone energy’ an unproven cosmic force. Reich’s discovery included the invention of devices that are said to be able to harness and manipulate this energy, in order to restore balance back into natural systems such as the human body or clouds. Two of these devices, known as ‘Cloudbusters,’appear in this exhibition, faithfully built to the original design, they are said to be able to blast holes in clouds and restore balance back into the local meteorological environment and notably, Reich used these devices to fight extra-terrestrials in the 1950s.

Evernote:Cats away! Artist turns his dead pet into flying helicopter after it is killed by a car | Mail Online

From Evernote:

Cats away! Artist turns his dead pet into flying helicopter after it is killed by a car | Mail Online

Clipped from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2154283/Cats-away-Artist-turns-dead-pet-flying-helicopter-killed-car.html

Cats away! Artist turns his dead pet into flying helicopter after it is killed by a car

By Suzannah Hills

PUBLISHED:

01:32 GMT, 4 June 2012

| UPDATED:

07:26 GMT, 4 June 2012

Many animal lovers find it hard to part with their pets when they die.

So when cat Orville, named after the famous aviator Orville Wright, was run over by a car, his artist owner decided to turn him into a permanent piece of artwork as the ultimate tribute by transforming him into a flying helicopter.

Dutch artist Bart Jansen first stuffed Orville before teaming up with radio control helicopter flyer Arjen Beltman to build a specially-designed flying mechanism to attach to the cat.

Scroll down for video

Paws for thought: Cat Orville was turned into a helicopter by his artist owner Bart Jansen, pictured right,after he was run over by a car

Flying high: Bart Jensen has dubbed his cat art The Orvillecopter

Cat overhead: Radio control helicopter flyer Arjen Beltman, pictured back right, controls The Orvillecopter

The end result, named the Orvillecopter, is now on show at the Kunstrai art festival in Amsterdam where visitors can watch Orville flying for themselves.

More…

Jansen said the Orvillecopter is ‘half cat, half machine’, and part of a visual art project to pay tribute to his cat Orville.

Jansen, part of the art cooperative Generaal Pardon, said: ‘After a period of mourning he received his propellers posthumously.’

He added that Orville will soon be ‘flying with the birds’ stating: ‘Oh how he loved birds. He will receive more powerful engines and larger props for his birthday. So this hopping will soon change into steady flight.’

Moving art: The Orvillecopter is on display in a gallery during at the Kunstrai art festival in Amsterdam

Tribute: Dutch artist Bart Jansen made the The Orvillecopter as part of a visual art project to pay tribute to his cat Orville

Putting on the finishing touches: Bart Jansen, left, made the cat contraption with radio control helicopter flyer Arjen Beltman, pictured right

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I don’t remember this in 101 Things to do with a Dead Cat.

– Chris, Tyne and Wear, UK, 04/6/2012 10:11

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As a pet owner i find this absolutley disgusting the poor cat should be laid to r.i.p, this is not art just idiotic behaviour.

– amy, banbury, 04/6/2012 10:09

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It has given me an idea, a cat candle holder, I could do with one..

– Ian , Southport, 04/6/2012 10:09

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It has given me an idea, a cat candle holder, I could do with one..

– Ian , Southport, 04/6/2012 10:09

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no person who loved their pet would do something so hideous to it

– angela , bolton,uk, 04/6/2012 09:59

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I wonder if his girlfriend dies, he is also going to mummify her? SICK

– Carlota, Austria, 04/6/2012 09:59

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Complete and utter disregard for life. What are humans coming to?

– Andrea, London, 04/6/2012 09:59

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….. 101 uses for a dead cat

– Gazza, Preston, 04/6/2012 09:56

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A tribute? More like disrespectful and sick if you ask me…….

– Nadira, Lanaken, Belgium, 04/6/2012 09:55

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Whilst I don’t like what he did I find some of the comments on here very mawkish, The cat had died, he didn’t harm it and one contributor on here happily states that although some of his pets had died, he’d had many more ‘euthanised’. For euthanised read ‘legally killed when they became a costly nuisance’ so who’s the more cruel and heartless

– Bill, Wasp in the South, 04/6/2012 09:52

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Experimental writing week 9 of blood and genitals

Self Portrait in Scent

Sketch#1

Clara Ursitti

Propionic acid

Butyric acid

Iso-valeric acid

Heptatonic acid

2-methyl acetonic acid

Putresine

Trymethyle amine

Heptane thiol

Carbon disulphite

Marcapto ethanol

Iso-eugenol

Acetones

Androstene dienone

Skatole      (1994)[1]

Clara Ursitti’s  Self Portrait in Sketch: Sketch #1 1994 made  in collaboration with Dr George Dodd articulates her own identity from a combination of “state of the art scientific odour analysis” in combination with the knowledgeable nose of her scientific collaborator. Clara Ursitti uses of the word sketch in the title precisely because she acknowledges that the task of surveillance of her body odour might extend to hundreds of chemicals. Ursitti’s self-portrait links sent with identity. It would be an interesting exercise to make qualitative evaluations of each of the aroma molecules in her smell poem. There isn’t space here to do this exercise in any detail but what one can say about the list, is that the smell of these chemicals undiluted would likely be a very unpleasant experience indeed.


[1] From The Smell culture Reader pg. 357

“Now we will see how you are with the blood” was the first thing he said. He had on a pair of round, gold rimmed “speigals.”  A thin line of red paint and congealed blood between the  rims and the lenses aroused my curiosity about what we where getting ourselves into. Flecks of red paint on his gold watch also caught my eye. He wore a hat, a vest and a black jacket. He looked like a character that had come to life out of Proust. I jumped up onto the back of the open tray truck filled with white plastic drums. One of the plastic drums touched my leg as I picked it up. I could feel warmth through plastic. In my minds eye, I remember a slow motion movie of cows falling, percussive thumps, big brown eyes becoming cloudy, the blood somehow magically ending up in these buckets. We lifted the white plastic 40 Ltr pails down to the ground and then took them into the large wooden gallery space that floated on top of backlit green jelly like water.
Later, Nitsche was being wheeled around on a scaffold by some of the other assistants. This old world looking man, hurling buckets of blood at the wall like he was a strange artist/priest.He wore a white gown.We had spent days stretching canvasses to the wall, but Nitsche was throwing and wiping the blood, almost as soon as they went up.Unlike Jackson Pollock, Nitsche liked to mostly throw and wipe the blood with the canvasses already attached to the wall(though,he did also throw it onto floor canvass as well). The blood and bright red enamel paint, would run in thin and fat streaky columns that where strikingly beautiful,like a drip landscape, the blood would seperate into little masses of cells, tiny fillegrees of this incredible organic pigment that formed a field. I will never forget that smell.
It was interesting to be part of a process that allowed for  improvisational ju-ju within a fairly formalised compositional strategy.It seemed like a good way to work  -a methodology that produced both consistency and the nice things that come from accidental procedures; pours and splashes and sweeping actions creating an ocean wave of blood or a red blood cloud. I learnt something from this.  Everyday, the space was full up with press people. I looked up to see a frozen sheet of elongated blood heading in my direction. Milli-seconds later, I was blindsided by the stuff. The blood went smack! soaked my lower body and filled my shoe. Specks of blood splashed up onto my face.Time stopped, except for the gentle pop of the press photographers flash guns and the whir of moto-drives. Everyone gasped for a second and froze in their tracks.I caught Nitsche’s eye for a moment. He was carefully judging to see if this was going to be some kind of set back. I smiled up at him and he smiled back, he paused awhile longer, to see that things where ok, and then went back to the job. Ever the performer, he knew that how he painted the work, was as much the work as the finished thing. He named it a ” Painting Action” in a loud banner, on the outside of the building.
Late one afternoon A and myself where given the job of disposing of some leftover blood. It had been sitting around for a long time, maybe a couple of weeks. What was incredible was how the blood would congeal into this solid jelly. You could have poured it onto the ground and it would have held its shape like a sculpture. It didn’t smell like balsamic, antiseptic, plastic, anymore – it had a spikiness to it that was like a thousand pin pricks in the nose, but not like rotting meat, this was somehow a kind of pure rankness. We suddenly decided to do something very mischeivous. No one was around to see us, so we hurled the contents of the bucket overboard into the harbor. Remember, it was dusk. This is the time of day that your dog will get knocked off if he goes for a swim and everyone knows that sharks arrive in numbers at this time of the day for a feed, especially in Sydney harbor. The best bit was watching the blood form a giant black stain, just like in the movie Jaws. We watched in vain for the arrival of the circling dorsal fins.Sadly, they never came.
After six o clock, when the press had finally left to go to the pub and most of the biennale people had gone home, Nitsche had some of us put on the white gowns that appeared in the work. These then had blood poured down from the neck, forming rivers from the neck down. It was a macabre and powerful gesture. We then placed the gowns throughout the installation and they hung like religious smocks of murdered priests picked up from the floor of a Dionysian orgy.In hindsight, you can see why people might react, especially the sensationalist press who had a field day with the whole thing.
Later we added 50 or so animal brains and bouquets of yellow ? flowers to the installation.
Nitsche had real presence; I had never before met anyone like him.I guess he was the first A-List Artstar and media star that I met. Hermann had brought with him a large wooden crate of books and cd’s, records and videos. It was the videos I think, that eventually brought in the vice squad. They almost shut the whole thing down. I am not sure what they where responding too? Some of the videos showed his yearly ritual performance in Prinzendorf, Austria. It may have shown some perfectly innocuous blood sodden naked art students, but it also showed some happy people stomping grapes. The strongest image was probably of a cow being disemboweled(a dead one) Hermann was pretty much incapable of hurting anything, I would think. If my memory serves me correctly, the vice squad eventually gave everything back, after a few weeks of analysis. Hermann didn’t seem too worried about any of this. I got the impression, that every time he did one of these works, which was frequently, some sort of controversy would follow.
Hermann talked openly and extensively about his life and the people he knew, which seemed to be everyone. He was generous in the way he was interested in what we where working on, we where just finishing artschool. I remember getting the impression that his life was strangely rarefied, sheltered in some ways, protected by his lovely psychoanalyst wife and also romantically driven by his artistic vision and that came through in the way he was totally genuine about what he was doing. There was no sense of irony that I could detect. Nitsches life is elevated. And in the long hours of many a restaurant meal, a nightly ritual that seemed to go on for weeks and weeks, (at his expense, we where all very poor students) Nitsche talked about personal things, things that where real and unreal, things I could never really talk about here.

In humans the olfactory receptor cells lie in the mucous membranes at the top of the air passages on each side of the nasal septum. They occupy about a total area of 2cm, which is small compared with most other mammals. Evidence from both anatomy and embryology shows that the development of the olfactory tissue is closely linked to that of the pituitary gland which lies at the base of the brain. From the receptor cells nerves pass through the olfactory lobes at the front end of the brain direct to the basal region, the part known as the “limbic system.” This forms part of our deep seated unconscious mind, being associated with the control of emotions and sexual activity, as well as with feelings of pleasure. In evolutionary terms it is also the oldest part of the brain, providing evidence of the early and continuing importance of the sense of smell in animal behaviour. [1]

Jackson Pollack’s action painting flings the paint through space in arcs of chance, landing on the canvass, which is now on the floor instead of being supported in a horizontal position and with this approach, he is able to discern the density and the direction of the paint in his noisy paintings. The accidental shatter of Duchamp’s Large Glass is a famous example of an artist riding the aleatory. Many aspects of John Cages work in sound and music continually rely on chance operations, all realised within formal boundaries, except now, the frame of the work is duration, rather than a boundary of moulded timber.

Hermann Nitsch gets hold of Pollock’s methodology and reverses the terms by naming it “Painting Action” and instead of the brittle car duco that signs itself with the United States motor industry, paints with blood spatters. This is the animal blood of Europe and the blood of the provincial farm and of the peasant farmers and of the horrors of war and he calls on   the god Dionysius, as part of his cathartic ritual. At the same time his work belongs to the orgy of mass production, the sausage factory, the curtains of blood on the walls and floor of the abattoir, forming glorious patterns. In his ritual actions, one palpably smells the blood and one sees up close the separation of the iron of the red blood cells into brown stains of oxidation and if one is holding the bucket and it happens to touch bare skin on the leg, the warmth of blood, fresh from the kill can be felt.

The smell in the space is antiseptic and also of the animal. There is a velvety thick smell in the air that tickles the trigeminal nerve system,[1] as much as it is ringing in the olfactory epithelium. Over a six week period, as the fresh blood diminishes from it’s almost hospital like antiseptic olfactory qualities, the smell becomes even more of an irritant and metallic, as if the dust of crushed chilli and powdered aluminium has been flung into the air. In Nitsch’s work we have a situation of controlled decay, or a tonal synthesis of the cadaver, a reduction or distillation of the carcass, only a part of the animal is in the room. Missing are the strange smells of gut and faeces and secretions from the other organs.[2]Little wonder Nitsch is an artist fascinated by the drones of musical organs as much as he is by animal organs.[3]

Artists don’t have exclusive rights on harnessing chaos towards creative ends; this belongs to the entire world. Science moulds and studies chaos and so do religion and politics.  We are both grounded and free. Grounded by language and our subjectivity and yet when language escapes us, ecstasy, laughter, or humiliation takes over. When our subjectivity dissipates we are heading towards nirvana, euphoria or under threat, heading into panic stricken chaos. Could this be why aroma has been pushed aside because it couldn’t be held in check by the comfort of critical distance, nor could it be contained, by the chill of certain logics?

Let us be done for now with the ‘subject – object’ distinction and instead try to imagine ‘things’ swarming and bumping into other things. We have language and the symbolic and it gifts to us. It keeps us grounded and yet it too produces ‘ecstatic’ noises – the cries and screams of children on the beach in summer, or the cries of the crowd at the match – the angry mob. All of the cries that belong to the guttural pre-figurative sounds mixing with words, before the separation back to our houses. There is feedback between these two seemingly different worlds, a Gordian knot. [cit]

The background noise is always there, the signal claps like a flash of lightning, rumour rushes forth. The signal is a unit, pandemonium is undefined, and rumour is a plurality. The ruckus fluctuates like choppy waters lapping, the signal is a fluctuation, the rumour’s noise is the flux, or the totality of fluxions. It increases, decreases, globally, locally it is multiple, various, variegated. Voices, cries, tears, thundering’s, rumblings, whistles and crashes, breaths, blasts, grindings, blows,  chains and beats, cracklings and sounds, growling and waves, moans that die away…the river of noise carries along a thousand tonalities. “ [4]

Our senses are always adjusting to noise, responding to changes in energy; we continually come up against this fabric of noise that is ridden in everything.  Our sensory organs are transducers that convert parts of this informational spectrum into other kinds of information. How is it that any dualisms hold up when we have developed within the body such incredible systems for converting information from one type to another – information that can be so distant and information beyond language and yet is able to belong to it? Things are irreducible and yet its powers are converting as emanations and transmitting signals.


[1] Trigeminal Nerves are the second part of the smell system that makes menthol cool and chilli hot and some smells astringent.

[2]  I worked with Hermann Nitsch for six weeks in 1988. In my library of molecules are a few nitriles that smell of fresh air and blood. All of that iron in the blood is possibly being converted into some kind of nitrogen molecule -all of the nitrogen based molecules smelt throughout this study (and there are not that many in aroma chemistry) have a blood note lurking somewhere within them.

[3] Nitsch is a prolific producer of audio recordings of minimalist high powered organ based drone music.

[4] Serres, Michelle Genesis  Collective Furor page 65


[1] Perfumery Practice and Principles Robert R Calkin and J. Stephan Jellinek John Wiley and sons, Inc. 1994 pg. 76 The Biological basis for aesthetics.

 

Posted byDavid Hainesat6:47 PM1 commentsLinks

Experimental Writing Week 5 Conceptual/NET

Lawrence Wiener

“A key member of the New York conceptual art world of the 1960s, for over forty years he has been using language as his primary material.  Whilst usually taking the form of large typographic wall texts he refers to his work as sculpture, and the words, phrases and statements he employs are often representative of states or processes grounded in the physical world.”

http://www.ubu.com/concept/weiner_tracce.html

John Balderssari

Net Art

Artist statement Generator

http://www.playdamage.org/market-o-matic/

Song Lyric Generator

http://www.song-lyrics-generator.org.uk/

Death Null

digital graveyard

http://www.deathnull.org/?what=about

http://www.kranx.pl/

http://www.ljudmila.org/~vuk/ascii/film/

Grammatron

grammatron.gif

The GRAMMATRON project is a “public domain narrative environment” developed by virtual artist Mark Amerika in conjunction with the Brown University Graduate Creative Writing Program and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graphics and Visualization Center as well as with the support of many individuals without whom none of this would be possible.

The project consists of over over 1100 text spaces, 2000 links, 40+ minutes of original soundtrack delivered via Real Audio 3.0, unique hyperlink structures by way of specially-coded Javascripts, a virtual gallery featuring scores of animated and still life images, and more storyworld development than any other narrative created exclusively for the Web. A story about cyberspace, Cabala mysticism, digicash paracurrencies and the evolution of virtual sex in a society afraid to go outside and get in touch with its own nature, GRAMMATRON depicts a near-future world where stories are no longer conceived for book production but are instead created for a more immersive networked-narrative environment that, taking place on the Net, calls into question how a narrative is composed, published and distributed in the age of digital dissemination.

The GRAMMATRON project has been exhibited at many international museums and festivals including Ars Electronica, The International Symposium for Electronic Art (ISEA), SIGGRAPH 98, The Telstra Adelaide Arts Festival (South Australia), Virtual Worlds 98 (Paris) and the International Biennial of Film and Architecture (Graz).

GRAMMATRON was one of the first works of Internet Art to ever be included in the prestigious Whitney Biennial (2000).

You can enter GRAMMATRON now or visit the companion theory-guide called Hypertextual Consciousness or, if you prefer, go to The Alt-X Online Publishing Network to see where this all started.

For essays and articles on the developmental process behind GRAMMATRON, see Mark Amerika’s Amerika-Online column at Alt-X

http://www.grammatron.com/gtron1.0/a45.html

WaxWeb

http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/wax/

Study Resource Below

http://www.net-art.org/

3rd Year Photomedia Studio Week 2 & 3 response to presentations.

FREE FLUXUS READER – YIPPY !!!

http://www.artandeducation.net/announcement/fluxus-reader-%E2%80%93-free-digital-edition/

FreeForm Notes.

  Notes are Out of sequence and from memory – I haven’t learnt names yet. PS: I sincerely hope I haven’t inadvertently forgotten anyone’s work -i will update next week and  if I have take it as a sign of premature ageing : )

Juan Gris and random forces, wide framing worked in first image, melancholy yellow light – breaking technical rules is important because it opens things up. In the frame, a small garden of upside down flowers of decreasing size is depicted. Then we see  cadaver portraits drained of colour and yet  luminous, then close up of flesh that looked filmic- cyan – David Lynch territory – wormholes between different places where Lynch busts apart spatial distance, as  seen in his  Inland Empire – dumps the cinematic gloss for a raw aesthetic. Hair behind a backlit sheet… like a black waterfall falling into an abyss. Jacob shows  to the class, the black box of a Western digital hard drive that is archiving his culture and at the same time he wages a (fictional) war on certain agencies who would like to arrest his powers of looking and reading  and listening.

Then we have thermonuclear information theory through cellular structures of CNN footage on a wall image -next to chaos of white noise – Hillel Schwartz book is mentioned “Making Noise – from babel to the big bang and beyond.”  We then discussed entropy and the second law – Artist names the work “Explosions in the sky” and it shows how art can generate, run parallel and be a tool for theory -A’s ? PowerPoint resembles a black wall with dense white text, connecting her approach with the situationists and shows a strong political ethos… Postscripts for the society of Control (see text below) Oh yes,  jumping back to presentation, starting with SOPHIE CALLE and the porosity of privacy, social networks – DATA left behind on hard drives would need to be a lifestyle choice within the practice, ….. then we see Times Square as 3d video as stills, how the red / blue shift tears open layers and then when they go back together, it jumps out as an illusion…discussion of sensors, ps2 keyboard controller hack, max MSP software, multiscreen installation.Then we go to the “FAIRFIELD GHETTO” as process art – Harmony Korine – later thinking Larry Clark…silkcreening, attacking the image, wall construction in a room, trippy lighting, cut and paste fragments like a sketchbook writ large ??? later thinking DOGMA CINEMA…realism as collage. We saw highly adept square portraits of older people kissing and then we saw a girl in a bath with her breasts floating in green water. Then 2 images appeared, one of a girl who looked like a model wrapped in newspaper and another in plastic and duct tape – highly stylised not pornographic and then – what is a fetish ? affectation and altered state, the image can hide the truth, is she happy or not about being taped up and wrapped in plastic ? Some people like to wear diapers – this causes visceral reaction in lecturer who says he is ok with that reaction (and still is) this surpises Jacob, but lecturer thinks why should there be a prohibition on instinct – working out the territory – description by ??? of a beautiful horsehead mask that was neccessary for the act of lovemaking to occur.

WEEK 3. There are so many bodies floating and levitating – a women hangs from the doorframe and somehow this is weirdly erotic (to my eye) but in the photo next to it, another person is hiding under a fallen door…was she/he hiding or crushed? These images exude an aura – perhaps because of their technical imperfection re – focus and because they are black and white? In the next sequence we see figures from  Charles Ray held to the wall with planks of wood, long haired figures in plain clothes. There is something quasi- religious in these images like some weird theological torture chamber – Christ like figures pushed against a white wall by a plank of wood – a performance art piece done in a shaker compound perhaps? Or great satire of the ‘holy’ power of the art world ?

Going back a week, birds make art on guitar strings – but birds being the animals they are have always been great artists. What became of those birds I wonder? Animals and art who wins -who is better off ? Guitars and art always seem to go well together SEE – MARCO FUSINATO….   I add a link to my dear friends who have OWNED this territory for over twenty years (click here)….Then we see that beautiful image of a late teen floating above city lights…then a fantasy  – imagine if the proposition in the photo was that a plane with a cargo of dead girls somehow was losing its cargo – the orientation would be slightly different if she was falling, and then there would be holes ripped in her singlet exposing the pallid flesh and this would be a reason…a reason that we do not get from this image that is absent of a narrative – she is free floating I guess. There is something unlikable about this image for me as a viewer. We must come back to discuss more about this artist in the future, I am sure people would have lots to say about it. Then an image from  Magritte at night – the frame is split between day and night this is such a clever division, an art direction challenge for sure…compositing in photoshop, long exposures in the suburbs – doing this on pushbike would be lots of fun.

Hillel Schwartz’s remarkable book on noise can be found in the SCA library also  a link to zone books where you can download the 900 pages of footnotes http://www.zonebooks.org/titles/SCHW_MAK.html

Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control”, from _OCTOBER_ 59, Winter 1992, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 3-7.

OCTOBER (ISSN 0162-2870) (ISBN 0-262-75209-3) is published quarterly (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring) by the MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142 and London, England.

This essay, which first appeared in L’Autre journal, no. 1 (May 1990), is included in the forthcoming translation of Pourparlers(Paris: Editions Minuit, 1990), to be published by Columbia University Press.

“Postscript on the Societies of Control” Gilles Deleuze

1. Historical

Foucault located the disciplinary societies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; they reach their height at the outset of the twentieth. They initiate the organization of vast spaces of enclosure. The individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another, each having its own laws: first the family; then the school (“you are no longer in your family”); then the barracks (“you are no longer at school”); then the factory; from time to time the hospital; possibly the prison, the preeminent instance of the enclosed environment. It’s the prison that serves as the analogical model: at the sight of some laborers, the heroine of Rossellini’s Europa ’51could exclaim, “I thought I was seeing convicts.”

Foucault has brilliantly analyzed the ideal project of these environments of enclosure, particularly visible within the factory: to concentrate; to distribute in space; to order in time; to compose a productive force within the dimension of space-time whose effect will be greater than the sum of its component forces. But what Foucault recognized as well was the transience of this model: it succeeded that of the societies of sovereignty, the goal and functions of which were something quite different (to tax rather than to organize production, to rule on death rather than to administer life); the transition took place over time, and Napoleon seemed to effect the large-scale conversion from one society to the other. But in their turn the disciplines underwent a crisis to the benefit of new forces that were gradually instituted and which accelerated after World War II: a disciplinary society was what we already no longer were, what we had ceased to be.

We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure–prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an “interior,” in crisis like all other interiors–scholarly, professional, etc. The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It’s only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the societies of control, which are in the process of replacing disciplinary societies. “Control” is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future. Paul Virilio also is continually analyzing the ultrarapid forms of free-floating control that replaced the old disciplines operating in the time frame of a closed system. There is no need to invoke the extraordinary pharmaceutical productions, the molecular engineering, the genetic manipulations, although these are slated to enter the new process. There is no need to ask which is the toughest regime, for it’s within each of them that liberating and enslaving forces confront one another. For example, in the crisis of the hospital as environment of enclosure, neighborhood clinics, hospices, and day care could at first express new freedom, but they could participate as well in mechanisms of control that are equal to the harshest of confinements. There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.

2. Logic

The different internments of spaces of enclosure through which the individual passes are independent variables: each time one us supposed to start from zero, and although a common language for all these places exists, it is analogical. One the other hand, the different control mechanisms are inseparable variations, forming a system of variable geometry the language of which is numerical (which doesn’t necessarily mean binary). Enclosures are molds, distinct castings, but controls are a modulation, like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the other, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point.

This is obvious in the matter of salaries: the factory was a body that contained its internal forces at the level of equilibrium, the highest possible in terms of production, the lowest possible in terms of wages; but in a society of control, the corporation has replaced the factory, and the corporation is a spirit, a gas. Of course the factory was already familiar with the system of bonuses, but the corporation works more deeply to impose a modulation of each salary, in states of perpetual metastability that operate through challenges, contests, and highly comic group sessions. If the most idiotic television game shows are so successful, it’s because they express the corporate situation with great precision. The factory constituted individuals as a single body to the double advantage of the boss who surveyed each element within the mass and the unions who mobilized a mass resistance; but the corporation constantly presents the brashest rivalry as a healthy form of emulation, an excellent motivational force that opposes individuals against one another and runs through each, dividing each within. The modulating principle of “salary according to merit” has not failed to tempt national education itself. Indeed, just as the corporation replaces the factory, perpetual training tends to replace the school, and continuous control to replace the examination. Which is the surest way of delivering the school over to the corporation.

In the disciplinary societies one was always starting again (from school to the barracks, from the barracks to the factory), while in the societies of control one is never finished with anything–the corporation, the educational system, the armed services being metastable states coexisting in one and the same modulation, like a universal system of deformation. In The Trial, Kafka, who had already placed himself at the pivotal point between two types of social formation, described the most fearsome of judicial forms. The apparent acquittal of the disciplinary societies (between two incarcerations); and the limitless postponements of the societies of control (in continuous variation) are two very different modes of juridicial life, and if our law is hesitant, itself in crisis, it’s because we are leaving one in order to enter the other. The disciplinary societies have two poles: the signature that designates the individual, and the number or administrative numeration that indicates his or her position within a mass. This is because the disciplines never saw any incompatibility between these two, and because at the same time power individualizes and masses together, that is, constitutes those over whom it exercises power into a body and molds the individuality of each member of that body. (Foucault saw the origin of this double charge in the pastoral power of the priest–the flock and each of its animals–but civil power moves in turn and by other means to make itself lay “priest.”) In the societies of control, on the other hand, what is important is no longer either a signature or a number, but a code: the code is a password, while on the other hand disciplinary societies are regulated by watchwords (as much from the point of view of integration as from that of resistance). The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become “dividuals,” and masses, samples, data, markets, or “banks.” Perhaps it is money that expresses the distinction between the two societies best, since discipline always referred back to minted money that locks gold as numerical standard, while control relates to floating rates of exchange, modulated according to a rate established by a set of standard currencies. The old monetary mole is the animal of the space of enclosure, but the serpent is that of the societies of control. We have passed from one animal to the other, from the mole to the serpent, in the system under which we live, but also in our manner of living and in our relations with others. The disciplinary man was a discontinuous producer of energy, but the man of control is undulatory, in orbit, in a continuous network. Everywhere surfing has already replaced the older sports.

Types of machines are easily matched with each type of society–not that machines are determining, but because they express those social forms capable of generating them and using them. The old societies of sovereignty made use of simple machines–levers, pulleys, clocks; but the recent disciplinary societies equipped themselves with machines involving energy, with the passive danger of entropy and the active danger of sabotage; the societies of control operate with machines of a third type, computers, whose passive danger is jamming and whose active one is piracy or the introduction of viruses. This technological evolution must be, even more profoundly, a mutation of capitalism, an already well-known or familiar mutation that can be summed up as follows: nineteenth-century capitalism is a capitalism of concentration, for production and for property. It therefore erects a factory as a space of enclosure, the capitalist being the owner of the means of production but also, progressively, the owner of other spaces conceived through analogy (the worker’s familial house, the school). As for markets, they are conquered sometimes by specialization, sometimes by colonization, sometimes by lowering the costs of production. But in the present situation, capitalism is no longer involved in production, which it often relegates to the Third World, even for the complex forms of textiles, metallurgy, or oil production. It’s a capitalism of higher-order production. It no-longer buys raw materials and no longer sells the finished products: it buys the finished products or assembles parts. What it wants to sell is services but what it wants to buy is stocks. This is no longer a capitalism for production but for the product, which is to say, for being sold or marketed. Thus is essentially dispersive, and the factory has given way to the corporation. The family, the school, the army, the factory are no longer the distinct analogical spaces that converge towards an owner–state or private power–but coded figures–deformable and transformable–of a single corporation that now has only stockholders. Even art has left the spaces of enclosure in order to enter into the open circuits of the bank. The conquests of the market are made by grabbing control and no longer by disciplinary training, by fixing the exchange rate much more than by lowering costs, by transformation of the product more than by specialization of production. Corruption thereby gains a new power. Marketing has become the center or the “soul” of the corporation. We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world. The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters. Control is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous and without limit, while discipline was of long duration, infinite and discontinuous. Man is no longer man enclosed, but man in debt. It is true that capitalism has retained as a constant the extreme poverty of three-quarters of humanity, too poor for debt, too numerous for confinement: control will not only have to deal with erosions of frontiers but with the explosions within shanty towns or ghettos.

3. Program

The conception of a control mechanism, giving the position of any element within an open environment at any given instant (whether animal in a reserve or human in a corporation, as with an electronic collar), is not necessarily one of science fiction. F lix Guattari has imagined a city where one would be able to leave one’s apartment, one’s street, one’s neighborhood, thanks to one’s (dividual) electronic card that raises a given barrier; but the card could just as easily be rejected on a given day or between certain hours; what counts is not the barrier but the computer that tracks each person’s position–licit or illicit–and effects a universal modulation.

The socio-technological study of the mechanisms of control, grasped at their inception, would have to be categorical and to describe what is already in the process of substitution for the disciplinary sites of enclosure, whose crisis is everywhere proclaimed. It may be that older methods, borrowed from the former societies of sovereignty, will return to the fore, but with the necessary modifications. What counts is that we are at the beginning of something. In the prison system: the attempt to find penalties of “substitution,” at least for petty crimes, and the use of electronic collars that force the convicted person to stay at home during certain hours. For the school system: continuous forms of control, and the effect on the school of perpetual training, the corresponding abandonment of all university research, the introduction of the “corporation” at all levels of schooling. For the hospital system: the new medicine “without doctor or patient” that singles out potential sick people and subjects at risk, which in no way attests to individuation–as they say–but substitutes for the individual or numerical body the code of a “dividual” material to be controlled. In the corporate system: new ways of handling money, profits, and humans that no longer pass through the old factory form. These are very small examples, but ones that will allow for better understanding of what is meant by the crisis of the institutions, which is to say, the progressive and dispersed installation of a new system of domination. One of the most important questions will concern the ineptitude of the unions: tied to the whole of their history of struggle against the disciplines or within the spaces of enclosure, will they be able to adapt themselves or will they give way to new forms of resistance against the societies of control? Can we already grasp the rough outlines of the coming forms, capable of threatening the joys of marketing? Many young people strangely boast of being “motivated”; they re-request apprenticeships and permanent training. It’s up to them to discover what they’re being made to serve, just as their elders discovered, not without difficulty, the telos of the disciplines. The coils of a serpent are even more complex that the burrows of a molehill.

# finger for adress

Experimental Writing Week 2

heanifestation of text has appeared across a multiplicity of art forms. This open studio investigates text and language in art, via self-directed pthat are unbounded by medium and yet use writing as the genesis or as primary material for the production of a work of Art. This subject encompasses a terrain that potentially goes from street art to high culture.

 

Students are able to work in an open ended way with text, either as starting point or as a finished work. From a screenplay or work of fiction to a body of paintings or sculptures. From Artists books, zines, net art and editions the ultimate form that the work takes is determined by the needs of the idea proposed. The subject can also encompass time based art forms such as video, sound, and performance art. This open studio interdisciplinary subject investigates text and writing as a generator of potential new art forms and hybrids.

 

Students will work by way of a Self Directed Project and on one short in class project. The subject will be taught by way of tutorials, group critique, workshops, lectures and guest lectures.

Project one

 Jenny Holzer

http://youtu.be/CxrxnPLmqEs

Paul Mcathy

http://www.ubu.com/film/mccarthy_painter.html

Experiments with Fluxalons

This is a short introductory project due in week 6 in which students will present a completed concrete poem or text in any medium other than in the form of text written on paper. The task implies translation in some way of a text into a new and interesting form. This could be presented through performance, moving image, web-art, on canvass, as a sculptural object, as mail art, or through a form of photomedia.

Students are encouraged to explore unusual methodologies in the genesis of their writing. This could be through generative software, appropriation of other texts, original writing, autobiographic sources, historical forms etc.

Students will be encouraged to show work in progress along the way and to discuss their approaches with fellow students in class time. Examples of interesting work in the field will be shown along the way.

SELF DIRECTED PROJECT

Due Week 15:  Assessment week beginning 18th June. Note final date to be confirmed

In consultation with your lecturer propose a self-directed project involving experimental writing. The progress of this project will be assessed at Mid Semester Review in Week 6. Due to week 7 being academic advice this review may spill over into week 8.

Julie Rrapp’s class second year photomedia

1.

wiki Feedback

Video feedback

I am sitting in a room – Alvin Lucier

2.

Meat Art – Logic of Sensation, Gilles Deleauze on Francis Bacon

Gilles Deleuze was one of the most influential and revolutionary philosophers of the 20th century. Francis Bacon is widely regarded as one of the most radical painters of the 20th century. This title presents a deep engagement with Bacon’s work and the nature of art. Deleuze analyses the distinctive innovations that came to mark Bacon’s style: the isolation of the figure, the violent deformations of the flesh, the complex use of colour, the method of chance, and the use of the triptych form. Along the way, Deleuze introduces a number of his own famous concepts, such as the “body without organs” and the “diagram”, and contrasts his own approach to painting with that of both the phenomenological and the art historical traditions. Deleuze links Bacon’s work to Cezanne’s notion of a “logic” of sensation, which reaches its summit in colour and the “colouring sensation”. Investigating this logic, Deleuze explores Bacon’s crucial relation to past painters such as Velasquez, Cezanne and Soutine, as well as Bacon’s rejection of expressionism and abstract painting.
About the Author Daniel W. Smith

it is the body that attempts to escape from itself by means of . . . . in short, a spasm: the body as plexus, and its effort or waiting for a spasm. […] There is one painting that can guide us, the Figure at a Washbasin of 1976 [80]: clinging to the oval of the washbasin, its hands clutching the faucets, the body-Figure exerts an intense motionless effort upon itself in order to escape down the blackness of the drain. (11c) from This blog
3.

SCA: Second year Studio Major: Artist Books /Alt Publishing part 2

THis is the second part to the scattergun notes for Second Yr Studio Major.

Week 5: In class CYANOTYPERAMA where we all get to make cyanotypes.

Here is a good link to how the process works.

You will need to bring some good quality Water Colour Paper.
SOme kind of negative that is probably larger than 35mm, you may choose to collect plants from your garden or other thin profiled objects to use as a resist.

SCA: First Year Photomedia Studio Major Flying Dragon Archive

Links and resources relating to 1st year studio major and the Flying Dragon Archive : Virtual Museum of the Impossible.

Here is a link to a website of found things

Some questions for discussion.

1. What is poetry – what do you think is the nature of the poetic ?

Visualisation – requires a vivid image in the mind. Perhaps some of the following questions might help you to conjure the Level of Detail [LOD] required to visualise the project. LOD ?

[Level of Detail is an important notion to consider when you are inventing things or trying to simulate something that is pre-existing. ]

here is a good explanation in the world of 3d computer graphics but this concept can also be applied to any kind of creative methodology particualrly where some form of representation occurs – note the figurative example

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_detail

2. The Flying Dragon Archive exists in a virtual space but what if it where to exist in the world of physical space? What might the external architecture look like ? 1a If you could imagine the Flying Dragon Archive in a physical world situation what might its interior consist of.

Here is an example of a visionary project by some artists to do the seemingly ‘impossible’ and to save polaroid film from extinction

He isnt a photographer but he sure is a visionary Theo Jansen once built an image scanner and large format printer out of junk before any one had invented an image scanner or a printer and certainly the personal computer had yet to arrive here is a link to his later work, but I will also show you footage of this incredible invention.

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel is a 2008 book by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. In the wiki page entry on the book we see an interesting classification system for ‘the Impossible’ in light of technological invention.

Technology and the future possible and its extension into the seemingly impossible go hand in hand, (think about the world conjured in science fiction) its the nature of our humaness to think this way and our modernity has been geared towards this kind of positivism as a force for over a century, but what other types of ‘Impossibles’ can you imagine that are less technocratic ?

For a basic explanation of the term positivism go here

PETER FISCHLI & DAVID WEISS

The Way Things Go Wiki entry here. Interestingly the former article highlights the RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE the wiki entry for that is here
A retrospective of the Artists work was held at the Tate Modern in 2007 and the link is here

SCA: Second Year Studio Major [Artist books Alt.Publishing]

Various scattergun notes and links relating to second year studio major (photomedia)
cdbox1

ALT.Publishing and Artist Books

Queensland State Library Online resources on Artist Books

A really concise history of the Artist Book from Yale Library

An incredible website about all things Artist Books, the BookArt Web particularly good for tutorials on the making of various types of bindings.

Here is a link to an Artist Book I made last year with Joyce Hinterding with contibuting texts by Amanda Williams and Anne Finegan titled ” The Immaterial’s Langauge Molecules Vibrations ” it also might give you some ideas about how to use a blogging platform like wordpress as a CMS (content management system)

Heres some practical links to the craft of bookbinding

Adapted article on japanese stitching

And here is a link to an excellent website on Japanese bookbinding showing the accordian style bookbinding which is the method we shall use for our class assignment

Zine Links

Big List of Zines

Independent Publishing Resource Center

Lathe Cut Records

Peter King Lathe Cut Record Manufacturing

Important Links to Artist Books via two of the most famous outlets for Artist Books

Printed Matter NY

Online website of Bookie Wookie a shop in Amsterdam that only sells Artist Books

Practical Links/Technique

A good link relevant to the Inclass project on Paper folding Techniques

ELECTRONIC

Here is a link to Ipaper by Scribd

Force & Syntax

What is a force you might say? – Its not that complicated. A force belongs first to movement and then to a multiplicity and a becoming. A force is a movement, an interaction – “when a mountain collapses, what was once still beneath the sky falls downwards and interacts with what it touches. Thankfully, it’s not always this dramatic. A force then, is simply a dynamic interaction between some states.

The forces that exist in art works that are unleashed, however, exist at a different scale to the mountain, they exist at the scale of the molecular and the energetic, in the form of waves – pressure waves of sound, or photons of light commonly thought of as a wave, but actually a frequency and now, lately in my own work – actual molecules – things that are normally thought of as having not much substance or even no substance at all, in the case of the work in the gallery they are an emission of types of energy, providing a strong psychic and physical presence in the space, they figure more obviously in the collaborations that involve the electromagnetic, but also lets not forget that forces operate at the level of ideas (which is something that has no physical substance) and they also operate at the level of representations that transmit time from beyond the present into the present. It’s important to remember that there are gentle forces as well. Forces that are the barest whisper, soft rain like we get in the mountains – or a lovers breath and even the works that don’t have resonating sculptural structures in them also contain other mysterious forces.

Sometimes forces are fabricated virtual arenas – fabulations – synthetic fabulations – a house vents its contents into an imagined and yet credibly realised artificial anti -gravity – or a different kind of house vents water endlessly, forever, as if nature had found a menacing musical dimension in the form of seemingly infinite loops, eddies and reversals of flow.

Even models and simulations can create a force in the world if they are capable of giving shock or wonder. If even something as still and manufactured as a maquette or model is capable of shock, then naturally, concepts and ideas can also create shocks and rifts out of the chaos –“tearing a slit in the firmament” as DH Lawrence would say.

Representations are signs that emit, but this emission at the level of signifier is also a force that is on par with the physical dimension of forces that I am describing. The Neo-Gothic house in the work, House Two gathers up and transmits the gothic line into the viewers mind – the gothic line enters the room softly as a familiar trace. This is why I like the gallery space – it’s a container for these things, a container without distractions. This is why we like the book it’s a little machine and a container of emissions. Books get inside the head and cause the mind to make projections onto its screen and we live with books as if in a waking dream. Books are a kind of dwelling – they house things both psychic and real, when full of facts they become like museums filled with time abstractions. Books perhaps are not made to represent but to represent a reality that is yet to arrive. For every configuration of image, word, text or sound there is a kind of composite that takes place, a multiplicity that forms a new world. Why because one is constructing, construction itself. This is what the Artist is doing.

Let’s not forget what it means to be an Artist. An artist is a force in the world as well. So is a priest, or a judge or a teacher, forces are not limited to only non human phenomena – there are powerful musical forces. Walking in a manner is also a force and even a style, a certain gait, I have a friend, she has a beautiful style to the way she walks, sometimes fast with long strides, sometimes stealthily like a cat. I saw it the other day at twilight in the mountains – we where filming with a contraption that also causes one to walk in a mysterious and extra dimensional way; there are different modes, speeds and differentials, a whole multiplicity to walking. And language certainly has a rhythm.
Lately these rythms are intensified and worked with in Hip Hop lets take Aesop Rock by way of an example

Who broke the verbal squad sensor? Root down, feelers out across the marsh before it was “Awesome Car! ” I called in car cavalry cooked in an 85 Dodge Aries, gas for Huntington and back barely. Equipped with super soakers full of piss and an uncanny knack for constantly upsetting pigs by doing stupid shit. The kid? bartered? his ring king dummies to King Cullen where they hollered “F**k the World” from a parking lot of the suburbs. A couple spray cans and a little litter, but they’d look at us like swindlers with them Ricky Kasso jitters. So f**k em, a glutton sunk into the alley for props but things will still go bump when them halogens pop. Believe. I’ll be there when it happens so shake another place off the mantel, snake another flames off the candle, lady of the lake off the answers, admitting their mistakes to their? deplaning? cadavers. Now it’s rest in peace when Peter’s? sinner heaters sung? disturbingly referred to reevaluate your beast of burden’s urgency. Damn doggy, good times, thanks. I wrote your name in wet cement by the Brooklyn banks.

[Chorus:]
?… Smack? for later. Made a fire, made a wheel, made a snack for later. Catacomb kids cuddle up and test the paper. When the town’s speed freaks sleep, trap the traitor. He will ask for papers.? See I’m a nice invader?, made a roof, made a weapon, made a flag from paper by the snotty little nuzzle of a latchkey neighbor. When the? pope does shaggy? over some dap from gators, he will catch the vapors.

But so does a series of images, there are all kinds of atmospheres and territories and timeframes that appear from a series of images, images in series. Isn’t there a syntax of darkness that comes with Hensons landscapes or time frozen in Jeff Walls dramatic scenes.

Humans are capable of creating extra dimensionality by using an artists logic which contains all the sense of nonesense. This is why Tarkovsky’s, levitational love making scene in his film The Sacrifice, totally stands up, because it’s not really that far out of reach and it seems natural within the very curious logic of the narrative

Everything that interacts belongs to the nature of a force. The colonisers used walking in a different way – armies marching across the fields – a terrible kind of harnessing of chaos – and then our indigenous peoples mysterious walking on their dreaming tracks – I walked on one in the Wollemi wild country recently and saw drawings on the walls of caves, some look like women with ectoplasmic nets coming from their mouths or maybe I wondered, if these powerful drawings was also some kind of premonition of the speech bubble, to come.

What is a becoming you might ask? It is a joyful leap into plurality, an embrace of change and experience – a discovery of freedom – it is according to Nietzsche to live life naturally, with the multiplicity, rather than through fixed conceptions of the one truth or how the One universe is conceived. The common model then is thrown out the window. One no longer has to struggle with the reconciliation of a fixed abstract conception that never seems to adequately stand up to the reality of the polyphony of a life and change becomes a productive force away from the centre rather than an experience of discomfort.

I have come to think of the artwork itself – any artwork as a kind of transmitter or radiator of energy, once it reaches the brain, new pathways are electrically connected and wired up and we gain extra consciousness as a result. A necessity when the world presents a continual unceasing, multiplicity. This might be one part of the reason that Art has had such endurance, even through great traumatic events in history, or has managed to have a place in the most turbulent of cultures. Perhaps it’s playing a role in the drive towards the required evolution of our subjectivity. – it might be the hunger in the brain – its appetite.

The vibe I am detecting of late, is significant interest within some parts of critical theory and philosophy, with cognition and neuroscience; that presents a turn towards something far more visceral , expressive and trans-disciplinary – another multiplicity. There is still interest in an emission of signs, of course, but there is also a biological investigation brought into the fold that goes as far as taking into account even the quantum level of scales which are mysterious forces to say the least.
And, I think this is a productive turn. Deleuze himself says that he believes more in the future of molecular biology of the brain, than in the future of information science, or of any theory of communication, perhaps some people are taking their cues from him, after all, Foucault joked, “ that this century would become Deleuzian “.

With the art then, it’s both a mind fuck and a physical thing; they can’t really be separated. It could be said that the work happens in the head, a strange manifestation of touching the cave and folds of the inside of the head. Thankfully then, we are really talking about waves, particles and photons and mental images, not anything larger than that. Molecules are indeed tiny; you cannot see them with the naked eye

The work then is all about revealing a force – something in movement – light that enters, sound that enters, forces that act on the senses. The works are structures that stand up for a time, that enter the body. Why use the word “styling” you might ask? Because style, is as much a question of inhabitation of a particular territory, as it is of a particular type of speaking or syntax – ‘you wear particular ensembles of clothes that present your style” style creates a territory, it’s also an inhabitation, of a multiplicity of modes and qualities.

Fashion sense, its easy to dismiss, but look at the way its changing all the time – there is a definite time base, involved – tied to capital for sure, but also tied to desire, so we cant even dismiss something that feels vulgar at times – marketing – the true enemy of fashion. The winds of change in dressing are tied to a flow of data as much as to what costumes we decide to emit. Even if you don’t think you have style, you have a style.

The force could be said to be waiting for its coupling, this is a strange idea – one of completing the circuit. Art then is also another kind of electricity.
Art calls to the viewer. It doesn’t always call out in the same way that the media does, or other types of communication do – overly clipped and in high resolution – something literal and vulgar – art allows for mysterious and unintelligible forms of communication to be part of the equation and done with a kind of elegance, even if its of the ugly, this is its primary difference from the “everything else, whatever” and provides an antidote for what Adam Gezy described the other day in his seminar , as the “tribunal of boredom” in our contemporary world. Art puts a show stopper on opinions and provides a kind of “station break “ where we can all finally put down our guns and breathe a sigh of relief.

Art is the best vehicle for the forces we work with too transmit, because they reach people who are receptive – it might be that some of these forces have appeared in the past as something uncanny in a science lab, or as data in a report, but who would they be reaching in that setting – who would they enter, not enough people. Not that the forces them selves care either way, of course – but from the perspective of someone who is interested in discovering them and someone who is a kind of medium of these forces, I think Art is the best way to allow these things to make an appearance in the world. There is a real specificity in art, in these relationships, because the works are formed from very specific assemblages and sets of relationships that would never be allowed to coincide in other disciplines. Look at the authentic characters of art that Brancusi gave us for example – a strange brass form resembling a bird and a kind of twisted smooth brass cylinder – a character to come later in the Alien films or as any number of future characters in science fiction, fashion, photography or architecture. Artists are literally sketching our future. I am no scientist, even though parts of the work use scientific principles; mindful of a formula set out by Proust, which is one of – “ speaking as a foreigner in ones own tongue” allows a certain kind of wisdom based on stupidity, to be elevated, never becoming too much the authority on anything, poking around in the dark , in other words, I like to grab what I need, from a multiplicity of activities, its one way to stop complacency, you never quite feel like one is on top of things – the algorithm for images, physics and optics for imaging the sun, perfumery ( that one alone contains a lifetime of experimental knowledge to be explored). Make no mistake about it, the methodology may follow aspects of scientific or technological processes, but it’s always done only in relationship to art and curiosity – which is the work. Is there not a hidden wisdom even in Naivety?

The forces that are revealed are tied to the specific assemblages or laminates of Art. What is an assemblage? I barely need to say it; but for the sake of the argument today, it is a construction of things, a bunch of materials – a compositional plane (the canvass – or the projection – or the political meeting) that provides the surfaces and corridors that allows the forces to transmit. A lamination is an overlay of elements welded together, a composition or composite of things solid or not solid. A kind of ramshackle, though sober constructivism is what I think I am engaged in.

We are all working in a discipline that is totally able to assimilate failure at the level of the work and the concept – is open enough to encompass the inadequate as much as the sublime and that allows for a whole universe of tangible and intangible things to coincide – such is the nature of the poetic. There is a lot of freedom in all of this, that makes our field unique as an activity…as you can see I am a lover, not a straightener – embedded in a practice that may even be able to encompass ultimately something as unimaginable as a collapse of the forms I’ve built up, the possibility of one day an inversion of all of the principles discovered in the trajectory, even at a cost that it becomes a kind of dark star on the work, that has preceded – Some days I dream about inverting everything – a folding back – eventually just making a turn around and why NOT !

Art is a totality that can accommodate its opposite – Anti-Art. What about engaging in a sweeping arc, a beautiful and graceful piroughette. Instead of emitting energy in the work, maybe the work could be all about sucking it in – Art as a black hole. Instead of a black house, build a house of timber and light, with crystalline shard forms instead of boxes. Or instead of gathering the energy out of the air -hold it back – invert all the forms . Instead of Noise – Silence. A ghostly presence suggested this on an airplane flying over the Pacific. Maybe the process has already started. A new work (a much too soon work) titled Telepathy, will start to do some of this inversion stuff.

I like this group statement very much from New No York – a bunch of friends working in the experimental sound scene, on the lower east side of Manhattan.

We have often been told that what we make is not music and generally we have no argument with that. If music is only sound constructed within what this day survives as the common notion of musicality, then, no, we don’t make music. This is not to say that we reject all sound-constructions developed within ‘music’ (in its narrowest sense) — there are certainly ideas developed within this tradition that we use — but we do believe that the traditional concept of music is too impoverished to encompass the sound worlds we wish to create. …..we are with those artists that desire the freedom to reject all rules/relations from everywhere. Taking our cue from Herbert Brun we call this Anti-music. As with Brun’s concept of anti-communication the ‘anti’ of anti-music is “used here as in antipodes, antiphony, antithesis, not meaning ‘hostile’ or ‘against’ but rather ‘juxtaposed’ or ‘from the other side’.”

SCA Foundation Concepts – [Media Arts] The illusion of life (or) The Living Dead

THE ILLUSION OF LIFE – (OR) THE LIVING DEAD
r196116_746177

Derrida talks in GHOSTDANCE

Notes for foundation concepts media arts: On this page a scattergun of links and ravings – comments will be open…..

here is one for prosthetics and the use of Gelatin

the Nightmare factory sells cheap prosthetics, masks and things

and another link (USA)

How to easily make a realistic facial prosthesis.

If you dont know about the web site Instructables you must check this link on the right hand side of the web page check out the related articles column on do it yourself make up special effects.

How to make fake blood

-<a href="

Lars von Trier’s Antichrist – Official Trailer from Zentropa on Vimeo.

“> Antichrist Trailer

photoshop horror tute

20 horror cliches that will not die

How to make ghosts for your front yard

Build your own Hydrophone

Instructables.com is a great website for do it yourself ideas.

see examples below.

Here is a great design for an underwater Hydrophone

Also here is one for an underwater housing – however it would be best to bolt and glue the window into the box. An ammo case is a steel box that can be bought in disposal stores ie Army Surplus.

Underwater Camera link is here

And here is how to photograph in the ultraviolet spectrum

Into Music Into Sound

No Input

Sachiko M

Ryoji Ikeda

Ryoji Ikeda – #0001. Track from his new album “Test Pattern” 2008.

Ryoji Ikeda 2 @ Mutek mx (2007)

Alvin Lucier

Alvin Lucier general infomation from WIKI

I am sitting in a room

Music on a long thin wire 1977

Edgar Verese

Edgar Verese general info from WIKI

Ionisation conducted by Boulez

Karlheinz Stockhausen “Helicopter String Quartet”

John Cage

27 sounds manufactured in a kitchen – John Cage

Noise with John Cage (1966)

Charlemaine Palestine

Schlingen Blangen (1) at St.Giles London

Tony Conrad

Tony Conrad – Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain

MerzbowMinus Zero

Dead C   – “sky”

Bill Fontana, Objective Sound.

Pan Sonic Liuos




Resources:

Sound Waves And Their Sources (1933) – Educational film that covers the basics of acoustics. How sound propagates through a medium, pitch, timbre, loudness etc. Dated but accurate.

Hallucination Arts

Lecture from last week: David Haines 2007.

My body sings in every nerve ending as it glides towards a singing body.This singing body lives up to Spinoza’s expectation that “we don’t even know what a body is capable of “nor can “we know what a body is”.Since it was at once uncategorizable, without a proper name and yet undeniably there; Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?

This “Singing body” would call and I would levitate towards its sublime soundings by passing through bands of light and hovering motifs that resembled Japanese kites, – mind and body stretched on a rising polyphonic wave of motor-cross derived music.

Suburban creek and bush cave explorer, zones of intensity unfolded amongst wild fennel. Enfolded in balloon vine and touching the earth, grounding out a circuit that hurled each and every atom towards a deep and mysterious tidal pool at great-speed.It was brackish. For some moments I became the Martian landscapes of Daniel Paul Schreber.

The singing body – a plant being, animated geometry at the head and a non distinct mass at the base before me. Forming from a kind of image-light – a thin film of non- photons that appears not from daylight but from behind the eyes in the darkness of the skull. It was at once both a two dimensional and a three dimensional figure.

Light and colour manifest at the level of perception, the product of electrical energy. Receptors are stimulated & produce a change of state in the brain, in this case from a molecule that crosses the dermis via the lungs. What I was seeing was the light and colour of dreams during wakefulness. Perhaps a form of Anti- light and colour, like the place known as Antikythera (the opposite other) – a tiny island in the Ionian Sea, that sits next to the main island. Is this not then, the light and colour that sits to the side of sunlight,- a subteranean image field that manifests occasionally when awake, from the pockets and folds of the productive body and the chemical signals it produces. We are image factories. What is it about the molecule that allows one to produce everything internally – images and sounds ?

Generally, light and colour which hasn’t derived from the sun is considered to be artificial, an abberation. We know the common meaning of artificial “man made” but if we look back further we see it comes from the Latin “of or belonging to art,” from artificium. This is light derived inside the body at the level of perception. Some animals emit chemical light, producing bio-luminescance, but my feeling is that the images of perception that are lit up in dreams might be being formed at the sub-atomic level.

This notion of internalised light and colour, becomes an interesting, when we consider the role of the virtual camera in the production of images. This technology is central to many of the images we see today in cinema and photography – the camera doesn’t exist physically in the usual way. The camera is made up of binary code that acts as a data processor algorithmically working on sets of coordinates expressed as shaded values on a screen.

What is remarkable is that this is an image system that is beyond glass optics. A method of representation known as ray tracing, partially made possible and used by Descartes, in his analysis of rainbows.4. These images generated by computer are simulations that can seem so real as to easily convince the viewer that what they are seeing has been photographed conventionally. Raytracing uses a collection of formula of physical laws in a Cartesian coordinate space, to draw a picture. In short, ray-tracing is a system of virtual – photography. Technology occults, it de-conceals. Insistently, images are born out of the darkness of this mathematical universe. It’s like a miracle. The function of a wave.

Video art works are hallucinatory & luminous apparitions, cast as light on the wall of a gallery. A surface without substance – smooth space of the image, turned on and then off, in the same way a vision in the mind appears and disappears. This is dematerialised art as opposed to the fattiness of impasto, the heaviness of stone or the immobility of a stuffed cat, wrapped in sticky tape and melted plastic.

I discovered early on, that the actions of molecules produced events. In my current exploration of the molecular affects of the aromatic molecules of perfumery (and there role in the production of new types Post Object Art) we find ourselves swept up in another, (thankfully) far safer form of intoxication – one that is a powerful trigger of thoughts, sensations, memories and feelings.

Perfumes seem like intoxicants, far more benign than the aromatic – hydrocarbons that are central to the act of sniffing glue. Aromatic molecules enter the body and go very quickly to the brain. The mechanism of smell is not yet entirely understood. Some of the chemicals behind common perfumes are the starting materials of psychedelic tryptamines that have been thoroughly explored in organic chemistry and consumed throughout the twentieth century and explored for millennia as part of traditional religious rituals.5. Many of these precursors, are also found in food and knowledge of the interaction of some of the more challenging odorant molecules has helped inform the radical and fascinating food movement known as Molecular Gastronomy. A field that amounts to in some ways as the “high art” branch of the experimental culinary arts. Other aromatic molecules are known attractors in the world of animals.

Take a molecule like Indole, it is found in lots of places, in nature – Indole is an important perfumery molecule and is also a close relative to Serotonin, it also forms the central ring of LSD. It is said, that serotonin doesn’t smell like Indole because apparently it is non – volatile. Serotonin doesn’t fly like Indole. Its use in perfumery is because it is found in Orange Blossom and Jasmine and I suspect because it has a strong boosting effect, in the same way that your shit has a density to its odorousness. Its certainly has a feacal character.

Indole is found in pig’s liver, truffles and white chocolate and many other desirable foods. Once you know its bottom of grandma’s closet (napthalene – when in full concentration) you can smell it everywhere. Indole, in high concentrations (as a synthesised molecule) is downright faecal and with good reason, you would know it from the smell of your own shit which along with Scatol, the methylated version, is loaded with it. In extreme dilution it is rather pleasent. In spring, I can smell it in our garden and spring is that fragrant happy time when our mood lifts.

There are many examples of close resemblances to active molecules in perfumery. Calone, a synthetic ozonic, sea watery smelling molecule discovered by Pfizer in 1966, is used in large quantities in Issey Mayake and occurs in Brown Algae in nature, looks very close to its molecular relative Valium. Luca Turin entertainingly writes about this, in one of his perfume reviews in a Zurich magazine. Perfumery may be giving us homeopathic doses of these molecules and our bodies maybe doing things with them. This could be part of the mystery and allure of perfume.

Glue was a kind of perfume as well. It was a highly dangerous experimental perfume, that allowed interaction with another being in another time and space. It opened up the possibility of knowing a new language – instantly. This being and I experienced a form of empathogenic communication that existed in lines of coded melody. A record of these conversations where housed as zig-zagged golden amber needles, that where twisted into filigree constructions (like a pile of tossed yarrow stalks made of light, that then bent into a tangle of shapes) with tiny offshoot tendrils, forming an intricate open weaved and chaotic blanket hanging in space. A kind of wire-frame architectonics, something I would come to know later as resembling the wire frame sub-structure of 3d models. When the need arose, to recall some aspect of our dialogue, we would simply “draw from a kind of quiver thing” and the melodic phrase would sound and we would simultaneously listen, acknowledge the meaning of the melodic phrase and move on to the next stage of the conversation.

The dialogue no matter how far “out there,” always had the sense that there where levels and tasks to be undertaken. This gave a feeling of order and hierarchy to the situation. I also experienced this “order and hierarchy,” in a very different way in the “machines of delirium” that occurred as a child when affected by bouts of fever during illness. The “regime of power” that existed in that experience was a diabolical form of torture that conjured extreme terror and was anything but an encounter with an em pathogenic being, more like an encounter with “pure evil” and this tells me, we are a multiplicity of beings in a fleshy body. And Spinoza tells us that we are “An infinite number of attributes for any one substance”.

This “angel of the vines” communicated to me in a way that could only be described as completely compelling; an encounter with a powerful spiritual form. Through out my meetings with this unstable poly-morphology there was the constancy of a melodic refrain that functioned as a beacon, as a powerful lure through the blackness that reached out towards desire – desire to be in its aura.

Non organic life form – a gift in fading light. Substance less body into being – no skeletal structure required. You are high octane spirit – catalytic conversion from coal tar earth to “Hydrocarbon Angel”.

Projecting a field of radiance, a sensation permeated that I was meeting with a deeply feminine presence, that is very difficult to put into words. Representational signifiers had collapsed to be replaced by an almost total affective experience. This being, was wider at the base than at the top (figuration)- the perception of defined organs, body parts and structural elements that make up a sensible figure seemed almost redundant. The being was mostly a field of vibrational energy that had become like a living work of modern art albeit, one that exists in the virtual of the hallucination, rather than crossing over into the organic plane of the real.

Where the body is liberated from the things that hold it together;it confirms its extra – dimensionality.

This siren lived in the “smooth deeps” of a dark and unlimited mental void, always waiting just around the corner in a space beyond the terrestrial, inhabiting the celestial and infernal realms.

All the familiar features of flesh and blood had long departed into the outer reaches of time and space, to leave in its wake an afterimage, of what years later would become familiar when I saw the works of Duchamp & Brancusi. The realisation that they gave us the gift of images and objects of human forms, that had crossed the borders of the possible into new non-organic life forms. Always in motion, the idea of a body that surpasses meat and flesh, for one of light and space, a hyper criss-crossing of lines of pure pigment and shiny metal armour interlocking fragments that remained part of the whole. A construction of composites and fragmented crystalline hybrids that ultimately produce the authentic characters of art, in order to open up the possibility for the world of creatures to come; the creatures of anime, the horror film, photography and science fiction.

The work we make is filled to the brim with occulted inhabitations and haunting(s).
I grew up in a house that was said to be filled with spirits. I clearly remember my parents and their friends gathered around the Ouiji board talking to “people from the other side”. I remember the sounds of summer infused with Swedenbourg’s recordings of people speaking from the dead, crackling away on the record player between bursts of the soundtrack from Apocalypse Now, which interestingly for a cinema soundtrack is not just the musical parts, but the dialogue and sound effects as well. I enjoyed the arguments and debates that would take place with family members around the table that was a constant in the days before the internet appeared and colour television arrived making everyone silent. It’s from this background I guess, that a work like “The Door” becomes possible.

The synopsis of the work hinges on the combination of a number of seemingly unlikely events, that bring together the sounds of battle and deep thudding artillery.We hear the distant pulse of a dub reggae rave party with its voodoo call to the libido; poltergeists fly through the space from one speaker to the other. Logging trucks rumble and an opium induced voiceover whispers, recalling the arrival of “earth’s daughter” from the “other side.” She has finally come back to the community of tree dwellers, after ejecting from a time travelling space ship to meet with her boyfriend. Along the way, we learn of a green star that appeared above the horizon that brought great misfortune. We learn of some of the farming practices that take place within this so called “sustainable community,” all of this via the spooky intoxicated mumblings and slurring of some one who is under the influence.It’s a kind of junkie hippy narrative, meets a set from Nicholas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. Despite all of this, I simply wanted to make a luminous green work.

The characterisation solely takes place within the sound track of the work, making all of these events invisible to the eye, but alive to the ear.I wanted to make a work where the images of the characters appeared in the viewers head, rather than being seen on screen. I wanted the process of characterisation to be internalised, rather than external and I wanted to conjure ghosts. It was like a radio play in a strange and exotic setting. The sounds because of the audio technology of surround sound filled the space 3 dimensionally.

We see a two screen projection of an empty forest glowing in green luminous light. Bugs flitter in the air – the shadows move in the breeze. The forest is filled with sound.

The whole enterprise of cinema art is like a hallucinatory art – the art of assemblage, of sound colour and light that is projected. The computer is a machine that allows one to bring all of these thing together, it’s a kind of factory where a multiplicity of technologies exist, side by side, to produce these remarkable assemblages. When a work is successful, a great variety of elements come together to form a harmony, no matter how far away from each other in type, the elements seem to be. This potential for “difference” and synthesis to co-exist in a work of Art,is at the heart of novelty and for me is one of the most exciting aspects of the process of making art. Its like a new form of gymnastics – to make the body hold itself up in space in some interesting contorted positions, thus far unseen. The same thing then for ideas or materials, to make everything drunken and askew, frozen in time and space – a painting, a leap, a suspended white horse in the sky, a naked women fucks a cloud. (see fig 3.) Artists are human synthesisers.

Perfumery, in its history has paralleled cultural shifts and mood changes in society. It has had its modernity and within that certain styles have emerged that parallel what has occurred within contemporary art. The world of perfume composition is a highly developed field of knowledge and also a highly secretive and exclusive world. Part Art & Design & part organic chemistry as art, its commitment to discover new worlds for the senses through a remarkable compositional process & with an incredible palette of materials & commitment to conceptual ideas around the senses, surely makes this activity both an unofficial artform and a world of exciting future possibilities. Of course context is everything. The art of perfumery has been both strengthened & weakened by the forces of capitalism. There is “functional perfumery” that fills our world with smells and there is “fine fragrance” that manages to escape mass market imperatives.

Sniffing glue certainly “opened the doors of perception” but it is not recommended to anyone. It is a highly dangerous activity regardless of the magical gifts that it brings; it can easily end in tragedy.
fig 3. Jupiter & Io, 1531
Correggio.

Pasted from <http://www.twentyfirstcenturyholograms.blogspot.com/&gt;

Society of Control – Gilles Deleuze

pasted from  http://www.nadir.org/nadir/archiv/netzkritik/societyofcontrol.html

Society of Control
Gilles Deleuze

( I. historical / II. logic / III. program )
I. Historical
Foucault located the disciplinary societies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; they reach their height at the outset of the twentieth. They initiate the organization of vast spaces of enclosure. The individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another, each having its own laws: first the family; then the school (“you are no longer in your family”); then the barracks (“you are no longer at school”); then the factory; from time to time the hospital; possibly the prison, the preeminent instance of the enclosed environment. It’s the prison that serves as the analogical model: at the sight of some laborers, the heroine of Rossellini’s Europa ’51 could exclaim, “I thought I was seeing convicts.”

Foucault has brilliantly analyzed the ideal project of these environments of enclosure, particularly visible within the factory: to concentrate; to distribute in space; to order in time; to compose a productive force within the dimension of space-time whose effect will be greater than the sum of its component forces. But what Foucault recognized as well was the transience of this model: it succeeded that of the societies of sovereignty, the goal and functions of which were something quite different (to tax rather than to organize production, to rule on death rather than to administer life); the transition took place over time, and Napoleon seemed to effect the large-scale conversion from one society to the other. But in their turn the disciplines underwent a crisis to the benefit of new forces that were gradually instituted and which accelerated after World War II: a disciplinary society was what we already no longer were, what we had ceased to be.

We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure–prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an “interior,” in crisis like all other interiors–scholarly, professional, etc. The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It’s only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the societies of control, which are in the process of replacing disciplinary societies. “Control” is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future. Paul Virilio also is continually analyzing the ultrarapid forms of free-floating control that replaced the old disciplines operating in the time frame of a closed system. There is no need to invoke the extraordinary pharmaceutical productions, the molecular engineering, the genetic manipulations, although these are slated to enter the new process. There is no need to ask which is the toughest regime, for it’s within each of them that liberating and enslaving forces confront one another. For example, in the crisis of the hospital as environment of enclosure, neighborhood clinics, hospices, and day care could at first express new freedom, but they could participate as well in mechanisms of control that are equal to the harshest of confinements. There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.

II. Logic
The different internments of spaces of enclosure through which the individual passes are independent variables: each time one us supposed to start from zero, and although a common language for all these places exists, it is analogical. One the other hand, the different control mechanisms are inseparable variations, forming a system of variable geometry the language of which is numerical (which doesn’t necessarily mean binary). Enclosures are molds, distinct castings, but controls are a modulation, like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the other, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point.

This is obvious in the matter of salaries: the factory was a body that contained its internal forces at the level of equilibrium, the highest possible in terms of production, the lowest possible in terms of wages; but in a society of control, the corporation has replaced the factory, and the corporation is a spirit, a gas. Of course the factory was already familiar with the system of bonuses, but the corporation works more deeply to impose a modulation of each salary, in states of perpetual metastability that operate through challenges, contests, and highly comic group sessions. If the most idiotic television game shows are so successful, it’s because they express the corporate situation with great precision. The factory constituted individuals as a single body to the double advantage of the boss who surveyed each element within the mass and the unions who mobilized a mass resistance; but the corporation constantly presents the brashest rivalry as a healthy form of emulation, an excellent motivational force that opposes individuals against one another and runs through each, dividing each within. The modulating principle of “salary according to merit” has not failed to tempt national education itself. Indeed, just as the corporation replaces the factory, perpetual training tends to replace the school, and continuous control to replace the examination. Which is the surest way of delivering the school over to the corporation.

In the disciplinary societies one was always starting again (from school to the barracks, from the barracks to the factory), while in the societies of control one is never finished with anything–the corporation, the educational system, the armed services being metastable states coexisting in one and the same modulation, like a universal system of deformation. In The Trial, Kafka, who had already placed himself at the pivotal point between two types of social formation, described the most fearsome of judicial forms. The apparent acquittal of the disciplinary societies (between two incarcerations); and the limitless postponements of the societies of control (in continuous variation) are two very different modes of juridicial life, and if our law is hesitant, itself in crisis, it’s because we are leaving one in order to enter the other. The disciplinary societies have two poles: the signature that designates the individual, and the number or administrative numeration that indicates his or her position within a mass. This is because the disciplines never saw any incompatibility between these two, and because at the same time power individualizes and masses together, that is, constitutes those over whom it exercises power into a body and molds the individuality of each member of that body. (Foucault saw the origin of this double charge in the pastoral power of the priest–the flock and each of its animals–but civil power moves in turn and by other means to make itself lay “priest.”) In the societies of control, on the other hand, what is important is no longer either a signature or a number, but a code: the code is a password, while on the other hand disciplinary societies are regulated by watchwords (as much from the point of view of integration as from that of resistance). The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become “dividuals,” and masses, samples, data, markets, or “banks.” Perhaps it is money that expresses the distinction between the two societies best, since discipline always referred back to minted money that locks gold as numerical standard, while control relates to floating rates of exchange, modulated according to a rate established by a set of standard currencies. The old monetary mole is the animal of the space of enclosure, but the serpent is that of the societies of control. We have passed from one animal to the other, from the mole to the serpent, in the system under which we live, but also in our manner of living and in our relations with others. The disciplinary man was a discontinuous producer of energy, but the man of control is undulatory, in orbit, in a continuous network. Everywhere surfing has already replaced the older sports.

Types of machines are easily matched with each type of society–not that machines are determining, but because they express those social forms capable of generating them and using them. The old societies of sovereignty made use of simple machines–levers, pulleys, clocks; but the recent disciplinary societies equipped themselves with machines involving energy, with the passive danger of entropy and the active danger of sabotage; the societies of control operate with machines of a third type, computers, whose passive danger is jamming and whose active one is piracy or the introduction of viruses. This technological evolution must be, even more profoundly, a mutation of capitalism, an already well-known or familiar mutation that can be summed up as follows: nineteenth-century capitalism is a capitalism of concentration, for production and for property. It therefore erects a factory as a space of enclosure, the capitalist being the owner of the means of production but also, progressively, the owner of other spaces conceived through analogy (the worker’s familial house, the school). As for markets, they are conquered sometimes by specialization, sometimes by colonization, sometimes by lowering the costs of production. But in the present situation, capitalism is no longer involved in production, which it often relegates to the Third World, even for the complex forms of textiles, metallurgy, or oil production. It’s a capitalism of higher-order production. It no-longer buys raw materials and no longer sells the finished products: it buys the finished products or assembles parts. What it wants to sell is services but what it wants to buy is stocks. This is no longer a capitalism for production but for the product, which is to say, for being sold or marketed. Thus is essentially dispersive, and the factory has given way to the corporation. The family, the school, the army, the factory are no longer the distinct analogical spaces that converge towards an owner–state or private power–but coded figures–deformable and transformable–of a single corporation that now has only stockholders. Even art has left the spaces of enclosure in order to enter into the open circuits of the bank. The conquests of the market are made by grabbing control and no longer by disciplinary training, by fixing the exchange rate much more than by lowering costs, by transformation of the product more than by specialization of production. Corruption thereby gains a new power. Marketing has become the center or the “soul” of the corporation. We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world. The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters. Control is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous and without limit, while discipline was of long duration, infinite and discontinuous. Man is no longer man enclosed, but man in debt. It is true that capitalism has retained as a constant the extreme poverty of three-quarters of humanity, too poor for debt, too numerous for confinement: control will not only have to deal with erosions of frontiers but with the explosions within shanty towns or ghettos.

III. Program
The conception of a control mechanism, giving the position of any element within an open environment at any given instant (whether animal in a reserve or human in a corporation, as with an electronic collar), is not necessarily one of science fiction. Felix Guattari has imagined a city where one would be able to leave one’s apartment, one’s street, one’s neighborhood, thanks to one’s (dividual) electronic card that raises a given barrier; but the card could just as easily be rejected on a given day or between certain hours; what counts is not the barrier but the computer that tracks each person’s position–licit or illicit–and effects a universal modulation.

The socio-technological study of the mechanisms of control, grasped at their inception, would have to be categorical and to describe what is already in the process of substitution for the disciplinary sites of enclosure, whose crisis is everywhere proclaimed. It may be that older methods, borrowed from the former societies of sovereignty, will return to the fore, but with the necessary modifications. What counts is that we are at the beginning of something. In the prison system: the attempt to find penalties of “substitution,” at least for petty crimes, and the use of electronic collars that force the convicted person to stay at home during certain hours. For the school system: continuous forms of control, and the effect on the school of perpetual training, the corresponding abandonment of all university research, the introduction of the “corporation” at all levels of schooling. For the hospital system: the new medicine “without doctor or patient” that singles out potential sick people and subjects at risk, which in no way attests to individuation–as they say–but substitutes for the individual or numerical body the code of a “dividual” material to be controlled. In the corporate system: new ways of handling money, profits, and humans that no longer pass through the old factory form. These are very small examples, but ones that will allow for better understanding of what is meant by the crisis of the institutions, which is to say, the progressive and dispersed installation of a new system of domination. One of the most important questions will concern the ineptitude of the unions: tied to the whole of their history of struggle against the disciplines or within the spaces of enclosure, will they be able to adapt themselves or will they give way to new forms of resistance against the societies of control? Can we already grasp the rough outlines of the coming forms, capable of threatening the joys of marketing? Many young people strangely boast of being “motivated”; they re-request apprenticeships and permanent training. It’s up to them to discover what they’re being made to serve, just as their elders discovered, not without difficulty, the telos of the disciplines. The coils of a serpent are even more complex that the burrows of a molehill.

L’autre journal, Nr. I, Mai 1990.

( top / I. historik / II. logik / III. programm )

Masters Course Work TBA and Photomedia Honors links from last weeks talks

Essence overview from Wiki

A list of early photographic methods including Bromoil

An excellent overview on Deleuze from the Internet encyclopedia of philosphy

A  wonderful site that transcribes a candid encounter with Deleuze

Ansel Adams was mentioned heres a link

Sublime (overview) from Wiki

Occult photography ( short article)

An exhibition of spirit photography

From Becs talk the week before we talked a a bit about expressionism versus abstraction and Plato was mentioned in this long wiki entry see the section on Metaphysics Also see the section on metaphysics in the link on the sublime above.

Here is the wiki entry for a famous book that is worth reading like a hummingbird pecks at things