The semester is over. The seminars are finished. This blog is now closed. As a final post, I offer a brief meditation on a fundamental methodological divide between theory and practice, intuition and intention, inspiration and planning.

Throughout the semester, Chris often asked (incredulously), how I work without having any particular plan or idea of what the result will be. It seems incredible but I never really consider it much. I just go with my gut, it tingles, some visceral neurotransmitters begin to pulsate and like a dog following a scent, I just inexorably continue as long as I can until the tingling goes away. In academia that is what constitutes a wrong answer.

Support for such a way of working comes from unexpected sources. One example is Barabara McClintock, the geneticist who developed the theory of transposons (mobile mutagens) long before the field could begin to ingest it. I am not suggesting I am in any way her intellectual equal. But I do feel a kinship with her way of working; she follows the joy, when she feels that joy she knows the answer will emerge. She once worked for 2 years on a problem that appeared to all logic to have no answer but intuitively she felt right about it. In other interviews she speaks of letting the materials tell her what to do. Her biography is entitled “Feeling for the Organism”

“A hundred years ago Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing, I see all.” McClintock says it more simply: “I am not there!” The self-conscious “I” simply disappears. Througout history, artists and poets, lovers and mystics have written about the “knowing” that comes from loss of self 0f from the state of subjective fusion with the object of knowledge.”

I am deeply grateful to Chris Salter for his openness to aesthetic explorations and his willingness to share his virtuoso’s theoretical learning in encounters that both fertilized and provoked exploration. Perhaps the divide between theory and intuition is not as great as it may seem: a continuum thread bonds the poles, opposites converge, knowledge thrives in the tension.

Posted on May 2nd, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |

I don’t know exactly how the following fits together, but it revolves around reading :

Weschler, Lawrence. 1982. Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin. University of California Press.

Robert Irwin is probably the kind of artist whose work I would have found abhorrent a decade ago. I cannot even begin to count the number of dull paintings of lines that I have seen, probably inspired by Irwin’s work. Irwin did lines, dots and discs, before escaping from the constraints of object and frame and viewer into a phenomenological investigation of presence. His story is wonderfully told by Weschler. It redeems and pulls Irwin into comprehensibility. More: establishes his continuing relevance as a pioneer in establishing art-research. By moving beyond canvas into light sculptures with scrims (before rebounding into large scale physical installations) Irwin has claims to be an artist concerned with the same questions that continue to claim the attention of cognitive scientists, neurologists, philosophers and mystics: what is consciousness. By deliberately stepping beyond the literal figurative and conceptual strands in art-making, Irwin wanders into tuning spaces: eliminating distractions, his art makes the perceptive faculties of the perceiver the subject.

Wht then is the role of the artist now?

Consciousness explorer? Activist? Romantic? Conceptualist?

Purpose shatters into shards under the impact.

The whole week (for myself) has seen a modulatory rhythm seeping into my approach: sensing the exhaustion of all necessity within most of the central activities of art, what remains? If there is nothing beyond this IS that my I inhabits — meaning that if everything I know is me, epistemology meets ontology — Why do anything? The epiphanies and quasi-erotic convulsions of conventional aesthetics wither. Inertia. Fury. Inertia. Fury.

The latest sketches — Soul Toilet and Clouds and Bruises — (although ripe with a certain corporal fascination) are like old toys. The body husked, the fx chewed to gristle, the whole game stale. I wonder how Irwin could paint only 10 paintings of 2 lines each for 2 years: wht concentration, focus, and deliberate meditative exile drove that activity?

The human animal is strange: John Searle’s lecture on ‘ Consciousness, Causation, and Reduction’ confirms it. Over the years, I must confess, Searle’s philosophical positions have often infuriated me (contriving a special status for the human, as Searle’s work subtly implies, contradicts a philosophy succinctly expressed by Dr. Seuss: “A person’s a person, no matter how small”), yet this lecture somehow converted my incredulity into sympathy. For Searle, the dominant question is how can the wet mushy neural network give rise to self and feeling? Searle traces metaphysical mistakes to body-mind dichotomies. Dualist reductions carried in by homonculii. Common sense says consciousness is sentience. Searle hammers the point home but there’s nothing to impact; self is hollow. All the subconscious dream reservoirs seem to be only mist. Up the emergent chain of transformative topologies, self-consciousness opens like a bloom. Awareness itself is as slippery as a ball made out of jello.

Pathological cases‘ constitute for Searle one of the best methodologies for investigating qualia. Artists, I submit, are pathological cases. Robert Irwin certainly seems to be mildly pathogological. A man who shuts himself away in his studio for months, even years, experimenting with tiny, almost imperceptible shifts in his perceptive field. This appeases me; it appeases my pathology

For Searle, the problem is how the brain works. He feels that traditionally consciousness has been amputated from material world by the discourse of both materialists and dualists. Searle feels that materialists wrongly insist there isn’t anything with a 3rd person ontology. A ‘3rd person ontology’ might roughly translate into normal speech as ‘presence‘.

What is presence? Robert Irwin’s entire practice is devoted to investigating the question: “I was after a first order of presence” (p.61). The problem for me reading Weschler’s book is that I have never seen one of Irwin’s works; I am a man without smell hearing an extended description of perfume. Apparently, Irwin’s installations are experiential impacts; for years he refuse to allow them to be photographed. Even now the bleached b&W images in the book have no visceral or tactile quality. The air does not reverberate on the page. They cld b anywhre. Subtle fields corresponding to pure consciousness. A field of immediate apprehension. The thing-in-and-of-itself.

screenshot of notes from ableton live that resembles a tapestry

Sound as drawing. Computational synthesia. The black specks are notes.

Listen to it: [audio: toilet-2-3.mp3]

For Searle, beginning with what is known: consciousness is intractably here. Searle mocks computational explanatory models. He’s been doing this for years. Obviously he’s mocking the meagre advances in AI since the birth of the GUI. Functionally ‘the plumbing produces all of your conscious experiences’. Its a higher level feature of the system.

This corresponds to wht i wish to achieve with the sketches: a sensual distortion of the perceptual norms in such a way that proves how deeply consciousness interplays throughout eveyerthing. Art is actually seeking to work with raw datum of experience, play with relation. Irwin focussed on moving lines millimeters.

Searle does a pitch for Christian Koch’s Quest for Consciousness and (NCC) Neuronal Correlate of Consciousness theory. The growth of neurology toward a comprehensive capacity to describe how qualia happens. But the building-block mistake for Searle is to believe that finding the NCC for a specific perception (red, faces, etc…) will solve the problem at a general level. Irwin used to hangout in an anechoic chamber (while working with the psychology student James Turrell) for hours: internally tracking subtle perturbations in his own consciousness.

Searle : ‘”How does the brain create the unified conscious field in the first place? … You can have a completely unified field of consciousness without perception. … We should think of perception as modifying a pre-existent conscious field.”

Does this explain Irwin’s later work at minimalist tunings of light? Here’s some excerpts from the book:

Posted on March 31st, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |

Chris is in Paris this week presenting Schwelle.

So in lieu of a discussion I post this set of slides since Chris again recommended I read the sections on temporality in Audio-Vision.Unfortunately I had just returned the book to the library, not before taking a few photos. This mode of presentation will eventually be expanded into an online multimedia multi-book annotated bibliography. In place of authentic oral memory, I plunk a gui.

Posted on March 25th, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |

This week’s Discussion has been re-rendered, resonated sideways and ambiently blemished with its own visceral overtones.


Salter news: Dramaturgical discussions on India that digress (resplendently) from Foucault’s static nodes to fluid modulated mediated technology, Deleuzian control algorithms for purchase power, ubiquitous demographic data as topology. All accompanied by a sandwich and some spring rolls.

Chris has an upcoming project in India with the Attakkalari Centre. Chronotopos: based on a Tamil poem ( “The Tale of the Anklet” ) , female protagonist, naturalistic. Emotional landscapes generated by characters informed by localized regions of state-spaces. Behavioral folds temporally extended. Grid taxonomies in the Vedic sciences: energistic environments of sensitive locations that have different kinds of awareness. A strategic fusion of ancient mythological awareness with digitally infused dramaturgy.

An upcoming collaboration with Erik at Venice Architectural Biennalle: The model of the camera displaced by the clik tracking assimilation of desire into the web awareness portal buyout of consumer data feeds. The outside of the piece deals with that paranoid exquisite. A clock-based avatar feeding media-ecosystem with human torsoes being regrafted with clocks cellphones and other utility debris. Crowds of cash registers; identity branding. Koolhaus having replicated in the expensive boutiques the farthest edge of my meager killer-app ape-generative brain. In front: control; behind, a light wall sweeping volumetric fog space, the strobe flashes, a pristine blur of bodies. The photon architecture cubes modulated proportional to the density of bodies in the space: suggesting that the breaching of a critical mass of bodies will enact a state-phase transition point and the game may modulate even farther and become quasi mystical changing the cognitive proprioceptive . Non-physical structures emulated in the murky bio-mass of neuro-modulator thoughts spawning from the base medulla oblaganta: tapping at the root of the brain. An interrupt yo the delicate interface of identity. A question marked placed in the crucial centre of cognition. Neuro-aesthetic lapses of consciousness. The proportional reoccurent traversing of projects, an exchange of trajectories. India. Rio. Mental models, synthesia, rasas, ancient sciences, intersections with mythology, transfixion routines.

Then I tell Chris (wrongly) that the TML Terrarium Remedios vernissage will be on Tues when it will actually be on Thurs. The mp3 ends and as I leave…

Chris offers the following advice on how I should navigate through the next section of work on the Sketches. He askes: “How do you elongate time?”

ADVICE: [audio:]

Stretch duration into transformative malleable media so that clarified rudimentary tension mythology, the psychology of the camera as character, and continuity moves beyond periodicity to distill a different sense of time. An effect I attempted to fullfill in Wound InkTake

Narrative time endogenous to the act of creating a telling. Consider the language of editing as one medium for transmission of experience, and the integration of extended gazes: lingering on objects as another. What I translate as : secular adoration. To unsettle, destabilize and provoke requires steadiness. Balance the spontaneity with plans. And maybe move it beyond the web (which provokes me to dream of emulating –in my own baroque marginal way) Jenny Holzer’s recent bean-bag warehouse lounge, but provokes Chrs to imagine a tiny screen on the floor which forces viewers to sit down by the screen. To concentrate the energy of the viewer. While I make a call for comfort and normalcy delivered to the viewer…..

Chris’s advice makes me wonder about a fusion of approaches for the physical installation of the Sketches: maybe the curved space could have a simple rheostat fader switch on (or better IN) the floor. Flicking the switch moves between visions: either widescreen total coverag of 270 degrees of curved walls, or tiny rectangle projected onto floor. Audio can also be switched between global and local sets. So the room has 6 possible states (both/either/or screens with both/or/either set of speakers). State is dependent on viewer’s whim.

And the light stops.

Posted on March 13th, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |

TransFix Routine [audio: routine.mp3]

These audio pieces were all recorded between 11pm and 3am yesterday morning during one of the worst storms of the season.

What it Is [audio:]

Physical systems are psychological systems are software.

Root Seasoning [audio:]

This music was composed in two phases. One in a bathtub, the tap dripping: Edirol recorder on. Two at a computer using Ableton manipulating a single track of bathtub audio.

The result: 79 minutes of raw footage that yields 7 or so ambient tracks plucked from the total. An obvious Eno-homage with Laurie Anderson vocoder knock-offs occuring (when my girlfriend (sophie) comes in to chat ) and Ableton-Hencke resonater fx converting arbitrary tap-drippings into a ping-pong delayed tour of 50 year of electronica. I’m not suggesting its high art, it’s just an accurate transcription of a subset of a technology’s capacity.

Emulation is a strand in a massive web of emotive cognition.

More and more the presence of the computer makes it clear: creation is not solely dependent on identity, art is not made by artists, it is a sort of cultural fluid.

New Ooze [audio:]

A palpable inter-us.

Rosenator [audio:]

Temporary nodes expressing ephemeral constrained transactions with their cultural surroundings constitute the fluid dynamic forces acting upon the larger cultural formulas. Nexus flirting endorphin seekers operating as interfaces to modes and forms of thought construct and deconstruct the apparatuses of engagement. Acousmatic magicians absorbing normal data and exuding entropy and epiphanies. An immaculate continuum of energy is found, panting and hungry, in a great emptiness of sound.

Nodal Exchange [audio: exchange.mp3]

Tools define our capacities: composing an ambient stream of consciousness album in a single evening (along with a set of videos and some huge flaws and massive inconsistencies) was probably not within the creative range of a median individual like myself before computers. Recognition of distributed autonomy is a challenge to the art in me that still thinks like ego.

A farmer does not oversee every aspect of germination; scientists don’t invent physical systems; nor do artists. Nature is technology, the digital artist weeds. Culture also weeds: as it assesses it nodes, its artists, its scavengers of the cultural and social body. From the intricate dropping culture-makers diffuse, a nebulous web of arbitrary circumstances and redundant opportunities erupt from the genitals of civilization. Who culd have conceived of it? The networked body of culture sewn together in a patchwork of seamless permeatio, somewhat delicately kept-in-separate segments by the thought-policy police of celebrity culture, chased by the copyright lawyers sucking on their ties, and our very own onboard integrated cpu known as the superego: itching to extrude a rivulet of sonic abstraction powerful enough to scar (in an amicable way of course: compassionately it is hoped that buried sumwhere in these loops that emerged from the voice of water and steel, heat, air and time, there is redemption or at least wonder of some form for some one some where).

2nd Resonator [audio: resonator.mp3]

Sampling is information-sonification: it mutates the ordinary into rhythms, overtones, frequencies, state-spaces, volumetric topologies. Acousmatic off-screen ambient sponges of psychological states. So the listener is not really listening to music (expressive of identity) but the re-purposing of physical structures into forms unfamiliar (temporarily) enough to allow a glimpse at their structure.

There are several silent segments embedded in each track. I don’t know how these occurred. They do not occur in the authoring software. I guess its a computer glitch homage to John Cage.

Download entire album here : (41 MB)

Posted on March 9th, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |

Walter Murch

Wooster Group: Hamlet

Walter Benjamin: Preface to The Age of Mechanical Reproduction


Information Noise

Let them sing it for you

Tile Cube

The Shining (alternative trailer)

Bill Viola – Going forth by Day

Chion, Michel. 1994. Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen

This week’s Discussion has been unrendered, blotted out and censored to protect the innocent and amuse the diligent.
“…profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful.” Paul Valery.


Walter Murch , editor-designer, found that editing at the place he thought best didn’t work: “intellectually it’s right…but it didn’t feel right [he cuts on the fly]…the judgment of how well a film is edited is similar to how well music is performed…”. He picked up the title sound designer from Coppola: migrating from theatre to film to THX11138. Using no complex delays, no digital techniques, early foley artists, were pushing recording levels on tape in a medium-based way that Cage anticipated. Always returning to the same continuum of computational media as pliable fluid material physicalized from air, yet ephemeral as light, evanescent, indulgently temporary; tapes as material device, graspable; yet here we are in the ear of abstraction vibratory phenomena pulsating (from Xenakis to Forsyth to affect)… stretching, plugging, physically material in our ape bodies beating the bone into the satellite (1968, Coppolla). Mythic delirium inculcating us toward a reservoir (Stalker and Solaris) and the amnesia I had about the 2001 ending: the trip beyond time with the Ligetti music and ending up in the 18th century room and hearing the bugles call us forward, waiting thru the throttling, watching the pop culture and high art trade symbiotic riffs across the tympani drums,….On to war, advertisements for the armed forces, Jane Goodall and primate aggression, the nouveau pragmatism of evolutionary-apathy, and a crescendo of ideas culminating in the kinesthetic kitsch of distraction.

how cinerama is projected

We segue into Benjamin’s call for arms to the communist to realize how the fascists aestheticize the political and politicize the aesthetic. Loop the ambivalence. Spit from a 3yr old’s mouth, anti-speed shopping moral. Validating our identity on 18 lane highway as we are told to walk. [Post-thought:(in Hold Everything Dear) John Berger's description of occupied Palestinians walking footpaths through the blockades is analogous to fiber-surfing eggheads trying to negotiate institutional bandwidth throttling.] Boycott bad-faith power calling for increased security. Caffeinate water in a clear can. Oxygenated water, in the oxygen bar with transparent tubing purity. Time reduced to secondary pulses: the next five seconds being extended to 20 minutes. This feces is luxury. Culminating graciously within a morsel of another famous transition (from bone to orbit) from cinerama 70mm to flv. Cross-platform issues.

Benjamin again: tracing (poor students) 12 groups 15 paragraphs, thinking and learning how to think, asking central questions, figuring. Tending toward time to not thinking. Time reduced to testing how much tolerance and stress the faculties can take. Balancing juxtaposition with narcissistic echoes. Censored obliteration fulcrums : Wooster group’s Hamlet (kate valk playing both gertrude and ophelia and a siren outside) simultaneous appearance impossible: unrendered. Blotting out being. Inserting full frequency white noise, fallibility and paranoia.


Fischerspoon (did the music for Wooster’s Hamlet)

Black text on black. Noir francais. 14% of one file. Down slow; up fast; antediluvian. making footpaths with ethernet cables. Authenticating blindness. Back to Benjamin tracing from preface to ending: ‘the problem with Marx is he doesn’t analyze culture (except he understands capitalism needs to tweak senses). Growing old. Enlightenment. Epistemology and ontology. Conduit through the easier soup up the shale slope of the social. The Inquiry (1978 documentary) on the Berger Inquiry: a trial judge sent up to listen to the indigenous perspective on an imminent pipeline. Back to Benjamin, but whoops first Woody Vasulka’s 1986 history of electronic arts. It sits in my lap: barcodes on many pages. Chris reads the preface


When Marx undertook his critique of the capitalistic mode of production, this mode was in its infancy. Marx directed his efforts in such a way as to give them prognostic value. He went back to the basic conditions underlying capitalistic production and through his presentation showed what could be expected of capitalism in the future. The result was that one could expect it not only to exploit the prole tariat with increasing intensity, but ultimately to create conditions which would make it possible to abolish capitalism itseld The transformation of the superstructure, which takes place far more slowly than that of the substructure, has taken more than halfa century to manifest in all areas of culture the change in the conditions of production. Only today can it be indicated what form this has taken. Certain prognostic requirements should be met by these statements. However, theses about the art of the proletariat after its assumption of power or about the art of a classless society would have less bearing on these demands than theses about the developmental tendencies of art under present conditions of production. Their dialectic is no less noticeable in the superstructure than in the economy. It would therefore be wrong to underestimate the value of such theses as a weapon. They brush aside a number of outmoded concepts, such as creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery–concepts whose uncontrolled (and at present almost uncontrollable) application would lead to a processing of data in the Fascist sense. The concepts which are introduced into the theory of art in what follows differ from the more familiar terms in that they are completely useless for the purposes of Fascism. They are, on the other hand, useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art.

Entropic culture industries, art of the theses as weaponand on to the epilog “increasing formation of the masses” and shift that film creates in these newly created masses who might or might not strive to destroy the property relations

The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Fiihrer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.

The amputation of aesthetics from politics, the integration of turbulent opposites, apparatus fluxus. Guattari machinic, Latour’s network (assemblage), and our residual vestigal fear of the inanimate commodity: the giving of desire to the object.

All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis of war does not employ such arguments. Still, Marinetti says in his manifesto on the Ethiopian colonial war: “For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as anti-aesthetic …. Accordingly we state:… War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony…”

Lalya enters the chaotic office, piles of poutine, pancakes, maple syrup and souvenirs emerging, and planes to be taken. The bronchial rest-home interview over. Reviews accumulating in drifts, texts and ISEA, Paris, SID Group Workshop at Cai in April, then to Linz, then to China, the Venice Bienalle architecture proposals feeding a voracious fire of future activity. Bit noise erupting to erase the fulmens, the class absorbs tangential vectors; the studio opens to emerge, seeding, gestating, foraging from the extreme edges of civilization. Removing the formants from the voice, reassembling the signal-to-noise ratio to 40 %. Apathy and information overload is the greatest filter. Excerpts fromTarkovsky’s Stalker are online contrary to my expectations, as are clips of every teenager in the world singing a song for one second. This is just a teaser. Prog rock voluptuous wrappers engorged on bad faith saturating every clip. Art films not throttled, everyone watching hi-def on mobile phones. Infinite digressions, gray noise and information noise.

Information noise : the amount of information that exceeds the cognitive bandwidth of a typical human. Most of the universe is information noise.

Let them sing it for you

Libel epilepsy depression resistance side-effects lawyers and shotguns. Art. Alterations and obsolescence. Torpor tropes and diligence. Troubleshooting automatized routers in the deep south from bangalore, brain mush, blur futurist dominatrices, hysterically spoiled rampaging indifference, esoteric axioms of nouveau aesthetics. Buffet of violent temptations. Back to Benjamin:

The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production–in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of “human material,” the claims to which society has denied its natural material. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.

The turbulent integral symbiosis of aesthetics and politics. Bretch, Adorno, Frankfurt school: contradictory swathe of images. Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia as a film about advertising, exiling imperfection: white hair, glued teeth. RRSP utopic island eden net. That Benjamin framed his discussion of the transformation of cognition (the distracted masses absorbed in shock) induced by technology within these polemical calls. The desktop zone of distraction precludes contemplation: the tension of emptiness obscured by the screen noise. Opportunity erupts into space to annihilate reverie. Push-media, wired. Art may be the only modality capable of creating temporary rifts in the ubiquitous branding atmosphere: we breath the brands, the omni-software, little things beneath the radar avoiding status, arriving at tiny reservoirs of time overloooked by the hurtling successful. And Chris discussing a future complete immersion in an interface. Buried in a solid ephemera. Architecture made of light in fog.

Anthony McCall

Out and through. Logos having epiphanies. And a brief excursion through this week’s TileCube sketches on insomnia spawns the following observations.

The body-without-organs leads us to the trailer of

The Shining

after an extended emptiness … blood flows down over the floor, and the potential of not playing out the effects space, and allowing the space to evolve over extends time. Its not about speed, its about the amount of effects, to give back the space, and the gradualness of the emergent body in the presence of the languorous audio. Pushing the eruptive water, the space is disappearing too much for Chris. Mobile space. Evolve something as opposed to having bits: extending time into suspense, narrative evolution and Ligetti’s soundtrack. What a strange little species we are.

Bill Viola’s ‘Going Forth by Day’ : 2002. Video and sound installation with 7 projectors, 10 speakers, sub-woofer, 7 amps, 6 equalizers, cables, speaker & projector mounts, and 2 servers Running 36 minutes. Qausi cinema. Entering into birth.

Chris recommends a longterm meticulous preparation. Curved corners segue sideways through the brainwave curvature of Mariko Mori’s Wave

A round room of immersive threaded psychological tube narrative arc that glides the viewer through the experiential.

Other advice: Plan an extension to space that corresponds to the audio’s elongation of time.
Read: Chion, Michel. 1994. Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen. New York: Columbia University Press.

Chion’s added value of sound, the vectorization of space, temporal animation of sound and theoretical discussion of amalgamating sound and image. Coming out of darkness, obscurity, less recognition to allow the viewer to think less about technical details, looking for ways to transfix glands through threads.

And the noise stops.

Posted on February 18th, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |

Discussion Recording:

David Kamp: The Food Snob’s Dictionary and Snobsite

Cardoons, portebellos, Sontheimer’s cuisinart (of culture?) and Water’s sustainability

An undergrad reading list in critical theory circa 2008

Zippy Interregnum and retro Simon

Panksepp, Varela, Thompson, Boden, Brooks

Iannis Xenakis : combinatorial composer

LastFM streaming Radio: Artists similar to Xenakis

Recommended reading: Beckett’s NOT I and a still from Mouthy

Discussion It begins in silence walking to Chris’s office. Migrates thru personal details about exotic chocolates as secular religion, the dexterity of partners at hoarding delicious stuff, and cheap USB keys that will carry last week’s stray mp3 entities. Of course this week’s thematic is about food. What else could match the indignities, diversity, strife, peril, joy, ecstasy and loneliness of art creation but food. So we migrate to a cheap Vietnamese restaurant.


Chris brings along David Kamp’s Food Snob Dictionary in order to alleviate any ego-indigestion we might experience as we absorb the fact that art is a nutrient, a cultural bio-chemical, a hormone released by industrious symbols. Is Kamp his real last name? Whatever, visit: Snobsite

From the canadian mystery of Tim Horton‘s linking hockey and donuts, to the ubiquity of sandwich grills, wet lettuce, Silpat made of fiberglass and silicone, and branding proliferation in Postrel, to musings on new media theory where Marx (not simply the icon but the political philosopher, activist, and economist of diverse periods who critiqued Hegel and exposed historical determinism) reveals a generation gap of awareness in the minds of students unaware or indifferent to any difference between communist and capitalist systems.

A form of emergent gestalt gap in the mass-mind imbued on internet, magazines, and a steady diet of hollywood films.

From this to the creation of art as theory-fed or instinct-laden, all accompanied by a woozy sonic background of easy-listening classical radio. Food fetishized image and the discrepancy between image and content: advertising, holographic technology. Rhetorical leaps, tangents, critical readings, and brining (vinegar soaked) meats evoking memories of the Huff meat-packing plant (where I had my first real job slopping chunks of animal’s bodies into vats of brine) and D. H. Lawrence’s ‘brindled bull’ that perforates my sporadic capacity to synoptically condense famous philosopher into cocktail sound bites.

From the ‘frisson’ of cardoons (basically a form of thistles ), to why portebello are fake fungus (it was peasant food), medieval ‘virg jus’ (more vinegar but with a fancy pretentious name), and sunchokes (another artichoke variant but starchy and north american), we migrate across salivatory landscapes that ironically expand my linguistic horizons: as if food were the original source of why beings invented language, to differentiate taste. The citadel of culture, value hierarchies and the plundering references of critical texts all play this similar game of mix-mincing words on a menu deigned to induce synaptic saliva: aesthetic, gustatory, and intellectual food. Chris introduces Alice Waters –california chef-guru who helped established organic food on market and now preaches local sustainable cooking, her bio is served on the NYTimes website with a hint of patriotism and a drizzle of snob-sauce, however, it’s her use of veal that irritates the vegetarian snob in me: boycott veal!

Our thoughts turn idyllically in the shredder of pop-art references evoked by food to Carl Sontheimer –the MIT inventor of the cuisinart. We enter into a conversational tsunami. My skin is porous; my mind is a gut sack.

Chris migrates thru a (a)typical undergrad reading list: Plato, Adorno, Baudrillard, Marx (use-value and exchange value. Marx’s extreme position “all sensuous character is exstinguished at the moment an object is purchased” excludes the capitalism’s construction of desire, commidity fetish, indigenous animism, agency, Latour, and my own premonitions about proto-consciousness that permeates reality [i pull out my infamous speck-on-slime model and Rumi's minds beyond us] ), Foucault, Kittler (“what Kittler did was take Foucault’s ideas and Lacan‘s notion of real (print), symbolic(type?) and imaginary(media) and spun them into media” and looks at inscription systems from a hierarchy of print to the erasure of all media at the machine level, a technical determinism… a notion which I disagree with being a biologically determined little vegetarian chimp… Chris counters with the distinction between physical and virtual and Deleuzian notion of physical body and Guattari‘s medium of significant expression), Hart & Negre (sic?), Wendy Chun on control networks, Deleuze on society of control. Sensual decision processes underlying purchases, and the infinite proliferation of peripherals.

Zippy‘s next best thing 10 miles in an infinite regress. Take a deep breath.

Milton-Bradley's 1978 interactive toy 'Simon'

Milton-Bradley’s 1978 interactive toy ‘Simon’

A brief quick grilled cruise into cog-sci books (a few of them so large and recent that niether of us have read them). I pay my now typical homage to Jaak Panksepp Affective Neuroscience while Chris quickly dissects Francisco Varela’s Embodied Mind.

Garnish: the weakness of contemporary computation models at fully reflecting cognition. Chutney: tracing that to first-order cybernetics, Macy conferences and Margaret Boden‘s Mind as Machine, and Jean-Pierre Dupuy, The Mechanization of Mind: On the Origins of Cognitive Science

Side dish: Rodney Brooks’ challenge to connectionist models and the migration beyond situated cognition. Dessert is served: Evan Thompson, Mind in Life.

If you listen carefully you can hear me brush crumbs from the table, Chris’ fork in action, a form of musique concrete that invisibly permeates each meal. The detritus of details pushed aside, the nutrient of fact absorbed.

In order to offset the vigorous levity induced by eating, Chris also carries a hefty tome by the ineffable dense resonant genius composer Iannis Xenakis. Xenakis is renowned for adopting statistical composition methods, an obvious precursor to computational or algorithmic artistic methodolgies. (In literature a relative might be OULIPO [Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature). Xenakis emphasizes forces and intensities in composition; algorithmic charts that resemble spirograph doodles, and the importance of probabilistic calculus in conjunction with artistic impulses in the compositional process. Sound moving into technical systems that make decisions.

Xenakis: “… linear polyphony destroys itself by its very complexity… mass of notes.. enormous complexity prevents the audience… what will count will be the statistical mean.. introduction of probability,.. possible escape route from linear thought… general causality… strict serial causality as a specific case… the different aleatory procedures… principle of indeterminism… natural events such as hail.. or cicadas … are made of thousands of isolated events… which follow aleatory laws… “

Metastasis, Iannis Xenakis


Recommended reading: Samuel Beckett’s Not I:

Not I takes place in a pitch-black space illuminated only by a single beam of light. This spotlight fixes on an actress’s mouth about eight feet above the stage

‘Not I’ Production Photo: Lisa Dwan, Battersea Arts Centre ¬© Allan Titmuss

mout demo still

Still from ‘Mouthy’ video demo — Jhave — January 2008

Posted on January 31st, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |

Discussion Recording

Einsturzende Neubauten

Nyquist theorum, SA-CD, Delta-Sigmoid, and the origins of 44.1hz

Chris Salter: Architecture of Listening

Hearing Loss due to Noise (Brain Loss due to Media)

Wendy Carlos – Oval – Avro Part – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan


Mike Oldfield – Gavin Bryrars – John Chowning

Aria and Subliminal Audio Branding – Wim Delvoye

Molecular cooking: Elbulli

Discussion :The theme of the week spontaneously migrates toward sound. We begin recording in a freight elevator discussing algorithms for elevators and then move into the black box in the basement of EV building at Concordia where diverse tangents related to audio emerge accompanied by assorted blips, screechs and hoarse volcanic whispers from Marija Ballman who is working on her superCollider code generating stray vortices while we talk.


Our discussion commences with an attempt to teach me how to say Einsturzende Neubauten,

[audio: Neubauten - Rausch_Die Interimsliebenden.mp3]

Next: musings over the Nyquist theorum, SACD (super audio CD) encodage, sigma delta modulation (an integral of the sound wave and sampling rates of 2 million hz that collapse to 1 bit), 8khz sounds, and the origin of 44.1 khz:

"In the early days of digital audio research, the necessary bandwidth of about 1 Mbps per audio channel was difficult to store. Disk drives had the bandwidth but not the capacity for long recording time, so attention turned to video recorders. These were adapted to store audio samples by creating a pseudo-video waveform which would convey binary as black and white levels. The sampling rate of such a system is constrained to relate simply to the field rate and field structure of the television standard used, so that an integer number of samples can be stored on each usable TV line in the field. Such a recording can be made on a monochrome recorder, and these recording are made in two standards, 525 lines at 60 Hz and 625 lines at 50 Hz. Thus it is possible to find a frequency which is a common multiple of the two and is also suitable for use as a sampling rate.

The allowable sampling rates in a pseudo-video system can be deduced by multiplying the field rate by the number of active lines in a field (blanking lines cannot be used) and again by the number of samples in a line. By careful choice of parameters it is possible to use either 525/60 or 625/50 video with a sampling rate of 44.1KHz."

From John Watkinson, The Art of Digital Audio, 2nd edition, pg. 104

A few asides about network authentication security protocols and laptop reconnect latency, the standardization of our ears: THX living room replicator dolby wrap-arounds. The conceptual problematics of mp3s and an essay Chris wrote that is readable online:The Architecture of Listening (Chris Salter)

"MEDIA DETERMINE OUR SITUATION" writes the German theorist Friedrich Kittler, imagining a world where human perception and being are replaced by archives, code, systems, and networks. This is not the stuff of science fiction—to be unleashed on us in some distant future—but rather the present.

Chris Salter "Architecture of Listening"

The HISTORY OF SONIC INVENTION is no less than a history of the entanglement of technology and perception.

We segue from asides about compression and redundant data and how the machines listen for us into how MP3 masking provokes different effects at different volumes and distorts wide dynamic range music such as classical music. The relation of this to Mel Slater’s minimal cue sets and how audio cues might need only be the crudest suggestion of a sound to evoke an affect response.

Hearing loss does occur due to sustained exposure to noise. Does brain loss occur due to sustained over-exposure to information? Are contemporary media-saturated task-drenched-professional academic brains comparable to computers with too many applications open? performance sluggish? There is every indication that there is an optimal task level appropriate to what Buckminster Fuller dubbed the ‘human-bio-computer’.

"Audiometric tests performed on 69 female workers from the weaving section revealed that workers with more than 10 years of noise exposure had the worst hearing threshold levels at 1, 000 and 4, 000Hz."

At the same time, I remember a study (where, I cannot remember! was it propoganda? did i invent it?) that found hearing loss did not occur in factory workers who lived in sustained noise — in fact just the opposite, their hearing was strengthened. But as Marija points out hearing loss does occur in Chinese farmers experiencing fireworks who are adapted to quiet environments and confronted by savage gunpowder blasts during annual festivals.

Does catharsis rip the emotional body, destroying forever its capacity to hear some emotional cadences? Post-traumatic art disorder. The tumult and noise of the culture war. Sound artists working in the rubble, sifting for clues to the savage game. Eating machines.

Also mentioned: skin sensors, tongue accelerometers, audiences infected with biometrics. Wendy Carlos unused soundtrack for "The Shining" in the background, textile factories in China,

Oval [audio: - Store Check.mp3]

Avro Part [audio:]

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan [audio: Fateh Ali Khan - Allah Hoo Allah Hoo.mp3]

Stockhausen’s Microphoné [audio: Mikrophonie I.mp3]

"Mikrophonie I (Work Number 15), for tamtam, 2 microphones, 2 filters, and controllers, is an example of moment form, polyvalent form, and process composition. It consists of 33 structural units, or "moments", which can be ordered in a number of different ways, according to a "connection scheme" specifying the relationships between successive moments by a combination of three elements, one from each of the following groups: (1) similar, different, or opposite; (2) supporting, neutral, or destroying; (3) increasing, constant, or decreasing (Davies 1968, 9)". SOURCE: Mikrophonie (Stockhausen) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mike Oldfield‘s (2003) Tubular Bells on YouTube [By some fortunate fluke of fate, this video failed to download from I am spared the ashamed agony of watching it again] The video is beyond kitschy (Chris diagnosis: "so awful.. so bad…every kind of cliché in the book"); it utilizes lots of the kaleidoscope effect that I’ve been playing with a lot. This choice by Chris constitutes a quiet yet effective form of tacit criticism of the excessive use of this kaleidoscope effect that somehow has entranced me recently.

As we talk we spasm between discussing the music and listening to it in diverse forms: laptop youtube stuttering with latency and quicktime player simultaneously rolling. [audio: Bells.mp3]

Our thoughts shift to Gavin Bryrars [audio:],

John Chowning "Stria" (1997) (Chowning was the inventor of the DX7 and fm synthesis drone and one of Chris’ teachers.) [audio:]

A mild aside into subliminal sonic branding: Chris plays an Aria ad for an HD display from Phillips (with a glowing emotive frame) that auto-downloaded to his iTunes library when he initially watched the ad. The song’s plastic devotion is heart-wrenching to the point of nausea. I do not insert it here since subliminal branding does not need me as viral transport.

For some reason sacchirine sentiment turns my mind to its sardonic opposite: Wim Delvoye’s (2000) film of popping pimples shot in techncolour close-up glory accompanied by triply cheez synth schmaltz. Watch at your own risk this (low resolution) ballet of pus online at UBUWeb. Or visit Wim’s site

At Peter Sellars’s birthday party Chris heard Sigur Ros.

Here is Kronos Quartet covering Sigur Ros’ Flugufrelsarinn [audio:]

Distinct divergent ricochets of raw sound. Listen to all tracks at once or separately as yr proclivities suggest. This page is dedicated to the meandering immersive tumescent instinct that binds us to the vibratory patterns from which space is born. Dissected by a deluge of intense cadences digitally transfused across the global skin each human faces a perilous task of finding relevance in the noise. Cochlea catalepsy. Undulant interiority.

Closure cooking morsels of audio may bear similarities to cuisine: liquid nitrogenized truffles in cashmere sauce with estrogen Nyquist arpeggios: Ebulli

Posted on January 30th, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |

Gary Hill

Bill Seaman

Chris Marker

Peter Weibel

Steina and Woody Vasulka

Vali Export

Myron Krueger

Gene Youngblood

Listen to our first day discussion Jan 15th conversation, a wide-ranging discursive exploration of video art pioneers which proves my ignorance and begins with a discussion of the presentation of Chris’s work Schwelle at Elektra. The sound design by Marija (who is in the room as we talk and others) is a system ‘perturbedby the performer.


Gary Hill has been producing video art work for decades, he is a pioneer: "especially significant due to his incorporation of text into video art, evident in works such as Incidence of Catastrophe 1977-78."

I had never heard of Gary Hill, nor can I find any of his video works online in video form: only stills. Though nothing can excuse the advanced form of cultural ignorance I am confessing to (my girlfriend immediately knew of him!) , there are contributing factors to my debilitating condition: I suspect cultural blind-spots may be enhanced by widespread commercial art-market techniques of producing artificial scarcity with easily replicated digital media. Making limited edition dvd releases of video works, as revealed by the images below, constrains the viewing public:

Gary Hill — Spoonful

Gary Hill. Spoonful (2005). Edition of 5 and one artist’s proof.

Pardon me my candor: but in an age of DVDs that cost less than a buck and ubiquitous dvd burners, not to mention online video encoders (youtube and google video) why is it that only "5" of this spoonful works exist? Why not have 5 collector copies in HD format and release unlimited low-resolution copies on bittorrent so that plebes like myself can be nourished at the breast of genius? The negative answer undoubtedly involves economics.

If artists are the philosophers of every epoch then someone should create an installation call Nietzsche Held Hostage in the Bank Vault. Bank vaults such as the MOMA are useful for works requiring a very particular hardware setup that precludes widespread dissemination.

Gary Hill. Inasmuch As It Is Always Already Taking Place (1990) is in the MOMA Permanent Collection

Update note. A very brief excerpt from Gary Hill. Incidence of Catastrophe. (1987-88. 43:51 min, color, sound) can be found online at Electronic Arts Intermix video archives


Bill Seaman early work in Director done at MIT. Animated word. Not accessible in live form online. And neither are his VR works. But it clearly shows that what I am doing is not original. It stems from the same impulse that inspired Kurt Schwitters or any of a herd of typographic experimenters before and since the dawn of computers (and probably even language itself evokes experimental designs in order to ensure its evolution. Hypothesis: symbolic play originates in the desire of things to be thingful).

Bill Seaman. Passage Sets/One Pulls Pivots at the Tip of the Tongue (1995)
Linear Video and Interactive Videodisc

A different approach to distribution: The Vasulkas have their entire idiosyncratic work output online. Their approach shares affinities with my own practise: open online access to the material, experimentation with potential of media as play. Chris recounts a conversation he had with Woody at an exhibit at CKM concerning video, electronic imaging, language, filmmaking, new visual systems and mainframes that vomited pixels in the 70s: formal and contentless. Chris remarks that he liked Tarkovsky which prompts Woody to remark that Chris is ‘one of those content people’.

Vasulkas. Warp (2000)


Chris Marker (author of Ciné Roman), iconoclast, theoretical filmmaker, who in 2007 had a show of photographs reviewed by the Brooklyn Rail

Marker’s most famous work is  slow sci-fi allegory about time-travel and memory told using photos (with one motion sequence) and a voice-over. I will undoubtedly be indebted to this technique in future experiments. Dense precursor to Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys. It is also publised as coffee table book that reminds me of a flipbook (which has a thriving culture) for the affluent. And it makes me think of Speaking Pictures "Missing Pages" (which I mistakenly called ‘Missing Pieces’) and Tensor Networks which anticpate and pre-render muscular-skeletal time. This bring Chris to think of an old syllabus designed by Marjorie Perloff (David Antin, Bill Viola, Laurie Anderson) and an ancient Chinese alchemical text ‘Secret of the Golden Flower’:

Rational thought benefits from an enhanced acuity of intuitive perception.

La Jetée (1963). Chris Marker’s most famous film. It’s a post-modern parable now on youtube.

Peter Weibel : "b 1944 in Odessa; studies of Literature, Philosophy, Medicine, Logic and Film in Paris (F) and Vienna (A); since 1966 conceptual photo-literature as well as audio pieces, – texts, -objects and -actions; end of the 1960s, he worked in the field of Expanded Cinema, action art, performances and film together with his partner Valie Export; his interdisciplinary activities comprise scientific, artistic as well as literary, photographic, graphic, plastic, and digital works."

Vienna Actionist. Interrogates the TV as a dead medium; recursive structures that break down the user’s awareness of themselves. Images only the back of spectators heads; surveillance as decontextualized thought. Has moved from nano stuff to an archeology of new media to 1950 interaction sculpture.

[QUICKTIME 320 240 false true]

Peter Weibel. Imaginary Water Sculpture. 1971.

Expanded cinema was developed by Weibel and Valie Export: her 2003 presentation "Expanded Cinema
as Expanded Reality"
defines both past and future adaptions of the term and places her body as a performative element in the work:

“Expanded cinema”, i.e. the expansion of the commonplace form of film on the open stage or within a space, through which the commercial-conventional sequence of filmmaking – shooting, editing (montage), and projection – is broken up, was the art-form that I chose in the mid-1960s when I realised that the course of my life would lead me through the history of art… Today, expanded cinema is the electronic, digital cinema, the simulation of space and time, the simulation of reality. "



Myron Krueger Chris’s assessment: Krueger "… is a problem… He’s the one responsible for all the bad video art. …Because he learned that interaction is the medium…By virtue of valuing interaction over aesthetics…." he destroyed the capacity of aesthetics to claim a place. Glowflow (1969) which Chris cites as one of his best pieces is non-web accessible (i.e. no images online) but is described as: "Reactive Light-sound-installation, Myron Krueger uses the walls of the dark space with four, transparent tubes containing differently colored, phosphorescent liquids. Also mounted to each of the four walls are two columns, containing the tubes (equipped with movement sensors). As visitors pass through this space, they activate visual and audio-effects, which integrate recipients into the work by way of perception and movement." Source: Media Art Net



Caonical text department: Gene Youngblood "Expanded Cinema" (1970) 444 pgs in PDF . Introduction and poem "Inexorable Evolution and Human Ecology" by none other than the illustrious R. Buckminster Fuller.

This text is yet anther morsel of canonical media theory that I missed in my wild years. During the turbulent times of my youthful debauchery, I did read a good percentage of Fuller, including the tome Critical Path. Read enough to have imbibed on Fuller’s relation to Moby Dick as techno-prophet raconteur innovator who voyaged always a little beyond the horizons of normalcy into those nebulous realms known as the future. 

Contemporary concerns are much the same as Youngblood’s. His chapter titles are prescient: artist as ecologist, artist as designer, synaesthetic cinema, cybernetic cinema, computer films, hardware and software, human bio-computer, man/machine symbiosis, the earth as software, entropy. It’s as if .Youngblood invented a whole host of genres that had been writhing n the epistemological bloodstream since James Clark Maxwell explored thermal dynamics. Engines creativity and Charles Babbage having lunch with Byron. The entire tumultuous history of academia is a heaving and weaving of similar thematics: establishing redundancy within the species to ensure the survival of ideas (Cloak, Dawkins, Dennet etc..).

Coming at what I anticipate is an audacious explorative text 37 years after its birth, I wonder what lessons can be learned about the perils and joys of invocations concerning emergent chaotic cyber-culture. [Probably yet another confirmation of my irrelevance within the explosive tumultuously fertile spawning of intellectual idioms and fascination with human endeavor. The intrinsic habitual way humanity continues to produce art, dissect media, evolve theories, distribute communiques, develop networks, amalgamate positions and establish rituals of hierarchical grooming done in the same way as it produces babies: inexorably, instinctual, on whim].

Obviously, I am not a pioneer. Web-video is a swaggering adolescent. It lives in the burbs.





Posted on January 16th, 2008 | Filed under Uncategorized |