Archive for sepans

Images of Sound

Posted in Art, Art and Philosophy, Art Exhibits, Body and Affect, Deleuze, Film, Theater and Performance with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by immanentterrain2

Applying Deleuze theories on temporarily to sound and music is very interesting. First it is a reminder that image is not only the visual image but any fluctuation within the fabric of the environment that affects our (or any organism’s) perceptual sensors. More importantly the temporal characteristics of sound is different from the moving image. Sound necessarily unfolds through time and a still or snap shot of sound is not imaginable. Music has also been created for thousands of years with primitive tools and without a technological apparatus mediating between creator and the images. One of the first mediation affecting the temporarily of music, at least in terms of its production, was the invention of systems of musical notation. Recording technologies pushed this separation further but at the same time created a reaction to emphasize on the zone of indeterminacy in improvisational music.

Roulette was hosting an opening concert for the 3 day event on ‘Improvisation and Technology’ in conjunction with Department of Music at Colombia University and NYU. The interesting irony about that event was that unlike most of the times that technology, as mentioned above, is being used to decreases virtuality, in this events, it was used to intervene into the regular flow of music to make unexpected happen.

The setup of the stage, with more than 30 computers and different conventional and experimental instruments on the stage, was promising failure to some extent from what had been planned. In many pieces improvising machines were being used to create effects based on what the musician was playing and forcing the musician to change what she was playing, creating a loop of reactions to make the result of the piece completely out of control of the musician. In some other pieces looping machines were recording and looping parts of the performance based on some algorithms creating overlaying and juxtapositions of time.

In overall there were very interesting and state of the art experiments in pushing improvisational music into the extreme to allow the most unexpected to happen. This is also in relation to Deleuze’s idea of desert island that something bold and novel does not happen as a continuation of what had been but as an eruption.

Deleuze, Gilles. Desert islands and other texts, 1953-1974. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e) ;, 2004. pp. 9-14

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Embodiment in New Media

Posted in Art and Philosophy, Bergson, Body and Affect, Deleuze, Phenomenology with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2012 by immanentterrain2

Hansen in New Philosophy for New Media [1] argues that New Media brings the possibility of overcoming the immobility and passiveness of observer as it was the case in theater, photography, cinema, etc. and enabling user to create meaning for digital data by unfolding it through embodied interaction. But a piece that is ignored is that the mediation happens through a software to create a reaction to users’ body. In a natural environment users action is propagated through environment creating a series of crystallization and events, creating a series of zones of in-determination that are unfolding through time. In case of a digital interface (embodied or a flat screen) the results are in most cases a series of causal deterministic events that are designed by the designer (artist) to respond to users’ interaction. If there is any degree of indeterminacy, it is either the result of hardware flaws (software by definition is deterministic) or a simulated pseudo-randomness designed and hard coded into the system by the designer. This is completely in contrast with what Bergson and Deleuze describe as the crystallization through time. When user input is entered into the digital system, it is in a realm that everything can be (and will be) re-created and happened absolutely the same.

So the process of phenomenological body and digital environment interaction does not give enough agency to the body (in comparison to the designer of software) to be credited as meaning giving embodied interaction. On the contrary, as Manovich explains [2], new media in many cases only make the interaction more explicit and objectified. If we consider interpretation as a form of interaction and negotiating context between observer and the object (art), new media art has made this process more conscious and explicit and more prone to banality.

On the other hand embodiment is not only the use of our bodily actuators in reaction to every stimulus from the environment. Especially in Art if we limit the notion of embodiment to such reactions, art through history has been mostly disembodied. I think embodiment in the broader sense is all the feeling and emotions that we experience as an embodied being but are not within the grasp of thought as concepts or words. Then art is a way of communicating these embodied feelings through images (not necessarily visual images). In that sense a movie or a classical painting or a monophonic sound piece may be more embodied than an interactive piece that user controls a camera with a joystick.

[1] Hansen, Mark B. N.. New philosophy for new media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004.

[2] Manovich, Lev. The language of new media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002. pp 55-61

Adoration of the Magi (Leonardo da Vinci)

Control in Information Technology Industry Work-spaces

Posted in Deleuze, Foucault with tags , , , on May 12, 2012 by immanentterrain2

In “Postscript on Control Societies” [1], Deleuze argues that the accumulation of information and the processing capabilities of digital computers has made possible a new form of exercising power. In this new method of control,  the patterns of behaviour created by masses is used to create individuated control. Though it is possible to implement such mechanisms without high tech systems (for example it is imaginable to implement floating exchange rate system without digital processing) but information processing systems are the most cost effective way of realizing them. Deleuze predicts a switch from disciplinary mechanisms into control systems even in the very examples of disciplinary systems such as school and work-space. It is ironic to see the forerunner industry which has embraced this transition away from disciplinary systems is information technology industry.

The Trial by Orson Welles (adapted from Franz Kafka’s novel) 1962

All the instances of discipline, such as cubicle and strict reporting, are removed from workspace. Even the hostility between the employees created by bonus mechanism, as described by Deleuze, has been turned into a very collaborative cooperation. It seems as if Deleuze predictions were wrong and new information industry has been able to create a very humane work environment, at least for its employees, to create control mechanism for those outside (including themselves out of work environment).

But if we look more closely we can see that the same exact employees have the record of working overtime and the same companies have been able to make the most profit out of employees work and distribute this profit very unfairly between the owners and employees.
Other than psychological reasons that has enabled such companies to have employees and society accept these facts without objecting to them by being more ‘humane’ I would argue that there are more advanced control systems, as described by Deleuze, implemented within such workspaces. One of them being the open source community working side by side with these companies and their mutual relations.

Open source community has been praised as the realization of the democratic and collaborative way of development: The altruism of members to share their achievements with others for the benefit of the entire community. Though I don’t think that wasn’t the intention and motivation behind the open source community but I believe the same networked community enables companies to implement continuous learning and assessment in the work environment more cost effectively.

The large scale of open source development has caused a huge proliferation in the possibilities of developing code that is way beyond the learning ability of individuals. If in the 80’s and early 90’s a software engineer had to update his knowledge every few years, now a programmer has to constantly learn new tools, libraries and programming languages every day and every hour to keep up with the industry. Creation of this amount of learning material would have not been possible without open source community. It is imaginable to think that providing study material for this continuous learning is crowed sourced to be provided by open source software development community (as it is the case with Wikipedia).
This constant learning has created an integrated school-factory environment with continuous learning and assessment without limit or end, as Deleuze predicted.

Moreover working on a open source source project in the work environment, as many employees do, creates a modularization of work into personal achievement. The employee receives the consequences of the success of the project more directly than the bonus mechanism and obviously it is more cost effective for the company. In this case the assessment is done not by the higher level managers but by the other members of community, distributively and continuously. If we add into account the huge number of developers working on small open source project in addition to large, well known and stable open source projects, it is not hard to realize that how the interest of the network of user community in using that specific project determines the failure or success of the project, and consequently fame and more opportunities for its contributors.

[1] Deleuze, Gilles. Negotiations, 1972-1990. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.pp. 177-182