Monday, June 3, 2013

Aesthetic States of Frenzy, by Joseph Nechvatal

Since 1986 Joseph Nechvatal has worked with ubiquitous electronic visual information, computers and computer-robotics. His computer-robotic assisted paintings and computer software animations are shown regularly in galleries and museums throughout the world. From 1991-1993 he worked as artist-in-resident at the Louis Pasteur Atelier and the Saline Royale / Ledoux Foundation's computer lab in Arbois, France on The Computer Virus Project: an experiment with computer viruses as a creative stratagem. In 2002 he extended that artistic research into the field of viral artificial life through his collaboration with the programmer Stéphane Sikora. Dr. Nechvatal earned his Ph.D. in the philosophy of art and new technology at The Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts (CAiiA) University of Wales College, Newport, UK where he served as conference coordinator for the 1st International CAiiA Research Conference entitled Consciousness Reframed: Art and Consciousness in the Post-Biological Era (July 1997); an international conference which looked at new developments in art, science, technology and consciousness. Dr. Nechvatal presently teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City (SVA). His book of essays Towards an Immersive Intelligence: Essays on the Work of Art in the Age of Computer Technology and Virtual Reality (1993-2006) was published by Edgewise Press in 2009. In 2011 his book Immersion Into Noise was published by the University of Michigan Library's Scholarly Publishing Office in conjunction with Open Humanities Press. (Website:

The following paper was presented at Cyber-Nietzsche: Tunnels, Tightropes, Net-&-Meshworks, a conference held at The New School, New York, NY, April 13th, 2013.

Odyssey Palimpsest #19

Aesthetic States of Frenzy: Friedrich Nietzsche’s aesthetic philosophy and the Odyssey Palimpsest noisy mesh challenge to the post-modern tragic carnival

by Joseph Nechvatal

If there is to be art, if there is to be any aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological condition is indispensable: frenzy. - Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

The realm of aesthetics holds for Friedrich Nietzsche a position of supremacy. For Nietzsche, art is the unique offset to prevailing forms of nihilism. The basic role of art in Nietzsche's philosophy is that of establishing a countermovement to nihilism because art both destroys handed down nihilistic values and creates novel aesthetic values that allow for our inner intensity to flourish. This paper will address what Nietzsche called the aesthetic state - a state of being that is achieved through the intelligent sensuality of art - through a recent body of work that I have executed called the Odyssey Palimpsest.

For Nietzsche, the aesthetic state is an altered state of consciousness achieved through an artistic transcendental aesthetic. This aesthetic is the highest form of human activity, because in certain works of art opposites are conjoined. And it is through the majesty of such conjoined art that we find an optimistic path out of nihilism and towards our own aggrandizement. So we artists and thinkers need Nietzsche now more than ever - because there is so much to be nihilistic about in our mad and tragic world. Consequently, I am interested in Nietzscheian tragic aesthetic when Nietzsche emphasizes affective states – states of mind/body that we may enter into as a form of creative expression of our will to power in art.

Today the meeting of neuroaesthetics and information technology is one of the vital and pleasurable arenas in which interesting currents align for art. My endeavor here shall be to give evidence of this pleasurable meeting through my recent meshwork series called Odyssey Palimpsest – work that returns us symbolically to Homer's ancient lost hero. I will place this somewhat odd Odyssey in relationship to Nietzsche's affirmation of life and in line with his development of the tragic hero in The Birth of Tragedy (1872). His doctrine of tragedy is based in the fundamental knowledge of the oneness of everything and of art as the joyous hope that the spell of false individuation may be broken in the interests of a consciousness of restored oneness. Thus it is an affirmation of the mystery of everything.

Odyssey Palimpsest is a highly elaborated ornamental scene sequence that embodies primordial joyful frenzy and primordial pain. The lyric poet that you will see in Odyssey Palimpsest identifies himself with the pain of the world and merges into the unification of the world. But perhaps it is necessary to comment briefly on two of Nietzsche’s well-known aesthetic formulations: Dionysus (the god of intoxication, orgies, forces of nature and music) and Apollo (god of individuation, illusion, form and order). This use of the concepts of the Apollonian and Dionysian is famously linked to Nietzsche where he wants to bring to our attention the way in which the development of art is bound up with the duality of the Apollonian and Dionysian. As you know, Nietzsche's aesthetic usage of these concepts, which was later developed philosophically, first appeared in The Birth of Tragedy. His premise there was that the fusion of Dionysian and Apollonian artistic impulses are needed to form artistic tragedies. It is through a dialectical interplay of these two opposing - and at the same time complementary - aesthetic elements that my art owes its continuous allegiance to Nietzsche.

Nietzsche famously assimilated the Apollonian and the Dionysian together under the name of an experience of art. Odyssey Palimpsest attempts an equivalent, as it fuses chaotic disturbance with classical beautiful forms. It is an attempt at situating us somewhere between the surface of empirical diverse reality and the chasm of shattering incoherence where we must each pick through the meshwork and recover figurative meaning out of entangled ground. This approach relates to my book Immersion Into Noise (2011) where I have mapped out a broad-spectrum of aesthetic activity I call the art of noise by tracing its past eruptions where figure/ground merge and flip the common emphasis to some extent. Immersion Into Noise concludes with a look at the figural aspect of this aesthetic lodged within the ground of consciousness itself.[1]

But we must address noise aesthetics and the art context within our broad-spectrum data-monitoring info-economy environment of background machine-to-machine gigabyte[2] communication murmur - and think through and deploy noise art as an embedded subject within the larger environment of ubiquitous computing cognitive capitalism.[3] To do so, I will be examining Odyssey Palimpsest along with some trends and vivid prospects for what I have been speculatively calling noise art - that is visual art as compared to noise music.[4]

In brief, noise art aesthetics[5] is an unbound zone (where qualitative shifts of coordinates takes place) in which it is possible to carry out art experiments that would be unachievable in a different place. What noise art aesthetics has to offer is the possibility to understand things in a different way, shifting boundaries, departing from established functions. Of course art itself has recently ossified into some established functions that might provoke a nihilistic response. For example, I have been following the public proclamations on art of The New School philosopher Simon Critchley. Critchley described in 2010 contemporary art’s dominant trend as an in-authenticity of “mannerist situationism” based in rituals of reenactment.[6] Critchley goes on in 2012 to describe the circumstances further, as the “cold mannerist obsessionality of the taste for appropriation and reenactment that has become hegemonic in the art world.”[7] So things have gotten no better. Clearly something deep-seated must be reevaluated. And art aesthetics is more interesting when it does the work of shifting meaning. So I am declining here Critchley’s urging for contemporary art to focus in on the monstrous, as, in my opinion, that parody of gloomy general dystopia only plays into the extreme spectacle aspect of mannerism. To be fair, Critchley doesn’t explain what or who he means by the monstrous[8] but when I think of the monstrous today I think of the high visibility of Lady Gaga (and her little monsters), extreme Hollywood lowbrow movies and grotesque far right political claims and postures. And in art (commodified and co-opted by the socio-economic system that is its life blood) we have had the work of Eduardo Kac, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Orlan and Paul McCarthy.

No, here I am only interested in a new contemporary aesthetic labor based in a certain exquisite untouchablity, and unseeablity – a monster sacré affinity of disconnectedness, that focuses on an impregnable diva-like commitment to a nihilistic aesthetic of becoming imperceptible.[9] I am interested in an exquisite monster sacré aesthetic (where personal anthropomorphic eccentricities and indiscretions are tolerated) that is bent on combining the neo-materialist[10] vibrant world with a wider vision of political awareness including private spiritual, ecstatic or numinous themes accessible through the generative subjective realm of each individual; an aesthetics of perception politics based on resonance - not a politics of visibility - which reveals in minute particulars the full spectrum of the extensive social-political dimensions.

This monster sacré affinity is a materialist nihilism of no that (if it goes far enough) can transform a metamorphosis (subject to the flickering formative forces of emergence)[11] into an all-embracing yes of delicate abhorrence. So I am advocating here with Odyssey Palimpsest not the passive and thus incomplete nihilism of form, but a generative and virulent and curative nihilistic frenzy that unleashes forces of reverberation to emerge and resonate like a web of inter-connected, molecular and viral relational affects and intensities of dissonance, deviation, and the incidental. I believe this to be in accordance with Nietzsche’s aesthetic state.

Such noise frenzy makes use of the key notion of eternal return – an access to an appreciation of the eternal through analogy - that is at the heart of great art and enables art to express hope within the reality of current tragedy. It is, indeed, the access to the eternal that is the key motif of The Birth of Tragedy as is suggested when Nietzsche writes that any artwork is worth only as much as it is able to press upon experience a stamp of the eternal.

My project Odyssey Palimpsest is situated in my immersive noise theory of turmoil exchanges of figure/ground relationships: an agile art that emphasizes human and non-human entanglements. This is an art that depends on playing out nihilistic negativity by intensifying its forces into an affirmative nihilism. This nimble nihilist bracketing pushes us towards open de-familiarizations, challenging us to think outside of the normal system of human consciousness. So Odyssey Palimpsest as nimble frenzy is implicated in the very type of problematic instability that the ‘self’ undergoes in Nietzsche’s thought: the cohesiveness of the culture/state distinction, like the cohesiveness of the ‘self/other’ distinction disintegrates with the ontological instability produced by the annihilation of the real as distinguishable from the illusory. With a nimble art of noise - based in the distinction between active nihilism and passive nihilism (or monstrous nihilism) - Odyssey Palimpsest can depict the underground vigor of form as an active verve that can only be speculated at by thinking beyond the discursive. And that enacts a shift away from the subject-object dualism that is currently much lauded by Object-Oriented Ontologists.

The embeddedness of our inner world - the life of our imagination with its intense drives, suspicions, fears, and loves - guides our intentions and actions in the political-economic world. Our inner world is the only true source of meaning and purpose we have and exquisite frenzy-gazing[12] (that involves self-investigation) is the way to discover for ourselves this inner life. So we might consider now that, in contrast to our frenzied data market surveillance culture,[13] that which trains us to fear the atrocious eyes of outer perception, a protracted gazing art practice based in absorption could encourage the development of agile clandestine exchanges based on the embedded individual intuitive eye in conjunctive contact with an abundant optical-mnemonic commons (not cloud)[14] that shares a sensibility for building a defensive force.

Of course this sphere of anti-purist gazing-commons (essentially a cooperative rejection of the tyranny of labels, essential identities, privileged abstractions and fixed ideas) is what allows art to construct unstable distinctions between subjects and objects that embraces the entire spectrum of imaginary spaces; from the infinitude of actual forms to formless voids of virtuality. Subsequently, Odyssey Palimpsest requires a challenging exchange of the hierarchy of figure and ground (figure and abstraction) through a struggle between noise[15] and invisibility.[16] So I want to argue for an agony of style of logo invisibility - and the importance that should be given noise art aesthetics.

The principle of constructing patterns of infinite becomings is perhaps inherent in avant-garde artistic tradition (avant-garde values). But this avant-garde now, I think, should be considered in terms of noisy invisibility not ontology, as deviating from the regularities of visible normality provides the avant-garde new sources for artistic production. Certainly, the values of the avant-garde have always been interfering with the channels of artistic production and reception - and these values are responsible for expanding the forms and definitions of art itself.[17] But like in nature, noise in art plays a productive role in the invisible life of a system when it stresses becoming-imperceptible.

But a becoming-imperceptible-invisible monster sacré, today can no longer be a form of enfant terrible with-drawl, akin to Marcel Duchamp’s strategic invisibility,[18] but rather a phantasmagorical plunge into what Félix Guattari expresses as the chaosmosis.[19] Odyssey Palimpsest marks such a qualitative transformation into a non-place where being and non-being reverse into each other, unfolding out and enfolding in their respective outsides. This short-circuit causes a creative conflagration typical of the art of noise.

Let’s consider the difference between noise art (based on an individual’s inner vision) versus the monstrous mass machine data market,[20] with its digital functionalism. For me the difference is in looking into and projecting onto something - thereby discovering an emerging manifestation based in invisibility - as opposed to looking at something. In that sense it requires an active slow participation on the part of the viewer - and the noise style of Odyssey Palimpsest demands as much. For me this requires use of hidden mental participation and, as such, is now essential in our climate of monstrous mass media (mass-think) in that it plays against the grain of given objective consensus visibility. In that sense Odyssey Palimpsest is more like a service product (or a server).[21]

However, my main interest in invisibility with Odyssey Palimpsest lay in a texture of emerging claims of art-as-politics - with its emphasis on the production of individuality based in a political physiology (a political function of living systems) with a strong proposition of emergence as the key aspect. So, I will continue the work done in Immersion Into Noise by looking at the art of noise as an emergent property rooted in obscurity. This comparison relates to my palimpsest work as an indeterminacy-based noise artist.

Now I would like to look more specifically at the possibility of further developments in noise art aesthetics concerning where becoming-imperceptible and becoming-perceptible nimbly interact. As sketched out in my book Immersion Into Noise, the evolution of visual noise art develops from certain pre-historic cave areas and baroque grottoes, to certain levels of mannerist and counter-mannerist complexity, to noisy spatial renderings in various exuberant architectural styles, then into cubism, futurism, dada, fluxus and other 20th century avant-garde movements, into the screech of technological noise art, and into the softness of software noise art aesthetics.

As noted above, what is important in the art of noise aesthetics is its intentional and elongated invisibility[22] and enigma. That is why this subject is so hard to write about. The very topic is a very difficult one to pin down and make intelligible for good reason. The art of noise is an art of disbelief in habitual codes of practice and understanding. You must take the art of noise on its own terms or risk doing violence to the art.

Noise art is not a set of homogeneous practices, but a complex field converging around perceived weaknesses in the art system. Such a noisy hyper-cognitive stance[23] happens when the particular of electronic connectivity is seen as part of an accrual total system by virtue of its being connected to everything else - while remaining dissonant. Noise aesthetics is a complex and ambiguous political gazing, and its theory of an art of resistance and investigation would be increasingly valuable to an analytical social movement based on skepticism while undermining monstrous market predictabilities, as it strengthens unique personal powers of imagination and critical thinking. This is so as it counters the effects of our age of simplification: effects which have resulted from the glut of consumer oriented entertainment messages and political propaganda which the monstrous mass media feeds us daily in the interests of corporate profit and governmental psychological manipulations.

The noise art aesthetic of Odyssey Palimpsest is that of dissonant immersion into a maelstrom of glossolaliaic unintelligibility, chaos and exaltation. Such an art of noise style is a way of seeing that reverses the order of figure/ground[24] to ground/figure. It collapses being into non-being (ontological implosion). It creates ambivalent aleatory[25] processes that are true to our inner essential world: dynamic pools of expansion and disintegration.

Odyssey Palimpsest refuses easy consumption then and encourages love, because a love for visual noise art will make perturbing events in your life more tolerable. It will make you able to see more and make you more adaptable to disturbance, rather than being torn up about them. It will help you to avoid psychic ossification by your loving the space of latent expanse. This is what suggests referring Odyssey Palimpsest to the aesthetics of the sublime, which, in the 18th century, was linked to the grandness of natural phenomena. But Odyssey Palimpsest is an innovative version of the sublime in which, for the first time, the embeddedness that we recognize ourselves in concerning nature matches up with our subliminal inner orb. This embed awareness can be suggested and promoted by noisy artistic becomings such as Odyssey Palimpsest - as its generative aspect serves to produce unpredictable results based on arithmetic instructions contained in its code.

Poetically, the hyper-noise dense texture of Odyssey Palimpsest, along with its uniform rhythms, suggests to me a possibility of connecting ourselves psychically to the great chain of being (that which precedes us and of which we are a part). However, this requires an active imagination that is aided by the visualization properties offered up. Perhaps Odyssey Palimpsest then is a psychotic outburst that disrupts smooth image operations with an explosion of buried visual hysteria that promises a highly diverse world. Its incomprehensibility by design connects the commons to unconscious frenzy through what I think to be a type of chaos magic.[26] It creates the visualization bridge between form and intuition, as its uncertain images have more information in them than a clear certain image (or sound) where the information quickly becomes redundant. Thus Odyssey Palimpsest gives rise to new thought. It promotes the emergence of new forms of an old story: art.

As mentioned above, what is important in Odyssey Palimpsest is its intentional enigma. It needs to be obscure to the degree that its codes cannot be discerned. This phantasmagorical obscurity and mystery is increasingly desirable in a world that has become increasingly data-mined, mapped, quantified, specialized and identified in a straight-forward matter of fact way. This will for enigma is the basis for discovering and entering into an immersion into the art of noise, even.[27]

Its goal is to disrupt instrumental logic and contradict, counteract, and cancel out false reason and hollow feeling. Suffering and joy, like figure and ground, are here tied together in frenzy, neither one without the other. Thus Odyssey Palimpsest suggests and produces stress in us; one might even say an urgent anxiety of disintegration. So dedication to its merits, if there are any, might well be described as vaguely heroic, because Odyssey Palimpsest suggests the revelation of a plentiful nihilistic life force. Thus Odyssey Palimpsest implies a cul-de-sac of ill communication (vacuole)[28] – the communication of enigma itself as experienced by the lyric poet.

Thus Odyssey Palimpsest has something that words risk diminishing. Nevertheless, I obviously have felt that I must take that risk because if we are to continue to live among electronic vibrations that mine us, it may be helpful to talk back against them. But yes, Odyssey Palimpsest is the transmitter of unspeakable secrets. That is why art noise matters. It wants more from us. Moreover, it teaches us to want more from art. It teaches us to look deeper, to hear more, and to trust the inner noise.

There are now many artists who see the symbolic and metaphorical dimension of a work as of little importance. I am not one of them. For me, the real worth of vigorous contemporary art is in its ability to deliver to the commons excessive sensually-embodied implications. As noise art aesthetics are indistinguishable from that which it produces as Odyssey Palimpsest, in might be considered as a panpsychic[29] sphere that contains systems of chance operations within it.

So, as you can see, for Odyssey Palimpsest I eagerly identified with Nietzsche's Dionysian attention to the frantic painful beauty of primal unity. For as he wrote, “The brightest clarity of the image did not suffice us, for this seemed just as much to reveal something as to conceal something.” My urge with Odyssey Palimpsest has been, in his words, to “tear the veil and to uncover the mysterious background” of life through the powerful analogy of art.

Such a Dionysian approach to art includes the notions that The Birth of Tragedy emphasizes in its title - eternal recurrence - and the realization of “the eternal joy of becoming” that is the creative act.

The Dionysian embraces the frenzied chaotic nature of experience as all-important; not just on its own, but also as it is intimately connected with the Apollonian. The Dionysian magnifies us, but only so far as we realize that it emphasizes the harmony that can be found within one’s chaotic experience. Such a thinking of frenzy through the prism of Dionysian aesthetics was agitating my inner logic during the summer of 2012 when I did the lion's share of Odyssey Palimpsest in Corsica[30] and Provence.[31]

Nietzsche sees in eternal harmonious unification the genesis of the highest expression of art: tragedy that allows us to sense an underlying essence of primordial unity, which revives our Dionysian nature. This is an almost indescribably pleasurable feeling to try to capture, but it was my goal for Odyssey Palimpsest: art as means of self-transcendent turbulence.

Art is the great poetic stimulus to radical life, so from an aesthetic viewpoint we need not to look for purpose, for art is purpose in itself: the purpose of life. Indeed for Nietzsche, art is the supreme delight of existence. With the eternal return at the heart of Odyssey Palimpsest, I hope to articulate a turning to ecstatic frenzy within the current construction of contemporary tragedy.

Joseph Nechvatal

[1] This involves a question of the qualities (and levels) of awareness of our own consciousness within aesthetic realms which we are capable of attaining through noise art. Nechvatal, Joseph. Immersion Into Noise. Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press (2011) p. 210

[2] Data storage is measured in bytes. A gigabyte is a billion bytes of information. The New York Stock Exchange, produces up to 2,000 gigabytes of data per day that must be stored for years.

[3] Stupendous amounts of data generated by nearly one billion people are set in motion each day as, with an innocuous click or tap, people download movies on iTunes, check credit card balances through Visa’s Web site, send e-mail with files attached, buy products, post on Twitter or read newspapers and art theory papers online.

[4] Noise Music in general traffics in dissonance, atonality, distortion, incidental composing, etc. This music begins with Russolo, Luigi’s reti di rumori (networks of noises) music that he performed on his intonarumori noise instruments and his text ”The Art of Noises: Futurist Manifesto” in Cox, Cristoph & Warner, Daniel (ed.): Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, Continuum (2004) For more of the history of noise music, see Hegarty, Paul: Noise/Music: A History. New York: Continuum (2007) and pp. 39-47 in Nechvatal, Joseph. Immersion Into Noise, Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press (2011)

[5] For a full investigation into this topic see Nechvatal, Joseph. Immersion Into Noise, Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press (2011)

[6] At his talk “The Faith of the Faithless, Experiments in Political Theology at the Dance Politics & Co-Immunity Workshop” in Giessen, Germany, November 12th, 2010

[7] Simon Critchley, “Absolutely-Too-Much”, Brooklyn Rail, Summer issue 2012

[8] Given his age and Englishness I would guess Throbbing Gristle.

[9] “Although all becomings are already molecular, including becoming woman, it must be said that all becomings begin with and pass through becoming-woman. It is the key to all the other becomings. […] If becoming- woman is the first quantum, or molecular segment, with the becomings-animal that link up with it coming next, what are they all rushing toward? Without a doubt, toward becoming-imperceptible. The imperceptible is the immanent end of becoming, its cosmic formula. […]” Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia, translation by Brian Massumi, University of Minnesota Press (1987) p. 279

[10] Manuel DeLanda coined the term neo-materialist in a short 1996 text “The Geology of Morals, A Neo-Materialist Interpretation” where he treats a portion of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus in order to conceptualize geological movements. For more on neo-materialist see Manuel DeLanda’s interview in New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies by Rick Dolphijn and Iris van der Tuin, Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press (2012) p. 38

[11] In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems.

[12] Gaze; to look long and intently. Gaze is often indicative of wonder, fascination and revelation.

[13] For example take the fact that now under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, is the blandly named Utah Data Center, being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital transactions. It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy. For more on this trend see James Bamford’s book The Shadow Factory: the Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. Anchor (2009)

[14] The term “cloud” is often generally used to describe a data center’s functions. More specifically, it refers to a service for leasing computing capacity.

[15] As I have done with my own work while also collecting examples of many other artist’s work that can be placed in this continuum.

[16] Perhaps this should not be surprising given the hidden complexity of a basic internet transaction is a mystery to most users: Sending a message with photographs to a neighbor could involve a trip through hundreds or thousands of miles of Internet conduits and multiple data centers before the e-mail arrives across the street.

[17] For more on this read my essay Viractuality in the Webbed Digital Age that was published in M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online #5 25th Anniversary Edition (2011)

[18] Duchamp's entire artistic activity since the "definitive incompletion" of the Large Glass in 1923 was an exercise in strategic invisibility, giving rise to objects and events which--because they were apparently too impermanent or unimportant or insubstantial, or because they eluded established genre conventions, or because they confused or diluted authorial identity--evaded recognition as "works of art."

[19] Félix Guattari said in his noteworthy book, Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm, the work of art, for those who use it, is an activity of unframing, of rupturing sense, of baroque proliferation or extreme impoverishment that leads to a recreation and a reinvention of the subject itself.

[20] To support all that digital activity, there are now more than three million data centers of widely varying sizes worldwide, according to figures from the International Data Corporation.

[21] A server is a sort of bulked-up desktop computer, minus a screen and keyboard, that contains chips to process data. For security reasons, companies typically do not even reveal the locations of their data centers, which are housed in anonymous buildings and vigilantly protected. Each year, chips in servers get faster, and storage media get denser and cheaper, but the furious rate of data production goes a notch higher.

[22] This parallels the fact that in many data facilities, servers are loaded with applications and left to run indefinitely, even after nearly all users have vanished or new versions of the same programs are running elsewhere. At a certain point, no one is responsible anymore, because no one, absolutely no one, wants to go in that room and unplug a server.

[23] Nechvatal, Joseph. Immersion Into Noise, Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press (2011) p. 32

[24] The characteristic organization of perception into a figure that 'stands out' against an undifferentiated background, e.g. a printed word against a background page. What is figural at any one moment depends on patterns of sensory stimulation and on the momentary interests of the perceiver.

[25] Aleatoricism is the incorporation of chance into the process of creation, especially the creation of art or media. The word derives from the Latin word alea, the rolling of dice.

[26] Some common sources of inspiration for chaos magic include such diverse areas as science fiction, scientific theories, ceremonial magic, shamanism, Eastern philosophy, and individual experimentation.

[27] As an example, see/hear Marina Rosenfeld’s Cephissus landscape (2002), an immersive noise work that undermines the central notion of "surround-sound" technology by locating viewers in an environment with no fixed center and numerous temporary sonic sweet spots where short bursts of mingled electronic and acoustic sounds intersect and decay in expanding concentric circles that suggest oscillate landscapes.

[28] This is a reference to Gilles Deleuze’s (1925-1995) notion of the vacuole. This concept of noncommunication comes from Deleuze’s Postscript on Control Societies. Deleuze’s notion of control is connected to information-communication technology—a concept he pulled out of the work of William S. Burroughs (1914-1997). A vacuole is like a sac in a cell’s membrane, completely bound up inside the cell but also separate from it. Vacuoles play a significant role in autophagy, maintaining an imbalance between biogenesis (production) and degradation (or turnover) of many substances and cell structures. They also aid in the destruction of invading bacteria or of misfolded proteins that have begun to build up within the cell. The vacuole is a major part of the plant and animal cell. Nechvatal, Joseph. Immersion Into Noise. Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press (2011) p. 14

[29] Panpsychism is the view that all matter has a mental aspect, or, alternatively, all objects have a unified center of experience or point of view.

[30] Thank you Dominique and Isabelle Roussy.

[31] Thank you Jean-Charles and Jacqueline Blanc.

nymph palimpsest

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