Bifurcation's of a Sonic Nature
Attempting to break free from linear notions of history, and scientific progress, concerning developments of a sonic nature, we apply the paradigm of a bifurcating fork, resembling the letter 'Y', to our explorations. Here the information flow always has the option to change its course, its now uncertain path leading to new realms of investigation. Zooming into the 'Y' axis, we locate three converging but disparate arteries of activity, each contradicting, opposing and folding back into the mix, whilst restating the presence and power of 'noise', as an interlocuter in a dialogue made audible. 1.
The random selection of the first path, flowing forth from the application of experimental science, is witnessed as an alchemical transfer of energy at its moment of realisation, a moment of inspiration and great expectation,
a revelatory phenomenon. Folding into another tributary, this energy finds itself reinterpreted, and reactivated, in a 'state of becoming'. Here such esoteric knowledge reconfigures itself, translating into a tool of artistic transformation. Following a completely divergent passage, these findings quickly become striated and recoded, the potential harnessed and pressed into the service of the state.
Here at the bridgehead of the second pathway, this recoding reveals its ballistic intent, following a trajectory driven by military technological research, as projectile launched at the heart of an illusive enemy in an eternal war. This 'pure' information eventually filtering down into the mass markets of the civilian domain, feeding back into educational and medical resources, and reinvigorating leisure time from base analogue to a colourful pluralistic universe, a clickable utopia. These observations logged from the all-seeing post-panoptikon perspective, of Command Control Centre down.
At the crossing into the third path, the sparks of collision ignite a creative disturbance, setting in motion a counter cultural, low filter pass of transgressive resonance. This is heard as 'a composition against normality', the anti-polar activity of the 'control society', cognitive underground of harmonised frequency, an artistic 'will to power', and audible world of of converging sonic information. 'Music like drugs, is intuition a path to knowledge. A path? No-a battlefield.' 2.
Catalyst of Noise
This struggle has always been at the core of musical passage, as Jacques Atalli suggests in his work Noise the Political Economy of Music.
Travelling through four networks, distributing ' all the orders, myths, religious, social or economic relations of symbolic societies centralized on the level of ideology'. 3. The first being that of sacrificial ritual, it is here that music first becomes established in the mechanisms of control. Further
embroiled in the modes of representation and repetition, nomadic instincts curtailed, resonant bandwidth compressed, its striafication and commodification become complete. The kernel of Attali's Noise is the reappearance of sound in a new generative and circulatory network of composition, a consummate form of intelligent interaction and immanence. An idealised passage of deterritorialisation, continually challenged and coerced, the interruptions to the auditory flow the parasitic catalyst of noise, leading to the becoming of new hybrid forms.
'Music makes mutations audible. It obliges us to invent categories and new dynamics to regenerate social theory, which today has become crystallized, trapped, moribund.' 4.
This historical analysis of a sonorous voyage spawning from a primeval ritualistic state of sacrifice, plays out its role as the arbiter of social violence, and leads us to the gates of power. In this raw state music is enlisted as an agent of social control, embedded in structures of power. Usurped from its role as a communicator of knowledge or code of information, a conduit for oral society, its constitution 'the audible waveband of the vibrations and signs that make up society. An instrument of understanding, it prompts us to decipher a sound form of knowledge'. 5. For noise is a currency of power, of information in its most liquid form,
'the drum and song have long been carriers of linguistic meaning'. This is recognised in the control of indigenous instruments, as sanctioned throughout the former British Empire, with the banning of the drum and other forms of sound communication, in particularly volatile territories, silenced by the clandestine chatter of telegraphic messages. 6.
The controlling forces that reappropriated and recoded these powerful messages are however, not at liberty to prevent their downward flow and dissemination back into the carnivalesque, with its ritualised codes of subversion. This cultural filtering, interpreted as pure distraction, is the pressure valve, the entropic release preventing the system from blowing apart. 7. The cement that bonds the disparate elements of control together in a common interest, uses the spring of sonic disquiet, to mix its bone dry discourses into more fluid and forceful stratagems.
During the Middle Ages, the nomadic jongleurs regarded as 'music and the spectacle of the body', responsible for 'its circulation within society', 8. found themselves transposed into the higher service of the court.
Casting off the native threads, to reveal beneath the heraldic sign of power, now recast as minstrels or mere functionaries. This appropriation and assimilation of the musical order, coerced by power, may have been separated from its body, but was still never far from the violence of noise that threatened its legitimacy:
The feudal world, with its polyphony, remained a world of circulation in which music in daily life was inseparable from lived time, in which it was something active and not something to be watched. 9.
This conscious collectivity of noise, with its hybrid languages, and codes
of difference, constitute a massively ascendant force; resonating and reverberating through the margins of all cultures, and challenging the apocryphal reasoning of power and knowledge. Recognising the dual role of music as both a controlling harmonic synthesiser of society, or revolutionary noise of dissonance and change, Attali conjures up these differences, and the antagonistic conflict in their soundclash, evoking Brueghel's painting Carnivals Quarrel with Lent.
A channelizer of violence, a creator of differences, a sublimation of noise, an attribute of power-creates in festival and ritual an ordering of the noises of the world. Then-heard, repeated, regimented, framed, and sold-it announces the installation of a new totalizing social order based on spectacle and exteriority. 10.
Such spectacle folds over and feeds back on itself, in a proliferation of the amplified sonic projection of mythic terror. The boundaries of sonic fiction are blurred, as US troops sweep around Baghdad, in an indelicately devised phantom search. Loudspeakers blasting the Iraqis with Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, amidst the clatter of helicopters invoking the spirit of the Vietnam War. 11.
Music is not only a modern substitute for myth; it was present in myths in their time, revealing through them it's primary operationality as a simulacrum of the ritual sacrifice and as an affirmation of the possibility of social order.12.
The forking path of military endeavour, whose all seeing eye, fixated on a forward thrusting tracking shot, opens into the realm of the imaginary, its terminus as yet unidentified. The eye as weapon focuses its gaze on the perspective of the horizon, but its targets awareness is aroused by the roar of machinery in flight, long before its shadow plunges all into darkness.
Profound Bass and the Terror of Amplitude
From the critical foundations laid down by the architects of the monumental Cathedrals of old Europe, resonates the subsonic frequency of the profound bass, the deep, dark, fundamental tones of the Pipe Organ, incarnate in the imposing blocks of stone. The insinuation of terror rises before these embedded structures of sound, giving voice and authority to ancient systems of control. A stunted congress of awe-stricken submission, inert in the face of acoustic dread.
As long as there have been humans, there have also been herds of men (clans, communities, tribes, peoples, states, churches) and always a great many people who obey considering, then, that nothing has been exercised and cultivated better and longer among men than obedience, one may fairly assume that the need for it is now innate in the average man. 13.
These early configurations, that sought to house and contain the 'disorder' of noise, have since pursued a course of escalation and amplification, their energy channelled as an instrument of force, stripped of its frockcoat of spiritual coercion, into the blunt implement of sonic weaponry.
If the eye is able to turn away, the ear does not have the capacity to turn off, this defencelessness in the face of noise, embodies the physiology of sound and the vulnerability of the psyche under sonic attack.
In December 1942, as the armour of the Nazi offensive into Russia, froze around the concrete fortifications of Stalingrad, the realisation of the troops fate was recited via the frontline weaponry of amplified loudspeakers. "Alle sieben sekunden stirbt ein Deutscher soldat".
The starkness of the message is clarified in the full rendering
"Every seven seconds a German soldier dies in Russia, Stalingrad: mass grave." 14. The brutal closure of Operation Winter Tempest, silenced by noise, the message and its subsequent countdown looping to its grisly conclusion, an audiophonic emissary of the psychological operations now commonplace in the information war.
Human reaction to sound, with auditory information received and filtered through the brains 'psycho-physiological response mechanisms' is complex. If tolerance and resistance to psychotronic coercion is a battle of wills, our sonic perception remains totally deaf to certain frequencies of sound. Our physical beings completely susceptible to infra or ultrasonic inaudibility, with its dangerous physiological effects on the body.
The 'Urban Funk Campaign' was initiated during the armed conflict in Vietnam, where the US government both openly and covertly pursued a policy of psychological warfare and 'audio harassment'. Developing prototype sonic weapons such as the "people repeller" or "curdler", whose helicopter mounted audio frequency oscillators, 'blasted frequencies ranging from 500 -5000 Hz at an amplitude of 120dB, equivalent to the roar of a jet engine at close quarters.' 15. The existence of the "Squawk Box", officially denied by the Ministry of Defence, was reported by the New Scientist in September 1973. Its 'secret' development in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, led to its alleged deployment there as a form of crowd control.
'Mounted on a land Rover or similar carrier vehicle, this device housed in a 3ft cube was able to emit two marginally different frequencies (eg.16, 000 & 16,002 Hz). These component frequencies, their sum and difference, produced a subsonic harmonic of 2Hz (infrasound). Its effective beam was so small and directional that it could target individuals.' 16.
In the latter half of the twentieth century the military establishment have been involved in numerous 'black' or hidden research projects working with inaudible sound, otherwise known as 'non-lethal' weaponry programs. The American Air Force Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, and Naval Research Laboratory have been developing HAARP, an acronym for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Project based on the Tesla technology of 'powerful radio wave beaming', its noble cause 'to enhance global communications'. Its detractors have referred to this use of radio frequencies as "weather war", the ability to cause weather disturbance through the use of extremely high frequencies. The Russians for their part were involved in ELF, Extremely Low Frequency experiments, reputedly responsible for the "Woodpecker" project whose loud clicks beamed into the States were blamed for 'weather manipulation, mind control, and other unexplainable atmospheric events.' 17.
'The dream of classical rationality becomes the political nightmare of our modern era. All the institutions created by the seventeenth century are their ready to govern nature and the world. They are strategies of domination whereby science itself becomes nothing more than a martial art policies promulgated by military strategists. To know is to kill ' 18.
The appearance of infrasonics as a natural phenomenon is registered in thunderstorms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tornadoes, however it manifests, it is always a messenger of destruction or death. Its sheer physicality impressed on our senses, a vibration that shakes to the core, before the body gives way to the awesome wave of subsonic pressure.
The physical presence of sound, with its potential to transform, is therefore at the centre of this altercation. A case for the acceptance of noise as a transmutation of the orderly and systematic, and the necessity to actively invoke a physical response. A call for the opening of the black box, a proverbial spanner in the works, both a demystification and an enabling of technological culture. A reclamation of the senses from the all pervasive 'inaudible'.
Michel Serres endeavours to bridge the chasm between hard science and myth to build 'a culture, history, and memory'. Arguing against the apartheid of order and disorder, the separation and isolation of disciplines, and the privileging of scientific knowledge.
'The domains of myth, science, and literature oscillate frantically back and forth into one another, so that the idea of ever distinguishing between them becomes more and more chimerical.' 19.
This synthesis suggests a need for transformation, to break from the linearity of the disciplines and from the encoded path. Applying aspects of Serres' philosophy a conscious attempt is made to break from the real politik of theory, and return to the body, looking to the revolutionary base of the senses. In Le Cinq Sens , Serres proclaims 'If a revolt is to come, it will have to come from the five senses!' 20. Here we pause to listen and focus on the part entitled 'Boîtes' (Boxes) that concern sound and hearing, the 'most libertine and promiscuously sociable of the senses', 21. The realisation of our bodies as soundbox, membrane and transceiver of signals, instrument of noise and encoder of music:
Our body-box, stretched with strings, veils itself within a global tympanum. We live amid sounds and cries, amid waves rather than spaces the organism moulds and indents itself...I am a house of sound, hearing and voice at once, black box and sounding-board, hammer and anvil, a grotto of echoes, a music cassette, the ear's pavilion, a question mark, wandering in the space of messages filled or stripped of sense...I am the resonance and the tone, I am altogether the mingling of the tone and its resonance. 22.
From inside the anechoic chamber of the womb detected by ultrasound, we resonate to a world sensed from the soundwaves that migrate through our liquid selves, informing us of our immediate environs and beyond. This primary imprint, that awakens the senses, making us tactile beings, and whose embedded intimate exchange, is the contract to a lifelong affection.
The connections to our audible memory, defined by environment and cultural influence, are complex and manifold.
The former slave port of Bristol has always been a melting pot of hybrid musical knowledge. Its tributary the river Severn, the artery that pumped the deep influence of subsonic bass, emanating from the homemade sound systems of Jamaican immigrants. Entering into the lifeline of sonic disturbance and awakening, rumbling through our electric soundscapes, and into the diaphragm of our electric beings. Bass communication as a maternal instinct.
Just as the impulsive all consuming nature of sound, forces us to constantly listen without reprieve, carrying the seeds of enslavement as well as liberation; so the invisible software of an ever newer media carries a virus of dependence, an insidious agent of control. The military foundations of our technological toys and tools, betray an ideological positioning, harbouring the installed characteristic of a subjugation through reliance, and a 'Consensus Trance' like hold over its users.
'Together, human groups agree on which of their perceptions should be admitted to awareness (hence, consensus), then they train each other to see the world in that way and only in that way (hence trance).' 23.
As we voyage on the net, our impulsive forward thrust seeks to disclose new worlds, the electrical messages sent to the cerebral cortex feed us the illusion of movement as the world of free flowing information passes us by. But if as Heidegger suggests 'to disclose new worlds is our special human freedom' then what really matters is 'whether we are locked into a world of routine standard activities, or are free to transform the world and ourselves.' 24. To counter the subterfuge of the 'trance', the passive reception of electro-magnetic opium needs to be disrupted, the voltage increased to jar the increasingly homogenous flow of data. Evidence of a pro-active creative disturbance, a necessary response to such deterministic applications of domination is sought.
From the physiology of sound to the black box of concealed information, 'techno-visionaries' hack into the machine to decode and detourné, striving to break the stranglehold of corporate and military domination. Recognising 'networks as locations of the information war, Knowbotic Research aim to induce unrest into the obsolete ideology of a rather abstract individualism, alive on the Internet and World Wide Web. Through the creation of fields of turbulence', they are interested to open fields of action within existing processes of cognition.25. Hereby neutral data is activated as a dynamic agent of social change, bringing into play and expanding the parameters of new experimental interfaces. Using circumventive strategies they sidestep the parameters of control, plagued by their twin obsessions of piracy and viral attack.
It is necessary to find everywhere and in all their variety the units of circulation that express the fields of our reality. The ultimate goal: to fulfil the conditions for the broadest possible communication. 26.
The interpolations of the esoteric explorations, of Nikolai Tesla's various enigmatic experiments such as his 'death-ray' or 'infrasound chair', or of Vladimir Gavreau's sonic weaponry programme, abound. The atmospheric interference of their scientific work, a catalyst for creative counter activity. 'A choice between computer science or imagination and the imaginary'! 27. Their 'accidental' discoveries, snapshots of the 'glitch' that became the DNA in a new digital noise aesthetic, and potent tool in the digital diaspora. A striking amplification of error, a bifurcation into 'an urban environmental music-the cybernetics of everyday life', reflecting and reconstituting 'the depletion of 'natural' rhythms in the city experience, and in the striated plateaux of the virtual domain.' 28.
'Everybody wants a sure-thing weapon a ray an artefact. There is nothing more terrifying than to stand in front of a deadly, snarling enemy with nothing but a psychic weapon that may or may not work.' 29.
If Hermes is the messenger, Tesla, is the architect of modern communication, responsible for the implementation of the alternating current, the AC power, that energises the planet. His pioneering work being the pre-eminent force behind radio, television, power transmission, the induction motor, the robot, and the cosmic ray. Infamous for some of the most extreme and daring scientific experiments ever undertaken, in 1889 his 'Magnifying Transmitter' the largest 'Tesla Coil' ever built, used the entire planet as a conductor. His actual wireless transmission of electrical power successfully transmitted 30 to 50 thousand watts of power, producing 130 feet electrical arc lightning, and burning out the Colorado Springs Power Company in the process. His superior design for radio as a 'World System' of global communication, and precursor of the internet, was usurped by Marconi and like many of his ideas, faced with intense competition and commercial reality forced onto the back burner. 'From the smallest hand held walkie-talkies to the most sophisticated satellite communications systems, all radios operate upon principals established by Nikolai Tesla.' 30.
Such myopia was clearly expressed during a lecture delivered in 1892.
The wonder is that, with the present state of knowledge and
the experiences gained, no attempt is being made to disturb
the electrostatic or magnetic condition of the earth, and transmit,
if nothing else, intelligence. 31.
History reveals Tesla's creative thunder to be continually compromised by disputes. His argument with Thomas Edison over the implementation of AC or DC power led to grotesque freak shows, pointing out the supposed inherent dangers of each, through the electrocution of live animals. These nauseous acts culminated in the power surge that eventually led to AC's adoption by New York State for its World Fair in 1899. This breakthrough came after a successful interim period, providing the terminal current that electrocuted the cities convicted criminals on Death Row. 32. Tesla for his part attempted to illuminate the fog of science, by constantly detailing his activities in the public domain. Yet the ambivalent nature of his work concerning sonic weaponry and infrasound experiments, with its subsequent incorporation into the military pantheon, leave large parts of his research shrouded in mystery. It uneasily inhabits the deep space between cosmic and scientific knowledge, tainted by cold war misinformation, suspicion, and paranoia. If his dream was to 'revolutionize the relations between nations,' through the construction of 'weapons of peace', the waters remain cloudy on his great 'humanitarian' ambition to end all wars. In 1937 he filed a top secret patent for a hundred foot tower, whose ionized stream of air was capable of shooting down an enemy plane 300 miles away.
It is also known that he attempted to sell the weapon to the allies during the Second World War, and is alleged that a picture of a Soviet particle beam weapon published in 1977, was identical to the image of this earlier patent. 33. There are reports of Russian troops using a scalar 'death ray' weapon against the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, instantly destroying the entire nervous system, while leaving the body intact; 'Reduced to something like food irradiated with nuclear radiation the material is preserved for an extended period before any decay can set in'. 34.
Yet he was forthright in the intention behind his weaponry, and his vision for a new enlightened 'electric millennium', where machines 'free mankind to pursue its higher aspirations'.
At present we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age. The solution of our problems does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine. 35.
The enduring myth of his death ray is littered around scientific and military journals with claims, counterclaims and outright denials blurring the possibility of establishing fact. Such reports fit snugly into the tricksters psychic armoury, filtering through into the wormholes of conspiracy theorists.
If the reappropriation of his peaceful weapon seemed inevitable, the design of his 'infrasound chair' for the creation of a physically beneficial effect, of "toning the body", has survived with a diminished reputation, responsible for inducing violent sickness as well as intense pleasure. However this has not prevented its profitable ascent, good vibrations intact, into the lifestyle catalogues of new age technology.
Though the boundaries between marketplace and imaginal space have always been porous, America's culture industry has in many ways simply fused the two Our collective symbols are forged in the multiplex, our archetypes trademarked, licensed and sold our mnemonic icons no longer mediate the animist powers of nature
but the power of corporate identity and the commodity fetish. 36.
7 Cycles Per Second
The totality of our practices and our culture has fallen into the bloody hands of Mars. Since there is no antistrategic strategy that is not itself a strategy, the god of war is always triumphant. 38.
In 1957 during the height of the Cold war a French scientific research team led by Vladimir Gavreau were developing robotic devices for the military, unaware that their experiments would lead to a complete reappraisal of their work, and on to the development of a lethal infrasonic weapon.
Physiology seems to remain paralysed by infrasound. Infrasound stimulates middle ear disruptions, ruining organismic equilibrium...Infrasound immobilizes its victims Exposure to mild infrasound intensities produces illness, but increased intensities result in death. Alarming responses to infrasound have been accurately recorded by military medical experts. 39.
Their had been cases of 'disconcerting nausea' reported, wrongly assumed to be a chemical or gas emission coming from within the establishment itself, industrial engineers called in to examine the building, fell foul of the same symptoms. It was only then realised that the cause of the sickness was the building itself, a motor driven ventilator in a large concrete shaft was found to be producing "nauseating vibrations". The conditions of a large pipe organ were being reproduced, with the acoustic resonance creating an infrasonic "amplifier", with 'a low intensity pitch of a fundamental 7 cycles per second'.
This disrupting discovery, the unexpected noisy guest, an inaudible distracter pushing the threshold of human tolerance, opening the ears to the 'total resonant profile of the building', and becoming the orphean catalyst for a push into the underworld of infrasonics. Gavreau's military bias immediately aroused him as to the potential of this new silent and "unknown weapon". His automatons took a back seat as he plunged deeply into the world of infrasonics, instigating the creation of a giant sonic gun. His experiments leading him to build huge seventy feet long pipes six feet in diameter, through which he fired drive pistons and compressed air to devastating effect.
'The main resonant frequency of these pipes occurred in the "range of death", found to lie between three and seven cycles per second their pressure waves impacted against the entire body in a terrible and inescapable grip an envelope of death.' 40.
The immense dangers of such work to the technicians involved, highlighted the problems of deploying such weaponry, silent and deadly as it is to both transmitters and receivers. The dispersal of infrasonic waves that 'hug the ground', did not diminish their deadly effect even over great distances, the spillage made deployment impossible. It was then necessary to create an "infrasonic armour", tuning the subsonic frequencies into higher pitches until the danger level had receded. Another approach was to actively engage the assaulting frequency, replicating its sonic properties and neutralising the source with an "out of phase" signal. This "nullifier" did not however guarantee physical security, a return to the research into robotics would eliminate this personal danger and square the circle. It would however suggest that the human species was ill equipped for the environment it was myopically creating for itself.
The elimination of the human from the physical battlefield at this critical juncture, was an action illuminated by the statement made by Norbert Wiener in his 1954 publication The Human Use of Human Beings'. It was a clarion call for the human race, in the face of an 'inevitable' demise in the service of machines.
'We have modified our environment so radically that we must now modify ourselves in order to exist in this new environment progress imposes not only new possibilities for the future but also new restrictions'. 41.
Wiener's rational logic considered informations war against noise and entropy as a black and white battle between good and evil; this telescopic viewpoint, endemic in large swathes of the scientific research programs of this era, echoed the orthodox polarity of ideological and political reasoning. This dystopian face of new technology, feeding on the friction of alien dreams and the paranoia of otherness, was to find itself cryogenically fixated in a cold war spectacle of opposites, an encroachment upon the positive gloss of a new society served by machines, leaving humans free to concentrate on more cerebral activities.
The positive spin of the convergence of wet and dry matter, in a mutually beneficial marriage of human and machine has been the preferred wisdom of the new technological class. And so"Onward to Post Humanism!" In his work Out of Control, executive editor of Wired Kevin Kelly explains, 'the apparent veil between the organic and the manufactured has crumpled to reveal that the two really are, and have always been, of one being.' 42.
This positivist hype has long been the currency of a silicon valley-centric elite, whose libertarian instinct stems from its connections to the sixties counter culture. This extension into external space, opening the gateway to a freeflow of information, was finely honed in an uncritical, liberally accepting, atmosphere of mind expanding drug experimentation among its elite programmers, a corporate cyberdelia. This empiricism is well documented in the investigations of Erik Davis:
Propaganda, advertising and mass media, those modern machinery's of perceptual manipulation that often explicitly deploy the rhetoric of enchantment. In this sense, the liberatory and ecstatic techniques of the sixties counterculture should not be seen as an anomalous eruption of occult superstition into post-war society, but as a particularly vibrant battle in the twentieth century's immense war of social sorcery. 43.
The drug culture seamlessly absorbed into an equally hypnotic data flow of digital culture, a mesmeric melange of electronic transmissions, competing for control of the senses, fed by a sixties revolutionary impulse. This legacy as advanced into today's high tech agenda appears to have far more ambivalent, and portentous intentions. The reflexive opening up of fixed barriers in the world of commerce, is now a continuous battle driven by the forces of the market. The 24/7 screens of reception consumed under the banners of snakeoil sales men, lay siege in a bid for a homogenised universal consensus.
Within the netscape of the new social and organisational conditions of the Twenty First Century lies a deep fusion of utopian and dystopian possibility. If we had already entered a period of autosurveillance, authored by technology to move from the panoptikon of the disciplined society into the penitence of a new age. Post 9/11 the Pavlov dogs of self-correction and regulation are being drilled ever harder by the cheerleaders of neo global corporate concerns under the fearful watchword of security.
Autosurveillance marks the penetration of information technology within the body and the psyche of the individual subject: it implies a diffusion of computers on a generalized scale and a kind of passive replication of their programs by the individual capital and the state no longer have to do anything to you, because you have learned to do it to yourself.' 44.
Subjected to infra or ultrasonic inaudibility, and psychotronic coercion as the metaphorical agents of the 'holy trinity' of CCC, our electro- magnetically charged beings find our remote interactions increasingly mediated and minimised. Under a closed system of scientific research and development, the promotion and enslavement through an addiction to pre-structured software is typified by the benign interfaces of corporations such as Microsoft. Looking beyond the irritating work out of the Office assistant residing on the majority of compliant computer desktops, we seek to escape our opiatic fixation on the screen.
To find an escape route from the linked control systems of capital, subjectivity and language (to) address the accelerating dialectic of capitalist control of American society, a form of control that functions by transforming the individual into the "addict agent" who is the mirror image of the controller. 45.
In the novel Western Lands, William Burroughs may have stated to date we do not have music sufficiently powerful to act as a practical weapon, 46. but working undercover as a man of literature, the agent provocateur used all the mediums at his disposal in a scrambling of all the codes faster than capital, subjectivity, or language can resituate them. 47. In this respect his fusion of decontextualised words, images and sounds, were to harness a catalytic armoury, that inspired a legion of agents to take up arms against the virus of control. Through the use of cut ups and fold ins he created a nomadological meta language described by Deleuze and Guattari as:
a set of potentials, an effect that propagates itself from medium to medium by the force of its difference, bringing into contact incompatible functions, incommensurable concepts, and unrelated materials. 48.
Burroughs for his part manifests the concept of bifurcation, and noise of the interrupter in his methods, in the theorised work The Third Mind he states, when you put two minds together there is always a third mind as an unseen collaborator. This chance happening makes explicit a psychological process that is going on all the time anyway, 49. the vigilant self-preservatory antidote to the technological Nova Police.
These are the societies of control, which are in the process of replacing disciplinary societies. "Control" is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future. 50.
The anarchic impulse rampant throughout his work in breakthroughs', drop-ins, and inching are tactics and strategies for working against the prescribed closure of revolution and resistance. A multi media paradigm of innumerable permutations and conjuring tricks that mock the stasis of the parameters of control, while mimicking its psychotronic objectives. As Deleuze himself counsels There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons. 51.
The paradigm of Gavreaus infrasound cannon has resurfaced in the Organ Pipe Project of British sound artist and Spacedog Sarah Angliss. Conducting a soundless music experiment with her prototype infrasound generator, constructed by The National Physical Laboratory, the audience are asked to undertake a live psychological test. Angliss seeks to explore 'the subjective effects of infrasound in music', discovering in the process 'some of the lowest bass notes ever played'. These experiments lay at the threshold of human hearing and perception, but although infrasound is widely perceived as inaudible, the NPL studies reveal that it is possible to hear frequencies even below the base threshold of 20 Hz - 20 kHz. Audibility, not unsurprisingly being dependant on 'the loudness as well as the frequency and duration', to exact its deep physical and chemical responses. 52.
The Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) engage in research for the understanding of acoustic and vibrational phenomena. Running a program for the diminution of noise aimed at curbing excess and alleviating the adverse effects as they infract 'on safety, integrity, effectiveness, marketability and environmental impact of industrial products and operations.' 53.
Their strategies of suppression the antithesis of Bastiaan Maris and Geo Homsy's Large Hot Pipe Organ, an enormous installation of hugely noisy excess, health warning supplied. Contrived from research into uncontrollable machines and chaotic behaviour, it is marketed as the world's only MIDI controlled, propane powered explosion organ. The LHPO produces percussive tones by exploding a mixture of propane and air inside open-ended steel pipes, in an awe-inspiring manifestation of energy transformation. 'The LHPO's pyro-acoustic explodo-rhythmations will throbbatize your earholes and dance-ify your booty and make you realise what "Industrial Music" really means!' 54. Such events aimed at pushing the sonic envelope to new thresholds, transcend the narrow categorisations of musical genres and artistic ghettos. The scale and rigour of these clamorous concerns, brings them back from the infrasonic underworld, to resurface in the public arena. They rekindle a carnivalesque expression as they contact the body with a pure physiological force, transgressing the barriers of the intellect.
Beyond the Firewall
The emission of the sonic into the informational stratosphere, with its removal from the terra firma of earthly gathering, leaves it ringing in the lines of communication. Its idyllic position in the world of exchange, as predicted in Attalis future mode of composition, is an irresistible utopian notion not easily coerced. However its cultural loss in the conversion from analogue to digital, and orbital freefloating status is less predictable, still conjuring fears in the musical classes, keen to see its compliance whether under the baton or the quantize key.
That music should thus be subjected to forms of automation is inevitable; and that it should remove itself more and more from singing and dancing and embrace a world of sound devoid of human content is surely the end result of believing that music like everything else today is reducible to formulas, to equations, to statistical probabilities, to predictable and controllable functions and behaviour - in short to technology. 55.
If the power of music is that of the great communicator resounding profusely in the body, it is in the throng, in a greater musical collectivity that it finds its deepest resonance. The fear that this social accord may be lost in the aether, or within the matrix of the machine should be tempered by a new realisation. For just as Tesla's arcing electrical wave comes back to earth, so the nomadic frequency will also ground itself and re-energise all it touches. The electric underground culture that hybridised through generations and genres, has inverted to the overground, in an über-terrestrial network of liquid potentialities. A new public arena of participation that embraces polyphony and rejects the mono-logical, the body open to the world embodies the universal in a negation of uniformity and similarity. 56.
Modern media fire up magical or animist perceptions by technologically stretching and folding the boundaries of the self; These perceptions are then routinized, commercialized, exploited, and swallowed up into the business as usual. To tune into such fears and glimmerings, you need to crack open the mundane casing of ordinary technologies and trace their archetypal wiring 57.
A breakthrough into the uncanny in spite of the ever tighter confines of a culture of control and security, is an appeal to a hacker ethic that ironically finds its broadest allure in the screen gazing caves of New Babylon, leaving the door ajar between the polarities of discourse and the sensual language of effect. This can be monitored by the serious quantity of academic commentary concerning the Wachowski brothers Matrix movies, not without criticism of any gestures towards a post human condition of creative technology.
It makes no sense to think that a computer could be programmed with rules for producing the sensory motor connections that would allow the creation of all possible worlds in advance of their being opened by human beings. Artificial intelligence couldn't program for such a radically open world if they wanted to. In fact programmed creativity is an oxymoron. 58.
At the CREAM Symposium in London June 2003, Axel Roch delivered his paper on Stochastic Interfaces calling for an investigation into ' the nature of time predictable interfaces in order to open the closure of feedback of communication since World War Two, towards a decontrolled and uncertain trajectory of interaction.' A recognition of noise's uncertain role in the line of communication, challenging the noiseless orthodoxy of Claude Shannon's Information Theory published in 1949. This Dolby gatekeeper of Babel and Bedlam, whose attempt to silence the infrasonic horns that would destroy the city walls, becomes increasingly futile as the amplitude incrementally rises. 'Interfaces are able to put noise into the process of interaction, so that the computer does not predict the user, but opens new non-analytical paths in the trajectory of interaction.' 59.
As Hermes the winged messenger knows keeping one step beyond the web bots of the corporate mandarins ever keen to know, "where do you want to go today?" is indeed a tricky business.
To know is (thus) to navigate between local fragments of space, to reject technologies of classification and separation in order to look for units of circulation along and among displacements. To know is to adopt the comparative and pluralistic epistemology of the journey, to implement a philosophy of transport over one of fixity in order to counter the dogmatism of unified and systematic knowledge. 60.
If as Roch says 'human minds are not used to generate random noise. From that it follows that in any kind of interaction there is redundancy and therefore predictability.' 61. Burroughs seems to argue to the contrary, via 'the fluid mechanism of desire in fantasy', or for the intuitive wisdom of the doped detective to engage in unpredictive behaviour. 'We have the advantage of surprise. The virus enemy cannot comprehend elasticity. They cannot believe we can survive their seemingly foolproof broadcasts.' 62.
As the bandwidth increases, stretching temporality, to expand our universe, maximising our frequency range, and our ability of fulfilling personal resonance, a window of opportunity opens. A context for the revitalisation of art, we reactivate a dissonant dynamism of change, the vehicle of sound as the optimum of force, the bifurcating 'Y' as the tuning fork of a sonic pulse.
In Paul Virilio's evaluation, information has become the weapon of choice in the Pentagon's program of 'Global Information Dominance' (GID), his sceptical view that 'interactivity is the equivalent of radioactivity. For interactivity effects a kind of disintegration'. The disintegration of the social into a perpetually tracked and monitored culture, constantly targeted in an insatiable quest for information. The stranglehold that the military establishment has over technological development means only a drip feed back into the mainframe of society. This dominance without counterpoint, secure in its firewall fortress, is totally resistant to any notions of informational equity, any conflicting arguments are met by a stonewall of silence.
We must engage in resistance by developing the idea of a technological culture. We have developed an artistic and a literary culture the ideals of technological culture remain underdeveloped and therefore outside of popular culture 63.
For if code is the key to the promised land and 'the numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it, 64. then entry into a new realm of the senses will come at a cost. A liberatory, revolutionary passage of spectacular potential immersed in a soundscape of unfettered desire, an escape from the straitjacket of normalised relations? Or a narrow corridor of virtual spectacular engulfment, tracked, monitored and allotted. The pleasure promise, another layering of insulation, shielding and refracting, another diversionary device; the theatrical dry ice that screens the increasingly remote machinations of the control mechanism.
If this technological culture is to develop, it must engage the popular imagination in spectacular involvement, in tune with current advances within the public domain. The portal to the imaginary must be widened, the antipathy of software countered by the tactile, the physicality of media enhanced and the senses reingaged, in a resistance to the retreat into the straitjacket of the secure. That sound is at the apex of resistance, in its deterritorialised state of 'noise' as a 'herald of change' in society, is a purely economic assessment coming from Attali. However the potentiality for change initiated through sonic disturbance and experimentation, reaches the high watermark of electronic culture, as an enabling force or translator of 'technoscientific intelligence', the 'crystalline' messenger of the electro-magnetic imaginary. 65.
01. Serres, Michel, The Parasite, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland and London, 1982. Pp. 52-4. Serres' bifurcating fork, can be seen as an alternative to the linear communication paradigm proposed by Claude Shannon. In Shannon, Claude E, and Weaver, Warren, 1984. The Mathematical Theory of Communication, The University of Illinois Press Urbana.
"Control Society" see Burroughs, William. Naked Lunch.
02. Attali, Jacques. Listening, P. 20. In Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press, USA.
03. Attali, Jacques. Sacrificing, P. 31. In Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press, USA.
04. Attali, Jacques, Listening, P.4. Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press USA.
05. Attali, Jacques, Listening, P.4. Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press USA.
06. Attali, Jacques, Sacrificing, P.25. Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press USA.
For indigenous instrument prohibition in the British Empire see:
07. For entropy see: Mason, Stephen. A History of the Sciences, 1962, Collier, New York, new revised edition. Thermodynamics and the consequent transcending of the closed system of Newtonian mechanics. See P.496. Prior to this, stochastics the theory of randomness-like the theory of probability, developed principles aimed at explaining disorderly phenomena.
08. Attali, Jacques. Chapter One, Listening, P. 14. In Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press, USA.
09. Attali, Jacques. Chapter One, Listening, P. 15. In Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press, USA.
10. Attali, Jacques. Chapter Two, Sacrificing, P. 23. In Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press, USA.
11. Cockburn, Patrick. Iraqis, powerless in every sense, fume at their complacent American rulers. The Independent on Sunday, P.19. www.independent.co.uk, London, 22.06.03.
This scene was directly inspired by Francis Ford Coppolas 1979 film, Apocalypse Now.
12. Attali, Jacques, Sacrificing. P.29. Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press USA.
13. Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil, Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, P.199, trans. Walter Kaufmann, 1966, New York, Vintage Books.
14. "Alle sieben sekunden stirbt ein Deutscher soldat", (every seven seconds a German soldier dies).
On Stalingrad/Psychological warfare see: http://220.127.116.11/diary/caldec.html
Also IL2 Hangar strategy game @
15. Nichols, B. G. Deadly Vibrations - a brief history of sonic warfare.
16. Nichols, B. G. Deadly Vibrations - a brief history of sonic warfare.
17. Nichols, B. G. Deadly Vibrations - a brief history of sonic warfare.
18. Serres, Michel. Knowledge in the Classical Age: La Fontaine and Descartes. P.28. From Hermes, Literature, Science, Philosophy, Harari, Josué V, and Bell, David F (Eds.), 1982, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore USA.
19. Harari, Josué V, and Bell, David F (Eds.), P.xxix, Journal à plusieurs voies in Hermes, Literature, Science, Philosophy, Serres, Michel.
20. Serres, Michel. P.71. Angels: A Modern Myth, trans. Francis Cowper, 1995. Paris, Flammarion, New York.
21. Connor, Steven. On Michel Serres' Les Cinq sens (Five Senses), from the Serres conference held at Birkbeck College, London, May 1999. Serres, Michel. Les Cinq sens, 1998, Hachette, Paris.
22. Serres, Michel. Le Cinq Sens P.180-1.
23. Charles Tart, Ph.D. As Professor of Psychology at the University of California. On Consensus Trance: From <SLAP> <SLAP> Wake up!
See also, Davis, Erik, TechGnosis, myth, magic + mysticism in the information age, P.130. Harmony Books, NY, USA. Serpents Tail, UK, 1998.
' sociologists and psychologists have amassed evidence that points to the profoundly automatic patterns of much of our social and cultural life-patterns that arise not only from our animal instincts but from institutions, family dramas, and cultural conditioning. Common sense may not be so common after all; our understanding of what constitutes normal reality may simply represent the power of what the psychologist Charles Tart, calls "Consensus Trance ".'
24. Dreyfuss Hubert and Stephen, The Brave New World of the Matrix, http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/rl_cmp/new_phil_fr_dreyfus.html
25. Knowbotic Research. "Nonlocated Events: How to Open Fields of Action Within Cognitive Cyber-Structures" Knowbotic Research offers experiential arenas for corresponding realities. The potential of creating a reality evokes simultaneously a field of turbulence where other reality concepts can collide. The cyberspace is not a stage for the celebration of the imagination but an experimental field where actions within such turbulent fields of cognition can be modelled.
See also http://www.kcrf.org/krcfhome/1smdk.htm
26. Deleuze, Gilles. "Postscript on the Societies of Control "
27. Roch, Axel ©. Stochastic Interfaces. Towards a Theory of Cultural Prediction in Time-Based Interaction. June 2003. http://www.axelroch.net
28. Young, Rob, Undercurrents #12: Worship the Glitch, Pp52-6, Wire 190/191, 2000. 'Uncovering the hidden wiring of the 20th century music on a bum note celebrates the accumulation of dirt and dissonance in the work of Autechre, Coil, Oval, John Oswald, Mego, Mille Plateaux and more.'
29. Burrough's, William.S. The Western Lands, 1987, Viking Penguin Inc USA. P.136.
31. Experiments with Alternate Currents of High Potential and High Frequency - Lecture delivered before the I.E.E., London, February, 1892.
Additional notes and references - See Yossef Bodansky, "Soviets testing chemical agents in Afghanistan", Janes Defence Weekly, 1(13), april.7, 1984, P.508.
35. Tesla, Nikolai, -A Machine to End War-, as told to George Sylvester Viereck, Liberty, February, 1937. 'Picturing life 100 years from now, (Tesla) reveals an astounding scientific venture which he believes will change the course of history.
36. Davis, Erik, P.177 TechGnosis, myth, magic + mysticism in the information age, Harmony Books, NY, USA. Serpents Tail, UK, 1998.
37. Attali, Jacques, P.27. Sacrificing. Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press USA.
38. Serres, Michel. From Hermes IV. P. 290. 1977, Minuet, Paris. See also, Harari, Josué V, and Bell, David F (Eds.), P. xxxii. Journal à plusieurs voies in Hermes, Literature, Science, Philosophy,
39. Vassilatos, Gerry. The Sonic Weapon of Vladimir Gavreau.
The team including Marcel Miane, Henri Saul, and Raymond Comdat were developing remote controlled automatons and robotic devices. Concentrating on 'the limited tactical warfare of small battlefields' and defensive short range weaponry , 'best to defend against a conventional national assault'.
40. Vassilatos, Gerry. The Sonic Weapon of Vladimir Gavreau. http://www.borderlands.com/archives/arch/gavreaus.htm
41. Wiener, Norbert. From The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society ', 1954, Doubleday Anchor Books, NY USA.
42. Kelly, Kevin. Editor of Wired magazine. Out of Control.
43. Davis, Erik. TechGnosis, myth, magic + mysticism in the information age, P. 172. 1998, Harmony Books, NY USA, Serpents Tail, UK.
44. Jameson, Fredric, Foreword, P. xiii, in Attali, Jacques, Noise - The Political Economy of Music, 1996, Minnesota University Press USA.
45. Murphy.S.Timothy, Nothing is True Everything is Permitted. P.4. From Wising Up the Marks. The Amodern William Burroughs. 1977, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London.
46. Burrough's, William.S. The Western Lands, P.136. 1987, Viking Penguin Inc, USA.
47. Murphy.S.Timothy, Listen to my Last Words Everywhere, P.232. From Wising Up the Marks. The Amodern William Burroughs. 1977, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London.
See Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, Pp.244-47, 251-55.
48. Murphy.S.Timothy, Listen to my Last Words Everywhere, P.232. From Wising Up the Marks. The Amodern William Burroughs. 1977, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London.
49. Burrough's, William.S. and Gysin, Brion. The Third Mind, 1978, Viking Press, New York. In Murphy.S.Timothy, Listen to my Last Words Everywhere, P.215-16. From Wising Up the Marks. The Amodern William Burroughs. 1977, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London. Also Pp.59-60. "For 'Nova Police' read 'technology', if you wish." P.247, note 36. 'Burroughs, "Interview" in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews. 3rd series. Ed. Alfred Kazin. Pp.143-74. New York: Viking, 1967.
50. Deleuze, Gilles. "Postscript on the Societies of Control "
This essay, which first appeared in L'Autre journal, no. 1 (May1990), is included in the forthcoming translation of Pourparlers (Paris: Editions Minuit, 1990), to be published by Columbia University Press.
51. Deleuze, Gilles. "Postscript on the Societies of Control "
This essay, which first appeared in L'Autre journal, no. 1 (May1990), is included in the forthcoming translation of Pourparlers (Paris: Editions Minuit, 1990), to be published by Columbia University Press.
52. Sarah Angliss, BEng(hons) Electroacoustics and ARCM (Perf)
Is an engineer, composer, exhibit creator, researcher and author. The Infrasonic event at Purcell Room in May 2003 was part of an ongoing research programme of 'soundless music' supported and sponsored by SCIART Consortium and The National Physical Laboratory.
Human hearing extends below the conventional lower audible frequency limit of 20 Hz if one considers a signal that is sufficiently loud. For example, a 20 Hz tone requires from 85 dB to 90 dB SPL to be audible, 10 Hz about 100 dB SPL and 2 Hz in excess of 120 dB SPL.
To generate the infrasound, a 7.3 metre long pipe was fitted with a loudspeaker so that pipe resonances could be invoked. For portability, the pipe was created out of 3 sections of 0.3 m diameter plastic pipe. The extra-long-stroke driver was mounted such the effective length of the pipe was just under 5 m, which then acted as a quarter-wavelength resonator at 17 Hz.
54. Bastiaan Maris fascinated with the transformation of various forms of energy and their manifestation since childhood. His interest in machines, sound and violent chemical processes has led to an ongoing research in chemo-acoustic phenomena and the development of musical instruments based upon this principle. The Large Hot Pipe Organ premiered Live in Berlin in an Official opening of the new Dutch Embassy in 1998.
55. From a speech delivered in 1971, George Rochberg represented the attitude toward new musical instruments of many composers, performers, and arts administrators. Rochberg the son of a Ukrainian Jew who came to the United States in 1912, and post war serial composer. He redefined himself by vehemently rejecting both serial and the aleotory compositions of chance, in a complete refutation of technology.
56. Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and his World, P.39.1984. trans. Hélène Iswolsky, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, USA.
57. Davis, Erik, TechGnosis, myth, magic + mysticism in the information age, P.68. 1998. Harmony Books, NY USA. Serpents Tail, UK.
58. Dreyfuss, Rupert & Stephen. The Brave New World of the Matrix.
59. Axel Roch/Stochastic Interfaces.
Towards a Theory of Cultural Prediction in Time-Based Interaction
CREAM - The Centre for Research in Education, Arts and Media.
University of Westminster.
60. Harari, Josué V, and Bell, David F (Eds.), Pp. xxii-xxiii. Journal à plusieurs voies in Hermes, Literature, Science, Philosophy, Serres, Michel.
61. Axel Roch/Stochastic Interfaces.
Towards a Theory of Cultural Prediction in Time-Based Interaction
62. Burrough's, William.S. The Western Lands, P.175. 1987, Viking Penguin Inc, USA.
63. Paulo Virilio in Conversation with John Armitage.
Translated by Patrice Riemens. Date Published: 10/18/2000.
' The hype generated by the publicity around the Internet is not counter balanced by a political intelligence that is based on a technological culture. For instance, in 1999, Bill Gates detailed how Microsoft's 'Falconview' software would enable the destruction of bridges in Kosovo. Thus it is no longer a Caesar or a Napoleon who decides on the fate of any particular war but a piece of software!'
64. Deleuze, Gilles. "Postscript on the Societies of Control "
This essay, which first appeared in L'Autre journal, no. 1 (May1990), is included in the forthcoming translation of Pourparlers (Paris: Editions Minuit, 1990), to be published by Columbia University Press.
65. A referenceto Edgard Varése's crystalline structures of 'organised sound'.
Apollonio, Umbro, (Ed.) Futurist Manifestos, 1973,
Thames and Hudson, UK.
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Springer, Vienna and New York.
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Kahn, Douglas, & Whitehead, Gregory, (Eds.), Wireless Imagination Sound, Radio, and the Avant-Garde, 1992, Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA.
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Serres, Michel. Les Cinq sens, 1998, Hachette, Paris.
Shapiro, Peter, (Ed.), Modulations, A History of Electronic Music: Throbbing Words On Sound, Project Director Lara Lee, 2000, Caipirinha Productions, NY USA.
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Trans. Patrick Camiller. 1984 & 1989, Verso, UK & USA.
Wiener, Norbert. The Human Use of Human Beings', 1954, Doubleday Anchor Books, NY USA
Attali, Jacques/Noise: The Political Economy of Music
http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/Texteud.html (Dieter Daniels)
Deleuze, Gilles/Postscript on Control Society
HAARP (High Frequency Active Aural Research Project)
Indigenous instrument prohibition in the British Empire
Infrasonic and Deep Bass art
Knowbotic Research/Cognitive Cyber-Structures
Roch, Axel/Stochastic Interfaces.
Towards a Theory of Cultural Prediction in Time-Based Interaction
Szafranski, Richard, Colonel USAF/A Theory of Information Warfare
Tart, Charles /Consensus Trance
Vassilatos, Gerry/Sonic Weaponry
Virilio, Paul/Information Bomb
Wiener, Norbert/Cybernetics and Society