MachineMachine /stream - search for noise https://machinemachine.net/stream/feed en-us http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss LifePress therourke@gmail.com <![CDATA[Compression Aesthetics: Glitch From the Avant-Garde to Kanye West – InVisible Culture]]> https://ivc.lib.rochester.edu/compression-aesthetics-glitch-from-the-avant-garde-to-kanye-west/

Carolyn L. Kane In a world that esteems technological efficiency, immediacy, and control, the advent of technical noise, glitch, and failure—no matter how colorful or disturbingly beautiful—are avoided at great costs.

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Tue, 09 Oct 2018 09:50:47 -0700 https://ivc.lib.rochester.edu/compression-aesthetics-glitch-from-the-avant-garde-to-kanye-west/
<![CDATA[Naked]]> https://vimeo.com/12251595

A surgeon and his assistant wheel a bed with a panda on it into the operating room of a large hospital in Sweden. This is not a flesh-and-blood panda, however, but a mechanical toy. With great concentration, the surgeon starts to operate, painstakingly removing layer after layer of the furry covering followed by the soft filling. While the surgeon searches for the plastic core in the operational innards, the panda doggedly resists its deconstruction. The noises it emits sound more animal than machine-made, reinforcing the absurd nature of this clash between a living being and a machine. The film's calm, serious, observational style invites us to consider a number of current cultural issues. What is the difference between man and the technology he designs? To what extent are our flesh-and-blood bodies becoming technological bodies? And if, at some point in the future, we all have a technological body, will the operations of the future be like this one, on this pitiably whimpering panda? These are questions artist Tove Kjellmark also addresses in her other work./IDFACast: Tove KjellmarkTags: naked, skinned, art, sculture, toy, toys, panda, operation, another nature and idfa

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Sun, 19 Aug 2018 10:22:02 -0700 https://vimeo.com/12251595
<![CDATA[The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps.]]> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMtXqTmfta0

Biomimicry design, explained with 99% Invisible. Check them out here: https://99percentinvisible.org/

Subscribe to our channel here: http://goo.gl/0bsAjO

Japan’s Shinkansen doesn’t look like your typical train. With its long and pointed nose, it can reach top speeds up to 150–200 miles per hour.

It didn’t always look like this. Earlier models were rounder and louder, often suffering from the phenomenon of "tunnel boom," where deafening compressed air would rush out of a tunnel after a train rushed in. But a moment of inspiration from engineer and birdwatcher Eiji Nakatsu led the system to be redesigned based on the aerodynamics of three species of birds.

Nakatsu’s case is a fascinating example of biomimicry, the design movement pioneered by biologist and writer Janine Benyus. She's a co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit encouraging creators to discover how big challenges in design, engineering, and sustainability have often already been solved through 3.8 billion years of evolution on earth. We just have to go out and find them.

This is one of a series of videos we're launching in partnership with 99% Invisible, an awesome podcast about design. 99% Invisible is a member of http://Radiotopia.fm

Additional imagery from the Biodiversity Heritage Library: https://www.flickr.com/photos/biodivlibrary/

Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.

Check out our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE Follow Vox on Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H Or on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o

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Thu, 09 Nov 2017 05:00:36 -0800 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMtXqTmfta0
<![CDATA[The Noise of Being: available at sonicacts.com!]]> https://www.instagram.com/p/BYx8H4OgH9z/ ]]> Fri, 08 Sep 2017 05:37:51 -0700 https://www.instagram.com/p/BYx8H4OgH9z/ <![CDATA[The Compulsions of the Similar: Animated GIFs and the TechnoCultural Body]]> http://www.machinemachine.net/portfolio/the-compulsions-of-the-similar-gifs/

This paper on GIFs and screen-based compulsion is a very extended follow-up to a short, but widely disseminated, piece I wrote in 2011: On the Doctrine of the Similar (GIF GIF GIF). It is presented here as a draft, since I never published this paper officially. I hope it is useful/interesting for GIF lovers everywhere. Rather than designate high resolutions and white-knuckle optical speeds as representative of 21st Century techno-cultural immersion, I consider animated GIFs a more contemporary medium. From their origins in the early 90s as simple linguistic stand-ins animated GIFs have diversified along with the web that birthed them. They correspond quickly and directly, and lend themselves to constant mutation and (re)assemblage at the hands of their producers and consumers; blurring the distinction between these identities along the way. Their poor visual fidelity is made up for by their propensity to repeat and cycle in lieu of the actions and expressions they harbour. By allowing us to wallow in their remixed repetitions animated GIFs feed on the human susceptibility to resemblance and recognition, even as their surface affect remains distanced from any particular media origin. As Sally Mckay describes, “GIFs are simultaneously ‘in your face’ and in your mind, their affects continuous with the immersive experience of daily internet use.” [1] This status enables GIFs as a metaphor for contemporary techno-culture itself, framing our distributed, multimedial space-time in staged, repeatable, and digestible patterns. In its early days, cinema was considered capable of immobilising the world for the purposes of human appreciation and enchantment. Eadweard Muybridge sought to isolate the gallop of the horse from its particular being in time and space, so that it was forever framed for our experience. Today a million versions of Muybridge’s horse careen around the web as animated GIFs of questionable quality, flashing fleetingly, but often, on screens that scroll in multiple dimensions. In turn pictures, depictions and imitations have given way to motions, evocations and impressions, mixing the shared memory of our collective experiences at ever greater speeds, distances and – most importantly – correspondences than ever before. As Daniel Rubinstein points out the content of an animated GIF “can be figurative or abstract, lyrical or macabre, but… the primary materials that the GIF artist uses are rhythm and repetition…” [2] An aesthetics not necessarily of surface reception, but of delivery, temporality and the patterns of configuration. A patterning that calls to mind the work of Walter Benjamin, who argued that metre, rhythm and other heterogeneous impressions had a significant impact on human modes of intuition and experience. [3] It is fascinating to consider Benjamin’s early essays, especially his The Doctrine of the Similar from 1933, in relation to his more widely read work on film. Having established the process by which humans became ensconced in what Susan Buck-Morss calls a “new nature… of matter as it has been transformed by” technology, [4] Benjamin went on in The Work of Art (1936) [5] to explore the significance this technologised environment has on the human “mimetic faculty.” [6] In two 1933 essays Benjamin argues that ‘primitive’ language emerged in magical correspondence with the world. From the surface of the starry sky, or the intestines of a sacrificed animal, early humans “read what was never written,” [7] deriving mystical revelations from the constellations and signatures perceived there. [8] Configurations between patterns were what determined legibility, not just because they carried an intended meaning – being ‘written’ there by the Gods, for instance – but because similarities ‘flash up’ speculatively in the human mind: So speed, the swiftness in reading or writing which can scarcely be separated from this process, would then become… the effort or gift of letting the mind participate in that measure of time in which similarities flash up fleetingly out of the stream of things only in order to become immediately engulfed again. [9] “Nature creates similarities,” and as such, humans being of nature, are driven by a mimetic compulsion “to become and behave like something else,” [10] projecting that same compulsion into the world around them. This compulsion manifested itself in group dances, as song and spoken language, and later, as writing, eventually flattening the speculative space of mimetic experience into inscriptions on stone, vellum, or paper. As Howard Caygill observes: Configuration is thus transformed into inscription, reducing the speculative reading of the similarity between patterns into the transcendental reading of graphically inscribed marks upon an infinite but bounded surface. [11] Like the writing that Benjamin believed ‘captured’ human beings and their mimetic faculty, animated GIFs point to a new type of inscription, born of, and infinitely responsive to itself. We enter into this whether or not we wish too, each time we navigate a browser window, or slide our fingers across a smartphone screen. We are as malleable as our nature. A physiological suspense beckoning from the screen that animated GIFs turn around and loop – indefinitely – as a reminder of their own attention. In creating and sharing GIFs we add depth to the flat surfaces through which the internet is received. We may be ensconced in this space, and pulled along by it, but it is a space whose apparent distribution across screens, browser windows, and multiple devices too readily gestures to our bodies and selves as being fully individuated, rather than to the whole assemblage of which both our bodies, devices, and the images that play between them, are a part. Benjamin believed that, rather than allowing us to attain mastery over nature, technologies such as film give us an awareness over our relationship with nature through the processes of “material complexification.” [12] For Benjamin this training was akin to the relationship between factory workers and the production line, where the ratchet of the gears and conveyors program the workers’ bodies, fusing them together into a larger assemblage. The successive frames of film, made to spool through the mechanism one after the other at imperceptible speed, create an illusion of temporal and spatial fluidity that shock us into an awareness of the complex relation between our psychic and physiological realities. As R.L Rutsky lucidly explains, “this scattered, interrupted filmic reception becomes part of the human sensorium or body… a body that is no longer distanced from—or entirely separate from—the images and shocks that it comes into contact with.” [13] Constituted by what Anne Friedberg describes as a “mobilized and virtual gaze,” [14] filmic subjectivity has often been considered to correspond to the supposed sovereignty of the consumer, predicated on the promise of an enhanced mobility and freedom of choice across a dizzying array of goods and spectacles. Time and space themselves became filmic, opening up onto new mimetic correspondences discoverable in everything from the high-speed montage of flowers in bloom, to the slowed down and isolated gallop of Muybridge’s horse. Cinema goers attain all the nobility of flâneurs exploring endless arcades of experience without ever having to leave their seats. As R.L. Rutsky argues, the audience ‘becomes’ through this collective “state of distraction,” defined by “its ability to ‘take up’ these images in much the same way that the film apparatus does.” [15] And so the mimetic faculty itself achieves a kind of mechanisation in the mass spectacle of moving images, able to reveal correspondences at speeds and densities hitherto impossible to conceive. In the words of Mark Hansen: Despite the vast acceleration of image circulation in the historical interval separating Benjamin’s moment from ours, his effort to grapple with the material impact of… autonomous images remains exemplary: it com­prises an indispensable model that can guide us in our efforts to forge con­nections with our alienating, postimaginary material world. [16] Whereas the mimetic faculty had originally come to correspond with nature through theological ritual or script, with this second nature – of what Mark Hansen calls “the mechanosphere” [17] – the correspondence is material, and sensuous. Our receptivity is physiological, our bodies are shared, and our memories – now dependent on the “alien rhythms” [18] of montage – have become intricately woven into the machine as images. In turn, as noted by Arthur Kroker, “the image machine is haunted by memories of the body,” [19] bodies that depend on the fidelity, malleability and repeatability of film, videotape, and more recently, digital forms of media for their existence. As with its filmic ancestors, animated GIFs often frame fragmented images of time in snippets of montage, giving what Gilles Deleuze termed “common standard of measurement to things which do not have one,” framing “long shots of countryside and close-ups of the face, an astronomical system and a single drop of water” [20] within a single perceptual apparatus. The train whips by on the silver screen, but the instant of each image impacting us is lost as the play of further images moves onwards through experience. As Steven Shaviro has insisted, we “have already been touched by and altered by these sensations, even before [we] have had the chance to become conscious of them.” [21] But unlike filmic time, made to reel at 24 frames per second, the GIF’s loading mechanism introduces a more awkward temporal component into perception: that of bandwidth. Standardized in 1987 by CompuServe, the GIF’s early popularity was based, in part, on their ability to load in time with its download. In the days of dial-up connections this meant that at least part of a GIF image would appear before the user’s connection froze, or – more significantly – the user could see enough of the image for it to mean something. In 1989 Compuserve updated GIFs to use this ‘partial loading’ mechanism to encode animations within a single GIF file. In essence, the hacky update transformed a two dimensional spatial loading mechanism into a three dimensional temporal one. A file format designed to harness correspondences within each single image had become about correspondences between and across images. According to Jason Eppink in 1995 Netscape Navigator, an early popular web browser, “took advantage of [this mechanism] to enable looping, making the GIF viable for animation online over dial-up speeds.” [22] Small in size and made up of few frames, this is where animated GIFs entered their ‘classic’ [23] phase. Corresponding to single phrases or concepts such as ‘Under Construction’, ‘Area 51’ or ‘flying pink unicorn’, the era of personal web pages saturated with spinning hamsters is one anybody born after 1990 will little remember, but its influence on the contemporary ‘folk’ attitude of the web has not abated. As the 2000s came into view, animated GIFs became freed up by an increase in bandwidth and storage capacity to show more complex assemblages, and it was at this stage that the format achieved its common contemporary use as a vehicle for moments framed from cinema, television and – increasingly – video websites like YouTube. Frame grab or video capture GIFs often pay homage to isolated moments in pop culture, but as the ‘craft’ of animated GIFs has grown, so the frame capture form has begun to correspond well outside the filmic and televisual contexts from which they were first appropriated. This leap is, for me, the first point at which GIFs begin to co-ordinate their own realm of mimetic correspondence. An ocean of viral videos turned into a self-serving visual vernacular, looping back on itself ad infinitum. Brought on by their obsolescence, animated GIFs are among the most contradictory of images, able to resist the rigid taxonomies of the burgeoning algorithmic economy, even as they are turned into ‘clickbait’ by sites like BuzzFeed, [24] who rely on them to flash on screens kept in motion by the compulsive scroll of a mouse, or – increasingly – a finger or thumb. From our vantage point, subsumed by the impact of a high-bandwidth internet culture, animated GIFs [25] seem quaint, clumsy, even remedial in their capacity to transmit information. GIFs are easy to share and edit, but difficult for search engines to classify and catalogue. They are usually small in size, but their popularity exerts a significant load on the web servers that host them. As internet speeds have increased, and screen resolutions soared in depth, GIFs have remained; flickering endlessly as visual reminders of the ubiquitous mess the internet has become. Users of sites like Tumblr, 4chan, and Reddit revel in the capacity of GIFs to quickly correspond to the world, capturing token moments of experience or expression that signal well beyond their original context. Images can be made to correspond with increasing immediacy; can be cut, copied, stretched, collected and forced to clash in violent juxtaposition through Photoshopping, embedding, and multiple recompressions, using software interfaces that themselves are infinitely malleable. As Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska argue in Life After New Media, one of the principle ways in which we create meaning through matter is by cutting: Cutting reality into smaller pieces – with our eyes, our bodily and cognitive apparatus, our language, our memory, and our technologies – we enact separation and relationality as the two dominant aspects of material locatedness in time. [26] The affect of a GIF is not just felt, but copied and pasted elsewhere; separated and related in never before seen patterns and expressions. GIFs can be broken into their constituent frames, compressed and corrupted on purpose and made to act as archives for viral ‘memetic’ events travelling the web. It is possible to track the cultural development of some of these correspondences. Often though, the source of the cultural moment they hail from becomes completely lost in the play of images. Finding meaning in the semiotic sludge of these GIFs often requires a sensitivity to similitude bordering on the magical, even if their visceral impact is beyond question. Net artists and archaeologists, Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied, have long been fascinated by a GIF known as ‘Real_Dancing_Girl’. Indeed, Lialina cites the GIF as a defining impetus in her desire to become a net artist in the first place. [27] Small in size and given to a multitude of purposes and meanings, Real_Dancing_Girl.GIF found her way onto many thousands of personal web pages during the early ‘classic’ GIF era, made to dance alongside a cast of similar pixelated characters. If you blow Real_Dancing_Girl up to a size well beyond the means of a mid-90s desktop monitor to display, it is easy to see a single aberrant pixel that flashes each time she swings her hips to her left. [28] Throughout Real_Dancing_Girl’s 20 something years of propagation around the web this pixel remained, apparently unnoticed, or at least aesthetically accepted by those who added the GIF to their webpages. The pixel in Real_Dancing_Girl indicates the difficulty the network has in determining what communicates and what doesn’t. Its significance may be slight – a punctum to prick the attention of those enraptured by the image – but the aberrant pixel signals how the mimetic faculty tends to shift inwards. In recent homages to the GIF nameless web artists have incorporated the anomalous pixel in their higher resolution remakes, mimicking the movements of Real_Dancing_Girl as their digitised bodies recoil. A playground of correspondences that at first mimicked language and the wider world now mimics itself. As Graig Uhlin notes, narrative correspondence is not the guiding principle of the GIF, rather “the viewer is caught up in the GIF’s temporal suspension: to view is to be captivated.” [29] A 2015 BuzzFeed article entitled Can You Get Through These 17 GIFs Of Massive Zits Being Popped Without Shielding Your Eyes? [30] poses a challenge to the audience that promises bodily affect, relying on the GIF as its primary vehicle. As BuzzFeed is wont to do the article encourages the ‘reader’ to scroll through each animated GIF for no other reason than for the experience it will deliver. The GIFs are knowingly visceral, their careful ‘listicle’ [31] arrangement down the length of the page no less meticulous than the framing of each individual animated GIF on the spectacle of a zit being burst asunder. Here bodies are vast surfaces closed off by each GIF, so that even though the moment of each zit’s (and therefore each body’s) eruption is reduced to its purest semblance, the affect of bodies in their entirety is alluded to and made significant. Each GIF has its own title that celebrates the compulsion of this activity, and the sense of release and relief they represent for the bodies subjected to by each GIF and, in turn, the body of the viewer suspended among them: Doesn’t this make you feel relaxed? Just imagine how gratifying this must feel… How is it possible to feel such disgust and satisfaction at the same time? Yeah, it’s kind of gross to watch… …but there’s no denying there’s something beautiful about these gifs. [32] The audience is encouraged to excerpt their mimetic faculty, to revel in the correspondences between GIFs and eruptions; to find ‘beauty’ in these captivating physiological rhythms. Indeed, the ‘loop’ of each individual zit and its eruption is enhanced by the further repetition of awareness and reception as the tirade of grotesque releases continues. In the zit article we find a paradigm of the click/scroll/repeat reverie that BuzzFeed has become synonymous with. A compulsion to derive affect, and physiological release, in the navigation of lists of what BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti calls “upbeat, even childlike content.” [33] In an April 2015 article for Vox Dylan Matthews reflects [34] on the success of BuzzFeed by looking over an academic paper written by Jonah Peretti a decade before the launch of the website. [35] Published in theory journal Negations in 1996 [36] Peretti’s paper uses Frederic Jameson’s Postmodernism and Consumer Society, and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia to offer a definition of the distributed identities of contemporary consumers. Deleuze, Guattari and Jameson use the figure of the ‘schizophrenic’ [37] to refer to an individual without a defined ego or identity. Jameson saw “the rapid fire succession of signifiers in MTV style media” [38] of the 1980s as serving “to confuse viewers, harm[ing] their ability to use culture to build identities.” [39] Peretti fuses this view with Deleuze and Guattari’s more ‘emancipatory’ take on the egoless schizophrenic: a figure able to resist the pre-packaged identities being offered them by capitalism, and act – effectively – on their own desires. [40] For Dylan Matthews, Peretti’s fused rendering of the schizophrenic offers an insight into the principles behind BuzzFeed. As Peretti himself wrote in his 1996 paper: Capitalism needs schizophrenia, but it also needs egos… The contradiction is resolved through the acceleration of the temporal rhythm of late capitalist visual culture. This type of acceleration encourages weak egos that are easily formed, and fade away just as easily. [41] The zit article exemplifies the plethora of visual identifications that BuzzFeed accelerates through social-media echo chambers. Its skill is to create lists and headlines that everyone and anyone can relate to, and will click and scroll through. “23 Euphoric Moments Literally Everyone Has Experienced”; “23 Times Tumblr Went Way Too Fucking Far”; “19 Euphoric Experiences For Book Lovers”; “21 Things Everyone Who Went To Primary School In Wales Remembers.” Once again the GIF becomes not only the vehicle, but the metaphor of identity destruction and rebirth. A bearer of postimaginary perception, through which – to hijack Walter Benjamin’s insights – “like a flash, similarity appears” [42] only to “become immediately engulfed again.” [43] BuzzFeed is far from the only factory to exploit the qualities of digital media to arrest our attentions, but its success at offering its users new identities that appear to merge and interrelate in an endless, mutating mass is unrivalled. Perhaps its most devastating trick was to recognise compulsion as one of the primary driving forces behind internet navigation, reception and – in conjunction – identity formation. Like the unseen bodies of those zit owning GIF subjects, the listicle format reveals just enough of the shared body of human culture – of Benjamin’s “postimaginary material world” – to produce an affective response in its receivers/users/consumers. An ever expanding multiverse of tiny framed portions of experience cut from context so that they can be shared, digested, and repeated indefinitely. Whether viewed in their original format, or as streamed equivalent, the visceral impact of GIFs is beyond question, extending beyond the browser, altering pop culture, our tastes, and even our aesthetic acuity. The different timescales of media production and reception clash in the animated GIF as in no other medium. It is no coincidence that animated GIFs became the web’s primary mode of packaging and delivering visual humour. Just as a joke is the vehicle for the impact of a punchline, so a GIF encapsulates the potential of the having and sharing of its experience. Not only does the animated GIF allow us to wallow in its repetitions, actuating the moving image event in a conscious awareness of one’s awareness, GIFs also enact two modes of experience in their temporal structures. Firstly, GIFs that load in time with bandwidth build frame by frame the structure of the soon to be experienced experience – outside of cinematic and ‘real’ time, at a changeable pace we could call ‘bandwidth-time’. Secondly, the GIF as a mode of display and redisplay tends towards a perceptual sweet spot in its loops and repetitions. The loop of GIFs counteracts some of the uncontainable immediacy of cinema, enclosing the ‘perfect’ amount of time for “the expression of experience by experience” [44] in the cycle of repeated views. Even as bandwidth has increased to alleviate the limitations of the GIF’s short timespan, rather than lengthen animated GIFs, the web community has responded by increasing the resolution and dimensions of GIFs, allowing their visceral impact to expand, even if the perceptive loop has not. Because of this, GIFs still stand as one of the best indications of bandwidth-time. Through the GIF’s jilting appearance on laptop monitors or smartphone screens, viewers are entered into physiological communion with server banks, optical cables, WiFi signals, and 4G mobile phone masts talking in zeroes and ones via invisible protocols. Whilst digital substrates have increased in their capacity to store, distribute and display information, they have also edged towards invisibility. [45] What matters is that media content is received, and that that reception is smooth and immediate. Whether an animated GIF is composed of a seamless loop or a series of incompatible frames made to jolt against one another, the anchor point at which the GIF repeats has a heightened significance upon its first viewing. The browser window opens onto a single frame, that slips to a few more frames incongruently, until the entire GIF file has been buffered by the computer, at which point the loop begins in earnest. This quality of GIFs reminds us of their origins, even as each nudge towards a seamless loop makes us aware how clunky and clumsy our network architecture still is. Throughout the 2010s the Graphical Interchange Format formalised by Compuserve and Netscape has undergone a series of violent transformations into other, apparently related forms. When a GIF is uploaded to microblogging service Twitter or popular image sharing site imgur, for instance, it is automatically transcoded into MP4 or GIFV video format. The resultant GIF/video hybrid retains the frequency of the original looping animation, but the file can now be started and stopped at will, alleviating part of the strain on the servers given the responsibility of delivering it. These hybrids are still colloquially referred to as ‘GIFs’, even though they retain none of the original coding mechanisms of Compuserve’s format. What’s more, these formats are designed to buffer before they stream, separating us once again from the stutters of bandwidth-time. As Mark Nunes reminds us, Internet traffic is predicated on a logic of unimpeded flow. The network demands maximum throughput, with a minimum of noise, a “free flowing system ultimately [dependant] upon a control logic in which everything that circulates communicates… or is cast aside as abject.” [46] For the network it is beneficial to deny bandwidth-time entirely, casting Internet users aloft in the experience of ‘stream-time’; a control logic more suited to arresting our attentions, in which the future image we are about to receive has always already been determined and buffered by the network. We may then wish to read the anchor point of the GIF loop as a cohort of Roland Barthes’ ‘punctum’ – an off-centre compositional “accident which pricks” [47] our attention. The GIF punctum is one frame piled off-kilter with the rest of the sequence; the frame that lingers in awareness just a moment longer as cinematic and bandwidth-time catch up with one another. Whilst the violent subjugation of the GIF to streamable formats allows the content of the GIF to continue in its loops and correspondences, its potential to mutate is cut short by its transcoding to video. In their ‘original’ format animated GIFs retain each of their frames as if it was a separate file among its partners, so that importing the file into a software editing suite retains the quality and malleability of the whole loop across each individual frame. This means that each copied and pasted GIF carries within itself an unspoken promise of its next adaptation. Although the cut/edit/remix culture of the web does not rely solely on animated GIFs for its expression – one need only browse YouTube for a few moments to find a video that has been bent to several wills before its reception – the GIF’s blunt democratic immediacy is less prevalent across other file formats and modes of viewing. As noted by Giampaolo Bianconni in a 2012 article entitled, GIFability: Dan Harmon, who was… the executive producer of the television sitcom Community, [said] that he tried, “many times a season” to put star Alison Brie “in a situation… that I know is going to end up as an animated GIF file!” [48] What in televisual terms is a few moments of particularly well-crafted action, or an acutely framed humorous facial expression, achieves far greater ubiquity and visibility as an animated GIF overlaid with kitschy text, or other hastily layered editorial additions. The acts of recuperation and appropriation carried out by viewers is now considered an integral component of cultural capital. What matters for images is that they are seen, and the mode of their contemporary reception, increasingly, is in appropriated, poor copies, cut out of context – into GIFs or otherwise. The rise of what Hito Steyerl has termed, the Poor Image, is dependent on two, seemingly contradictory, demands: The networks in which poor images circulate thus constitute both a platform for a fragile new common interest and a battleground for commercial and national agendas… While it enables the users’ active participation in the creation and distribution of content, it also drafts them into production. Users become the editors, critics, translators, and (co-)authors of poor images. [49] For a director like Harmon “poor images” of his work are commercially, and arguably artistically beneficial to its reception. What Bianconi calls the ‘GIF-able’ moment is one that harnesses the flash of mimetic acuity in a viewer and drafts them into a productive mode. Harmon’s decision to give his shots a GIF fidelity calls to mind Walter Benjamin’s conclusions in The Work of Art. And yet instead of filmic images training us in new modes of apperception, it has become the images we see daily on our computer screens, flickering in time with new perceptual proficiencies across screens that scroll in multiple dimensions. Now that images can be exchanged, transmitted, copied and edited at frantic light speeds it becomes commercially important for producers of established media forms, such as television and cinema, to maintain the movement and mutation of their images online. In turn, as users and viewers we should tend to concern ourselves with modes of pro-sumption [50] that wrestle a degree of control back from the media machine. In an article published in July 2015, journalist Cleo Stiller explores the phenomena of ‘microporn GIFs’, ostensibly created by and for women: [51] While GIFs may seem like a flash in the pan—really, how can four seconds turn you on?—the nature of the loop… give[s] the viewer time to notice the caress of a hand floating from neck to shoulder to forearm, the tensing of an abdomen, the arching of a back, and the reflex of a thigh. [52] Each microporn GIF teeters on the verge of something happening, gesturing to the possibility of the sexual event; of eventfulness. And the loop gives these moments an infinite capacity to repeat and thus expand experientially, even if they do not expand narratively. The suspense of the GIF is erotic regardless of its content; each loop is a charged instant of imminence. As evinced by Helen Hester, Bethan Jones, and Sarah Taylor-Harman in their paper on microporn, Giffing a fuck, these tensions – and thus affective pleasures – are not reliant on clumsy narrative arcs for their delivery. The illusion of narrative coherence within and across pornography lends itself to easy categorisation. Pornography then tends to be catalogued with simplistic labels such as ‘threesome’, ‘anal’, or ‘blowjob’ by the websites and services that deliver it, reducing the plethora of erotic acts, human behaviours and experiences to a database of homogeneous and heteronormative search terms. [53] For Hester, Jones, and Taylor-Harman the community of microporn GIF creators represents a line of resistance… …against dominant representations of heterosexual acts, and potentially counters the commercial nature of pornography and its narrative linearity. Here lies the possibility for pornographic consumers to critique and deconstruct such dominant paradigms, choosing for themselves instead the bodies and fragmented sexual inter/activities they desire to see presented. [54] Here the GIF’s tight spatial and temporal framing, coupled with its capacity to travel, mutate and multiply, is empowering. If a desire, a feeling, an expression is GIF-able, then it has the potential to create further desires, feelings, and expressions. Fragmentation then becomes a means to disassemble normative narratives and reconstruct them into a shared techno-body that enables and celebrates the diversity of its components and their correspondences. The resulting loops are interrelational in a way not easily captured by the logic of the database and the search term. According to Sally McKay: Brian Massumi describes affective intensity as a “state of suspense, potentially of disruption. It is like a temporal sink, a hole in time…” [55] This is a moment of incipience, before action is taken, before emotions qualify and retroactively determine the affect. [56] Each GIF evokes an affect not just because of its content, but because its loop winds that content tight like a spring. A GIF is always poised in lieu of a release. This promise to spring back, to evoke and disrupt makes GIFs – microporn or otherwise – one of the web’s most enduring forces. The erotic charge of each GIF unites its creator, sharer and viewers in a non-linguistic discourse. Action is inevitable, reaction is desired, and disruption is to be expected. References & Notes [1] Sally McKay, “The Affect of Animated GIFs (Tom Moody, Petra Cortright, Lorna Mills),” Art & Education, 2005, http://www.artandeducation.net/paper/the-affect-of-animated-gifs-tom-moody-petra-cortright-lorna-mills/. [2] Daniel Rubinstein, “GIF Today,” The Photographer’s Gallery: Born in 1987 Exhibition, June 2012. [3] Howard Caygill, Walter Benjamin: The Colour of Experience (Routledge, 1997), 5. [4] Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (MIT Press, 1991), 70. [5] Walter Benjamin, “The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility (1936),” in The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility, and other writings on media, ed. Michael William Jennings et al. (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008), 19–55. [6] Walter Benjamin, “On the Mimetic Faculty (1933),” in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, 1st Schocken edition edition (New York: Random House USA Inc, 1995), 333–36. [7] Ibid. [8] Anson Rabinbach, “Introduction to Walter Benjamin’s ‘Doctrine of the Similar,’” New German Critique, no. 17 (April 1, 1979): 62, doi:10.2307/488009. [9] Walter Benjamin, “Doctrine of the Similar (1933),” trans. Knut Tarnowski, New German Critique Spring, 1979, no. 17 (April 1, 1979): 65–69, doi:10.2307/488009. [10] Benjamin, “On the Mimetic Faculty (1933).” [11] Caygill, Walter Benjamin, 5. [12] Mark B. N. Hansen, Embodying Technesis: Technology beyond Writing, Studies in Literature and Science (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), 234. [13] R. L Rutsky, “Allegories of Emergence: The Generative Matrix of Walter Benjamin” (Constructions of the Future, Heidelberg, 2011), 16. [14] Anne Friedberg, “The Mobilized and Virtual Gaze in Modernity: Flaneur/Flaneuse,” in The Visual Culture Reader, ed. Nicholas Mirzoeff, 2. ed, repr (London: Routledge, 2001), 395–404. [15] R. L Rutsky, “Walter Benjamin and the Dispersion of Cinema,” Symploke 15, no. 1–2 (2008): 18, doi:10.1353/sym.0.0017. [16] Hansen, Embodying Technesis, 248. [17] Ibid., 262. [18] Ibid., 266. [19] Arthur Kroker, Body Drift: Butler, Hayles, Haraway (U of Minnesota Press, 2012), 1. [20] Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1 (Continuum, 2005), 16. [21] Steven Shaviro, The Cinematic Body (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 46. [22] J. Eppink, “A Brief History of the GIF (so Far),” Journal of Visual Culture 13, no. 3 (December 1, 2014): 299, doi:10.1177/1470412914553365. [23] For a further breakdown of GIF ‘types’ see: Daniel Rourke, “The Doctrine of the Similar (GIF GIF GIF),” Dandelion 3, no. 1 (January 19, 2012). [24] At its most extreme, ‘clickbait’ is any link that draws a user’s attention with a tempting claim or open question in its headline, only to confront them with vacuous or even misleading content once the sought-after click is granted. Although BuzzFeed’s editor in chief Ben Smith claimed in 2014 that the site “doesn’t do clickbait,” (Ben Smith, “Why BuzzFeed Doesn’t Do Clickbait,” 2014) a compelling argument can be made that BuzzFeed does at the very least rely on what journalist James Hamblin calls “curiosity gaps” (James Hamblin, “It’s Everywhere, the Clickbait,” 2014) in order to elicit the necessary click from internet users. [25] GIF is the file extension and acronym for ‘Graphical Interchange Format’, a subtype of bitmap image encoding. [26] Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska, Life After New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2012), 75. [27] Olia Lialina, “In Memory of Chuck Poynter, User and GIF Maker,” One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age, March 22, 2011, http://blog.geocities.institute/archives/2466. [28] “Real_Dancing_Girl: Who_am_I?,” Tumblr Blog, Real_Dancing_Girl, accessed January 1, 2016, http://realdancingirl.tumblr.com/WHOAMI. [29] Graig Uhlin, “Playing in the Gif(t) Economy,” Games and Culture 9, no. 6 (November 1, 2014): 520, doi:10.1177/1555412014549805. [30] Jamie Jones, “Can You Get Through These 17 GIFs Of Spots Being Popped Without…,” BuzzFeed, July 19, 2015, http://www.buzzfeed.com/jamiejones/gifs-of-cysts-being-popped. [31] The word ‘listicle’ is a portmanteau combination of ‘list’ and ‘article’. See: Jo Christy, “What Is A Listicle?,” Stir Up Media, March 7, 2015, https://web.archive.org/web/20150307191311/http://stirupmedia.co.uk/what-is-a-listicle/. [32] Jones, “Can You Get Through These 17 GIFs Of Spots Being Popped Without…” [33] Andrew Rice and 2013, “Does BuzzFeed Know the Secret?,” NYMag.com, accessed July 21, 2015, http://nymag.com/news/features/buzzfeed-2013-4/#. [34] Dylan Matthews, “BuzzFeed’s Founder Used to Write Marxist Theory and It Explains BuzzFeed Perfectly,” Vox, April 2, 2015, http://www.vox.com/2014/5/20/5730762/buzzfeeds-founder-used-to-write-marxist-theory-and-it-explains. [35] Dylan Matthews builds on a preliminary reading of the paper by Eugene Wolters, “From Deleuze to LOLCats, the Story of the BuzzFeed Guy,” Critical-Theory, April 8, 2013, http://www.critical-theory.com/from-deleuze-to-lolcats-the-story-of-the-buzzfeed-guy/. [36] Jonah Peretti, “Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution,” Winter 1996, http://negations.icaap.org/issues/96w/96w_peretti.html. [37] Much has been written on the inappropriate adoption of the label ‘schizophrenic’ by the likes of Deleuze, Guattari, Jameson and others. It is used here to refer to their definition, rather than the actual illness of schizophrenia as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. [38] Peretti, “Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution.” [39] Matthews, “BuzzFeed’s Founder Used to Write Marxist Theory and It Explains BuzzFeed Perfectly.” [40] Ibid. [41] Peretti, “Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution.” [42] Benjamin, “On the Mimetic Faculty (1933).” [43] Benjamin, “Doctrine of the Similar (1933).” [44] Vivian Carol Sobchack, The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992), 305. [45] R. L Rutsky, High Technē: Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 15. [46] Mark Nunes, Error Glitch, Noise, and Jam in New Media Cultures (New York: Continuum, 2011), 5, http://public.eblib.com/EBLPublic/PublicView.do?ptiID=655513. [47] Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 27. [48] Giampaolo Bianconi, “GIFABILITY,” Rhizome.org, November 20, 2012, http://rhizome.org/editorial/2012/nov/20/gifability/. [49] Hito Steyerl, “Hito Steyerl, In Defense of the Poor Image / Journal / E-Flux,” E-Flux, no. 11 (November 2009), http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/94. [50] A portmanteau of ‘producer’ and ‘consumer’, the prosumer, according to George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson, represents, “a trend toward unpaid rather than paid labor and toward offering products at no cost… [a] system marked by a new abundance where scarcity once predominated.” G. Ritzer and N. Jurgenson, “Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The Nature of Capitalism in the Age of the Digital ‘Prosumer,’” Journal of Consumer Culture 10, no. 1 (March 1, 2010): 14, doi:10.1177/1469540509354673. [51] Although Stiller concentrates on female microporn creators, it is perhaps more productive to suggest who the community is not made up of i.e. cis-males. This seems to be a much more inclusive take on a category of user created content aligned with resistance to heteronormative classification. This resonates more closely with the assessment of Hester, Jones, and Taylor-Harman in the paper referenced below. [52] Cleo Stiller, “Why Some Women Prefer Their Porn in GIFs,” Fusion, accessed June 16, 2015, http://fusion.net/story/165548/why-women-love-porn-gifs/. [53] Helen Hester, Bethan Jones, and Sarah Taylor-Harman, “Giffing a Fuck: Non-Narrative Pleasures in Participatory Porn Cultures and Female Fandom,” Porn Studies 2, no. 4 (October 2, 2015): 356–66, doi:10.1080/23268743.2015.1083883. [54] Ibid., 361. [55] Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Duke University Press, 2002), 26. [56] McKay, “The Affect of Animated GIFs (Tom Moody, Petra Cortright, Lorna Mills).”

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Sat, 15 Jul 2017 07:02:13 -0700 http://www.machinemachine.net/portfolio/the-compulsions-of-the-similar-gifs/
<![CDATA[Sounds of the Nightmare Machine]]> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lTYPvArbGo

What happens when a horror movie composer and a guitar maker join forces? They create the world’s most disturbing musical instrument. Affectionately known as "The Apprehension Engine," this one-of-a-kind instrument was commissioned by movie composer Mark Korven. Korven wanted to create spooky noises in a more acoustic and original way—but the right instrument didn't exist. So his friend, guitar maker Tony Duggan-Smith, went deep into his workshop and assembled what has to be the spookiest instrument on Earth.

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This story is a part of our Frontiers series, where we bring you front and center to the dreamers, pioneers, and innovators leading society at the cutting edge. Let us take you along for a trip to the oft-imagined but rarely accomplished.

Got a story idea for us? Shoot us an email at hey [at] GreatBigStory [dot] com

Follow us behind the scenes on Instagram: http://goo.gl/2KABeX Make our acquaintance on Facebook: http://goo.gl/Vn0XIZ Give us a shout on Twitter: http://goo.gl/sY1GLY Come hang with us on Vimeo: http://goo.gl/T0OzjV Visit our world directly: http://www.greatbigstory.com

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Tue, 20 Jun 2017 23:00:01 -0700 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lTYPvArbGo
<![CDATA[Sonic Acts 2017: The Noise of Becoming: On Monsters, Men, and Every Thing in Between]]> https://vimeo.com/209632348

SONIC ACTS FESTIVAL - THE NOISE OF BEING Daniel Rourke - The Noise of Becoming: On Monsters, Men, and Every Thing in Between 26 February 2017 - De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, The Netherlands --- In this talk Daniel Rourke refigures the sci-fi horror monster The Thing from John Carpenter's 1982 film of the same name. The Thing is a creature of endless mimetic transformations, capable of becoming the grizzly faced men who fail to defeat it. The most enduring quality of The Thing is its ability to perform self-effacement and subsequent renewal at every moment, a quality we must embrace and mimic ourselves if we are to outmanoeuvre the monsters that harangue us. Daniel Rourke is a writer and artist based in London. In his work Daniel exploits speculative and science fiction in search of a radical ‘outside’ to the human(ities), including extensive research on the intersection between digital materiality, the arts, and posthumanism. In March 2015 artist & activist Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel released The 3D Additivist Manifesto – a call to push technologies beyond their breaking point, into the realm of the provocative, and the weird. sonicacts.com/2017/artists/daniel-rourkeCast: Sonic Acts

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Sat, 29 Apr 2017 12:02:45 -0700 https://vimeo.com/209632348
<![CDATA[On The Turing Completeness of PowerPoint (SIGBOVIK)]]> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNjxe8ShM-8

Video highlighting my research on PowerPoint Turing Machines for CMU's SIGBOVIK 2017

Read the paper: http://tomwildenhain.com/PowerPointTM/Paper.pdf

Download the TM: http://tomwildenhain.com/PowerPointTM/PowerPointTM.pptx

Original video (without live background noise): https://youtu.be/sdkxWqsk17c

Please check out my other videos for (slightly) more serious work.

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Sat, 01 Apr 2017 15:05:36 -0700 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNjxe8ShM-8
<![CDATA[Sonic Acts Festival 2017 - Day 4 - Sunday 26 February]]> http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonicacts/33167733545/

Sonic Acts

Sonic Acts Festival 2017 - The Noise of Being. Photos by Pieter Kers.

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Tue, 28 Feb 2017 04:44:49 -0800 http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonicacts/33167733545/
<![CDATA[Sonic Acts Festival 2017 - Day 4 - Sunday 26 February]]> http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonicacts/33167735255/

Sonic Acts

Sonic Acts Festival 2017 - The Noise of Being. Photos by Pieter Kers.

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Tue, 28 Feb 2017 04:44:39 -0800 http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonicacts/33167735255/
<![CDATA[Sonic Acts Festival 2017 - Day 4 - Sunday 26 February]]> http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonicacts/33167735575/

Sonic Acts

Sonic Acts Festival 2017 - The Noise of Being. Photos by Pieter Kers.

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Tue, 28 Feb 2017 04:44:37 -0800 http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonicacts/33167735575/
<![CDATA[Sonic Acts 2017: The Noise of Becoming: On Monsters, Men, and Every Thing in Between]]> https://machinemachine.net/portfolio/sonic-acts-2017-the-noise-of-becoming-on-monsters-men-and-every-thing-in-between/

UPDATE: My talk is also now available in The Noise of Being publication, published by Sonic Acts in September 2017 A talk I delivered at Sonic Acts Festival 2017: The Noise of Being, in which I refigure the sci-fi horror monster The Thing from John Carpenter’s 1982 film of the same name:

The Thing is a creature of endless mimetic transformations, capable of becoming the grizzly faced men who fail to defeat it. The most enduring quality of The Thing is its ability to perform self-effacement and subsequent renewal at every moment, a quality we must embrace and mimic ourselves if we are to outmanoeuvre the monsters that harangue us.

This talk was part of a panel featuring Laurie Penny and Ytasha Womack, entitled Speculative Fiction: Radical Figuration For Social Change. You can see their wonderful talks here:

Laurie Penny: Feminism Against Fascism Ytasha Womack: Afrofuturism: Imagination and Humanity

full text follows (+ references & slides) An Ontology of Every Thing on the Face of the Earth John Carpenter’s 1982 film, The Thing, is a claustrophobic science fiction thriller exhibiting many hallmarks of the horror genre. The film depicts a sinister turn for matter where the chaos of the replicating, cancerous cell is expanded to the human scale and beyond. We watch as an alien force terrorises an isolated Antarctic outpost. The creature exhibits an awesome ability to imitate; devouring any form of life it comes across, whilst simultaneously giving birth to an exact copy in a burst of bile and protoplasm. The Thing copies cell by cell in a process so perfect, that the resultant simulacrum speaks, acts, and even thinks like the original. The Thing is so relentless and its copies so perfect, that the outpost’s Doctor, Blair, is sent mad at the implications: If a cell gets out it could imitate everything on the face of the Earth… and it’s not gonna stop! [1] This text is also available in The Noise of Being publication (published September 2017) Based on John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella, Who Goes There?, Carpenter’s film revisits a gothic trope that is numerous in its incarnations. In Campbell’s novella, The Thing is condensed as much from the minds of the men as from its own horrific, defrosting bulk. A slowly surfacing nightmare that transforms alien matter into earthly biology also has the effect of transferring the inner, mental lives of the men into the resultant condensation. John W. Campbell knew that The Thing could become viscous human flesh, but in order to truly imitate its prey the creature must infect inner life separately, pulling kicking and screaming ghosts out of their biological – Cartesian – machines. As a gothic figure, Campbell’s Thing disrupts the stable and integral vision of human being: self-same bodies housing ‘unitary and securely bounded’ [2] subjectivities, identical and extensive through time. His characters confront their anguish at being embodied: their nightmares are literally made flesh. To emphasise the otherness of each human’s flesh, Campbell’s story is inhabited exclusively with male characters. The absence of women makes the conflict between each of the men feel more rudimentary, but it also centres the novel’s horror on the growing realisation that to be human is also to be alien to oneself. Differences between sexes within the single species homo sapiens are bypassed, allowing the alien entity to exhibit the features of human female ‘otherness’ alongside a gamut of horrific bodily permutations. Perhaps, as Barbara Creed, [3] Rosi Braidotti, [4] and others [5] have argued, The Thing signifies the intrinsic absence of the mother figure: the female body’s capacity to be differentiated from itself in the form of pregnancy; to open up and usher forth into the world a creature other to itself. This Thingly quality is given credence by Julia Kristeva in a passage that could equally refer to The Thing as to the development of a fetus during pregnancy: Cells fuse, split, and proliferate; volumes grow, tissues stretch, and the body fluids change rhythm, speeding up or slowing down. With the body, growing as a graft, indomitable, there is another. And no one is present, within that simultaneously dual and alien space, to signify what is going on. [6] The Thing does exhibit demeanours of copulation and fertility, but also of disease, fragmentation, dismemberment, and asexual fission. In the novella, during a drug induced nightmare Dr. Copper sits bolt upright and blurts out ‘Garry – listen. Selfish – from hell they came, and hellish shellfish – I mean self – Do I? What do I mean?,’ McReady [7] turns to the other men in the cabin, ‘Selfish, and as Dr. Copper said – every part is a whole. Every piece is self-sufficient, and animal in itself.’ [8] The Thing is aberrant at a level more fundamental than allusions to pregnancy can convey. Dr. Copper’s inability to articulate what The Thing is, indicates a categorical nightmare he and the men are suffering. As in the work of Mary Douglas, [9] The Thing’s nightmarish transformation denies the very concept of physical and categorical purity. The Thing’s distributed biology calls to mind the Hardt and Negri’s vision of the early Internet (ARPANET), designed, according to them: …to withstand military attack. Since it has no center and almost any portion can operate as an autonomous whole, the network can continue to function even when part of it has been destroyed. The same design element that ensures survival, the decentralisation, is also what makes control of the network so difficult. [10] The image of mankind’s outright destruction, via totalising narratives such as nuclear war, viral pandemic, or meteor strike is undermined by the paradigm of a Thingly technological infrastructure designed to avoid ‘absolute’ assault. Decentralisation is a categorical horror in its capacity to highlight our self-same, constantly threatened and weak, embodied selves. But shift the lens away from the self-same human subject, and the image of a distributed, amorphous network of autonomous cells immediately becomes a very good description of how biological life has always been constituted. The metaphysical dualism of the sexes, as Kelly Hurley concludes, is an inadequate paradigm of such horrific embodiment, rather any and all ‘ontological security’ [11] is challenged through a ‘collapsing of multiple and incompatible morphic possibilities into one amorphous embodiment.’ [12] The Thing is neither male nor female, two nor one, inside nor outside, living nor dead. If it does settle into a form that can be exclaimed, screamed or defined in mutually incompatible words, it does so only for a moment and only in the mind of its onlooker as they scrabble to deduce its next amorphous conflation. The Thing is a figure performing ontogenesis (something coming to be) rather than ontology (something that already is). [13] ‘The very definition of the real,’ as Jean Baudrillard affirmed, has become ‘that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction.’ [14] Does The Thing ‘produce’ something other than human life, or ‘reproduce’ human life in its entirety, and what, if anything, would be the difference? In a text on bio and necropolitics, Eugene Thacker undertakes an examination of the ‘difference between “Life” as an ontological foundation, and “the living,” or the various specific instantiations of Life.’ [15] Thacker highlights a passage in Poetics where Aristotle speaks of mimesis giving rise to the art of poetry in human beings: We take delight in viewing the most accurate possible images of objects which in themselves cause distress when we see them (e.g. the shapes of the lowest species of animal, and corpses). Recognition of mimetic forms can instill a certain degree of displeasure if that form depicts a carcass or something considered equally abhorrent. But this is often tinged with what Aristotle calls the ‘extremely pleasurable’ dual capacities of recognising an imitation as such, whilst at the same time recognising what it is the form is imitative of. The horror of The Thing is bound to this endless ontogenetic re-forming, its limitless capacity to imitate and become without necessarily settling into a final, stable and agreeable categorical – that is, ontological – form. The men of the Antarctic encampment grasp in their minds at the forms ushering from The Thing but can never keep up with its propensity toward the next shapeless-shape, bodiless-limb, or ontogenetic-extrudence. The Thing is a phenomenon, to use Eugene Thacker’s words once more, that is ‘at once “above” and “below” the scale of the human being,’ [16] throwing, as Rosi Braidotti puts it, ‘a terminal challenge towards a human identity that is commonly predicated on the One.’ [17] The ‘other’ of The Thing never settles down, always falling outside the dialectical circle. As Helene Cixous remarks in The Newly Born Woman, with the ‘truly “other” there is nothing to say; it cannot be theorized. The “other” escapes me.’ [18] The figure of The Thing bursts into popular culture at the meeting point between dream and flesh, and has been pursued ever since by men whose individuality is considered inseparable from their self-same embodiment. By modifying the rules through which dominant norms such as gender binaries operate, The Thing can be conceived as an incarnation of détournement: an intervention that hijacks and continually modifies the rules of engagement. ‘The radical implication [being] that [all] meaning is connected to a relationship with power.’ [19] Considered through Michel Foucault’s definition of bio-power, or the bio-political, The Thing is the process of sex and sexuality severed from the humans who are forced to proliferate ‘through’ it. Above all, the men set against this propagation – this mobilisation of images of ‘other’ – scramble to protect the normative image of the human they hold most dear: the mirage of ‘man’. Becoming World The filmic Thing is a fictional device enabled by animatronic augmentations coated with fleshy stand-ins, KY Jelly, and occasionally, real animal offal. As John Carpenter described his rendition of the creature in a 2014 interview, ‘It’s just a bunch of rubber on the floor.’ [20] Bringing The Thing ‘to life’ is an activity that performs the collapse ‘between “Life” as an ontological foundation, and “the living,” or the various specific instantiations of Life.’ [21] The animatronic Thing exists in the space between stable forms; it is vibrant, expressive technology realised by dead matter; and human ingenuity made discernible by uncanny machinic novelty. Ontological uncertainty finds fluidity in language on a page, in the ability to poetically gesture towards interstitiality. But on-screen animatronics, rubber, and KY Jelly are less fluid, more mimetically rooted by the expectations of the audience reveling in, and reviled by, their recognition of The Thing’s many forms. Upon its release critical reactions to John Carpenter’s The Thing were at best muted and at worst downright vitriolic. The special effects used to depict the creature were the focus of an attack by Steve Jenkins’. Jenkins attacks the film essentially for its surrealist nature… he writes that: “with regard to the effects, they completely fail to ‘clarify the weirdness’ of the Thing”, and that “because one is ever sure exactly how it [the alien] functions, its eruptions from the shells of its victims seem as arbitrary as they are spectacular’.” [22] In short, the reviews lingered on two opposing readings of The Thing’s shock/gore evocations: that they go too far and thus tend towards sensational fetishism, or that they can’t go far enough, depicting kitsch sensibilities rather than alien otherness. Jenkins’ concern that the special effects do not ‘clarify’ The Thing’s ‘weirdness’ is contradictory, if not oxymoronic. The implication is that Things could never be so weird as to defy logical function, and that all expressions should, and eventually do, lend themselves to being read through some parochial mechanism or other, however surreal they may at first seem. That The Thing’s nature could actually defy comprehensibility is not considered, nor how impossible the cinematic depiction of that defiance might be. Rather, the critical view seems to be that every grisly eruption, bifurcation, and horrific permutation on screen must necessarily express an inner order temporarily hidden from, but not inaccessible to, its human onlookers. This critical desire for a ‘norm’ defies the same critical desire for ‘true’ horror. Our will to master matter and technology through imitative forms is the same will that balks at the idea that imitative forms could have ontologies incommensurable with our own. The Thing is ‘weird’: a term increasingly applied to those things defying categorisation. A conviction, so wrote the late Mark Fisher, ‘that this does not belong, is often a sign that we are in the presence of the new… that the concepts and frameworks which we have previously employed are now obsolete.’ [23] In reflecting on the origins of this slippery anti-category, Eugene Thacker reminds us that within horror, ‘The threat is not the monster, or that which threatens existing categories of knowledge. Rather, it is the “nameless thing,” or that which presents itself as a horizon for thought… the weird is the discovery of an unhuman limit to thought, that is nevertheless foundational for thought.’ [24] In The Thing the world rises up to meet its male inhabitants in a weird form and, by becoming them, throws into question the categorical foundations of the born and the made, of subject and object, natural and synthetic, whole and part, human and world, original and imitation. What remains is an ongoing process of animation rendered horrific by a bifurcation of ontologies: on one side the supposed human foundation of distinction, uniqueness and autonomy; on the other, a Thingly (alien and weird) propensity that dissolves differentiation, that coalesces and revels in an endless process of becoming.  As in Mikhail Bakhtin‘s study of the grotesque, the ‘human horizon’ in question is that of the ‘canon,’ [25] a norm to which all aberrations are to be compared: The grotesque body… is a body in the act of becoming. It is never finished, never completed; it is continually built, created, and builds and creates another body. Moreover, the body swallows the world and is itself swallowed by the world. [26] The Thingly is neither self-same nor enclosed unto itself. It is a plethora of openings, conjoinings and eruptions that declare ‘the world as eternally unfinished: a world dying and being born at the same time.’ [27] The bodily horror performed by The Thing is an allegory of this greater interstitial violation: the conceptual boundary between the world-for-us and the world-without-us is breached not as destruction, or even invasion, but ultimately through our inability to separate ourselves from a world that is already inherently alien and weird. [28] ‘A monstrosity’ to hijack the words of Claire Colebrook, ‘that we do not feel, live, or determine, but rather witness partially and ex post facto.’ [29] How these processes are comprehended, or more precisely, how the perception of these processes is interpreted, is more important than the so called ‘difference’ between the world which existed before and the world which remains after. Eugene Thacker clarifies this point in his analysis of the etymology of the word ‘monster’: A monster is never just a monster, never just a physical or biological anomaly. It is always accompanied by an interpretive framework within which the monster is able to be monstrum, literally “to show” or “to warn.” Monsters are always a mat­ter of interpretation. [30] Becoming Weird In a 1982 New York Times movie section, critic Vincent Canby poured yet more scorn on John Carpenter’s ‘Thing’ remake: The Thing is a foolish, depressing, overproduced movie that mixes horror with science fiction to make something that is fun as neither one thing or the other… There may be a metaphor in all this, but I doubt it… The Thing… is too phony looking to be disgusting. It qualifies only as instant junk. [31] Chiming with his critic peers, Canby expresses his desire that the monster show its nature – be monstrum – only in respect of some ‘norm’; [32] some ‘interpretive framework’, [33] that the narrative will eventually uncover. By setting up ‘junk’ as a kitschy opposite to this supposedly palatable logic, Canby unwittingly generates a point from which to disrupt the very notion of the interpretive framework itself. The Thing is more than a metaphor. Canby’s appeal to ‘instant junk’ can be read as the monstrum, the revealing of that which constitutes the norm. The monster stands in for difference, for other, and in so doing normalises the subject position from which the difference is opposed: the canon. In the case of The Thing that canon is first and foremost the human male, standing astride the idea of a world-for-us. The ‘us’ is itself monopolised, as if all non-male ontogenetic permutations were cast out into the abject abyss of alien weirdness. In reclaiming ‘junk’ as a ‘register of the unrepresentable’ [34] a Thingly discourse may share many of the tenets of queer theory. As Rosi Braidotti makes clear, referring to the work of Camilla Griggers: ‘Queer’ is no longer the noun that marks an identity they taught us to despise, but it has become a verb that destabilizes any claim to identity, even and especially to a sex-specific identity. [35] The queer, the weird, the kitsch, are among the most powerful of orders because they are inherently un-representable and in flux. The rigid delineations of language and cultural heteronormativity are further joined in the figure of The Thing by a non-anthropic imaginary that exposes a whole range of human norms and sets into play a seemingly infinite variety of non-human modes of being and embodiment. Rosi Braidotti refers to the work of Georges Canguilhem in her further turn outwards towards the weird, ‘normality is, after all, the zero-degree of monstrosity,’ [36] signalling a post-human discourse as one which, by definition, must continually question – perhaps even threaten – the male, self-same, canonised, subject position: We need to learn to think of the anomalous, the monstrously different not as a sign of pejoration but as the unfolding of virtual possibilities that point to positive alternatives for us all… the human is now displaced in the direction of a glittering range of post-human variables. [37] In her book on The Death of The Posthuman (2014), Claire Colebrook looks to the otherwise, the un-representable, to destabilise the proposition of a world being for anyone. She begins by considering the proposed naming of the current geological era ‘The Anthropocene,’ [38] a term that designates a theoretical as well as scientific impasse for human beings and civilisation, in which human activity and technological development have begun to become indistinguishable, and/or exceed processes implicit within what is considered to be the ‘natural’ world. As if registering the inevitable extinction of humans isn’t enough, The Anthropocene, by being named in honour of humans, makes monsters of those times – past and present – which do not contain humans. Its naming therefore becomes a mechanism allowing the imagination of ‘a viewing or reading in the absence of viewers or readers, and we do this through images in the present that extinguish the dominance of the present.’ [39] The world ‘without bodies’ that is imaged in this move, Colebrook argues, is written upon by the current state of impending extinction. Humans are then able to look upon the future world-without-us in a state of nostalgia coloured by their inevitable absence. Here the tenets of the horror genre indicated by Eugene Thacker are realised as a feature of a present condition. The world-in-itself has already been subsumed by The Thingly horror that is the human species. For even the coming world-without-us, a planet made barren and utterly replaced by The Thingly junk of human civilisation, will have written within its geological record a mark of human activity that goes back well before the human species had considered itself as a Thing ‘in’ any world at all. In an analysis of the etymology of the Anthropocene, McKenzie Wark also turns to theory as a necessary condition of the age of extinction: All of the interesting and useful movements in the humanities since the late twentieth century have critiqued and dissented from the theologies of the human. The Anthropocene, by contrast, calls for thinking something that is not even defeat. [40] The Anthropocene, like ‘queer’ or ‘weird’, should be made into a verb, and relinquished as a noun. Once weirded in this way it becomes a productive proposition, Wark goes on, quoting Donna Haraway, ‘another figure, a thousand names of something else.’ [41] In the 2014 lecture quoted by Wark, Haraway called for other such worldings through the horrific figure of capitalism, through arachnids spinning their silk from the waste matter of the underworld, or from the terrible nightmares evoked in the fiction of the misogynist, racist mid 20th century author H.P. Lovecraft: The activation of the chthonic powers that is within our grasp to collect up the trash of the anthropocene, and the exterminism of the capitalocene, to something that might possibly have a chance of ongoing. [42] That weird, ongoing epoch is the Chthulucene, a monstrum ‘defined by the frightening weirdness of being impossibly bound up with other organisms,’ [43] of what Haraway calls, ‘multi-species muddles.’  [44] The horror of ‘the nameless thing’ is here finally brought to bear in Haraway’s Capitalocene and Chthulucene epochs. Haraway’s call for ‘a thousand names of something else’ is Thingly in its push towards the endlessly bifurcated naming, and theoretical subsuming. The anthro-normalisation casts out infinitely more possibilities than it brings into play. Although Donna Haraway makes it clear that her Chthulucene is not directly derivative of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, her intentional mis-naming and slippery non-identification exemplifies the kind of amorphous thinking and practice she is arguing for. Haraway’s Chthulucene counters Lovecraft’s Cthulhu with an array of chthonic, non-male, tentacular, rhizomatic, and web spinning figures that attest to the monstrum still exposed by Lovecraft’s three quarters of a century old work. The continued – renewed – fascination with Lovecraft’s weird ‘others’ thus has the capacity to expose a dread of these times. As writer Alan Moore has attested: [I]t is possible to perceive Howard Lovecraft as an almost unbearably sensitive barometer of American dread. Far from outlandish eccentricities, the fears that generated Lovecraft’s stories and opinions were precisely those of the white, middle-class, heterosexual, Protestant-descended males who were most threatened by the shifting power relationships and values of the modern world… Coded in an alphabet of monsters, Lovecraft’s writings offer a potential key to understanding our current dilemma, although crucial to this is that they are understood in the full context of the place and times from which they blossomed. [45] The dominant humanistic imagination may no longer posit white cis-males as the figure that ‘must’ endure, but other uncontested figures remain in the space apparently excavated of Lovecraft’s affinities. To abandon what Claire Colebrook calls ‘the fantasy of one’s endurance,’ may be to concede that the post-human is founded on ‘the contingent, fragile, insecure, and ephemeral.’ [46] But, as Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D. Seely suggest, it is dangerous to consider this a ‘new’ refined status for the beings that remain, since ‘this sounds not like the imagination of living beyond Man, but rather like a meticulous description of the lives of the majority of the world under the condition of advanced capitalism right now.’ [47] As Claire Colebrook warns, post-humanism often relinquishes its excluded others – women, the colonised, nonhuman animals, or ‘life itself’ [48] – by merely subtracting the previously dominant paradigm of white heteropatriarchy, whilst failing to confront the monster the that particular figure was indicative of: Humanism posits an elevated or exceptional ‘man’ to grant sense to existence, then when ‘man’ is negated or removed what is left is the human all too human tendency to see the world as one giant anthropomorphic self-organizing living body… When man is destroyed to yield a posthuman world it is the same world minus humans, a world of meaning, sociality and readability yet without any sense of the disjunction, gap or limits of the human. [49] As in Haraway and Wark’s call for not just ‘naming, but of doing, of making new kinds of labor for a new kind of nature,’ [50] contemporary criticism and theory must be allowed to take on the form of the monsters it pursues, moulding and transforming critical inquiries into composite, hybrid figures that never settle in one form lest they become stable, rigid, and normalised. In fact, this metaphor itself is conditioned too readily by the notion of a mastery ‘Man’ can wield. Rather, our inquiries must be encouraged ‘to monster’ separately, to blur and mutate beyond the human capacity to comprehend them, like the infinite variety of organisms Haraway insists the future opens into. The very image of a post-humanism must avoid normalising the monster, rendering it through analysis an expression of the world-for-us. For Eugene Thacker this is the power of the sci-fi-horror genre, to take ‘aim at the presuppositions of philosophical inquiry – that the world is always the world-for-us – and [make] of those blind spots its central concern, expressing them not in abstract concepts but in a whole bestiary of impossible life forms – mists, ooze, blobs, slime, clouds, and muck.’ [51] Reflecting on the work of Noël Carroll, [52] Rosi Braidotti argues that if science fiction horror ‘is based on the disturbance of cultural norms, it is then ideally placed to represent states of crisis and change and to express the widespread anxiety of our times. As such this genre is as unstoppable as the transformations it mirrors.’ [53]  

References [1] John Carpenter, The Thing, Film, Sci-Fi Horror (Universal Pictures, 1982). [2]  Kelly Hurley, The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siècle (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 3. [3]  B. Creed, ‘Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection.’ Screen 27, no. 1 (1 January 1986): 44–71. [4]  Rosi Braidotti, Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming (Wiley, 2002), 192–94. [5]  Ian Conrich and David Woods, eds., The Cinema Of John Carpenter: The Technique Of Terror (Wallflower Press, 2004), 81. [6]  Julia Kristeva, quoted in Jackie Stacey, Teratologies: A Cultural Study of Cancer (Routledge, 2013), 89. [7]  The character McReady becomes MacReady in Carpenter’s 1982 retelling of the story. [8]  Campbell, Who Goes There?, 107. [9]  Noël Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror, Or, Paradoxes of the Heart (New York: Routledge, 1990). [10] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, New Ed (Harvard University Press, 2001), 299. [11] Braidotti, Metamorphoses, 195. [12] Kelly Hurley, ‘Reading like an Alien: Posthuman Identity in Ridley Scott’s Aliens and David Cronenberg’s Rabid,’ in Posthuman Bodies, ed. Judith M. Halberstam and Ira Livingston (Bloomington: John Wiley & Sons, 1996), 219. [13] This distinction was plucked, out of context, from Adrian MacKenzie, Transductions: Bodies and Machines at Speed (A&C Black, 2006), 17. MacKenzie is not talking about The Thing, but this distinction is, nonetheless, very useful in bridging the divide between stable being and endless becoming. [14] Jean Baudrillard, Simulations, trans. Paul Foss, Paul Patton, and Philip Beitchman (Semiotext (e) New York, 1983), 146. [15] Eugene Thacker, ‘Nekros; Or, The Poetics Of Biopolitics,’ Incognitum Hactenus 3, no. Living On: Zombies (2012): 35. [16] Ibid., 29. [17] Braidotti, Metamorphoses, 195. [18] Hélène Cixous, The Newly Born Woman (University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 71. [19] Nato Thompson et al., eds., The Interventionists: Users’ Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life (North Adams, Mass. : Cambridge, Mass: MASS MoCA ; Distributed by the MIT Press, 2004), 151. [20] John Carpenter, BBC Web exclusive: Bringing The Thing to life, Invasion, Tomorrow’s Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction, 14 November 2014. [21] Thacker, ‘Nekros; Or, The Poetics Of Biopolitics,’ 35. [22] Ian Conrich and David Woods, eds., The Cinema Of John Carpenter: The Technique Of Terror (Wallflower Press, 2004), 96. [23] Mark Fisher, The Weird and the Eerie, 2016, 13. [24] Eugene Thacker, After Life (University of Chicago Press, 2010), 23. [25] Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (Indiana University Press, 1984), 321. [26] Ibid., 317. [27] Ibid., 166. [28] This sentence is a paraphrased, altered version of a similar line from Eugene Thacker, ‘Nine Disputations on Theology and Horror,’ Collapse: Philosophical Research and Development IV: 38. [29] Claire Colebrook, Sex After Life: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 2 (Open Humanities Press, 2014), 14. [30] Eugene Thacker, ‘The Sight of a Mangled Corpse—An Interview with’, Scapegoat Journal, no. 05: Excess (2013): 380. [31] Vincent Canby, ‘“The Thing” Is Phony and No Fun,’ The New York Times, 25 June 1982, sec. Movies. [32] Derrida, ‘Passages: From Traumatism to Promise,’ 385–86. [33] Thacker, ‘The Sight of a Mangled Corpse—An Interview with,’ 380. [34] Braidotti, Metamorphoses, 180. [35] Ibid. [36] Ibid., 174. [37] Rosi Braidotti, ‘Teratologies’, in Deleuze and Feminist Theory, ed. Claire Colebrook and Ian Buchanan (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000), 172. [38] A term coined in the 1980s by ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer and widely popularized in the 2000s by atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen. The Anthropocene is, according to Jan Zalasiewicz et al., ‘a distinctive phase of Earth’s evolution that satisfies geologist’s criteria for its recognition as a distinctive statigraphic unit.’ – Jan Zalasiewicz et al., ‘Are We Now Living in the Anthropocene,’ GSA Today 18, no. 2 (2008): 6. [39] Claire Colebrook, Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 1 (Open Humanities Press, 2014), 28. [40] McKenzie Wark, ‘Anthropocene Futures’ Versobooks.com, 23 February 2015. [41] Ibid. [42] Donna Haraway, ‘Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble’ (University of California at Santa Cruz, 5 September 2014). [43] Leif Haven, ‘We’ve All Always Been Lichens: Donna Haraway, the Cthulhucene, and the Capitalocene,’ ENTROPY, 22 September 2014. [44] Donna Haraway, ‘SF: Sympoiesis, String Figures, Multispecies Muddles’ (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, 24 March 2014). [45] H. P Lovecraft, The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, ed. Leslie S Klinger (Liveright, 2014), xiii. [46] Claire Colebrook, Sex After Life: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 2 (Open Humanities Press, 2014), 22. [47] Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D Seely, The Spirit of Revolution: Beyond the Dead Ends of Man (Polity press, 2016), 5. [48] Ibid., 3–4. [49] Claire Colebrook, Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 1 (Open Humanities Press, 2014), 163–64. [50] Wark, ‘Anthropocene Futures.’ [51] Thacker, In the Dust of This Planet, 9. [52]   Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror, Or, Paradoxes of the Heart. [53]   Braidotti, Metamorphoses, 185 (my emphasis).

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Sun, 26 Feb 2017 04:43:01 -0800 https://machinemachine.net/portfolio/sonic-acts-2017-the-noise-of-becoming-on-monsters-men-and-every-thing-in-between/
<![CDATA[there's a huge noise in the middle of this: the ha[ng]ppenings of Glti.ch Karaoke]]> https://vimeo.com/58901196

[for In Media Res: mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/imr/] Kyougn Kmi and Daniel Rourke [collectively known as GLTI.CH Karaoke ] facilitate happenings where participants are invited to sing karaoke duets with one another. Breaking from tradition, participants are paired with partners halfway across the world, singing together over the Internet. “Using free versions of Skype, YouTube and collaborative web software livestream.com, we orchestrated duets between people who had never met each other, who didn’t speak the same language, bypassing thousands of geographic miles with glitchy, highly compressed data and a little bit of patience.” [ GLTI.CH Karaoke, from their website ] At these ha[ng]ppenings Kmi and Rourke go to great lengths to avoid glitches + delays + drops [having been present at a few I can attest to this] while trusting in the network’s unreliable signal to not render their name [GLTI.CH] innapropriate. src footage [in order of appearance]: @birmingham: youtube.com/watch?v=KXPy0WtjfBg @manchester: youtube.com/watch?v=8-ARWTyWPXo @amsterdam: youtube.com/watch?v=W-2t1jB7YKw @chicago: vimeo.com/33420876 @camden: youtube.com/watch?v=pLDEHEJWqmECast: Nick BrizTags: glitch, glti.ch, karaoke, art, performance, happening, chicago, amsterdam, birmingham, manchster, camden, daniel rourke, kyougn, kmi, noise, error, music, communication, transmission and network

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Fri, 04 Nov 2016 08:24:20 -0700 https://vimeo.com/58901196
<![CDATA[Surviving Total Surveillance]]> https://vimeo.com/155008518

February 6, 2016: Moderated by BRITDOC's Jess Search, this discussion brings together artists and scholars who are also contributors to the exhibition catalogue Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance. Panelists Kate Crawford, Jill Magid, Trevor Paglen, Hito Steyerl, Laura Poitras, along with Whitney curator Jay Sanders reflect on surveillance and artistic practice in the post-9/11 world. This event is part of a series of public events, lectures, and talks organized in tandem with the exhibition Laura Poitras: Astro Noise.Cast: Whitney Museum of American ArtTags: Kate Crawford, Jill Magid, Trevor Paglen, Hito Steyerl, Laura Poitras, Jay Sanders, Whitney Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art

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Sun, 03 Jul 2016 09:44:23 -0700 https://vimeo.com/155008518
<![CDATA[Color film was built for white people. Here's what it did to dark skin.]]> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d16LNHIEJzs

The unfortunate history of racial bias in photography.

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For decades, the color film available to consumers was built for white people. The chemicals coating the film simply weren't adequate to capture a diversity of darker skin tones. And the photo labs established in the 1940s and 50s even used an image of a white woman, called a Shirley card, to calibrate the colors for printing.

Concordia University professor Lorna Roth has researched the evolution of skin tone imaging. She explained in a 2009 paper how the older technology distorted the appearance of black subjects:

"Problems for the African-American community, for example, have included reproduction of facial images without details, lighting challenges, and ashen-looking facial skin colours contrasted strikingly with the whites of eyes and teeth."

How this would affect non-white people seemingly didn't occur to those who designed and operated the photo systems. In an essay for Buzzfeed, writer and photographer Syreeta McFadden described growing up with film that couldn't record her actual appearance:

"The inconsistencies were so glaring that for a while, I thought it was impossible to get a decent picture of me that captured my likeness. I began to retreat from situations involving group photos. And sure, many of us are fickle about what makes a good portrait. But it seemed the technology was stacked against me. I only knew, though I didn’t understand why, that the lighter you were, the more likely it was that the camera — the film — got your likeness right."

Many of the technological biases have since been corrected (though, not all of them, as explained in the video above). Still, we often see controversies about the misrepresentation of non-white subjects in magazines and advertisements. What are we to make of the fact that these images routinely lighten the skin of women of color?

Tools are only as good as the people who use them. The learned preference for lighter skin is ubiquitous in many parts of the world, and it starts early. That's an infinitely tougher problem than improving the color range of photo technology.

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Fri, 18 Sep 2015 07:56:50 -0700 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d16LNHIEJzs
<![CDATA[Resolution Disputes: A Conversation Between Rosa Menkman and Daniel Rourke]]> http://www.furtherfield.org/features/interviews/resolution-disputes-conversation-between-rosa-menkman-and-daniel-rourke

In the lead-up to her solo show, institutions of Resolution Disputes [iRD], at Transfer Gallery, Brooklyn, I caught up with Rosa Menkman over two gallons of home-brewed coffee. We talked about what the show might become, discussing a series of alternate resolutions and realities that exist parallel to our daily modes of perception. iRD is open to visitors on Saturdays at Transfer Gallery until April 18th, and will also function as host to my and Morehshin Allahyari’s 3D Additivist Manifesto, on Thursday April 16th. Rosa Menkman: The upcoming exhibition at Transfer is an illustration of my practice based PhD research on resolutions. It will be called ‘institutions of Resolution Disputes’, in short iRD and will be about the liminal, alternative modes of data or information representation, that are obfuscated by technological conventions. The title is a bit wonky as I wish for it to reflect that kind of ambiguity that invokes curiosity. In any case, I always feel that every person, at least once in their grown-up life, wants to start an institution. There are a few of those moments in life, like “Now I am tired of the school system, I want to start my own school!”; and “Now I am ready to become an architect!”, so this is my dream after wanting to become an architect. Daniel Rourke: To establish your own institution?

RM: First of all, I am multiplexing the term institution here. ‘institutions’ and the whole setting of iRD does mimic a (white box) institute, however the iRD does not just stand for a formal organization that you can just walk into. The institutions also revisit a slightly more compound framework that hails from late 1970s, formulated by Joseph Goguen and Rod Burstall, who dealt with the growing complexities at stake when connecting different logical systems (such as databases and programming languages) within computer sciences. A main result of these non-logical institutions is that different logical systems can be ‘glued’ together at the ‘substrata levels’, the illogical frameworks through which computation also takes place. Secondly, while the term ’resolution’ generally simply refers to a standard (measurement) embedded in the technological domain, I believe that a resolution indeed functions as a settlement (solution), but at the same time exists as a space of compromise between different actors (languages, objects, materialities) who dispute their stakes (frame rate, number of pixels and colors, etc.), following rules (protocols) within the ever growing digital territories. So to answer your question; maybe in a way the iRD is sort of an anti-protological institute or institute for anti-utopic, obfuscated or dysfunctional resolutions. DR: It makes me think of Donna Haraway’s Manifesto for Cyborgs, and especially a line that has been echoing around my head recently:

“No objects, spaces, or bodies are sacred in themselves; any component can be interfaced with any other if the proper standard, the proper code, can be constructed for processing signals in a common language.”

By using the terms ‘obfuscation’ and ‘dysfunction’ you are invoking a will – perhaps on your part, but also on the part of the resolutions themselves – to be recognised. I love that gesture. I can hear the objects in iRD speaking out; making themselves heard, perhaps for the first time. In The 3D Additivist Manifesto we set out to imagine what the existence of Haraway’s ‘common language’ might mean for the unrealised, “the powerless to be born.” Can I take it that your institute has a similar aim in mind? A place for the ‘otherwise’ to be empowered, or at least to be recognised?

RM: The iRD indeed kind of functions as a stage for non-protocological resolutions, or radical digital materialism. I always feel like I should say here, that generally, I am not against function or efficiency. These are good qualities, they make the world move forward. On the other hand, I do believe that there is a covert, nepotist cartel of protocols that governs the flows and resolutions of data and information just for the sake of functionality and efficiency. The sole aim of this cartel is to uphold the dogma of modern computation, which is about making actors function together (resonate) as efficiently as possible, tweaking out resources to maximum capacity, without bottlenecks, clicks, hicks or cuts, etc. But this dogma also obfuscates a compromise that we never question. And this is where my problem lies: efficiency and functionality are shaping our objects. Any of these actors could also operate under lower, worse or just different resolutions. Yet we have not been taught to see, think or question any of these resolutions. They are obfuscated and we are blind to them. I want to be able to at least entertain the option of round video (strip video from its interface!), to write inside non-quadrilateral, modular text editors (no more linear reading!) or to listen to (sonify) my rainbows (gradients). Right now, the protocols in place simply do not make this possible, or even worse, they have blocked these functionalities. There is this whole alternate universe of computational objects, ways that our data would look or be used like, if the protocols and their resolutions had been tweaked differently. The iRD reflects on this, and searches, if you will, a computation of many dimensions. DR: Meaning that a desktop document could have its corners folded back, and odd, non standard tessellations would be possible, with overlapping and intersecting work spaces?

RM: Yes! Exactly! Right now in the field of imagery, all compressions are quadrilateral, ecology dependent, standard solutions (compromises) following an equation in which data flows are plotted against actors that deal with the efficiency/functionality duality in storage, processing and transmission. I am interested in creating circles, pentagons and other more organic manifolds! If we would do this, the whole machine would work differently. We could create a modular and syphoning relationships between files, and just as in jon Satroms’ 2011 QTzrk installation, video would have multiple timelines and soundtracks, it could even contain some form of layer-space! DR: So the iRD is also a place for some of those alternate ‘solutions’ that are in dispute? RM: Absolutely. However, while I am not a programmer, I also don’t believe that imagining new resolutions means to absolve of all existing resolutions and their inherent artifacts. History and ecology play a big role in the construction of a resolution, which is why I will also host some of my favorite, classic solutions and their inherent (normally obfuscated) artifacts at the iRD, such as scan lines, DCT blocks, and JPEG2000 wavelets.

The iRD could easily function as a Wunderkammer for artifacts that already exist within our current resolutions. But to me this would be a needles move towards the style of the Evil Media Distribution Center, created by YoHa (Matsuko Yokokoji and Graham Harwood) for the 2013 Transmediale. I love to visit Curiosity Cabinets, but at the same time, these places are kind of dead, celebrating objects that are often shielded behind glass (or plastic). I can imagine the man responsible for such a collection. There he sits, in the corner, smoking a pipe, looking over his conquests. But this kind of collection does not activate anything! Its just ones own private boutique collection of evil! For a dispute to take place we need action! Objects need to have – or be given – a voice! DR: …and the alternate possible resolutions can be played out, can be realised, without solidifying them as symbols of something dead and forgotten. RM: Right! It would be easy and pretty to have those objects in a Wunderkammer type of display. Or as Readymades in a Boîte-en-valise but it just feels so sad. That would not be zombie like but dead-dead. A static capture of hopelessness. DR: The Wunderkammer had a resurgence a few years ago. Lots of artists used the form as a curatorial paradigm, allowing them to enact their practice as artist and curator. A response, perhaps, to the web, the internet, and the archive. Aggregated objects, documents and other forms placed together to create essayistic exhibitions. RM: I feel right now, this could be an easy way out. It would be a great way out, however, as I said, I feel the need to do something else, something more active. I will smoke that cigar some other day.

DR: So you wouldn’t want to consider the whole of Transfer Gallery as a Wunderkammer that you were working inside of? RM: It is one possibility. But it is not my favorite. I would rather make works against the established resolutions, works that are built to break out of a pre-existing mediatic flow. Works that were built to go beyond a specific conventional use. For example, I recently did this exhibition in The Netherlands where I got to install a really big wallpaper, which I think gained me a new, alternative perspectives on digital materiality. I glitched a JPEG and zoomed in on its DCT blocks and it was sooo beautiful, but also so scalable and pokable. It became an alternative level of real to me, somehow. DR: Does it tesselate and repeat, like conventional wallpaper? RM: It does repeat in places. I would do it completely differently if I did it again. Actually, for the iRD I am considering to zoom into the JPEG2000 wavelets. I thought it would be interesting to make a psychedelic installation like this. It’s like somebody vomited onto the wall.

DR: [laughs] It does look organic, like bacteria trying to organise. RM: Yeah. It really feels like something that has its own agency somehow.

DR: That’s the thing about JPEG2000 – and the only reason I know about that format, by the way, is because of your Vernacular of File Formats - the idea that they had to come up with a non-regular block shape for the image format that didn’t contradict with the artifacts in the bones and bodies that were being imaged. It feels more organic because of that. It doesn’t look like what you expect an image format to look like, it looks like what I expect life to look like, close up. RM: It looks like ‘Game of Life’. DR: Yes! Like Game of Life. And I assume that now they don’t need to use JPEG2000 because the imaging resolution is high enough on the machines to supersede bone artifacts. I love that. I love the effect caused when you’ve blown it up here. It looks wonderful. What is the original source for this? RM: I would blow this image [the one from A Vernacular of File Formats] up to hell. Blow it up until there is no pixel anymore. It shouldn’t be too cute. These structures are built to be bigger. Have you seen the Glitch Timond (2014)? The work itself is about glitches that have gained a folkloric meaning over time, these artifact now refer to hackers, ghosts or AI. They are hung in the shape of a diamond. The images themselves are not square, and I can install them on top of the wallpaper somehow, at different depths. Maybe I could expand on that piece, by putting broken shaped photos, and shadows flying around. It could be beautiful like that.

DR: It makes me think of the spatiality of the gallery. So that the audience would feel like they were inside a broken codec or something. Inside the actual coding mechanism of the image, rather than the standardised image at the point of its visual resolution. RM: Oh! And I want to have a smoke machine! There should be something that breaks up vision and then reveals something. DR: I like that as a metaphor for how the gallery functions as well. There are heaps of curatorial standards, like placing works at line of sight, or asking the audience to travel through the space in a particular order and mode of viewing. The gallery space itself is already limited and constructed through a huge, long history of standardisations, by external influences of fashion and tradition, and others enforced by the standards of the printing press, or the screen etc. So how do you make it so that when an audience walks into the gallery they feel as though they are not in a normal, euclidean space anymore? Like they have gone outside normal space? RM: That’s what I want! Disintegrate the architecture. But now I am like, “Yo guys, I want to dream, and I want it to be real in three weeks…” DR: “Hey guys, I want to break your reality!” [laughs] RM: One step is in place, Do you remember Ryan Maguire who is responsible for The Ghost in the MP3? His research is about MP3 compressions and basically what sounds are cut away by this compression algorithm, simply put: it puts shows what sounds the MP3 compression normally cuts out as irrelevant – in a way it inverses the compression and puts the ‘irrelevant’ or deleted data on display. I asked him to rework the soundtrack to ‘Beyond Resolution’, one of the two videowork of the iRD that is accompanied by my remix of professional grin by Knalpot and Ryan said yes! And so it was done! Super exciting.   DR: Yes. I thought that was a fantastic project. I love that as a proposition too… What would the equivalent of that form of ghosting be in terms of these alternate, disputed resolutions? What’s the remainder? I don’t understand technical formats as clearly as you do, so abstract things like ‘the ghost’, ‘the remainder’ are my way into understanding them. An abstract way in to a technical concept. So what is the metaphoric equivalent of that remainder in your work? For instance, I think it depends on what this was originally an image of. I think that is important. RM: The previous image of JPEG2000 does not deal with the question of lost information. I think what you are after is an inversed Alvin Lucier ‘Sitting in a Room’ experiment, one that only shows the “generation loss” (instead of the generation left over, which is what we usually get to see or hear in art projects). I think that would be a reasonable equivalent to Ryan Maguires MP3 compression work. Or maybe Supraconductivity. I can struggle with this for… for at least two more days. In any case I want the iRD to have a soundtrack. Actually, it would like there to be a spatial soundtrack; the ghost soundtrack in the room and the original available only on a wifi access point. DR: I’m really excited by that idea of ghostly presence and absence, you know. In terms of spatiality, scan lines, euclidean space… RM: It’s a whole bundle of things! [laughs] “Come on scan lines, come to the institutions, swim with the ghosts!” DR: It makes me think of cheesy things you get in a children’s museum. Those illusion rooms, that look normal through a little window, but when you go into them they are slanted in a certain way, so that a child can look bigger than an adult through the window frame. You know what I mean? They play with perspective in a really simple way, it’s all about the framing mechanism, the way the audience’s view has been controlled, regulated and perverted. RM: I was almost at a point where I was calling people in New York and asked, “Can you produce a huge stained glass window, in 2 weeks?” I think it would be beautiful if the Institute had its own window. I would take a photo of what you could see out of the real window, and then make the resolution of that photo really crappy, and create a real stained glass window, and install that in the gallery at its original place. If I have time one day I would love to do that, working with real craftspeople on that. I think that in the future the iRD might have a window through which we interface the outside. Every group of people that share the same ideas and perspectives on obfuscation need to have a secret handshake. So that is what I am actually working on right now. Ha, You didn’t see that coming? [Laughs] DR: [Laughs] No… that’s a different angle. RM: I want people to have a patch! A secret patch. You remember Trevor Paglen’s book on the symbology of military patches?

DR: Oh yeah. Where he tries to decode the military patches? Yes, I love that. RM: Yeah, I don’t think the world will ever have enough patches. They are such an icon for secret handshakes. I have been playing around with this DCT image. I want to use it as a key to the institutions, which basically are a manifest to the reasonings behind this whole exhibition, but then encrypted in a macroblock font (I embedded an image of Institution 1 earlier). There was one of Paglen’s patches that really stood out for me; the black on black one. The iRD patch should be inspired by that.

DR: Hito Steyerl’s work How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File, centres on the grid used by the military to calibrate their satellites from space. The DCT structure looks a lot like that, but I know the DCT is not about calibration. It contains all the shapes necessary to compose any image? RM: If you look up close at a badly compressed JPEG, you will notice the image consist of macroblocks. A macroblock is a block organizations, usually consisting of 8×8 pixels, that posses color (chrominance) and light (luminance) values embedded via DCT (discrete cosine transform). Basically all JPEGs you have ever seen are build out of this finite set of 64 macroblocks. Considering that JPEGs make up the vast majority of images we encounter on a daily basis, I think it is pretty amazing how simple this part of the JPEG compression really is. But the patch should of course not just be square. Do you know the TV series Battlestar Galactica, where they have the corners cut off all their books? All the paper in that world follows this weird, octagonal shape? Or Borges Library and its crimson hexagon, that holds all knowledge. I love those randomly cryptic geometric forms… DR: It reminds me of a 1987 anime film, Wings of Honneamise, that had a really wonderfully designed world. Everything is different, from paper sizes and shapes, through to their cutlery. Really detailed design from the ground up, all the standards and traditions. RM: Like this Minecraft book too. The Blockpedia. DR: Oh that’s great. I love the Minecraft style and the mythos that has arisen around it. RM: So Minecraft and Borges follow a 6 corner resolution, and Battlestar paper has 8 corners… Discrepancy! I want to reference them all! DR: So these will go into the badges? RM: I want to have a black on black embroidered patch with corners. Don’t you think this would be so pretty? This black on black. I want to drop a reference to 1984, too, Orwell or Apple, the decoder can decide. These kind of secret, underground references, I like those. DR: A crypto exhibition. RM: It’s so hot right now (and with hot I do not mean cool). Since the 90s musicians encrypt or transcode things in their sounds, from Aphex Twin, to Goodiepal and now TCF, who allegedly encrypted an image from the police riots in Athens into one of his songs. However, he is a young Scandinavian musician so that makes me wonder if the crypto design in this case is confusingly non-political. Either way, I want to rebel against this apparent new found hotness of crypto-everything, which is why I made Tacit:Blue.

Tacit:Blue uses a very basic form of encryption. Its archaic, dumb and decommissioned. Every flash shows a next line of my ‘secret message’ encrypted in masonic pigpen. When it flickers it gives a little piece of the message which really is just me ranting about secrecy. So if someone is interested in my opinion, they can decode that.

Actually, the technology behind the video is much more interesting. Do you know The Nova Drone? Its a small AV synthesizer designed by Casper Electronics. The the flickr frequency of this military RGB LED on the top of the board can be altered by turning the RGB oscillators. When I come close to the LED with the lens of my iphone, the frequencies of the LED and the iphone camera do not sync up. What happens is a rolling shutter effect. The camera has to interpret the input and something is gone, lost in translation. In fact, a Resolutional Dispute takes place right there. DR: So the dispute happens because framerate of the camera conflicts with the flicker of the LED? RM: And the sound is the actual sound of the electronics. In Tacit:Blue I do not use the NovaDrone in a ‘clean’ way, I am actually misusing it (if there is such a thing when it comes to a device of dispute). Some of the sounds and disruptions of flow are created in this patch bay, which is where you can patch the LFOs, etc. Anyway, when you disconnect the patch it flickers, but I never take it out fully so it creates this classic, noisy electric effect. What do you think about the text? Do you think this works? I like this masonic pigpen, its a very simple, nostalgic old quiff. DR: It reminds me of the title sequence for Alien. Dave Addey did a close visual, sci-fi etymological, analysis of the typography in Alien. It went viral online recently. Did you see that?

RM: No! DR: It is fantastic. Everything from the title sequence to the buttons on the control panel in the background. Full of amazing insights.

RM: Wow, inspiring!

So with any cypher you also need a key, which is why I named the video Tacit:Blue, a reference to the old Northrop Tacit Blue stealth surveillance aircraft. The aircraft was used to develop techniques against passive radar detection, but has been decommissioned now, just like the masonic pigpen encryption. DR: This reminds me of Eyal Weizman. He has written a lot on the Israeli / Palestinian conflict as a spatial phenomena. So we don’t think about territory merely as a series of lines drawn on a globe anymore, but as a stack, including everything from airspace, all the way down beneath the ground, where waste, gas and water are distributed. The mode by which water is delivered underground often cuts across conflicted territories on the surface. A stacked vision of territory brings into question the very notion of a ‘conflict’ and a ‘resolution’. I recently saw him give a lecture on the Forensic Architecture project, which engages in disputes metered against US Military activities. Military drones are now so advanced that they can target a missile through the roof of a house, and have it plunge several floors before it explodes. It means that individual people can be targeted on a particular floor. The drone strike leaves a mark in the roof which is – and this is Weizman’s terminology - ‘beneath the threshold of detectability’. And that threshold also happens to be the size of a human body: about 1 metre square. Military satellites have a pixel size that effectively translates to 1 metre square at ground level. So to be invisible, or technically undetectable, a strike needs only to fall within a single pixel of a satellite imaging system. These drone strikes are designed to work beneath that threshold. In terms of what you are talking about in Trevor Paglen’s work, and the Northrop Tacit Blue, those technologies were designed to exist beneath, or parallel to, optic thresholds, but now those thresholds are not optic as much as they are about digital standards and resolution densities. So that shares the same space as the codecs and file formats you are interested in. Your patch seems to bring that together, the analogue pixel calibration that Steyerl refers to is also part of that history. So I wonder whether there are images that cannot possibly be resolved out of DCT blocks. You know what I mean? I think your work asks that question. What images, shapes, and objects exist that are not possible to construct out of this grid? What realities are outside of the threshold of these blocks to resolve? It may even be the case that we are not capable of imagining such things, because of course these blocks have been formed in conjunction with the human visual system. The image is always already a compromise between the human perceptual limit and a separately defined technical limit. RM: Yes, well I can imagine vector graphics, or mesh based graphics where the lines are not just a connection between two points, but also a value could be what you are after. But I am not sure. At some point I thought that people entering the iRD could pay a couple of dollars for one of these patches, but if they don’t put the money down, then they would be obliged to go into the exhibition wearing earplugs. DR: [Laughs] So they’d be allowed in, but they’d have one of their senses dampened? RM: Yes, wearing earmuffs, or weird glasses or something like that. [Laughs] DR: Glasses with really fine scan lines on them that conflict with TV images or whatever. RM: [Laughs] And I was thinking, well, there should be a divide between people. To realise that what you see is just one threshold that has been lifted to only a few. There are always thresholds, you know. DR: Ways to invite the audience into the spaces and thresholds that are beneath the zones of resolutional detectability? RM: Or maybe just to show the mechanics behind objects and thresholds. DR: Absolutely. So to go back to your Tacit:Blue video, in regards the font, I like the aesthetic, but I wonder whether you could play with that zone of detectability a little more. You could have the video display at a frequency that is hard for people to concentrate on, for instance, and then put the cryptographic message at a different frequency. Having zones that do not match up, so that different elements of the work cut through different disputed spaces. Much harder to detect. And more subliminal, because video adheres to other sets of standards and processes beyond scan lines, the conflict between those standards opens up another space of possibilities. It makes me think about Takeshi Murata’s Untitled (Pink Dot). I love that work because it uses datamoshing to question more about video codecs than just I and P frames. That’s what sets this work apart, for me, from other datamoshed works. He also plays with layers, and post production in the way the pink dot is realised. As it unfolds you see the pink dot as a layer behind the Rambo footage, and then it gets datamoshed into the footage, and then it is a layer in front of it, and then the datamosh tears into it and the dot become part of the Rambo miasma, and then the dot comes back as a surface again. So all the time he is playing with the layering of the piece, and the framing is not just about one moment to the next, but it also it exposes something about Murata’s super slick production process. He must have datamoshed parts of the video, and then post-produced the dot onto the surface of that, and then exported that and datamoshed that, and then fed it back into the studio again to add more layers. So it is not one video being datamoshed, but a practice unfolding, and the pink dot remains a kind of standard that runs through the whole piece, resonating in the soundtrack, and pushing to all elements of the image. The work is spatialised and temporalised in a really interesting way, because of how Murata uses datamoshing and postproduction to question frames, and layers, by ‘glitching’ between those formal elements. And as a viewer of Pink Dot, your perception is founded by those slips between the spatial surface and the temporal layers. RM: Yeah, wow. I never looked at that work in terms of layers of editing. The vectors of these blocks that smear over the video, the movement of those macroblocks, which is what this video technologically is about, is also about time and editing. So Murata effectively emulates that datamosh technique back into the editing of the work before and after the actual datamosh. That is genius! DR: If it wasn’t for Pink Dot I probably wouldn’t sit here with you now. It’s such an important work for me and my thinking.

Working with Morehshin Allahyari on The 3D Additivist Manifesto has brought a lot of these processes into play for me. The compressed labour behind a work can often get lost, because a final digital video is just a surface, just a set of I and P frames. The way Murata uses datamoshing calls that into play. It brings back some of the temporal depth. Additivism is also about calling those processes and conflicts to account, in the move between digital and material forms. Oil is a compressed form of time, and that time and matter is extruded into plastic, and that plastic has other modes of labour compressed into it, and the layers of time and space are built on top of one another constantly – like the layers of a 3D print. When we rendered our Manifesto video we did it on computers plugged into aging electricity infrastructures that run on burnt coal and oil. Burning off one form of physical compressed time to compress another set of times and labours into a ‘digital work’. RM: But you can feel that there is more to that video than its surface! If I remember correctly you and Morehshin wrote an open invitation to digital artists to send in their left over 3D objects. So every object in that dark gooey ocean in The 3D Additivist Manifesto actually represents a piece of artistic digital garbage. It’s like a digital emulation of the North Pacific Gyre, which you also talked about in your lecture at Goldsmiths, but then solely consisting of Ready-Made art trash.

The actual scale and form of the Gyre is hard to catch, it seems to be unimaginable even to the people devoting their research to it; it’s beyond resolution. Which is why it is still such an under acknowledged topic. We don’t really want to know what the Gyre looks or feels like; it’s just like the clutter inside my desktop folder inside my desktop folder, inside the desktop folder. It represents an amalgamation of histories that moved further away from us over time and we don’t necessarily like to revisit, or realise that we are responsible for. I think The 3D Additivist Manifesto captures that resemblance between the way we handle our digital detritus and our physical garbage in a wonderfully grimm manner. DR: I’m glad you sense the grimness of that image. And yes, as well as sourcing objects from friends and collaborators we also scraped a lot from online 3D object repositories. So the gyre is full of Ready-Mades divorced from their conditions of creation, use, or meaning. Like any discarded plastic bottle floating out in the middle of the pacific ocean. Eventually Additivist technologies could interface all aspects of material reality, from nanoparticles, to proprietary components, all the way through to DNA, bespoke drugs, and forms of life somewhere between the biological and the synthetic. We hope that our call to submit to The 3D Additivist Cookbook will provoke what you term ‘disputes’. Objects, software, texts and blueprints that gesture to the possibility of new political and ontological realities. It sounds far-fetched, but we need that kind of thinking. Alternate possibilities often get lost in a particular moment of resolution. A single moment of reception. But your exhibition points to the things beyond our recognition. Or perhaps more importantly, it points to the things we have refused to recognise. So, from inside the iRD technical ‘literacy’ might be considered as a limit, not a strength. RM: Often the densities of the works we create, in terms of concept, but also collage, technology and source materials move quite far away or even beyond a fold. I suppose that’s why we make our work pretty. To draw in the people that are not technically literate or have no back knowledge. And then perhaps later they wonder about the technical aspects and the meaning behind the composition of the work and want to learn more. To me, the process of creating, but also seeing an interesting digital art work often feels like swimming inside an abyss of increments. DR: What is that? RM: I made that up. An abyss is something that goes on and on and on. Modern lines used to go on, postmodern lines are broken up as they go on. Thats how I feel we work on our computers, its a metaphor for scanlines. DR: In euclidean space two parallel lines will go on forever and not meet. But on the surface of a globe, and other, non-euclidean spaces, those lines can be made to converge or diverge. * RM: I have been trying to read up on my euclidean geometry. DR: And I am thinking now about Flatland again, A Romance in Many Dimensions. RM: Yeah, it’s funny that in the end, it is all about Flatland. That’s where this all started, so thats where it has to end; Flatland seems like an eternal ouroboros inside of digital art. DR: It makes me think too about holographic theory. You can encode on a 2D surface the information necessary to construct a 3D image. And there are theories that suggest that a black hole has holographic properties. The event horizon of a black hole can be thought of as a flat surface, and contains all the information necessary to construct the black hole. And because a black hole is a singularity, and the universe can be considered as a singularity too – in time and space – some theories suggest that the universe is a hologram encoded on its outer surface. So the future state of the universe encodes all the prior states. Or something like that. RM: I once went to a lecture by Raphael Bousso, a professor at Department of Physics, UC Berkeley. He was talking about black holes, it was super intense. I was sitting on the end of my seat and nearly felt like I was riding a dark star right towards my own event horizon. DR: [laughs] Absolutely. I suppose I came to understand art and theory through things I knew before, which is pop science and science fiction. I tend to read everything through those things. Those are my starting points. But yes, holograms are super interesting. RM: I want to be careful not to go into the wunderkammer, because if there are too many things, then each one of them turns into a fetish object; a gimmick. DR: There was a lot of talk a few years ago about holographic storage, because basically all our storage – CDs, DVDs, hard drive platters, SSD drives – are 2D. All the information spinning on your screen right now, all those rich polygons or whatever, it all begins from data stored on a two dimensional surface. But you could have a holographic storage medium with three dimensions. They have built these things in the laboratory. There goes my pop science knowledge again. RM: When I was at Transmediale last year, the Internet Yami-ichi (Internet Black Market) was on. There I sold some custom videos for self cracked LCD screens. DR: Broken on purpose? RM: Yes, and you’d be allowed to touch it so the screen would go multidimensional. Liquid crystals are such a beautiful technology. DR: Yes. And they are a 3D image medium. But they don’t get used much anymore, right? LEDS are the main image format. RM: People miss LCDS! I saw a beautiful recorded talk from the Torque event, Esther Leslie talking about Walter Benjamin who writes about snow flakes resembling white noise. Liquid crystals and flatness and flatland. I want to thank you Dan, just to talk through this stuff has been really helpful. You have no idea. Thank you so much! DR: Putting ideas in words is always helpful. RM: I never do that, in preparation, to talk about things I am still working on, semi-completed. It’s scary to open up the book of possibilities. When you say things out loud you somehow commit to them. Like, Trevor Paglen, Jon Satrom are huge inspirations, I would like to make work inspired by them, that is a scary thing to say out loud. DR: That’s good. We don’t work in a vacuum. Trevor Paglen’s stuff is often about photography as a mode of non-resolved vision. I think that does fit with your work here, but you have the understanding and wherewithal to transform these concerns into work about the digital media. Maybe you need to build a tiny model of the gallery and create it all in miniature. RM: That’s what Alma Alloro said! DR: I think it would be really helpful. You don’t have to do it in meatspace. You could render a version of the gallery space with software. RM: Haha great idea, but that would take too much time. iRD needs to open to the public in 3 weeks! * DR originally stated here that a globe was a euclidean space. This was corrected, with thanks to Matthew Austin.

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Mon, 13 Apr 2015 05:50:53 -0700 http://www.furtherfield.org/features/interviews/resolution-disputes-conversation-between-rosa-menkman-and-daniel-rourke
<![CDATA[A Cyberattack Has Caused Confirmed Physical Damage for the Second Time Ever | WIRED]]> http://www.wired.com/2015/01/german-steel-mill-hack-destruction/

Amid all the noise the Sony hack generated over the holidays, a far more troubling cyber attack was largely lost in the chaos. Unless you follow security news closely, you likely missed it. I’m referring to the revelation, in a German report released just before Christmas (.

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Fri, 09 Jan 2015 02:46:07 -0800 http://www.wired.com/2015/01/german-steel-mill-hack-destruction/
<![CDATA[Proxy Politics: Signal and Noise | e-flux]]> http://www.e-flux.com/journal/proxy-politics/

A while ago I met an extremely interesting software developer who was working on smartphone camera technology. Photography is traditionally thought to represent what is out there by means of technology, ideally via an indexical link.

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Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:03:15 -0800 http://www.e-flux.com/journal/proxy-politics/
<![CDATA[The Villains Official Trailer]]> http://vimeo.com/92858222

Combining French New Wave and social media, 'The Villains' - a pseudo-remake of Jean-Luc Godard's "La Chinoise" (itself a pseudo-remake of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Possessed). In this case, the film takes the group of young revolutionaries as a jumping off point but changes Mao with Marshall McLuhan, and when watched online, is collaged with other algorithmically-selected videos. View the full film for free at thevillains.org Read about it at ANIMAL New York here: animalnewyork.com/2014/artists-notebook-rhett-jones/Cast: rhett jonesTags: The Villains, Trailer, net art, experimental film, Godard, La Chinoise, data moshing, Marshall McLuhan (Author), digressionism, Appropriation (Exhibition Subjec, mashup, fair use, post internet, Remix, independent film, DIY, Do It Yourself, pixel shifting, Pixel Art and Glitch Art

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Wed, 30 Apr 2014 00:39:12 -0700 http://vimeo.com/92858222
<![CDATA[Interview with GLTI.CH at Noisey.Vice]]> http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/singing-over-skype-its-glitch-karaoke

You don’t need to leave the house to belt out your favourite karaoke tracks—with strangers. Two Skype-friendly artists have founded glti.ch karaoke, an online karaoke project which anyone can partake in. You literally sign into Skype and sing karaoke duets (or quartets) with fellow fans. Imagine chat roulette was entirely musical and you get how things are matched. The artists Kyoung Kim and Daniel Rourke started this without any plans. Three years later, they’re still singing to Belle and Sebastian on YouTube. Strangely, they’re not alone. As they continue to synchronize singers in different time zones, they also do these GLTI.CH Breaks event where DJs located in different parts of the world mix together in a basement, a bedroom, or a pub full of drunks (from New York to Seoul, they’ve done it all). Last month, glti.ch karaoke opened a show called Tactical Gltiches at the SUDLAB gallery in Italy. They spoke to us about tinkering with Ustream, avoiding crappy bandwith, and how acapella saves the day.

NOISEY: How did Glti.ch Karaoke come about? Kyoung Kim: We were swapping stories over a few pints—Daniel of his experiences living in Japan, and I of my time in Korea, and got to talking about missing karaoke in these respective countries. Unlike your average karaoke bar in the US or the UK with a conspicuous stage and spotlighting for the singer, karaoke in Korea and Japan generally consists of piling into a room with a bunch of friends, food, and drink and singing in a raucous mix of solos, duets, and group numbers eventually belted while standing on the sofa. It’s more about sharing fun with people than claiming your theatrical moment, and all in all, you get a lot more bang for your buck. For me, karaoke with my sister trumps all, but at the time she was living in Seoul. I confessed to Daniel I’d been getting my karaoke fix by singing YouTube karaoke videos with her over Skype. Daniel Rourke: We were astounded to find that nobody had given a name to ‘singing karaoke over Skype.” (We did a lot of Google searches). It seemed so obvious to us to hook up two locations, buffer a YouTube rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer“ on both sides of the Atlantic and click “play.” That got us thinking about the possibilities. A good friend works at Meanwhile Space, a non-profit organization in London that transforms empty properties into community projects, and mentioned to us that they were about to start working in an old shoe shop in Whitechapel. The challenge to make karaoke happen in a dusty basement with no internet access at four o’clock in the afternoon spurred us on. We had our eye on the amazing stuff the GLI.TC/H community was doing at the time, and setup our website Glti.ch as a kind of homage to them. The rest is less easy to explain. How does it work? Rourke: We have done it a few different ways over the years, but we try and make sure the basic setup is accessible to anyone who wants to repeat it. Using free software like TinyChat or Google Hangouts we link up at least two disparate locations and orchestrate karaoke duets over the internet. YouTube is stuffed full of fan made karaoke versions of pop tunes. If you want to sing it, chances are, somebody has already uploaded it. Then it’s just a case of scrambling to get things to work on both sides. Kim: To prepare for that scrambling, we test and design a bunch of back-up plans that only work about 30% of the time in attending the actual glitches that manifest. In emphasizing the GLTI.CH of the karaoke, the scramble is something we both warn and invite others to join in on. So how things work is not just contingent on computer software, hardware, cables, and broadband connections, but also on the mix of curiosity, patience, and enthusiasm for making-your-own-fun-through-convoluted-ways that people bring with them to our events. Rourke: That’s where the “art” of the project begins: a sincere desire to dance with failure. The most exciting elements of the project come out of realizing how many variables there are in organizing something so simple, especially if you have a group of drunk karaoke enthusiasts at one end, say in Liverpool, and an old pizza restaurant in a London shopping mall at the other. The thing that remains stable—getting people to sing duets—is surrounded by all this other stuff that we, as the hosts, have to juggle. Let’s just say we are both very adept at keeping a crowd entertained.

How do you combine DJs in different time zones together? Kim: A lot of planning. Hosting a party in London on a Friday night means you get a DJ during the work day in San Francisco. So we work with our DJs’ schedules accordingly. There is constant managing and coordinating during the event. We dedicate one computer and the best internet connection in the house to connecting with the DJs with (so far) Skype, but also usually have one or two other computers open with Google Hangouts, again Skype, Tinychat, Facebook, Twitter, Kakao Talk, our phones, smoke signals, pigeon… both for backup and because different people have different preferences for interfaces. We avoid as much as we can set-ups that require others to register or sign up to any new social media outfit, download more software, or buy equipment they don’t have. With the last Breaks, we tinkered with Ustream, and the chat in there ended up being the key for making things go. What is GLTI.CH Breaks? Rourke: Originally, it was a project we instigated with Christina Millare. We wanted to take some of the stuff we had learned while glti.ch karaoking and translate it into another format. The result was the first GLTI.CH Breaks event, where we had three DJs—Tramshed, Sahn, and WaxOn—all located in different parts of the world, mix together in the basement of Power Lunches, Dalston. It was a blinding success, apart from the computer crashes, and crappy bandwidth, but that means success to us. Karaoke is a ridiculous phenomenon. Anyone who has watched the X-Factor will know how kitsch and mediocre karaoke can be. But those of us who love it embrace that, and the social outcome of that kitschy quality is what makes it so wonderful. Our projects inhabit that crappiness, and take it somewhere else, so the technical components of the work also echo the social, and hopefully the two really fuse and amplify each other. With GLTI.CH Breaks I think we stumbled on something like that. DJ mix culture is based around a beloved, but antiquated medium – the vinyl record – that is prone to skip, and jump and crackle and hiss. Ironically though, it is those very qualities that make vinyl perfect as a medium of expression. Building a series of technical, network, temporal and spatial layers on top of that in GLTI.CH Breaks we felt as if the creative element of DJing was heightened even further. Plus, drunk people get really excited when they realize that a DJ based in a bedroom in San Francisco is mixing tunes just for them. Kim: They get excited by it when sober too!

Enlighten us. What is “social glitch?” Kim: A phrase we’ve batted around since the beginning. To describe what we’d both been thinking about and working through in our separate research and practices. Rourke: Social glitches are at the heart of all the projects we have done. They are what you might call, “desirable unintended effects.” We go hunting for them, we try to set up the conditions to make them happen, but we never know when they might arise, or what exactly they might look like. For instance, in summer 2012, we took part in AND Festival, Manchester. We were asked by curator Christina Millare to host a GLTI.CH karaoke event in one of the bedrooms upstairs in a pub. We hooked the room up to our online chat room, and invited anybody with a webcam to join us from wherever they were in the world. The event in Manchester was raucous, full of people singing at the top of their voices from 8 PM until 2 AM. The HD television was lit up all night with new people logging in from London, Seoul, New York, and who knows where. At one point the computer in Manchester completely crashed—mid-chorus—and everyone in the room let out a huge groan of despair. The social glitch came when I logged back into the chatroom, because even though our side of the party had crashed, the participants online were still there singing their hearts out. It was an amazing moment, and the crowd in Manchester whooped with joy and began to sing along, even before I’d had chance to hook the music back in. It was improvized acapella karaoke and a beautiful unintended social effect. Nadja Sayej would like to sing “More Than A Feeling” with you. Follow her on Twitter - @nadjasayej   

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Tue, 18 Mar 2014 14:38:31 -0700 http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/singing-over-skype-its-glitch-karaoke