Monday, 3 December 2012

Techno Ecologies - Acoustic Space #11

To my surprise, I found an article I had submitted had been published without anyone telling me, or giving me the chance to correct any errors. Oh well, my first publication...

Electronic Voice Phenomenon – a C21st Sonic Fiction
Annie Goh

In the as-yet unwritten history of Sonic Fiction, dating back to the beginning of the world (sound of the big bang), via the speculative sonic experiences of our palaeolithic ancestors (Archaeoacoustics), Electronic Voice Phenomena can be regarded to appear as an irrelevant anomaly, a practice of paranormal fanatics trying to prove the supernatural through the voice-like artefacts of auditive media. However, it will be supposed that with a deeper media-archaeological understanding of techno ecologies, particularly dealing with Sonic Fiction since the proliferation of schizophonia (R Murray Schafer), taking crucial MythScience impetus from Kodwo Eshun's “Operating System for the Redesign of Sonic Reality”, Steve Goodman's third concept of “unsound” - that is, “sounds not yet heard”, and Vilém Flusser's zero-dimensional “techno-imagination”, it is proposed that EVP can in fact be understood as an organic consequence of the complexities of the technologized contemporary psyche, particularly given the specific characteristics of the auditory imagination.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

electromagnetic microcosm @ klangstaetten | stadtklaenge - Braunschweig

Franz Anton Mesmer called it animal magnetism; Charles von Reichenbach called it odyle. To Henri Bergson it was the elan vital, the "vital force;" while to Hans Driesch it was the entelechy . Sigmund Freud observed its functioning in human emotions and termed it libido. William MacDougall, the great British - American psychologist of a generation ago, labeled it hormic energy. Dozens, if not hundreds, of lesser - known scientists have recognized its presence and have given it a name to characterize its special properties. Among the 20th-century proponents of the concept are, for example, Doctors Charles Littlefield and his vital magnetism and George Starr White and his cosmo-electric energy . Mechanistic science in the 17th through 19th centuries embraced many of its essential qualities in the concept of the ether, while mystical human beings have embraced other essential qualities of it in the concept of god. Orgone energy is Wilhelm Reich's name for the substratum from which all nature is created. The best definition this author can provide for it is this: Orgone energy is the creative force in nature.”
Charles R. Kelley

Wilhelm Reich's theory of orgone energy and his related psychoanalytic practice made him a controversial figure during his lifetime. Particularly his theories about human sexuality and his unusual methods of therapy (such as the Orgone Accumulator) made him a target for attack by conservatives in 1930s and 1940s America. Drawing on Freud's “libido”, orgone energy took the function of the human orgasm to be a primary energetic force of life. Though his books were burned and he was imprisoned at the end of life, his theories were given new prominence with writers such as William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, later being crowned the father of the sexual revolution and an important figure in the Free Love/Sex-Positive movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Today, many issues of sexuality remain largely taboo in mainstream culture and where Reich's theories clashed with scientific proof and mainstream medicinal practice, there remain many fascinating aspects to his thought. For the exhibition, “Klangstaetten, stadtklänge – Zwischen Puff und Kloster” the work “electromagnetic microcosm” offers itself as a reinterpretation of this mysterious “life energy”. The historic red-light district of Braunschweig is for some perhaps an unrefined area of the city, but its mere existence is a geographical reminder of basic human sexuality. Though Reich was explicit that Orgone Energy was not linked to electromagnetism, there appears currently to be no other methods of measuring or detecting a possible “life energy”. There are however, many various theories concerning electromagnetic fields which throw particularly intriguing questions on how they effect human consciousness.

Many believe electromagnetic fields have adverse effects on the human body and brain and even extensive research by the World Health Organisation has been unsuccessful in either confirming or refuting the risk of EMFs on human health. The internal or endogenous electromagnetic field of the human brain, made up of approximately 100 billion electrical neurones, has been speculated to be susceptible to influences of external electromagnetic fields. Extremely Low Frequency waves (ELF), particularly those under 20Hz are considered to be of particular significance. Delta (up to 4Hz), Theta (4-8Hz) and Alpha (8-13Hz) waves are known in the brain to be present in states such as slow-wave sleep, drowsiness or arousal and states of coma respectively. The effect of externally produced ELFs on our brains acting on our health or behaviour may sound like the warnings of paranoiacs or conspiracy theories but it remains a question which modern scientific research cannot yet conclusively answer.

The work “electromagnetic microcosm” is therefore an experiment and a gesture, making some of the electromagnetic fields of our immediate surroundings visible and audible. The postulated link between the “life force” and electromagnetic fields is of an experimental nature, serving as a reminder of the unknown in scientific discourse, as a story which is constantly being re-written.

At Allgemeiner Konsumverein

As part of klangstaetten | stadtklaenge -
›Zwischen Puff und Kloster‹
Internationale Klangkunst in Braunschweig
3. bis 21. Oktober 2012
Curated by Sam Auinger, initiated & organised by Dr. Anne Mueller von der Haegen

Friday, 31 August 2012

electromagnetic microcosm @ Campus Ars Electronica

Electromagnetic Microcosm
Ars Campus Sound Studies Exhibition
30.08 -03.09.2012

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Electronic Ghosts @ Electronic Voice Phenomena at FEED

Electronic Voice Phenomena presented by Mercy at FEED Berlin

An evening of experimental poetics, audio-visual performance and digital vocal plasms

Electronic Ghosts - A ongoing experiment to contact the ghost of Michael Jackson.

The installation Electronic Ghosts uses modern methods of EVP researchers, specifically the 'Speech Synthesis Method', such as that developed by German EVP researcher and software designer Stefan Bion. In this method, the spiritual entity is given auditive 'aids' of raw audio material cut up into small segments. By influencing the order of these, the communicating entity can subsequently form words with which to communicate with living beings. Auditive material sourced exclusively from samples of Michael Jackson reinforces the channels of communication and those with hearing tuned to identify EVP may make out words, phrases or messages.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Limited Limitlessness - New findings in primitive digital art @ LEAP Berlin

Limited Limitlessness
New findings in primitive digital art

Following the utopic high of the nascent cyber age in the 1990s, came a natural slump in the emotional well-being of the subjects of the digital era. The tireless increases in speed, efficiency, ever sleeker interfaces and ever smaller devices, the spoilt children of this epoch no longer needed to economise with time and memory, as their mothers and fathers did. Plentiful memory space, processor speed, not to mention the "information" itself which is stored, duplicated, re-distributed via innumerous communication paths creates a vast horizon of possibilities which we now have at our finger tips. Yet instead of inducing the elation expected at these bountiful resources, it seems to the contrary to often stifle in its unendlessness.

Aware of the technological superiority of their computer companions, humans have begun to notice an unerring tendency, a savvy post-humanism which seeks to recompensate lost essences by favouring the indiscrete over the discrete. At the same time, the hypocrisy is clear as the everyday dependence on our technological devices increases, a love-hate man-machine relationship.  Such is the state of digital existentialism which contributes heavily to today's first world anxieties.  Techno-pornographic media arts accentuate this simultaneous fascination and disgust which presents itself as difficult to avoid.

The exhibition "Limited Limitlessness - New findings in primitive digital art" aims to expose these internal contradictions as well as embrace that which technology cannot or does not do. Amidst the practice of sterile media art, we find ourselves both as critical recipients and as propagators thereof. The works of the exhibition explore aspects of the artists' own primitive urges within computer-based art. 


AEAEAEAE and Stian Korntved RuudYair Elazar Glotman,

Annie Goh
Sascha HansePetja Ivanova
Karin Lustenberger
Tobias Purfürst and Pierce Warnecke

Opening Friday 20.07.2012, 20:00

Exhibition   21.07.-03.08., 12:00-18:00 Wed-Sat
Finissage 03.08., 20:00

Monday, 28 May 2012

formantika @Crelleklang 2012

threads & traces – Klänge zwischen Punkt, Strich und Linie
über 29 Lautsprecher an Fassaden der Crellestraße 5-17
sechs Kompositionen der Künstlergruppe Berg 26
6 Wochentage – 6 Kompositionen
mo – sa, 17.00- 17.15 Uhr
29.Mai bis 8.September 2012

Formantika - Annie Goh

The vowels of a live geo-located Twitter-feed around Crellestraße (Berlin Schöneberg) are sonified using the formants of the artist's own voice. Abstracted vowel sounds can be heard via this technological stream, though their semantic value is lost. The composition is generated anew every Tuesday.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Morpholexical Ping Pong @ Society for Nontrivial Pursuits - FEED Soundspace Berlin

 An improvisational dialogue of acoustic misunderstandings and semanto-phonetic morphologies for self-made sensor instruments, live voice and Supercollider. For two players.

 We expanded the performance to try and include the computers as players, using the latest edition of Google Chrome and a slightly unreliable applescript, we automated functions of computer-listening and computer-speaking for the computer to join in our dialogue of misunderstandings.

We projected our automatically posted Skype dialogue for the audience to read. Here is a copy of it including errors:
[11/05/2012 21:49:08] Mari Matsutoya: can you when I am not your nano
[11/05/2012 21:49:26] Mari Matsutoya: Translate
From: Detect language
To: English

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[11/05/2012 21:49:43] Mari Matsutoya: Translate
From: Detect language
To: English

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[11/05/2012 21:50:00] Mari Matsutoya: Translate
From: Detect language
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[11/05/2012 21:50:20] Mari Matsutoya: Translate
From: Detect language
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[11/05/2012 21:50:50] Mari Matsutoya: eddie you
[11/05/2012 21:51:08] Mari Matsutoya: 81
[11/05/2012 21:51:25] Mari Matsutoya: call after you
[11/05/2012 21:51:43] Mari Matsutoya: Translate
From: Detect language
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[11/05/2012 21:52:01] Mari Matsutoya: call of duty on
[11/05/2012 21:52:41] Annie Goh: is this out
[11/05/2012 21:52:53] Annie Goh: epcot
[11/05/2012 21:53:05] Annie Goh: definitely not cry
[11/05/2012 21:53:17] Annie Goh: 7 is fine
[11/05/2012 21:53:30] Annie Goh: even without a condom
[11/05/2012 21:53:56] Annie Goh: delta sonic
[11/05/2012 21:54:08] Annie Goh: delta sonic
[11/05/2012 21:54:20] Annie Goh: ultrasonic
[11/05/2012 21:54:33] Annie Goh: super cala fragilistic expialidocious
[11/05/2012 21:54:45] Annie Goh: yeah that's the plan
[11/05/2012 21:59:04] Annie Goh: how to live
[11/05/2012 22:00:06] Mari Matsutoya: soon soon soon soon the station
[11/05/2012 22:00:25] Mari Matsutoya: Translate
From: Detect language
To: English

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[11/05/2012 22:00:34] Annie Goh: save the paper paper paper
[11/05/2012 22:00:58] Mari Matsutoya: tron tron tron tron tron discretion
[11/05/2012 22:01:30] Annie Goh: tron tron tron tron tron question
[11/05/2012 22:01:57] Mari Matsutoya: super super super super super power
[11/05/2012 22:02:23] Annie Goh: testing testing testing testing
[11/05/2012 22:02:51] Mari Matsutoya: how are pop pop pop pop to the station
[11/05/2012 22:03:28] Annie Goh: safe to say that

Monday, 12 March 2012

electromagnetic microcosm v1

Work in progress:

The effects of our electromagnetic environments on the human body are far from exhaustively researched yet they exist omnipresently, with particular intensity in cities. Aside from uses in telecommunication via AM/FM radio, mobile phones, wireless internet, radar etc, experimental theories about electromagnetism range from ELF (extremely low frequency) emissions instigated by governments for controlling weather and human mood, to postulations about the human consciousness itself as an electromagnetic field (McFadden 2002).

In this ambiguous context, electromagnetic microcosm is a device which senses data in real-time from its electromagnetic surroundings. Data is displayed in two different ways; firstly the fields (in this version in the ranges of 50/60Hz and 0.1-2.5GHz) are represented dynamically using electromagnets and iron filings on a surface, secondly the signal is made audible and the surface with iron filings is subjected to the motion of sound vibrations of the electromagnetic environment. Electromagnetic and mechanical forces both act on the iron filings, experimentally affording new insights into our electromagnetic-intensive, urban surroundings.

Signals in the range 0.1-2.5GHz enabled by the Snuff, developed by the workstation.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

MythScience Methodology

"Imagine you are placed on earth. It is pitch black. You are given a compass to navigate yourself."

Sun Ra - Space Is the Place 1974 (Directed by John Coney)
"We are another order of being…We bring to you the mathematics of an alter destiny…Look up, see the greater universe…Everything is in place, every star every planet…Everything is in place but you planet earth!… Everything is in place, except you Planet Earth…You are, just like you always were, in your improper place… Living your improper lives and dying your improper deaths… Change your time for the unknown factors…Time passes away, but the unknown is immeasurable and never passes away… The unknown is eternal because you will never know, what it is all about…Your wisdom will be when you say, I do not know… Your ignorance will be your salvation""

"Better to deal with the people who have intuition now, you see they don't know what they're doing".

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Flusser: Kammermusik | Chambermusic

"Kammermusik" is in effect the last chapter of Flusser's work "Ins Universum der technischen Bilder" published in 1985. Flusser's work can be thought of as a web of ideas in flux, which he developed through as he typed essays and correspondences on his typewriter, often translating them from language to language himself. My interest in "Kammermusik" stems from my own curiousity as to why Flusser very rarely raised topics about sound or auditive media in his writings. Compared to other "media theorists" such as Kittler, who for example wrote about the evolution of audio technology from the first speaking machines and efforts to engrain voices onto media, as well as the radio's important role as a tool of war. McLuhan also often spoke of acoustic space and devotes a chapters for example in "Understanding Media" to radio, the phonograph, the telephone - for example the radio also is used to exemplify its role as a carrier of political propaganda.

In his typically provocative style, he re-defines "catastrophes". He states that "Alles Futurisierend ist zukunftstvernichtend" "Everything futurizing is future-destroying" , and states that whilst developments and tendencies can be projected, real catastrophes are unpreventable, as they cannot be foreseen. He even states that nuclear war would not be a catastrophe, as it is something which can theoretically be avoided, real catastrophes are "new information". "Die telematische Gesellschaft ist demnach eine Struktur zur Herbeiführung von Katastrophen" / the telematic society is therefore a structure which creates catastrophes". After this he then proceeds to describe his version of "chamber music", as a computational, cybernetic musical game.

He describes people in front of computer screens, connected to one another in a dialogical network, with the aim via calculation and computation to create "improbable situations". "Die Stimmung, die dort herrschen wird, wird an jene gemahnen, die wir in unseren schöpferischen Augenblicken erleben. Die Stimmung des Aus-sich-Herausgehens, des Abenteuers, des Orgasmus". (Flusser: 1985, 135). It is a pure game, and played by the players for the players, observers are superfluous - "Die Kammermusik ist >reines Spiel<, sie wird von Spieler für die Spieler selbst gespielt, und Zuhörer sind überflüssig und störend." The roles of the game build the consensus, but these rules are permitted to change during the course of the game, which the players decide communally. Each player is simultaneously sender and receiver.

He then goes on to describe how Schopenhauer's "Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung" puts the universe of music in the "Welt als Wille" and "die Welt als Vorstellung" is the universe of images. "Die Welt der Musik ist konkretes Leben (Wollen und Leiden), und die Welt der Bilder ist abstraktes Gaukeln." However, he argues against this and says "Die Welt der Musik ist ein komponiertes Universum. Komponieren und Komputieren sind Synonyme. Wir mußten nicht erst auf die elektronische Musik warten, um diesen Charakter der Musik zu erkennen." ..."Darum läßt sich sagen, daß mit dem Emportauchen der technischen Bilder eine neue Bewußtseinsebene erreicht ist: jene nämlich, auf welcher mit Einbildungskraft musiziert wird." (Flusser: 1985, 138) He emphasizes the audiovisual character of the universe of technical images, as he contradicts Schopenhauer. This emerging universe is both "Welt als Vorstellung" and "Welt als Wille".

The closing thought is Flusser's reference once more to the "homo ludens" "Eine Welt der , des Spielens als Selbstzweck. >Ludus imaginis< als >Ludus tonalis<, und das emportauchende Bewußtsein der Einbildunskraft als das des >Homo Ludens<." "The Playing Man" is a key concept here for the future telematic society.

A long way apart from what classically jumps into mind when "chamber music" is mentioned today, Flusser's conception emphasizes the conversational, dialogic character of this group of music-makers. He states that in the Renaissance it was normal to improvise from notation, and his version of chamber music is a more or less a pure improvisation, using computers and code and the "new, synthetic Einbildungskraft".

It is interesting to note that this is the form which Flusser culminates his thoughts of the whole book into, particularly as music and sound are notably absent in the rest of his writing. The description is close to a description of free-jazz improvisation, (a lesser known fact from Flusser's biography is that he wrote jazz reviews when he lived in London in 1939). And it is furthermore interesting to note, that in Flusser's own library (Reisebibliothek) there is a copy of Adorno's "Einführung in die Musiksoziologie", in which there is also a chapter called "Kammermusik". Adorno, who of course notoriously declaimed and "hated" jazz.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Flusser - Die Geste des Musikhörens | The Gesture of Music Listening

After reading some of Flusser's texts, I wondered why he, in comparison to other "media theorists" such as Kittler and McLuhan, never discussed sound in his writings. The changes in audio technology and audio reproduction have been a massive part of technology and popular culture in the past 150 years. The first text I discovered by Flusser to do with music was "Die Geste des Musikhörens" (The Gesture of Music Listening) in his book "Gesten" (Gestures). I was hugely surprised reading this text, a deeply passionate manifesto on the enjoyment and intellectual riches of listening to music, the body becomes music and music becomes the body. His language was different talking about music, he seemed to draw much from Schopenhauer (Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung) and Nietzsche (Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik), yet the style and statement of this text very much convinced me that Flusser was a great music fan and that there was more to found on this theme.

“Die Geste des Sehers ist durch Mythos und Tradition so stark stilisiert worden, daß man im Fernsehen und auf Reklamen täglich und überall beobachten kann, wie sie zur Pose wurde. Die Geste des Denkers ist durch Rodin zu einem Klischee geworden...Die Geste des Hörers hingegen scheint auf den ersten Blick nicht ebenso sterotypisiert zu sein.” (“Die Geste des Musikhörens” in “Gesten – Versuch einer Phänomenologie” Vilém Flusser, Düsseldorf: Bollman Verlag 1991, 193)

“Beim Musikhören gibt es zwar auch ein Entzifferen einer kodifizierten Bedeutung. Was entziffert wird, wenn Musik gehört wird, darüber ist man sich trotz jahrhundertelanger Diskussion nicht einig geworden.” (Flusser: 1991, 193)

“die Geste des Musikhörens ist eine Körperstellung, in der sich die Musik verkörpert...Beim Musikhören wird der Körper Musik, und die Musik wird Körper”(Flusser: 1991, 198)

The unstereotyped gesture of listening seemed to be unburdened by the kind of stylised codes of the visual in Flusser's text. He seems to relish the mystery of music listening, its ephemeral nature and its inability to be easily categorised into simplified signals or symbols.

I also learned that Flusser from various discussions in the Vilém Flusser Archive, that Flusser had for a while attempted to earn a living as a jazz critic in London, when he studied there in 1939 after fleeing the Nazi occupation of Prague. This fascinated me hugely. I wrote to his daughter, Dinah Flusser and asked her if she could tell me any more about her father's relationship to music. She wrote back to me with a few bits of information, that he liked listening to Baroque music, and Indian Ragas and that he was also interested in modern electronic music.

“Man spürt sie, man weiß, das man sie erleidet. Diese wissenden Erleiden heißt Griechischen “pathein”. Der Empfang von Musik im Bauch (und in der Brust, im Geschlecht, im Kopf, kurz in allen zur Schwingung disponierten Körperteilen) ist Pathos, und sein Effekt ist Empathie in die Botschaft. Dieser pathetische Charakter ist buchstäblich nur für akustische Botschaften wahr, für alle anderen gilt er nur metaphorisch.” Flusser: 1991, 198)

An underlying thread in Flusser's thought is this innate humanism which seeps through. He never preaches it, and often his ideas are so complex and codified with his own reinterpretations of words, they can be interpreted variably. Yet it is clear, the more of Flusser you read, that his personal history and his philosophical thought are not separable. When he writes about receiving music as "pathos" in the Greek sense, and empathy of receiving music, it appears poignant. That he reserves this ability and declares it to only be true for acoustic communication, and that it exists only metaphorically for all other types, is all the more interesting.

“Kein Erlebnis zeigt so sehr wie das Hören von Musik, das “Geist”, “Seele” oder “Intellekt” Worte sind, die körperliche Prozesse benennen. Man kann nicht sagen, daß das Musikhören eine Art Massage ist (etwa wie Diathermie), wobei eine Art Geist stimuliert wird. Im Gegenteil, im Musikhören, in dieser akustischen Massage, wird eine der höchsten Formen, wenn nicht überhaupt die höchste Form von Geist, Seele, Intellekt empfangen, und zwar so, daß in dieser akustischen Massage der eigene Geist und derjenige des Senders der Botschaft übereinkommen.”

He puts the intellectual "Geist" on the same level as listening to music, which is once more striking. He also emphasises this connection between sender and receiver of the music as an acoustic "massage". The materiality of the sound to physically connect bodies in space underlies this statement. Hs focus on the bodilyness of listening is his own observation of his personal reception of music.

This is very similar to the way Michel Serres characterises musical perception in "The Five Senses", as a kind of black box through which we do not know how messages flow through it or which forces are at work, it remains a secret even from ourselves.
„wir wissen nicht, wie sie die Ströme umwandelt, die durch sie hindurchfließen, welche Sirenen, Musen oder Bacchantinen darin am Werke sind, sie bleibt uns verschlossen...Wir kennen die Empfindung nicht, und das heißt: Sie ist in dieser Black-box“ (Michel Serres, „Die fünf Sinne“ übersetzt von Michael Burchoff, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main (1993), 170)

In Flusser's writings, he often returns to Hegel's concept of the "unglückliche Bewußtsein" or "unhappy consciousness". In the book “ins universum der technischen Bilder” he typically presents it in the following way “Gehe ich hinaus in die Welt, dann verliere ich mich in ihr, und gehe ich in mich, um mich zu sammeln, dann geht mir die Welt verloren”. In other places, he criticises and diffuses this by pointing to the dissipation and abstraction of "outer" and "inner". However, in this chapter about listening to music, he appears to understand it differently – almost as a way of overcoming this Hegelian dialectic with the listening of music. One finds himself without losing the world, and he finds the world without losing himself. He no longer finds himself in conflict between subject and object, but as a pure relationship, which he then links the universe of numbers "mathesis universalis".

“Beim Musikhören fällt die Trennung zwischen Mensch und Welt...Die mathematische Schwingung der Haut beim Musikhören, die sich dann auf die Eingeweide, aufs “innere” überträgt, ist “Ekstase”, ist das “mythische Erlebnis”...Beim Musikhören findet der Mensch sich selbst, ohne die Welt zu verlieren, und er findet die Welt ohne sich selbst zu verlieren, indem er sich selbst als Welt und die Welt als sich selbst findet. Denn er findet sich selbst und die Welt nicht als Widerspruch zwischen Subjekt und Objekt, sondern als “reines Verhältnis”...Darum ist das Musikhören das “absolute” Erlebnis, nämlich das Erlebnis der Relativität von Subjekt und Objekt im Feld der “mathesis universalis”. (Flusser 1991: 202)

This becomes all the more interesting when read in combination with the chapter "Kammermusik"(Chamber Music) at the end of the book "Ins Universum der technischen Bilder" (Into the Universe of Technical Images), where Flusser metaphorically suggests a group of improvising and coding computer musicians/artists to redesign the world with the power of the "Einbildungskraft" afforded by digital technologies.