In preparing devices for performance I have begun thinking of Gilbert Simondon and beginning to realise his influence over many of the phrases used in this sprawling text so far. Initially, thoughts were based around his writing on ‘transduction’ – use of physical transducers on wooden surfaces is part of the development work I am doing on the drone machines. Feeding the audio signal back into the materials that are generating the sound but through physical vibration – this is still sound and can be heard by our ears but exploring a more visceral connection the materials. ‘Transduction is a process where a disparity or a difference is topologically or temporally restructured across some interface. It mediates different organizations of energy.’ (Simondon, Transductions) Don’t want this to merge into interface studies. The use of transducers in the work brings into question all materials at use – it engages them all in sound / noise making practice. All in the aim for stable resonance between emerging sound and parts – as the mathematician Rene Thom stated ‘All interaction rest, in the last analysis, upon a phenomenon of resonance.’ Rene thom has now appeared again in The Birth of Physics by Serres – first encountered him through Deleuze and Guattari.
This excess of sound (zao) is pushed out from the world of sound that is created in music – discarded, unwanted but this material is still beautiful to play with and holds such great potential – it is so simple and so complex at the same time. This excess reminds me of thoughts around entropy and expelled heat from combustion engines – what does the governor in an engine do? Into the field of noise can we place Maxwell’s Demon – allow the fast moving particles to separate from those slower one. Do we end up with a field of high frequency and another of low frequency? This experiment does not allow then for the natural order of thermodynamics to occur and thus no entropy occurs – No Zao! No Excess! I’m confused about entropy most of the time and slightly concerned about including it in my research as it leans too much towards the scientific world and I’m not comfortable there.
Music – Noise Noise – Music. Is there pressure upon noise artists to make music? To make noise music? Why can’t noise just be noise? Is it good that noise has been welcomed into the fold of music? It obviously helps for us to regard it within a particular performance context but do the structures and foundations of music really help us understand noise? This is all relating to noise as sonic output – tricky overlap that does need to be dealt with – the noise of signal (information theory) and the noise of sound (music?). Receiving a text ‘The Laundromat by the Sea’ from John Richards in an invite to take part in a performance event in response to the text that is written by Yan Jun has encouraged me with my performance work and will aim to produce a short performance exploring drones, interference, light and sound. This uses elastic bands – useful to explore the writing in Pleats of Matter (Deleuze, The Fold) ‘a body has a degree of hardness as well as a degree of fluidity, or that it is essentially elastic’. The forces at work in making this noise output can well be explored in the fold. ‘When a boat reaches a certain speed a wave becomes as hard as marble’ (Deleuze, The Fold) – this shifting of materiality, liquid to solid, without heating or cooling suddenly fascinates me. Changing the properties of materials simply through ‘speed’ (movement) is interesting to think of in response to the movement of nomadic noise – moving at absolute speed (D&G, TP). How about the changes occurring through slowness? Can we ‘slow’ metals into a liquid state? To explore the writing by D&G on metallurgy as this is also where they describe nomadism in Thousand Plateaus.
In Berlin thinking of fields and reading Timothy Morton on a flight – doom and ecological catastrophe. Watching Robert Henke’s ‘fragile territories’ installation for some time – time is on the surface of the screen, being burnt in with laser precision fired at a surface 100s of times per second. This ‘digital’ precision is in some way presenting a view of analog waves – ‘the time of non-reality’ was this Wolfgang Ernst? This is the analog slope in digital waves. Even within the most precise digital square wave there exists, in the movement from (the in-between) 0 to 1 a certain gradual shift that is not as exact as 0 and 1 – this is the in-between as explained by Michel Serres writing about Fuzzy Logic in ‘The Parasite’ (I think). All is analog. Back to fields – electromagnetic fields, philosophical fields, acoustic fields, green fields, disciplinary fields… wandering around within them, we are on the inside, moving along indirect paths, treading the path (Richard Long) but at speed. At ‘absolute speed’ our movement and the movement of noise / signal is nomadic with the potential to go anywhere at anytime – be in multiple places (quantum). As Jane Bennet writes in ‘Vibrant Matter’ in regards to the shutting down of the entire Eastern Seaboard Electricity Grid – the engineers could not entirely explain how an electrical signal ‘decided’ (just as how Heidegger’s hammer ‘wants’ to be held) to travel a different route and then crash the system.
Thinking about making brings to mind the writing of Ian Bogost, another OOO, and the concept of Carpentry or ‘Special Carpentry’ according to Graham Harman. Understanding how things make their world, a philosophical mode of practice and learning through doing about, not only how things work or why but how those things make their world. After speaking with Sonic artist Morten Riis at a recent ~hotwire~ conference centred around the concept of ‘t(h)inkering’ I realised carpentry would be a useful approach to certain practice based workshops that are not aiming to make one specific tool or kit but rather exploring the field of potential around the making practice. Largely discussed within the practice of gaming and code by Bogost it would also naturally fit with the world of physical objects. Learning about that object not through reading the schematic or data sheet but through making. This thought has brought in the concept of ‘t(h)inkering’ used to describe the work of (a favourite artist of mine) Paul Demarinis by ….? Need to find the name! This feels close to carpentry but perhaps more playful and messy. How to do carpentry with vibration in sound and light? Workshop the making of piezo crystal and light responsive materials – very messy, chemicals required but could be a way (or path) to expressing how the thing makes it world?.?
Returning to Barad and Merleau-Ponty quotes above […we are of the world…] […plunge into the world…] – we plunge into our objects and things in our workshops. We plunge into our field of knowledge that is firstly our experience then expanded or exploded into others of the workshop group. This is making, doing, breaking, hacking – hacking has not appeared until now but was once the core of the project. Moving away from the negative connotations that have arisen more recently (News of the World, The Sun etc) towards a potential that hacking offers – there’s that word again ‘potential’. What are the entire world of possibilities from one object? They certainly do not begin and end with what may be its manufactured intentions. Don’t use a DC motor to spin or turn some gears but instead listen to the motor – change our view of this thing so this can become just as much a sonic object as a physical actuator. A motor is usually dampened or added to with capacitors to ‘remove’ the sound of the physical operations but they still exist. These sonic explorations are based on vibrations (a part of resonance) – some are physical and we can pick these up using contact microphones (structures of piezo crystal that output signal when physically manipulated) as well as electromagnetic coils turning any seemingly silent operator into a field of noise, intensity, frequency. Try running some operations on a laptop with a magnetic coil sitting on the keyboard – each process has its own rhythm, frequency and intensity. Set it free!
Feedback cycles – sound through material. Using transducers in place of standard loudspeakers enables the user to investigate the acoustic properties of a material or object – a transducer physically vibrates a surface or thing in order to produce sound. Recent tests (by me) have explored the use of a surface transducer in conjunction with the elastic band drone machine. The elastic band drone machine was the resulting instrument built during a ‘transmission+interference’ workshop in Athens where laser light or LED light is shone across a short space towards the surface of a solar cell. In-between the light source and the solar cell is suspended an elastic band on some nails banged into a board of wood. The elastic band is set into motion with a tiny vibration motor and as this band vibrates we hear the low frequency drone of light diffraction across the surface of the solar cell. By then playing the sound back using a transducer attached to the wooden board we are then able to explore resonant feedback in the system – the elastic band vibrates at a particular frequency -> this vibrates the wood -> this travel through all the materials including the elastic band. Further resonance / feedback can be explored with the use of a sound modulated LED as the light source across the elastic band. Need to explore more of Cybernetics – systems feedback. Read Andrew Pickering.
What materials / objects /things are in use in these workshops? How / why are they chosen to be included? The workshops extend beyond simple material studies at the point of feedback – how the object influences the decisions about how it could be used and the potential impact upon neighbouring objects. The materials are wood, metals, springs, rubber, LEDs, motors, vibration motors, cardboard, resistors, capacitors, transistors, glass, mirrors, arduino, computers, software, solder, hot glue, hammers, knives, paper clips – and on, and on… They assemble in messy, noisy groups influenced by artists like Martin Howse, Ryan Jordan, Jonathan Kemp. Martin’s recent explorations into Earth evolve in a complex system where computer or electronics device meet with the originator of that mined material – ‘A Geology of Media’ Jussi Parikka. Similar explorations of object surface, weak transmission (mini FM) and combinations of light signal and sound that move far far away from standard ‘A/V’ performance or installation – this is not a screensaver! Watching Martin perform EARTH CODE develops areas of ‘the fold’ – must read Deleuze and Leibniz! – where spaces of interaction are increased or reduced with each movement of material. Interesting chapter by Diane Coole in ‘New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency and Politics’ – the fold, Umwelt (Uexküll), matter, matter, matter, flesh. Also – Karen Barad’s ‘intra-action’.
Steganography – the process of hiding in plain sight. The unknown signal beneath the surface. Potentially interesting insight from science fiction – remember the ‘listening bugs’ from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Communication devices hidden from sight – they are there but only found if you actually know they are there. Dates back to ancient China where slaves were shaved and tattooed with information, then, once the hair grows back, they could travel across borders of villages, towns, Countries containing a hidden message – transmitting a hidden message. By modulating an LED at audio amplitude (mimicking AM Radio) it is possible to transmit a clear audio signal hidden within light playing with what is there and possible to be experienced by an audience. How can this be performed? Various devices / tools / instruments have therefore been developed through playful workshops to explore this fascinating process for the purposes of understanding the technology or building an installation or developing a performance. Once we have this hidden signal to transmit we are now able to manipulate audio using visual devices (is metaphor at play in here? – this was asked of me during a recent exhibition installation), for example, mirrors to ‘bend’ sound around physical architecture.