Birth of Physics

Finally got around to looking at a copy of Michel Serres ‘The Birth of Physics’ and already see some beautiful material about objects, flows, magnetism, rhythm, paths and turbulence. Plenty to explore but ‘turbulence’ has not appeared before in these notes and neither has ‘rupture’ although ruptures have been discussed in workshops. Need to really get to grips with flows and paths – feel it can be too simple to link such research to the practice but perhaps because it is a really good fit. Discourse around paths has, in the past, explored the field of wandering – especially in the RADIX project – and this has led me to interesting writing on the topic of ‘Mad Travelling’ by Ian Hacking – not ready for this yet but this does excite me. Reading Serres in the past has always been quite a ride but I’ve always been concerned at the level of science in the research and that is not something I want to get tripped up with later in the research but ‘Parasite’, ‘Genesis’ and now ‘Birth of Physics’ do seem to offer some interesting views into the research – through a diffracted lens perhaps! Having thoughts about the presentation for PEP research group – would like for the presentation to have ‘liveness’ about it – a vitality within the slides / content. Thinking about coding this as a ‘live’ presentation with the end being a short performance of objects.

Materials / Objects

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’.

Life in Objects

There is life in the objects and things that contribute to the workshop. ‘Elan vital’. This brings in writing by Bergson, Whitehead, Deleuze and Guattari, Bruno Latour plus emerging thought from the fields of speculative realism, speculative fiction, new materialism and object oriented ontology (OOO) by Steven Shapiro, Levi Bryant, Samantha Frost, Timothy Morton, Jane Bennett, Ian Bogost, Graham Harman – the list goes on. Lists appear to be a very useful writing method for discourse around OOO enabling the writer to bring in objects from everywhere in life – often appearing quite comical. This could well be a challenge within the academic field – come up with the list of most random objects and things. However, what comes across from much of this writing is the vibrant life force that exists within objects and things that is not ‘given’, or attributed, to them through human thought or action. I’m not sure whether the concept of control has been developed from within this field of philosophy – is it linked to the idea of freeing up the control of objects through realising the life force within that is not able to be controlled? Does this offer what Brian Massumi describes as the virtual potential?

The Open Work(shop)

The open work(shop) – attempting to free access to making through shared processes. As Umberto Eco wrote about the freeing of text or Cage about the freeing of sound, can the workshop be open enough to allow for any potential outcome, mirroring the potential for free movement of noise and signal to encourage any potential sound / light output? The participants bring particular territories of knowledge and experience to the platform which all have their limits. The potential for new knowledge comes from the interaction (in)between the participants – the resonating space of information and skills of human ability at the table. This is not doing it alone (D.I.Y) but much more part of the emerging practice of D.I.T or D.I.W.O (do it together or do it with others) that encourages the acknowledgment of shared knowledge and skills particular to experimental arts practice. Through D.I.W.O practices we can attempt to remove (or at least reduce) the impact of hierarchy within the workshop group. However, it does seem to presume a hierarchical order between human and nonhuman actors in the workshop network – perhaps it is better to think of D.I.W.O.O (doing it with other objects) to include the objects, things, materials in use in the workshop as having an equal influence upon the development of any work.

The in-between

The in-between carries the potential for interference, diffraction, manipulation. This ‘space’ is a part of the assembled machine as an absence of object or material but the space is a thing where things change. The space in-between offers movement, speed, direction, flow, resistance, resonance, exchange, transmission, reception – a nomadic existence of noise and signal where we are free to release control and allow or enable movement at what Deleuze and Guattari describe as ‘absolute speed’. Rather than chaotic movement (although chaos is certainly a useful concept through which to investigate noise) the in-between offers activites of attraction and repulsion – resonance or dissonance. Is it the key ‘component’ that assembles the assemblage? The very nature of assemblages results in in-betweenness as the very space for connectivity between object, power, signal and noise and, again to take from Deleuze and Guattari, this is where the network takes on the rhizome-like complexity. The potential for any connections at once to any thing in the in-between removes any hierarchical structure – in fact the desire for noise (sonic and signal) is a method for opening up these potentially multiple connections. Objects relating to objects relating to sound relating to light assembled in such a way because of their specific qualities but also because of what emerges in-between.


[rhythm is]… everywhere where there is interaction between a place, a time and an expenditure of energy.

[Henri Lefebvre, Rythmanalysis, 15]

What am I doing?

I’m making workshops – offering them to creative practitioners across the arts. I’m exploring resonance and interference – could this be diffraction? Interference patterns of light modulated by objects in motion or resonating with one and other. Diffraction is that point at which the disturbances are visible / audible – do they offer a new potentiality to the signal? A new path within the uncontrollable. The workshop as a practice provides the platform within which the materials (objects, things) interact – placed there through human actions the nonhuman actively participates in the emergence of new … A becoming of sound from material (both human and nonhuman). Are these materials? Or are they things? Or are they objects? Continue reading “What am I doing?”

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