Dr. Future on Sat, 8 Jan 2000 09:52:22 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Re: Cubitt Re: Florian Cramer on Schirmarcher, etc


    so distance is still necessary for even prediscursive "communication" and
so critical distance still necessary for critical "philosophy"? So media
aesthetics is not so much phenomenology but back again to who's doing what to
whom? But we still can't appreciate what's really going on unless we are in
the thick of it...?

    Well, I never studied philosophy so I'm lost in firstness and secondness
but I do remember attending a "Virtual Futures" conference about six or seven
years ago - a philosophy, media theory kind of a deal with some artists thrown
in. One late afternoon session was centred around technologically based art
and culture and had a handful of artists and musicians demonstrating their
electronic stuff in front of an audience of professors, critics, theorists and
other high brow dudes. One presentation was given by a well known music journo
who talked about his experience with hardcore techno music. He suggested that
it had the capacity, through its primitive stripped down beat and raw tonal
variations, to effect the listener very directly, very sensually, almost
physically. This ability, perhaps, to bypass the higher levels of socially
structured perception and attack the nerve centres of the self was an argument
familiar from neo-constructivists like Op Artists - using optical illusions as
the basis of a universal art based on physiology and free from social

After he had described his associations with techno DJs and rave club artists
he ended by playing a piece of music to the audience that he felt was the best
example of the radical effects of such sonic delights which would completely
change their "head space". He pointed out that in the middle of the piece
there was a distinctive change of timbre which had an effect so electrifying
that he had personally witnessed it transforming a club dance floor into a
seething mass of aural hysteria. He switched on the tape player and turned up
the volume. Over the heads of the distinguished crowd there arose the strong,
repetitive rhythms of the techno beat. The young journo stood listening, head
bowed and body swaying slightly to the waves of aural pleasure sweeping over
him. The rest of the audience shuffled a little in their seats.

Then after a couple of minutes, without any warning, the regular
thumpety-thump was replaced by a higher pitched metallic sounding
clackety-clack. This new sound continued to fill the room as the audience sat
impassively. After a few minutes the journo turned the player off and turned
to face them. He seemed to be waiting for something to happen, for a certain
reaction, and seemed a little unsure of how to continue, but the audience just
looked back. (I was so embarrassed for him. It was a bit like when you are
thirteen years old and buy your first pop record. You run home and ask your
parents excitedly if you can play it on their hi-fi. They wearily agree. You
put it on, certain that they will feel as thrilled and delighted as you are
and will thank you for introducing them to this amazing new world of music.
But they just listen politely as they read the evening paper. When it is
finished they tell you to wash your hands ready for tea. You hate your parents
forever after...).

During the following question period, members of the audience expressed their
scepticism that what they had just listened to had changed their perceptions,
scrambled their minds, or was any different to the loud, monotonous,
commercial pop music they had been trying to avoid for years. The young man
became impatient that they had so stubbornly missed the point of the music he
had played them. "Haven't you ever been to a rave!?" he accused one critic.
"Haven't you ever been to a cultural studies conference?" came the reply.

So we come to the conclusion that academic seminars are for talking and techno
music is for clubs. And that you can take a horse to the water but you can't
make it drink.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net