Re: [-empyre-] clarifying noiseless challenge]

A couple of responses...

On Thu, 2006-11-02 at 20:00 -0300, sergio basbaum wrote:

> - First of all, I think it is important to notice that in my statement
> of the discussion, I never mentioned the name of Benjamin's essay, but
> only the fact that it deals with technological reproducibility of art
> works. To think that "mechanical" is not "technological" is to have a
> very limited notion of what is technology. For example, many and many
> accounts on the relations among  images and technology start already
> from linear perspective, so there's absolutely no reason why
> "mechanical" should not be also "technological".

I don't mean to be pedantic but I think that mechanical reproduction is
very different from electronic (especially digital) modes of
reproduction.  While Benjamin's essay is still very useful, he was
thinking about reproduction as a more industrial process, whereas
digital reproduction often takes place on a more personal scale.  There
are other differences as well.

> - My last point (and I intend to stay here just as a moderator) is to
> take the question of the "hacker as noise-maker", put by Johannes.
> Critical Art Ensemble has written on this, and if things were that
> simple, hackerism as the answer to a system more and more regulated by
> all sort of digital networks, databases and devices, the whole
> discussion I'm proposing would be born dead. But hackers - and I´m not
> even taking in account the problem already raised by CAE that
> unfortunately hackers are not political activists, they do what they
> do for the sake of measuring their own technological habilities - , to
> be hackers,  have to develop and practive a way of thinking already
> shaped by the demands of technology. They have to think technically
> and through algorithms and programming languages and their narrow
> logic to attain their goals. They have to be precise, they have to
> think and formalize their actions in the terms demanded by digital
> apparatuses and tools. Thus, they have to think noiseless, otherwise
> things simply do not work. I suggest this is "noiseless noise".

I would argue that many hackers aspire to be very noisy, at least those
hackers that don't view themselves as mere factotums.  The classical
hacker performed technological feats as a show of prowess and
cleverness.  Virus writers are about as noisy as you can get without
resorting to violence.  Unfortunately, a lot of this activity arises
from a sort of competitive boy culture.

I think that power structures these days are rather obsessed with
containing hacker noise.  I can't find the quote but I think CAE wrote
something to effect that hacking in "research" settings is essential to
technological progress but that if that activity becomes threatening
(hence loud) to the established order, it is made illegal.

Finally, I don't know how well this relates but I think that the most
"silent" technological objects often have a strong sense of aura.  Those
machines with slick, simple packaging are designed to conceal vast
complexity and give the user a sense of wonder and mystery toward the
object.  The iPod gives no clues as to it's inner workings and does
nothing to discourage the impression that the device is magic created by
those arcane wizards in Sunnyvale.  As devices are demystified, their
aura disappears (until they become collectible antiques).


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