[-empyre-] border sounds

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Mon Sep 21 22:28:45 EST 2009

dear all:

thank you for all these view points.  
I became interested in the absence of sound (and the moving body) in the discussion on screens and projective media
and now i see John Hutnyk has raised this issue very well.   But some thoughts, in your longer recent postings, perhaps can be looked at again,
I am grappling with them,

In so many ways the city, and the border, is an audio-visual enclosure>>

I not sure where you locate "border" and what you mean by it?    Are you implying that the border crossings apparatus (and you don't mean airports, do you?) is a scripted film? a media architecture

Is this the "media architecture"  (now spatial location or design become metaphor?) or script that  Ricardo Dominguez seeks to disturb, using, i quote, ">>multiple orientations of sonification - you can scroll down and see visual poems to be presented on the cellphones as one layer of the tools safety protocols for those crossing the Mexico/U.S. border - another element of border crossing sonification is part of the navigation>>

How would this practice of helping immigrants (illegal border crossers or migrants? they all need to have cell phones, yes?) be connected to the "border documents"  John Hutnyk mentions, when he speaks of:

<<We are interested in new perspectives on the status and function of the documentary forms today, as they cross the ontological divide between fiction and truth, art and reality (objective/subjective, social, political, ethical etc) and frame alternative ways of seeing, witnessing, representing, archiving and experiencing 'the elements of truth' (Steyerl, 2003). Can we understand documentation not as paper passports or mere representation but as docketing the (re)construction of (new) social and political realities - we are interested in time and screen formats that offer access to critical recontextualization of the reproduction of borders, and of unfolding new agents of social and political (ex)change. On a more formalistic note, how does the documentary form carry a politic, an ethics or epistemology and how can the documentary film help us see and act differently? Does the time of the border transform its place, or its performative character? Does border activism lend itself to the cinematic? Can we film another way across?>>

Can you tell us what you could possibly mean by "filming your way across"?

I think the theoretical language here, political as it sounds, operates in a kind of Second Life.  At the same time, the conflict issues you mention -- migration, racism (profiling, the war of terror, security hysteria) and capital (economic restructuring, cultural economy etc) -- are of course very real, and so are the prevention measures of your or my crossing some/certain borders  [e.g, i hear, at the moment, between Australia and the UK, such crossings become diffiuclt regarding application for work visa). 

Were you thinking of the potential "ubiquity" of "witnesses" to protest against perceived injustice?   as might have occurred during the recent unrest and uprising in Iran, when the video of the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan went onto YouTube (in everyday parlance that now means "around the world") and then the song ("Khas o khashak") appeared: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FPJNvKRy0E

I am not I see any connection between the video trailers on YouTube and the claim:

>In that sense, transporting cinematographic practices to open spaces
disturbs both its particular architecture and the urban logic,
allowing the dismantling of the apparatus and its renegotiation in
more fluid forms.>

It would seem to be always the opposite, under capitalist / global domination-diffusion systems, namely that the apparatus goes on, healthy and strong, and panoptic and postpanoptic (I have seen term used lately, but what would it refer t to -- the online dimension of I post you you post me the nighbors post their cell phone video on youtube about what happens on their streets and everyone soon gets access to the CCTV system anyway so we can control one another?) systems perfect their mechanisms.  Artists "negotiate" the apparatus, yes. I have heard this said, and believed its idealism a little bit,  some time ago, and I also remember the border workshops of 20 years ago,  down on the California/Mexico border;  they also negotiated, would you agree, Ricardo.  When you enter Texas, via the Río Bravo del Norte at night, there is little for you to negotiate. The musique concrete might be gunshots, police sirens, and dogs barking. A blinding light will be pointed at you. 

with regards

Johannes Birringer
director, DAP Lab
School of Arts 
Brunel University
West London 
UB8 3PH   UK
+44  (0)1895 267 343  (office)

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