[-empyre-] "(E)MOTION FREQUENCY - rpm" --- killing me softly

Gordana Novakovic gordana.novakovic at gmail.com
Wed Oct 19 23:07:31 EST 2011

Ah, Michele, thank you so much for your poetic and wise reflections.

Thanks to you had a wonderful dancing hour...  Lennon / McCartney's
Happiness..  then Killing me softly.. until I hit the  (Pink Floyd)

Apologies for not being clear. Had no intentions to criticise Rist's
work, it was intended to be more of a question rather than statement.
I  found Johannes remarks as a good start to share with you all my own
doubts and questions around spectacle and how do we relate our own
practice to it. Is there escape from the Baudrillard's simulacrum? and
so on...

.Maybe because it was empty like a body without organs did it open up
new vista/old suppressed vista... I didn't expect this and yet, it was
rather a beautiful afternoon, which left me feeling quite light, and
as though I had recaptured something from my (earlier) youth.

Yes, this is what I remember when I saw her work few years ago. Have
to see Hayward one.

But I'd like to respond to Sergio's brilliant observations and share
with you my concerns about the mind control, and also I think quite
related to the above.

> Honestly, it seems theoretically possible to both leave yourself to
the current and try to enjoy it, as creatively as possible, or to try
to find what one could name "the eye of the hurricane", a moving
center of calmness from which one could think abouit what's going on.

I think, however, that the first choice is too uncritical of the new
forms of power and the new forms of consciousness which are being
favored by technological omnipresence; and the second simply do not
exist, or is precisely the confortable product labs where powerfull
corporations are developing the next techno-commoditties to keep
culture hipnotized with so-called interactivity.
Thus, It may be necessary (maybe more maybe less than I expect,
anyway), to ask if the discourses for interactive arts and web 2.0 are
entangled with this logic of perpetual acting and producing, as
opposed to (usually presented as deepply negative) contemplation and
I'm not a heavy Deleuze reader, but yesterday, loosely reading his
"Conversations"(pg 162, in the Brazilian edition), by chance I came
across the following passage:

"?(...) Repressive forces do not prevent people from expressing
themselves; on the contrary, they force them to express themselves.
The smoothness of having nothing to say, the right to have nothing to
say; thus is the condition for something exquisite or rare to emerge,
which deserves to be said. One dies nowadays not from interferences,
but from propositions which are absolutely devoid of interest (...)".

This is a surprising quote in the context of the present social
movements, the way new media is beeing related to them, and all the
hopes they are raising.

Last night I had a heated discussion with a bright young star in
computer science who passionately tried to convince me that Google is
softly building a new wonderful world (ended up without bloodshed).
What caught my attention this morning was a text in Wired titled:
Darpa Wants to Master the Science of Propaganda (full text

(for those not familiar - The Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense
responsible for the development of new technology for use by the
military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of
many technologies which have had a major effect on the world,
including computer networking, as well as NLS, which was both the
first hypertext system, and an important precursor to the contemporary
ubiquitous graphical user interface.)

" Darpa is asking scientists to “take narratives and make them
quantitatively analyzable in a rigorous, transparent and repeatable
fashion.” (....) In the first 18-month phase of the program, the
Pentagon wants researchers to study how stories infiltrate social
networks and alter our brain circuits. One of the stipulated research
goals: to “explore the function narratives serve in the process of
political radicalization and how they can influence a person or
group’s choice of means (such as indiscriminant violence) to achieve
political ends.”

Once scientists have perfected the science of how stories affect our
neurochemistry, they will develop tools to “detect narrative
influence.” These tools will enable “prevention of negative behavioral
outcomes … and generation of positive behavioral outcomes, such as
building trust.” In other words, the tools will be used to detect
who’s been controlled by subversive ideologies, better allowing the
military to drown out that message and win people onto their side.

“The government is already trying to control the message, so why not
have the science to do it in a systematic way?” said the researcher
familiar with the project.

When the project enters into a second 18-month phase, it’ll use the
research gathered to build “optimized prototype technologies in the
form of documents, software, hardware and devices.” What will these
be? Existing technology can carry out micro-facial feature analysis,
and measure the dilation of blood vessels and eye pupils. MRI machines
can determine which parts of your brain is lighting up when it
responds to stories. Darpa wants to do even better.

In fact, it’s calling for devices that detect the influence of stories
in unseen ways. “Efforts that rely solely on
standoff/non-invasive/non-detectable sensors are highly encouraged,”
the solicitation reads.

Forget lie detectors; invisible propaganda-detectors are the future."

So - we who are 'in bed' with neuroscience, cognitive sciences and
technology - how do we relate ourselves to the true nature of the
fascinating scientific findings and super-futuristic technology that
we are, or wish to incorporate in our own research? I feel that we
might be faced with the same set of ethical questions that confronts
roboticists whose work has been heavily funded and exploited for
military purposes? (attended last night panel addressing ethics in
robotics at Imperial College. And robotic experts expressed their deep

Perhaps, we could help people re-occupy their body/mind (while still
not illegal)?

In spite of all - hope you are having a soft, lovely day


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