[-empyre-] vibration and movememt (cosmic scale)

Douglas Kahn djkahn at ucdavis.edu
Sat Jun 14 11:35:32 EST 2014

Senses are like the table of elements, a new one gets added every few
years; except elements get heavier and senses get lighter. 

Regarding "making the imperceptible perceptible." The term is often equated
with technology when in fact trees and pinnae "sonify" wind.

I am not that versed in the speculative realist writers you mention Marcus,
except for Tim Morton who is a good friend of mine. We did a very
interesting speaking tour through New Zealand, the two of us sitting on
stage discussing things ecological, throwing it out to audience and taking
it from there. These were audiences from broad walks of life and I'm not
sure those who know Tim's published work know about what an excellent
public intellectual he is in such settings.

Tim and I differ on certain things. I agree that notions of nature are a
liability in nature writing where you have to pull on a pair of hiking
boots to be ecological, but I think "nature" has a powerful rhetorical
function when discussing media, since media are imagined to have no nature
(except with recent green media analyses although, again, I'm also
interested in a radically positive approach). 

Energies are more easily relational (they are more than that, of course)
than objects, but then again I think there is some confusion in a
slip-and-slide between objects and things. I forget who had the Latourian
litany that included "electromagnetism" among its objects, but it only
makes sense if objects are philosophical entities and, since I am primarily
a historian developing theory from the grassroots up, I leave philosophy on
that level to philosophers. I did find the OOO discussions very helpful but
only intersected them at a particular point. Someone may want to have a go
at energy-oriented this or that, but it's not on the to-do list on my fridge. 




> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Yes, I was just trying to think about ways of talking about an expanded
> sensorium that would include the ways various "non-human" creatures sense
> the environment -- thermal sensing for example:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoception
> So, modes of sensing would leave open how many ways of sensing there are (I
> think Douglas said there are 23 now!). But then my interest was also in
> asking if thinking about an expanded sensorium covered the entire range of
> possibilities by which an organism might relate to/through vibration ... in
> other words is there something other than sensing? Is thinking a kind of
> sensing ... or not ...?
> Johannes, as to your question of what imperceptible forces might mean to us
> ... that's a huge issue.  Douglas' book addresses that in terms of
> electromagnetism, which is often not perceptible (for example you don't
> hear your own brain waves, or others') but which is nonetheless there (you
> can measure or track it, and amplify it and/or transduce it so that it does
> become perceptible). So Douglas is documenting the work of artists such as
> Alvin Lucier, who make use of work in physics, and technologies that render
> imperceptible forces perceptible (Lucier uses EEG technologies that can
> track electrical activity aka brainwaves in the brain, and works out a
> performative mode of transducing those waves, turning them into audible
> sounds).  
> I suspect both Douglas and I are referring to recent theoretical work by
> the speculative realist writers (for example Timothy Morton, Graham Harman,
> Ray Brassier) who make an anti-postmodern argument that there really is
> something there ... but that it's not phenomenologically accessible.  So
> then, you have a variety of artists who are finding ways of transducing and
> (re)presenting in different ways what would otherwise be unpresentable
> (sounds too deep to hear, brain waves, quantum events etc.).  But then the
> question arises: are they presenting the unpresentable (which would seem by
> definition impossible) or ... what? Is it a kind of model or metaphor that
> suggests what cant be presented?  
> On 2014-06-13, at 2:55 PM, Nina Eidsheim wrote:
> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> > Hi, Johannes!
> > 
> >> Nina could you please expand on that past part, what modes of sensing do
> you not subscribe to?
> > I simply meant that if "modes of sensing" refers to human range of
> sensing, I am not sure where I stand in regards to that. (But, it does seem
> limiting.) 
> > 
> > When I wrote that yesterday, I wrote it thinking I was in agreement with
> Marcus. Is that right, Marcus, or perhaps I am misreading you? I think it
> was actually Marcus who first brought up the phrase, "modes of sensing," in
> this conversation. Would you mind sharing more about what that mean to you?
> > 
> > 
> > Nina
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > On Jun 13, 2014, at 7:58 AM, Johannes Birringer
> <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:
> > 
> >> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> >> dear all
> >> 
> >> thanks for the thoughtful response, Douglas and Nina, and
> >> and I am reading on, the discussion is opening up such a wide horizon
> now, yes, up to the cosmic scale you invoke Douglas,
> >> but also a scale that goes much beyond what Nina called the more narrow
> body and material focussed sense perceptions & sensation,
> >> the anthropomorphized versions of sensation  (and motion analysis /
> motion capture)?
> >> 
> >> 
> >>> 
> >> ...visit to the Lab of Ornithology, I am reminded of the anthropomorphic
> undertone with which the concept of the body and epistemology through
> sensation is often infused. Does paying attention to the body means
> attending to the vibration as I feel the vibrations through the flesh and
> bones as it stands on the airport floor? 
> >> 
> >> Or, does only a given material's seeming continuous material connection
> to what I think of as the object that is body constitute thinking about the
> body? 
> >> 
> >> The latter position, then, to address Marcus' question, does come down
> to "modes of sensing." At this point, I am not ready to subscribe to that.
> And, I doubt whether all of the artists with which Douglas deals in Earth
> Sound would subscribe to that as well.
> >>>> 
> >> 
> >> Nina could you please expand on that past part, what modes of sensing do
> you not subscribe to?
> >> 
> >> The ritual and cosmic associations now brought up by Douglas's
> re-reference to Benjamin's "One-Way Street" and "On the Mimetic Faculty"  
> � recontexted to war-time destruction (through technologies),
> self-annihilation and ecological catastrophe -- where are you pointing the
> sonic pathways now?  Many here may not have read your book yet (sorry, I
> have not yet), and thus I feel the framework of course seems to have been
> hugely expanded, and I cannot follow yet, and I think the nereges or forces
> have not been fully discussed yet, only where you wish to stay away from
> (new age and psychic channeling etc, the Rausch of the trance folks out in
> the desert at the Burning Man revelations..) You very recent example of
> >> Pauline Oliveros �  or Nina's and Marcus's reference to ornithology or
> rather to the birds, animals and other species interests me obviously, as
> does Benjamin's imaginary dance with the clouds, dancing the storms [=
> "sensuous similarity"] �  
> >> interests me, and there could be a political reading desired by Marcus,
> not sure, when you speak of 
> >> 
> >>> 
> >> Oliveros produce[s] overtones from subaudible fundamentals, even if they
> cannot be felt, the audible sounds do
> >> not necessarily abdicate their epiphenomenal relationship.
> >>> 
> >> 
> >> that is a daring formulation, I feel, anthropomorphizing sound into an
> agent, and there then are co-agencies, some that are not known/recognized
> (like invisible drones that capture us or shoot us, not drone music)  But
> maybe you read waves and ultrasound etc as forces that operate on the
> universe, on the earth, on social spaces and habitats, but the
> imperceptible ones, what effect do they have on humans, animals, objects,
> architectures, ecologies? what type of agency would be that that could be
> resisted or coopted, or in-corporated (whether along the axis of an anatomy
> or furtherfield) or contested (the sounds and epiphenemena that are
> dangerous to the health of the planet or the inhabitants). Could you  all
> say a bit more about the overtones, or what Marcus mentioned regarding
> tuning or being out of tune -   "The unpresentable aspects of sound and
> vibration become a model for the unpresentable as such"?
> >> 
> >> 
> >> regards
> >> Johannes Birringer 
> >> 

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