[-empyre-] All call: subscribers interested in Boredom: Labor, Use and Time

Jason Bernagozzi jason at seeinginvideo.com
Mon May 25 15:10:54 AEST 2015

Thanks for the introduction Renate!

There have been some great discussions on boredom, and while I did not
reply to some of the other threads, I was engaged and meditating on my own
experiences with boredom.

I clearly remember how bored I was when confronted with some of the most
iconic sonic art created. Lets be clear, the boredom that I was
experiencing was a good thing. I was a graduate student at Alfred
University and Andrew Deutsch was having us listen to a small section of
LaMonte Young's "The Well Tuned Piano". For those of you who are not
familiar with this work, a "small" section of this piece meant that our
session lasted over 2 hours. I remember attempting to concentrate on the
arrangement of notes for the first 20 minutes only to find my mind
wandering. The repetitive nature of the score caused me to think about what
I was working on, which was a database narrative video installation that
was in absolute disarray because I could not get any of the programmatic
arrangements right. Then I thought about my daughter and arranging
playdates for the weekend, and that I was graduating in 2 months and needed
to figure out the next steps of my life.

As these thoughts flowed through my consciousness, LaMonte Young's score
kept wafting in and out of my waking mind. I began to tire but not fall
fully asleep. The minimalist structure of the work was turning my sense of
time on its head, had I heard these notes before? Eventually, after the
first hour my mind stopped wandering towards all of the pressing issues
that demanded immediate consideration in my life and I became intensely
aware of all of the sound around me. While I had studied a lot about the
concepts and methods driving the work of Pauline Oliveros, this 2 hour
listening session of "The Well Tuned Piano" was the first moment that I
experienced what she terms "Deep Listening".

According to the Deep Listening Institute, this method "explores the
difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary,
selective nature – exclusive and inclusive -- of listening." These methods
are deeply rooted in Buddhist tradition, but it is also an inherently
post-structural form of engaging sonic works where the variability of how
one listens determines the tone of the work. Rather than thinking of
boredom as emptiness and a void, think about the presence of absence.
Difference is such a powerful tool, imagine five minutes of white noise: an
irritating, sharp and prickly sound. Then over a minute a warm, low
frequency begins a slow attack and washes away the white noise. Without
that juxtaposition, the pleasurable stimuli of the warm tone would not be
as effective.

This certainly comes into play in terms of the trajectory of how my work
has evolved through research and development. The first time I attempted to
create a database narrative video installation,  I had so many assumptions
about how it would work. However, the first 6 or 7 programs that I created
to drive this system left me completely stranded conceptually. The language
of the self-directing system was contrived and pretentious. I had to
struggle through it, reviewing the same arrangements over and over again
until the moment the work finally clicked. The boredom and tedium of
rewriting small amounts of code over and over again was not what I wanted
to focus on as an artist, I had to produce! I was convincing myself that I
was not a programmer, that artists needs to sit at the crossroads of
various disciplines and mold passing ideas into culturally relevant
statements or objects.

Yet I had to understand the tool that was letting my ideas flow. If I did
not build the tool, would it be articulate when "speaking" the media I am
putting through it? Without boredom, can I actually reflect on
incompletion? Can you equate drive to boredom? Or is the problem the word
itself, do we need to wrestle this concept to the ground along with "truth"
and "originality", all words that are unhelpful in accurately describing
how things work in our world. Listening deeply to LaMonte Young that next
weekend for 6 hours was a long, sometimes boring,  yet rewarding task, and
helped lead my inquiry into new expressive forms.

On Sun, May 24, 2015 at 7:01 PM, Renate Ferro <renateferro at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Murat you have assimilated both Simon's and Ana's posts in a way that
> makes so much sense though I'm wondering if you would say a bit more about
> the negative value of nothingness.  How is it possible to give value to
> absence? . Perhaps our resident philosophers can chime in here?
> This might be a great segue into Week 4. While we say thank you to Simon
> Biggs and Ana Valdes,
> We welcome Erin Obodiac and Jason Bernagozzi to our final week on Boredom.
> Their biographies are below.
> Week 4:
> Erin Obodiac (US) received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the
> University of
> California, Irvine and has held teaching and research appointments at UC
> Irvine, the
> University of Leeds, SUNY Albany, and Cornell University. Her writings
> assemble
> residual questions from the deconstructive legacy with emergent discourses
> on technics
> and animality, robotics, and biomedia. She is currently a Mellon
> postdoctoral fellow at
> Cornell University, teaching a series of Comparative Media seminars and
> completing a
> book called The Transhuman Interface, which repositions critical theory and
> deconstruction within the history of cybernetics and machinic life. The
> Transhuman
> Interface is a result of the research project “Robots at Risk: Transgenic
> Art and
> Corporate Personhood,” which Obodiac began as a Fellow at Cornell’s
> Society for the
> Humanities. The project and the accompanying book manuscript examine
> contemporary
> theories of machinic life and robotics as well as the philosophical
> traditions that underpin them. This summer, Obodiac will finish a cinematic
> version of her Ph.D. dissertation, Technics and the Sublime.
> Jason Bernagozzi (US) is a video, sound and new media artist living and
> working in upstate New York and is the co-founder and chair of the board of
> directors of the experimental media arts non-profit Signal Culture. His
> work has been featured nationally and internationally at venues such as the
> European Media Arts Festival in Osnabruk, Germany, the LOOP Video Art
> Festival in Barcelona, Spain, the Beyond/In Western NY Biennial in Buffalo,
> NY, and the Yan Gerber International Arts Festival in Hebei Province,
> China. His work has received several awards including grants from the New
> York State Council for the Arts, Wavefarm and the ARTS Council for the
> Southern Finger Lakes. He is an Assistant Professor in Digital Media and
> Animation at Alfred State College.
> http://seeinginvideo.com/
> http://www.signalculture.org
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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