[-empyre-] Why Noise?

xname xname at xname.cc
Wed Mar 14 07:19:22 AEDT 2018

Dear all,

before I shoot another thread off, I wanted to share some reflections 
following David's thought provoking post with related responses.

Regarding the relation, or ratio, noise to signal, I think this is a 
matter for physicists and engineers, along with media theorists. The 
distinction dilutes to different ends, of course. As in regards to 
artists, I believe since Man Ray's photo of the DUST on Duchamp's Large 
Glass, the position of noise and dust in art has been established. The 
distinction between carrier and content brings ideas that come from 
communication theory and semiotics. When I was writing about the 
semiotics of audiovisuals and the animation of drawings, back in 2002, I 
had to notice that for a sign to communicate any meaning in time, there 
is always a sequence of signs producing nonsense. Every sign contains 
nonsense if we break it down to size. For signification to occur, there 
is always something emerging between interpretation and 
miscommunication, object and reference.

So the idea of encrypting communication into that which is human but not 
machine understandable is very contemporary, as we wouldn't have 
thought, not so long ago, that we'd have to prove we are not robots on a 
everyday basis. The question of censorship on the one hand, and this 
idea of noise as potentially subversive. Why should we consider noise as 

Is noise ontologically anti establishment?

How often are media making noise, without actually informing?

Luigi Russolo, in his futurist manifesto dated 1913 (The Art of Noise), 
connects the encounter of noise and art to the machine:

"Ancient life was all silence. In the nineteenth century, with the 
invention of the machine, noise was born. And so was born the concept of 
sound as a thing in itself, distinct and independent of life, and the 
result was music, a fantastic world superimposed on the real one, an 
inviolable and sacred world."

Listen to this:

Maybe we could think of something hidden, whose voice is unheard, or 
cancelled, the marginals, including those marginalised and those living 
at the borders, all that which is not accepted by society, that which is 
overlooked, a floating eye avoiding the gaze of the 'home' of the 
homeless, or the screams of those who haven't been accounted for?

This metaphor of that which is there but is not considered important 
enough (to BE SIGNAL), becomes, then, NOISE, that noise we want to 
amplify, taking it to the foreground, we want its narrative to stand 
out, telling us the stories which are unfolding at the interstices of 
the MACHINE (social, mechanical, electronic, affective, semiotic, etc).

We want to listen to the sound of the mechanism, we want to make it 
excessive because we have been told that we shouldn't pay attention, 
that it's annoyance, that it doesn't mean much because it's NOISE, 
nothing else than NOISE, and should be ignored.

Instead, we want to see if it there's SOMETHING IN IT FOR US. And we 
want to hear it clear and LOUD.

Yours truly,

phantasmata and illusions


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