[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 159, Issue 14
sesim326 at gmail.com
Sat Mar 17 05:33:39 AEDT 2018
In response to xname's post, namely the section at the end, I wanted
to bring up a question of the difference between nonsense and noise
and how these relate to levels of understanding. By asking if the
posted link is signal or noise and then relating that to finding
hidden noise or a voice that is unheard, it reminded me of the growing
semiotics of marginalized voices. For example, millennials have
created an entire new dialect through texting, where the use of
emojis, shorthand, and capitalization creates a clear sense of tone,
but only to those who understand the rules. To those who don't
understand the dialect, this comes through as noise when it is in fact
a signal, a language, created by marginalized voices whose primary
method of communication is written.
I know this takes the conversation outside of the digital realm, but
in a similar vein, it made me think of graffiti art in cities and the
profusion of tagging. Most institutional artistic understandings of
graffiti as art is delegated to murals, and in that light, tags look
like visual noise: ugly, conflicting, nonsensical. However, like with
the texting mentioned above, tagging has it's own set of rules and
systems that brings it into the realm of semiotics. For graffiti art
as a medium, tagging is an underrepresented area of word art meant to
show the presence of individuals within a space where they are often
marginalized, criminalized, and silenced. It is a signal to others who
can understand the symbols that these people exist and are able to
communicate outside of the greater socially accepted system of
If something seemingly nonsensical has meaning but only to a very
small group of people, is it still noise?
On Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 9:00 PM,
<empyre-request at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> wrote:
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> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Today's Topics:
> 1. Re: Why Noise? (Murat Nemet-Nejat)
> Message: 1
> Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2018 01:42:39 -0400
> From: Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Why Noise?
> <CAC0TkuaVMP9dYWEcw6rdM47jEre0thW0gQR1VqgWa13arHutvw at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> Hi xname, very good post>
> On Tue, Mar 13, 2018 at 4:19 PM, xname <xname at xname.cc> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> 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
>> 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 subversive?
>> 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:
>> Is it SIGNAL or NOISE?
>> 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
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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