[-empyre-] Week 3 Introduction

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Wed Mar 21 08:57:38 AEDT 2018


"Noise" is not something that exists in the world. It is a quality *we *ascribe
to the world defined by the degree of our comprehension. So what does
"letting noise be noise" mean exactly?


On Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 4:56 PM, Nicholas Knouf <nknouf at wellesley.edu>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello everyone,
> Fascinating thoughts so far, I'll see if I can add some noisy
> interferences to the conversation.
> I'm with Michel Serres when he writes in *Genesis* that noise is the
> background of the universe, and that the task is to describe how the
> *rare* moments of order are made manifest. Thus while there are arguments
> that noise is fundamentally anti-establishment + that it needs to be
> corralled and controlled + that it is fundamentally disruptive in a
> positive sense + that it is painful and dangerous + that we should
> celebrate it in the sounds of warfare + that we can control it + that we
> can easily separate a signal out of it + that we should valorize the
> "natural" above it + that it has more information than signal + that it can
> break us out of cybernetic ruts...I agree with David that we ask a lot of
> noise. I'm content to try and follow the machinations of noise as a
> material property of the world, seeing how it continually exceeds our
> abilities to pin it down.
> One of the things that I've written about in the past is the role of noise
> in financial markets, which was published in my book *How Noise Matters
> to Finance*. The "matters" part of the title matters, drawing from Jane
> Bennett and Karen Barad. I followed how noise (sonic and informatic) came
> to be a matter of concern to finance, as financial economists realized that
> they had to take into account the noisy behavior of markets that exceeded
> their bounded equations. Thus the shouts of the trading floor could be used
> to predict how the market might move, or algorithms could attempt to
> disrupt other algorithms through spoofing and creating fake, noisy trades.
> A few years ago there were some left accelerationist arguments that
> suggested that the noisy behaviors of algorithms would potentially cause
> the markets to fail, spiraling downward, thus precipitating the development
> of whatever comes "after" capitalism. But as I looked into the markets more
> deeply, I saw that for every algorithm that tries to pull the market down,
> there's another that tries to pull it back up. So every automated "crash"
> of the market is followed by an automated recovery. Noise can't be counted
> on to disrupt the market, as the market is fundamentally built upon a
> negative feedback (stabilizing) system that was championed by Norbert
> Wiener so many decades ago, as opposed to a positive feedback system
> (disruptive) that would potentially spiral downwards or upwards out of
> control. Noise in the market becomes something that can be fed upon in
> small, minuscule, perturbatory doses.
> Of course noise has its uses, as many of us know and have been involved in
> over the past decades. Sometimes these uses are for liberatory ends, and
> sometimes they are not. We can shout and be disruptive and be heard. We can
> upload alternative ideas and obfuscate. We can let the speaker cabinet
> rattle our bones as we are lost in euphoria of the electronic sounds, or
> lose our hearing as we are blasted by the LRAD. We can create hoaxes or
> fake news. We can get a reporter to say that Dow will pay for the Bhopal
> disaster, or that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or that a certain
> pizza joint in Washington, DC is a den of villainy. I think it behooves us,
> during a moment where many call for "authenticity" and for a distinction
> between "fake" and "real" news, to ask what might be lost as we try and
> scrub our media of noise. Who gets to make the distinction between signal
> and noise? What powers are reinforced as we aim for authenticity? This is
> not a call for anything goes relativism. Rather it's a call for skepticism
> in the face of attempts to stabilize the boat. Noise has a way of
> overflowing it. Might we be better served in learning ourselves, and
> educating others, in how to follow the machinations of noise?
> Best,
> Nick
> On 3/19/2018 11:05 PM, Noralyn Neumark wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi Junting and all
> Thanks for inviting me into this fascinating discussion. I’d like to
> provide a bit of background to my thinking and work with noise — from the
> 90s to present day.
> (Sorry the formatting seems to have gone a bit dirty… no sooner spoken of
> than enacted!)
> Noise first appealed to me as a dirty antidote to ‘modern’ aesthetics of
> clean, bright, white, mono-cultural future and all the ecological and
> political problems that has evoked. In the sound world that included the
> early digital promises of ‘clean’ sound.  Historically cleanliness has been
> a way to distinguish the clean, white, proper, and quiet bourgeois self
> from the dirty, messy noisy, carnally excessive, sexually out of control
> working class and colonials (great book about this was Peter Stallybrass
> and Allon White, *The Politics and Poetics of Transgression*  l986).  I
> liked how this history complicated the pleasures and political effects of
> "clean" sound. Perhaps someone might comment too on the cultural
> specificity of this take on dirt and noise – a Chinese friend of mine in
> Australia pointed out to me that where she came from noise is a sign of
> happiness and prosperity.
> One of the things I got interested in to listen differently, in a more
> messy and polyphonic way, was alchemy – a practice of knowing and doing.
> Looking into the seven gates of the alchemical process, I really responded
> to putrefaction: putrefaction and fermentation. The moment of putrefaction
> is bodily. All your senses are assaulted.  This is a moment resonant with
> Julia Scher’s “dirty data” (1995 *Danger Dirty Data *
> https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/54044338?q&versionId=67005692 ) The
> alchemist smells decomposition, hears the noise of the dung beetle,
> recalling the stench and noise of the transformative process within
> ourselves. Putrefaction undoes the clean and proper, noiseless bourgeois
> subject’s body.
> It is during the *nigredo* of alchemy, which might occur at any gate,
> that you come most thoroughly and noisily unstuck. A moment of deepest
> despair so familiar and resonant for most artists.  You are plunged into
> something awful, but essential. There is a raucous cacophony of pain/noise
> -- beetles, ravens, green lions -- human/inhuman caterwauling that echoes,
> redoubles and exceeds the noise of Michel Serres in his most multiple
> unpredictable turbulent moment. The *nigredo* is an intensity of
> matter/ing, of meaning/meaninglessness, of noise and information, an
> intensity so great and terrible that there is nothing left but to do the
> Work. (I made a radio work with Alchemy, *Separation Anxiety*, for ABC in
> Australia and New American Radio in the US – that was a long time ago but
> this discussion has made me think about it again now.)
> I hadn’t thought about dirt much lately til recently working with the
> ultimate decomposers/composers -- worms -- and attuning to a noisy
> collaborative voice together. https://workingworms.net/
> https://vimeo.com/247735081
> In another register, recently as I’ve been thinking about voice and new
> materialism I’ve been noticing the voice of nausea – which recalls the
> opening points for this month about noise and nausea. In *Voicetracks* I
> wrote about Kathy High’s wonderful video work *Domestic Vigilancia *from* Everyday
> Problems of the living* -- the voice of her vomiting cat that gave me so
> much to think about. Since he alerted my senses and thinking to the
> vomiting voice, I’m hearing it all over the media. Does anyone have any
> ideas on why so many films have scenes of nausea and vomiting lately? It’s
> like vomit has replaced sex as the required transgressive gesture. The gut
> speaks…
> all the best
> Norie
> www.out-of-sync.com
> https://workingworms.net/
> On 19 Mar 2018, at 1:51 PM, Junting Huang <jh2358 at cornell.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks to Eleonora, Wenhua, and Joo Yun for your posts! I’m sorry about
> the slow pace in the second week, but please feel free to follow up on
> their posts anytime. The annual meeting of Society for Cinema and Media
> Studies ended today in Toronto, and we are back in week 3. I am excited to
> introduce the guests for this week. They are Nicholas Knouf, Norie Neumark,
> Ryan Jordan, Sarah Simpson, and Gianluca Pulsoni.
> ————————
> Nicholas Knouf
> Nicholas Knouf is an Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at
> Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA. He is a media scholar and artist
> researching noise, interferences, boundaries, and limits in media
> technologies and communication.
> His recent book, How Noise Matters to Finance (University of Minnesota
> Press, 2016), traced how the concept of “noise” in the sonic and informatic
> domains of finance mutated throughout the late 20th century into the 21st.
> His current research project, tentatively entitled At the Limits of
> Understanding, listens to how we have tried to communicate with both ghosts
> and aliens.
> His current artistic research explores the re-presentation of signals from
> the cosmos. Projects in this vein include they transmitted continuously /
> but our times rarely aligned / and their signals dissipated in the æther
> (2018-present), a 20 channel sound art installation with speakers made from
> handmade abaca paper and piezo electric elements, with sounds collected
> from satellite transmissions; PIECES FOR PERFORMER(S) AND EXTRATERRESTRIAL
> ENTITIES (2017-present), event scores laser etched into handmade
> translucent abaca paper; and, On your wrist is the universe (2017-present),
> generative poetry about satellites and the cosmos for your smartwatch.
> Norie Neumark
> Norie Neumark is a sound/media artist and theorist.  Her radiophonic works
> have been commissioned and broadcast in Australia (ABC) and in the US. Her
> collaborative art practice with Maria Miranda (www.out-of-sync.com) has
> been commissioned and exhibited nationally and internationally. Her sound
> studies research is currently focused on voice and the new materialist
> turn. Her latest writing on voice is Voicetracks: Attuning to Voice in
> Media and the Arts (MIT Press, 2017). She is an Honorary Professorial
> Fellow at VCA and Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University, Melbourne, and
> the founding editor of Unlikely: Journal for Creative Arts.
> http://unlikely.net.au
> Ryan Jordan
> Ryan Jordan creates powerful audio-visual performance experiences
> explicitly attempting to access portals into the psychedelic reality
> matrix. These are explored through experiments in Possession Trance,
> retro-death-telegraphy, hylozoistic neural computation and derelict
> electronics. Recent projects include engram_extraction, a hypothetical
> experiment into extracting and recording the biophysical and/or biochemical
> imprints of events on memory; and several failed attempts at breeding
> basilisks, mythical reptiles with a lethal gaze or breath, hatched by a
> serpent from a cock's egg. He disseminates these experiments via his
> noise=noise / nnnnn platform for live events and workshops currently based
> in Ipswich UK, and via a PhD thesis being completed at the School Of
> Creative Media in Hong Kong.
> http://ryanjordan.org/
> http://nnnnn.org.uk/
> Sarah Simpson
> Sarah Simpson holds as Master's Degree in the History of Art from
> University College London and a Bachelor's Degree in both Art History and
> Archaeology from Cornell University. Originally from Binghamton, NY, she
> currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Sarah has held a range of positions in
> the art world including Curatorial Assistant, Gallery Manager, and, most
> recently, Publicist. She's worked in The Whitney Museum of American Art,
> BRIC, Didier Aaron, and Blue Medium. Sarah has a personal blog, as well,
> where she writes about exhibitions and theoretical concepts that strike her
> interest, such as museum gift shops (which are absolutely fascinating):
> https://ecloart.wordpress.com/
> Gianluca Pulsoni
> Gianluca Pulsoni is a Ph.D. student in the Romance Studies Department of
> Cornell University (Italian section). He holds an MA in Cultural
> Anthropology from the University La Sapienza in Rome, Italy, with a thesis
> on Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi's cinema and exhibitions. He is a
> contributing writer to the Italian newspaper, Il Manifesto -- its cultural
> pages and weekly, Alias. Also, he has experience working with digital
> companies and publishing houses in Italy as editor and translator.
> all the best
> Junting
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forumempyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.auhttp://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> --
> Nicholas A. Knouf, Ph. D.
> Assistant Professor, Cinema and Media Studies Program
> Wellesley College, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02481
> Office: JAC 357A   Office Phone: 781.283.2105 <(781)%20283-2105>   Fax:
> 781.283.3647 <(781)%20283-3647>
> PGP: 0xAB50A0D9
> *How Noise Matters to Finance
> <https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/how-noise-matters-to-finance>*
> available now!
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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