[-empyre-] Week 3 Introduction

Nicholas Knouf nknouf at wellesley.edu
Thu Mar 22 15:35:48 AEDT 2018

Murat, and others,

Perhaps we are partially in agreement. I use the term noise to refer to
the fluctuations of the universe that are beyond our complete
understanding. And I believe that there will never be complete
understanding...we will never be able to predict, for example, the exact
movements of every leaf on a tree in the breeze, the exact behavior of
our cat, the exact results of a decision by a premier. So "letting noise
be noise" means learning to engage with these unpredictable aspects of
the world. Again, quoting Serres in /Genesis/:

"Noise is a turbulence, it is order and disorder at the same time, order
revolving on itself through repetition and redundancy, disorder through
chance occurrences, through the drawing of lots at the crossroads, and
through the global meandering, unpredictable and crazy." (59)


"A philosophy of communications conceives the message as order, meaning
or unit, but it also con­ceives the background noise from which it
emerges." (110)


"The cosmos is not a structure, it is a pure multiplicity of ordered
multiplicities and pure multiplicities. It is the global basis of all
structures, it is the background noise of all form and information, it
is the milky noise of the whole of our messages gathered together. We
must give it a new name, definitely: it is a mixture, tiger-striped,
motley, mottled, zebra­ streaked, variegated, and I don't know what all,
it is a mix or a crasis, it is a mixed aggregate, it is an
intermittence. The most global concept, by good fortune and freedom, is
not a unitary one. Order is never more than an island or an archipelago.
In the midst of the multiple, one finds universe-isles." (111-112)



On 3/20/2018 5:57 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Nicholas,
> "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? 
> Ciao,
> Murat
> On Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 4:56 PM, Nicholas Knouf <nknouf at wellesley.edu
> <mailto:nknouf at wellesley.edu>> wrote:
>     ----------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
>>     <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://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 <http://www.out-of-sync.com>
>>     https://workingworms.net/  
>>>     On 19 Mar 2018, at 1:51 PM, Junting Huang <jh2358 at cornell.edu
>>>     <mailto: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
>>>     <http://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
>>>     <mailto:empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
>>>     http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>>     <http://empyre.library.cornell.edu>
>>     _______________________________________________
>>     empyre forum
>>     empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>     <mailto:empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
>>     http://empyre.library.cornell.edu <http://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
>     <tel:%28781%29%20283-2105>   Fax: 781.283.3647
>     <tel:%28781%29%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
>     <mailto:empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
>     http://empyre.library.cornell.edu <http://empyre.library.cornell.edu>
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://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   Fax: 781.283.3647
PGP: 0xAB50A0D9
/How Noise Matters to Finance
available now!
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