danwinckler.com/philosophy


Since Daniel Smith called it excellent, I thought I’d post this explanation of SHARE that I sent to a Houston Press journalist last night, just in case any y’all are confused. (Notice the “y’all”? I never used to say that when I lived in Texas — I made a point of it. I’m a bit less uptight than I was in high school. A bit.)

SHARE hosts open jams for audio and visual artists. Anyone can come and participate. We provide the infrastructure: multichannel audio mixing and amplification, video projectors and screens, and the expertise to help first-timers learn the basics of audio and visual performance. Share is completely content-agnostic: you can play anything you want on any instrument you can carry in. No structure is imposed on the jam by the Share team. Rather, we encourage structure to emerge from the participants in the jam. Although our audio infrastructure is designed to allow electronic musicians play together, people bring many different kinds of instruments, from traditional/acoustic to electronic to homemade to far-out. No one conducts or actively mixes the sound so the performers communicate the old-fashioned way: by listening to each other and following the flow of the improvisation. Some people prepare extensively, laying down tracks at home to try them out in the mix at Share. Others do almost no pre-recording or pre-structuring apart from practice — like jazz musicians.

I’ve seen Share participants make sound with violins, cellos, laptops, guitars, double basses, lutes, Gameboys, hand drums, kit drums, contact microphones affixed to plastic waterfalls, homemade noiseboxes, analog synthesizers, microphones, circuit-bent toys, keyboards, beatbox, voice, and something in a bright green custom fiberglass body called the Green Bean*. Likewise, the video participants use laptops, cameras, movie clips, film, slide projectors, flashlights, lightboxes, custom screens, DVD players, paper dioramas and more. Then there’s the really far out stuff: motion and light sensors worn by dancers, communicating their movements to audio and visual performers who use the sensor data to affect the sound and light. The distinction between media gets blurred. The separation between performer and audience breaks down and changes.

That’s not the half of it, of course.

* Made by Randy Jones. Really nice guy. Very helpful on the Max/MSP/Jitter mailing lists.

Mar
24

We knew (I knew!) we had never been modern, but now we are even less so: fragile, frail, threatened; that is, back to normal, back to the anxious and careful stage in which the “others” used to live before being “liberated” from their “absurd beliefs” by our courageous and ambitious modernization. Suddenly, we seem to cling with a new intensity to our idols, to our fetishes, to our “factishes,” to the extraordinarily fragile ways in which our hand can produce objects over which we have no command. We look at our institutions, our public spheres, our scientific objectivity, even our religious ways, everything we loved to hate before, with a somewhat renewed sympathy. Less cynicism, suddenly, less irony. A worshipping of images, a craving for carefully crafted mediators, what the Byzantine called “economy,” what used to simply be called civilization.

||

from ICONOCLASH (html + pdf)

Mar
14

From Jonathan Carroll’s blog:

>”There are two kinds of people: those who like to sleep next to the wall,
and those who like to sleep next to people who push them off the bed.”

> Etgar Keret

How fucking true is that. Those who want to be held in place and those who want to be disrupted.

(I would have just linked to it but his links seem far from future-proof.)

Why learn media studies? To give words to that mix of feelings when you look at something like a Virgin Mary nightlight.

image: a plastic Virgin Mary nightlight in my wall socket.

Heidegger has blown my mind. You see, the big question that has always most fascinated me is how do/did people — especially those who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago — see the world? What is/was their worldview? The nugget of Heidegger’s argument in this essay is that before the modern era, there was no awareness that there was a worldview or that there could be multiple worldviews. This is particularly relevant when many violent people want to roll the world back to medieval times.

I need to pull a better quote than the below.

The gigantic is rather that through which the quantitative becomes a special quality and thus a remarkable kind of greatness. Each historical age is not only great in a distinctive way in contrast to others; it also has, in each instance, its own concept of greatness. But as soon as the gigantic in planning and calculating and adjusting and making secure shifts over out of the quantitative and becomes a special quality, then what is gigantic, and what can seemingly always be calculated completely, becomes, precisely through this, incalculable. This becoming incalculable remains the invisible shadow that is cast around all things everywhere when man has been transformed into subiectum and the world into picture.

By means of this shadow the modern world extends itself out into a space withdrawn from representation and so lends to the incalculable the determinateness peculiar to it, as well as a historical uniqueness. This shadow, however, points to something else, which is denied to us of today to know. But man will never be able to experience and ponder this that is denied so long as he dawdles about in the mere negating of the age. The flight into tradition, out of a combination of humility and presumption, can bring about nothing in itself other than self-deception and blindness in relation to the historical moment. [emphasis mine]

Man will know, i.e., carefully safeguard into its truth, that which is incalculable, only in creative questioning and shaping out of the power of genuine reflection. Reflection transports the man of the future into that “between” in which he belongs to Being and yet remains a stranger amid that which is. Holderlin knew of this. His poem, which bears the superscription “To the Germans,” closes:

How narrowly bounded is our lifetime,
We see and count the number of our years.
But have the years of nations
Been seen by mortal eye?

If your soul throbs in longing
Over its own time, mourning, then
You linger on the cold shore
Among your own and never know them. *

From a reading for my history of media class. There were several more striking sections — and I’m sorry if this fragment is incomprehensible for most of you — but it’s time for bed.

* Martin Heidegger, “The Age of the World Picture” (from The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays [New York: Harper & Row, 1977], rpt. in Timothy Druckery, ed., Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual Representation [New York: Aperture, 1996])