point back to the technologies of your making

“The technology becomes visible through its failures. Glitches and errors constitute evidence of its origins; we see the material through disruption.”

“The incorporation of noise into music and the significance of this procedure for the 8-bit scene perhaps needs no explanation, except to note that when musical elements are experienced as noise, they do insomuch that they point back to the technologies of their making. A discerning ear can hear the specific limitations of the Game Boy or Atari 2600 or Commodore 64 when such technologies are pushed to create music. Less knowledgeable listeners will experience – perhaps even unconsciously – a feeling of “past computer-ness”, without needing to know the technical reasons behind that particular range of sounds. (It is significant that many of these works draw on technologies used for early computer games, since it is through gaming that we first develop an intuitive sense for electronic systems; their distance in time and link to childhood lends an inevitable emotional quality, a pleasurably bittersweet colouration.) Pierce writes that “anything which focuses the attention is an index. Anything that startles us is an index,” and we could apply this logic to audio-visual disruptions and noise. “Thus a tremendous thunderbolt indicates that something considerable happened, though we may not know precisely what the event was. But it may be expected to connect itself with some other experience.”

Ed Halter

The Dark and The Light – The Brakhage Lectures

Each sea-shell and each shell-of-ear contains the outside musical possibilities inherent from birth—the former, the sea creature, a chamber of, say, calcium carbonate which receives a world of vibrations . . . . vibrations being The World that the bit-of-meat! creature expands and recoils within: whereas Man’s ear is meat-pushed-out—the latter a flesh sound- catcher . . . . the bone within this flesh, the drum of expansion and contraction of Man’s hearing—in space rather than shape—which exists as sound, rather than World lived with- in, and which, therewith its vibrations, electrifies the brain.

Think of a man with a hollow sea-shell cupped around his ear. Think of him hearing what he calls “the music of the spheres.” It is his flesh ear—thus his face, his hair, his color- ing all over—which he equates with a dead sea-shell or dried-out leaf: but the thoughts prompted by his ear-bones prompting brain do seem to him the thing comparable to cre- atively living Nature in any, as he would say, “manifestation.”

He would not honor the shape of his ear as anything creatively his: and this disownment of physiology . . . . this shunning of his living surface . . . . creates the net where Darkness has him/Man in a catch-of-thought that’s often locked before his birth.

Yet, grounded as each man is by pre-ordained-thought, this shunning of his surface-life prompts the need in each and every man, to create a field of surfaces beyond himself. When these are made through the human process called “Art,” these surfaces come into being as naturally as any living surface: and they can, by any man, be recognized as such—for they are either fashioned as shields or, if Art, as illuminations . . . . either as the heraldic banner of The Light or the guiding Light itself, against all of The Dark in him—as such as his skin . . . . and as such as is of him, whomever made it: and these surfaces, separate from Man— yet of him—move naturally against thought . . . . as naturally as vegetation thrusts against gravity: and The Darkness—whatever that is (and we’ll come to it again later)—finds itself defeated a little on its own undergrounds by a fielding of all surface tension . . . . and defeat- ed a lot by this field-in-time which historically we call Aesthetics is a collection of dead sea shells. It is a leaf press-dried between the leaves of a book. It is a marker on the grave of thought.


rate of flickering

The stills may be clear-cut and sharp, and succeed one another without superimposition or overlap, but more commonly they are somewhat blurred, as with a too-long photographic exposure, and they persist for so long that each is still visible when the next “frame” is seen, and three or four frames, the earlier ones progressively fainter, are apt to be superimposed on each other. While the effect is somewhat like that of a film (albeit an improperly shot and presented one, in which each exposure has been too long to freeze motion completely and the rate of presentation too slow to achieve fusion), it also resembles some of E.J. Marey’s “chronophotographs” of the 1880s, in which one sees a whole array of photographic moments or time frames superimposed on a single plate. [1]

I heard several accounts of such visual effects while working in the late 1960s with a large number of migraine patients, and when I wrote about this in my 1970 book Migraine, I noted that the rate of flickering in these episodes seemed to be between six and twelve per second. There might also be, in cases of migraine delirium, a flickering of kaleidoscopic patterns or hallucinations. (The flickering might then accelerate to restore the appearance of normal motion or of a continuously mod- ulated hallucination.) Finding no good accounts of the phenomenon in the medical literature—perhaps not entirely surprising, for such attacks are brief, rare, and not readily predicted or provoked—I used the term “cinematographic” vision for them; for patients always compared them to films run too slow.

– Oliver Sachs, In the River of Consciousness