Professor Nicholas Cook, Cambridge University:
Beyond reference: Eclectic Method’s music for the eyes
Date: Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Time: 17:00 – 18:15
Location: Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, room Hel 252
Screen media genres from Fantasia (1940) to the music video of half a century later extended the boundaries of music by bringing moving images within the purview of musical organisation: the visuals of rap videos, for example, are in essence just another set of musical parameters, bringing their own connotations into play within the semantic mix in precisely the same way as do more traditional musical parameters. But in the last two decades digital technology has taken such musicalisation of the visible to a new level, with the development of integrated software tools for the editing and manipulation of sounds and images. In this paper I illustrate these developments through the work of the UK-born but US-based remix trio Eclectic Method, focussing in particular on the interaction between their multimedia compositional procedures and the complex chains of reference that result, in particular, from their film mashups.
Professor Nicholas Cook is currently Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he is a Fellow of Darwin College. Previously, he was Professorial Research Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he directed the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM). He has also taught at the University of Hong Kong, University of Sydney, and University of Southampton, where he served as Dean of Arts.
He is a former editor of the Journal of the Royal Musical Association and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2001.
The talk is free and open for all to attend.
>Here is the poster for our forthcoming Network-politics event, full title: Thinking Network Politics: Methods, Epistemology, Process. Its the first in series for the AHRC funded project, followed up by next one in Toronto around end of October and the final one in Cambridge, next year.
This promises to be an exciting event, where most of the emphasis is on emerging discussions instead of “only” academic talks; the length of talks is reduced to give time to what follows from the position papers that touch media arts and artistic methods, activism, network ontology and methodology, media archaeology, clouds and love. A whole range of themes, indeed.
Operational Media: Functional Design Trends Online
Tuesday, February 16, 17.00-18.30, Helmore 252 at Anglia Ruskin, East Road, Cambridge
Two prominent visions have guided the development of Internet technology from its beginning: the never-ending information space of creativity and information; and the networked tool for action. Now that markets for media production and search are saturated and stalling, second generation web tech has shifted focus to media that helps people make decisions and get things done. This lecture provides an introduction to key issues in the information design and software engineering of operational media.
Bio: J. Nathan Matias is a software engineer and humanities academic based in Cambridge, UK. His work focuses on enhancing human capabilities and understanding with digital media. Recent work has included digital history exhibits, work in online documentary, research on visual collaboration, and a visual knowledge startup. He currently spends half of his time as a software engineer on SMS information services for the Knowledge Generation Bureau, and half on digital media projects.
Talking of anticipation — It’s always wonderful to meet in person people whose texts you have read for years — and admired. Richard Grusin’s visit at Anglia Ruskin finally took place, and was as every bit interesting as I was expecting it to be. His and Jay David Bolter’s Remediation-book and thesis had a huge impact in combining my new media interests with my background and training in history, and now his new stuff on premediation promises to combine such theoretisations of temporality with the very current debates concerning affect, security and media culture.
Grusin’s talk was very much contextualised in his soon forthcoming book Premediation: Affect and Mediation after 9/11 (Palgrave). The book promises to be a mapping of the non-representational and non-cognitive forces of the securetized social media culture where affects (in the sense of also positive “good vibes” as well) and security are complementary states or atmospheres of bodies in relation. This includes not also human bodies (“having feelings”) but relations between humans, nonhumans and in general heterogeneous assemblages. This is the regime of affective flows between such objects/subjects.
The talk had four parts, or sections, that mapped out the various contexts of such flows:
1) premediation and security
2) anticipatory gestures
3) media theoria
4) premediation and politics
The richness of the talk is hard to convey through any summaries so my notes remain fragmented. The easiest would be to say: read the book!
For me, certain key points stood out. The point about our media culture based on the atmospheric affect of “anticipation” instead of e.g. distraction (Benjamin and Kracauer) is certainly one such; and applies in Grusin’s reading both to bodies in social media culture of expected, anticipated, potential social interaction through software-mediated platforms as well as to the inbuilt modes of anticipation in software. This “mediaphilia of anticipation” is a nice way to frame the software promoted anticipatory gestures that often are approached through medicalised conditions (ADD etc), but are in fact generalised modes of subjectification.
Grusin’s critique of Agamben and notions of “state of exception” were important as well, and resonate with recent Hardt and Negri points in Commonwealth. Instead of approaching contemporary constellations of power through such notions that hint of transcendent powers and sovereignty (state of exception and being able to rule such), immanent ways of how power operates take into account the much more “business-as-usual” type of handling events, establishing patterns, managing repetitions, actions and relations in everyday life. That’s software culture.
Affect is a way for Grusin (as for many others) a way to approach the non-cognitive and non-representational ways how media do not (just) signify but do things to us and with us. I think Grusin could have elaborated a bit more on this more virtual and somatic sphere of the affect when talking about gesturality in media culture — and how it is as I have used the word more “atmospheric” preparadness as a potentiality of the body as a tension, attention, than just actual gestures (which are important and through which the atmosphere of virtuality of such anticipation gets articulated). In any case, his critique of some nostalgic accounts of online activities that lie on politics of authenticity were to me spot on) as was Grusin’s discussion of the necessary preformatted modes of living; the patterns of repetition that are necessary for everyday realities. Any kind of resistance has to work immanently within such formations, not neglecting the reality of for example us needing habits. This opens a completely different political horizon.
In terms of how this position relies on rethinking some of the temporal ties — and temporality as a crucial feature of the affect-embedded security regimes — premediation-thesis comes close to for example Greg Elmer’s and Andy Opel’s notions concerning pre-emptive measures of control. Security measures happen pre-emptively, shooting before asking questions, making sure that the state of things is always such that any potential events that are undesirable do not take place. No wonder that Minority Report is here the key film for such social theory. I know that discussing such positions in relation to for example Erin Manning’s “preacceleration” would be fruitful as well (thanks to Andrew Murphie for flagging this potential connection), but I have to admit I have not anything that special to say (and that Manning’s book is at the office shelf at the moment). Her way of discussing movement and dance and bodies-in-movement through preacceleration refers to the primacy of the forthcoming-transformation that the body attunes to continuously. For Manning, bodies are not present but moving, prehending and in this sense ahead of their time a bit paradoxically — a realisation that comes through clearest in dance. Bodies catch wind, and move as part of such attractors that dance is filled with (whether “stable” objects, or dance partners). The anticipatory nature of such preaccelerated bodies is something that ties in with Grusin’s points that I would have to read more about as the mechanisms of anticipation as a way of orienting towards certain intensities and attractors (e.g. again social media culture features as banal as the commenting function and its potentiality to attract comments) is one way of thinking “bodies in speed” (Mackenzie).
Its clear that an increasing amount of accounts that want to articulate a material politics of software culture have to deal with temporality. This is a curious phenomenon and attempts for “solution” come from different directions, sharing a lot with each other. Of course, I could add that to my “things to write” list, but one has to be realistic…
>A guest talk by professor Richard Grusin, the co-author of Remediation, and the author of Premediation
>Thursday 14 January, at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge (East Road)
Organized by ArcDigital and sponsored by CoDE — the Cultures of the Digital Economy-institute
4 pm, room: Hel 251
Premediation, Affect and the Anticipation of Security
In this talk professor Grusin will explore how in our current biopolitical regime of securitization, socially networked media transactions are fostered and encouraged by mobilizing or intensifying pleasurable affects in the production of multiple, overlapping feedback loops among people (individually and collectively) and their media. Grusin outlines how, at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, social media, like cell phones, instant messaging, Facebook, or YouTube, encourage different historical formations of mediated affect. This distribution of affectivity across heterogeneous social networks or assemblages is coupled to the framework of securitization, which helps to explain why these particular socially networked media formations have emerged at this particular historical moment. The talk concludes with a discussion of the political implications of this security regime—what it means for the explosive growth of socially networked media after 9/11 to have as one of its many consequences the proliferation of media transactions or interactions, which help to “vitalize” the political formation of securitization. If mediality today employs the strategies of premediation to mobilize individual and collective affect in a society of security and control, then we need to look at the ways in which premediation deploys an affectivity of anticipation that functions to vitalize the regime of securitization that has replaced surveillance as the predominant disciplinary formation of our control society. Our everyday transactions of mediation, transportation, and communication are encouraged for security purposes not only by making them easy and readily available but also by making them affectively pleasurable—or at least not unpleasurable, by maintaining low levels of affective intensity that provide a kind of buffer or safe space, a form of security, in relation to an increasingly threatening global media environment.
Richard Grusin is Professor of English at Wayne State University. His more recent work concerns historical, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of technologies of visual representation. With Jay David Bolter he is the author of Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT, 1999), which sketches out a genealogy of new media, beginning with the contradictory visual logics underlying contemporary digital media. Grusin’s Culture, Technology, and the Creation of America’s National Parks (Cambridge, 2004), focuses on the problematics of visual representation involved in the founding of America’s national parks. He has just completed his new book Premediation: Affect and Mediality after 9/11. (forthcoming 2010)
Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences
In the recent Research Assessment Exercise the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences achieved outstanding success, with four subject areas rated as having ‘world leading’ research, five subjects as having ‘international’ level research and History and English being rated among the best in the country. As a result we are pleased to be able to offer the following studentship:
Communication, Film and Media
1 fees-only studentship.
Any area including: Digital and Network Culture, Media Archaeology, Technoculture, Violence and Contemporary Cinema, Horror film, Spectatorship.
Application forms should be downloaded from http://www.anglia.ac.uk/researchjobsac
and completed quoting ‘HR online studentship’ on the application form. Applications must be submitted, with a covering letter, no later than 4th January 2010.
Queries in the first instance to: Helen Jones, 0845 196 2475, firstname.lastname@example.org
• The start date is February or September 2010.
• Overseas applicants are welcome to apply but are required to pay the difference between the Home//EU fees and the overseas rate.
• Applicants should hold a Masters degree awarded by a UK university, or an overseas Masters of equivalent standard, provided that the Masters degree is in an appropriate cognate area and that the Masters degree includes training in research and the execution of a research project. Applicants who hold a first or upper second class degree may also be considered.
• Students for whom English is not their first language must meet our required minimum level of English language proficiency (IELTS 6.5 in all skills, or equivalent).
Call For Papers
Thinking Network Politics: Methods, Epistemology, Process
We invite the submission of abstracts for the first event of the AHRC funded networking project ‘Exploring New Configurations of Network Politics’. The event will combine a series of position papers followed by round table discussions and interventions exploring the issues and challenges raised by those papers.
The attempt to grasp the depth and breadth of network politics demands novel and transdisciplinary approaches not always native to the humanities and social sciences, such as graph theory and the study of code as cultural practice. Thus there is a drive to explore the broad spectrum of practices and discourses to help rethink the articulations of politics in network culture. New modes of political activity that take advantage of new platforms from Twitter to YouTube necessitate new conceptual positions for network culture, counter-power and resistance. The papers should work towards adapting concepts such as, for example but by no means exclusively, the Multitude, free and immaterial labour, emergence, swarms and ‘smart mobs’ and new forms of creation, activism and engagement in civil society. The aim is to rethink what we understand by politics. Further questions which need to be asked include: what kind of epistemologies do we need to incorporate into our analysis? How can we take into account the particularities of networks when approaching the elusive, ephemeral nature of politics of/in networks? These are just examples of the directions into which considerations of “network politics” might lead us. Because this is such a fast developing and challenging arena of research the event will aim to be open and fluid, encouraging engagement, conversation and innovation wherever possible, while focusing on this core problematic of the tools and processes for thinking network politics.
The papers for this event will thus ideally investigate the methods and innovative approaches to mapping and thinking such new network politics. The March event will thus aim elaborate on the nature of the network and forge new routes to thinking about the processual, dynamic nature of networks as well as the particular “objects” such approaches fabricate.
The papers should be in the format of short (10 min) position papers on key concepts or keywords that lead into group work and discussions into the questions of network politics and methods and approaches for analysis. Instead of normal academic papers followed by a short Q&A, we would like the event to encourage collaboration, collective discussions and agenda setting.
The event takes place in Cambridge, UK, Anglia Ruskin University, on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 March 2010.
Please submit your abstracts and any suggestions (max 300 words) by January 8, 2010 to
email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The research project functions under the auspices of the Anglia Research Centre in Digital Culture (ArcDigital )
>What are affects good for? I am not referring to the stuff going through your body and your mind, but the concept. ArcDigital and RIBs (Representation, Identity and the Body) theme year on Affect was kicked off yesterday with discussions based on Nigel Thrift’s and Eric Shouse’s texts. Good points followed, so many I cannot summarize them here. But for me, its the possibility of tapping to various weird materialities that “affect” affords us. This ranges from the 0.5 second delay between event and consciousness Wundt talked about, the odd reactions that Reagan talking can have, the relationality of bodies in movement, as well as for example the software objects defined by their relations — i.e. also non-human affects being possible. Affects are the element of transformation, and transmission — of bodies relating and being in their relatedness. As Joss Hands pointed out, the danger of the concept is becoming too wide, too vague. Hence, there is no one big theory of affect, just good uses in contexts where we need to think beyond signification, representation and the human.
Affects are more — they are the primary surplus due to their by definition relational nature. This is where the connection to sensations might become clearer. To quote Massumi: “Sensation is the registering of the multiplicity of potential connections in the singularity of a connection actually under way. It is the direct experience of a more to the less of every perception.” (In Parables for the Virtual, p.92). What is the relation between sensation and affect? Definitely, in the Deleuzian inspired schemes, its not always clear. If affects include/are transitions, sensations travel as well. Consider Deleuze writing on Bacon: “Bacon constantly says that sensation is what passes from one ‘order’ to another, from one ‘level’ to another, from one ‘area’ to another. This is why sensation is the master of deformations, the agent of bodily deformations.”
Affects are less. They escape the conscious perception, flee and yet effect, impose on social interaction. Its the mentioned lost time, perhaps — in terms of capturing the possibility of tapping into the preconscious. We smile before the joke gets funny, we react before the person even starts to make sense, we feel it already before the actual meeting has started. Of course, so closely connected to feelings — they loop together, as Milla reminds us. It does not stay unnoticed by the intensive body that we engage continously with agendas, structures, classifications and so on of emotions. Affects produce emotions that are shared, but they feedback through various political and social acts of naming etc?
Are they tonalities? Yes, to an extent that tonalities are shared, or connect things/people/entities in time-spaces. Its the in between of perceiver and what is perceived. To again quote Massumi: “The properties of the perceived thing are properties of the action, more than of the thing itself. This does not mean that the properties are subjective or in the perceiver. On the contrary, they are tokens of the perceiver’s and the perceived’s concrete inclusion in each other’s world.” (again from Parables of the Virtual, p.90).
Vocabularies for weird materialities? This ranges from bodies in movements, of micromovements on the skin, such concrete inclusions of bodies sharing something and becoming together, of non-human objects/processes defining each other, of feeling the intensity of fastness, slowness, closeness, distance. Its what psychophysiology was keen on mapping in the 19th century in connection with the birth of modern media culture (as always, Jonathan Crary’s Suspensions of Perception is the book to read), and what biotechnologies, brain and cognitive sciences and even quantum physics inspect. It is also the regime of things such as somatosenses – proprioception, kinesthesia, the visceral…(Eleni Ikoniadou who is just finishing her PhD from UEL on rhythmic ontologies is working in this field).
In the midst of a panorama of approaches, what seems to become increasingly crucial is that we need new cartographies of affect — ones that don’t rely only on psychoanalysis etc., but inspect art/science/technology/philosophy as the source of innovation/invention.
To conclude, a good example of such interchanges: Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau’s Nano-Scape system from 2001.
>A big thanks to Dr Joyce Shintani for kicking off ArcDigital talks for this semester! We started these lectures last academic year in order to excavate the interzone between theory and practice of/in digital culture, the trandisciplinary zones often left untouched by the established disciplines of academia. Last year we had a range of excellent speakers from Espen Aarseth to Steven Shaviro and Gary Genosko (and a number of others!), and this year we continue from Shintani to Greg Elmer, Wolfgang Ernst, Richard Grusin…and so on.
Shintani’s talk focused on music and sound in recent media art — and she presented an overview of some of the themes in recent exhibitions such as Art Basel, Ars Electronica and Sonar (Barcelona). By focusing on the element of music, Shintani was touching on such regimes of sensibility too often left untouched by the visual emphasis of media art/theory — an idea that resonates strongly with such claims for a “sonic turn” in cultural theory. Turn or not, such a multimodal perspective is much needed to understand multimedia as something more than just multiple media put together. Indeed, its not only sound and something else, but a focus on sound that deterritorialises our perspective on works of art from visual screen based to installations. Its not only about music per se, in that sense, but about sound as an attraction point for the user and for the analyst. Shintani pointed to some implications:
- music has been built upon the centrality of the word (as already Adorno argued); hence a much more multimodal approach is needed — media is not only literature based, but interfaces of direct bodily sensations, musical expectations etc. demand a different focus
- This has implications in terms of institutions from teaching to performance
- a post object-subject approach demands a much more refined idea of embodiment and interaction than has been catered in the word-biased approaches.
All this is clear and stems from what she identified as current “trends” — not in terms of fashionability but the singularity of some of the works she is interested in;
- Increasing minituarization
- Enabling ease of access to sound/music — i.e. a certain DIY approach
- cooperation and collaboration in the process of art making
- “sophistication” of interactivity in connection with easing of access
- a strong focus on mixed media — “Continuation of breaking down of barriers, mixing of media that stems from Adorno’s “Verfransung” — a wandering crossover, aberrant paths of and in media production).
In this context, Shintani is working on her new project: “Embodiment and “the Other”. A multidisciplinary Comparison of Changing Aspects of the Subject in Musical Multimedia Works.