Page  00000001 The Beast's glove: The tactile and the digital in computer music Dominique Richard 305 Martin Lane Wallingford, PA 19086, USA drichard@eniac.seas.upen.edu Abstract The relationship between computer music and technology is almost self-evident yet often misrepresented as a determinant of style and aesthetics. While, it can be argued that more traditional music also share connections to technology we must more fundamentally emphasize that music is always a complex of technologies techniques and creation This paper explores this nexus with the concept of the digital and the tactile suggested by Deleuze to better understand the nature of the relationship ofmusicians to music regardless ofthe medium they chose. "A work of art is never made by or for its technique" [1] 1 The Beast's glove The question of creativity, of manifesting the new, lies at the heart of the tale, Beauty and the Beast The Beast possesses five magical objects: a rose, a horse, a mirror, a key and a glove. With Beauty's love, these objects transform Beast into the new prince. Each object symbolizes an aspect of the creative process: beauty, courage, transcendence, technique and responsibility respectively. Of particular interest is the glove with which one can "virtually" travel anywhere provided, Beast warns, one takes full responsibility for one's actions. This glove fits the caressing hand, the tactile, and the calculating fingers, the digital. The tactile and the digital, two ways of looking at the creative process, are often represented as miror images. However, the tactile and the digital do not mirror each other. They are two distinct representations of knowledge which form and inform the creative process, aprocess which is ineffable. Only by subjectively assuming the responsibility of creation canthe artist merge the tactile and the digital. Once the artist accepts the glove, she can travel "virtually" anywhere, creating without bounds. 2 Music & technology To say that computer music makes great use of technology is no doubt banal. The sophisticated audio systems, computers and media infiastructure which maintains a steady supply of "serious conpositions" as well as marketing jingles testifies to the reality of this connection However, the relationship between technology and music is not so new. Music has had a technological dimension since instrument makers first made instruments and musicians first played them. So in some sense, music and technologies are coextensive. But this first level of understanding the relationship between music and technology must be refined. Deleuze [2] provides one level of refinement when he distinguishes optical art whose genesis requires coding, calculation and translation from haptic art which is drawn in a movement (apto = touch). This distinction is translated to the realm of music by distinguishing digital art from tactile art. However it is a mistake to use the concepts of digital and tactile to characterize the difference between computer music and more traditional music. In such a scheme, computer music is associated with algorithms and abstract models, while fingering and posture characterize instrumental music. Associating computer music with technology because it employs electronic equipment and uses mathematical methods is as detrimental to our appreciation of music as associating traditional music with its techniques because it displays virtuosity. To further our understanding of the relationship between music and technology, we must avoid a perspective which leads to a schism between traditional music which is the result of a disciplined human expression and computer music whose outcome is simply technologically determined. 3 Technology and technique It is true that the distinction between digital and tactile can be particularly acute and discriminating when technical composition supersedes aesthetic composition. It is also true that computer music is particularly susceptible to this distortion because it uses formal mathematical tools. Nonetheless, formalist abuses have plagued all sorts of

Page  00000002 music. Boulez, for instance, recognized that an orchestmal piece like Polyphony X suffers fmm 'Trheoietical excess" [3, p.74] that has nothing to do with technology but which stems fmom the combination of extensions of Weben's serialism to several sound palameters and rhythmic elaboration inspired fmm Maessien's Mode de valeuis et d~ihtensitds. Even with asynchronous computer generated music theie is a technical concern when the composer or a technician controls the sound console to modul2ate the deliveiy of the composition, as any interpreterwouki We must therefore iecognize That all music has an infimate relationship with both technology and techniq~ues. Deleuze's distinction between digital and tactile alt is not a distinction between computer music and instrumental music. Rather Deleuze points to the infinite possibilities of creation inherent in ali music. Th unleash these possibilities we need to understand the ielationships of rmusic to technologies and to techniques. 4 Breaking down techno-logy? Th understand this ielationship clearly, our first task is to deconstnict the wont technology itself: As Latour [4] points out, the word technology "has been limited for too long to the study of those lines of foice that take the foim ofnuts and bolts" or of circuts (p.199). We have lost track of its lesonance. Etymologically, technology stems f-mmthe combination ofthe word tech2ne and the word logos. Techne iefers to "a set of niles, a system or method of making or doing," in short a 'Thow-how." As a matter of exampl~e, Heidegger [5] concludes his essay on technology by noting that the "revealing that brings forth tnith into the splendor of r~adiant appearing....the bringing forth of the tnie into the beau~tiful..And the poiesis of the fine arts" (p. 34) were called techne. Techne is practice at play in the world. Logos, appropriately appended to techne, means "explanantion" It is the discouise on the techne, a pmojection, a flattening of the techne into the realm of lan~guage and reason. The concept of technology therefore divides itself between two perspctives, a visuality and a discouise. To understand the pmofound implications of this division we need to go beyond a general perspective on technology and to reflect on the implications of this split between the visual and the discuisive in the material objects of tech-nology. 5 M~achines and models Indeed, technology as a project is subjective: "only those [pmojects] which become objects, institutions, allow objectivity" [6, p.69]. Therefore, we must eqcerience iiiilt and discouise when they aie ttanslated or reilied in the objects technology cleates. "Know how" is tmanslated into machines, such as computers and pianos, and diiscouise is reified into models such as mathematical models, physical models or musical theories. In addition to the split between visibility and discourse, this level of understanding underscores the compl~ex interconnection between technologies which Latour [7] collectively calls netwoiks. Indeed, we know that comp~uters aie not solely musical insimwents, and we know that the logic of generative grarmmar applies to music as well as to language. As Foucault ieminds us, several interconnected fields of tech-nology aie usually operative in any given situation He cites the technologies of piuduction, of sign systems, of power and of the self technologies which "hardly ever fUnction sepam~tely, although each one is associated with a certain type of domination" [8, p.18] whose impact we can recognize in the realm ofmusic. 6 The tactile and the digital We must raise the question of the modalities of interaction between individu~als and this complex of technologies because we must use models and machines to peffonm. It is in this relationship that Deleuze's distinction between the optical/digital and the haptic/tactile powerlilly letumns. In the technological fmmework the digital pertains to the woddng ofmodels; it iefers to fingers that counmt; to computation. The tactile is the somatic connection of one's body to the machine; it is the hand that touches, that feels. However, at this point, we rmust ask if the two paiallel strands of visibility and of discouise describing the techne and the logos in teims of reification and relations to human beings aie simple reflections of one another or if they define an incommensuiable split in how we apprehend the world. The point in asking these questions is to consider the possibe lesponses. On the one hand logos insists that there is no diistinction between ~the s~trands of discouise and visibility. It claims that the tactile can be digitized, as in robots, that the model can fin the machine, that discouise is fully performative. Its radical textualization rejects any place of ambiguity or of paiadox; there is, logos piuclaims, no place beyond dogma. On the other hand, techne emphasizes practice. It claims that ulfimately discouise is an tmnecessaiy surplus, a mirage, that the stmnd of the logos is an illusion. Techne claims that comp~osition comes fmom the juxtaposition of the given, suggesting 'brricolage." Logos posits a striic and constrained relation between the possibe and the real. Techne simply trusts the real to be.

Page  00000003 7 The catastrophe of Subjectivation The vanishing of difference between visibility and discourse is not astonishing since it is explicated within a system which cannot speak the ineffable. Such a system confuses geography with landscape and forgets that there is always an implied surplus which "flickers on the edge of meaning" [9, p.174]. Thus a more radical interpretation is necessary: it is impossible to explain this difference for it can only be inferred. Deleuze [10] suggests such an inteipretation in his monogram on Foucault There is, he insists, a fundamental void that exists between discourse and visibility. The connections between these two strata of knowledge and power is only possible through the intervention of a subject, the artist, whose formation is the result of a fold "at the crossroads of a lack-of-being and of a destruction, that of a repetition and of an interruption, that of a placing and of an excess" [11, p.157]. It is fom this position, atthe cusp ofthe caustic curve illuminating the visible and the discursive, that the subject, the artist, combines the tactile and the digital. In the very process of subjectivation, in becoming a subject who assumes the responsibility of her human condition, the artist creates, actualizing the virtualities emerging from the tactile/digital. Because of its privileged and explicit link to technology, computer music forces contemporary composers to face the responsibility of composition. This engagement defines the digital/tactile nature of art through the technological innovations composers design, through the creation of new techniques that constitute their work of art as a reality, and through the work of art itself which delineates the very effect of their style. References [1] Deleuze, G.; Guattari, F. 1991. Qu'est-ceque laPhilosophie? Paris: Minuit [2] Deleuze, G. 1981. Francis Beacon: logique de la sensation. Paris: Editions de la Difference. [3] Boulez, P. 1975. Par Volonte et Par Hasard Entretien avec CelestinDeliege. Paris: Seuil. [4] Latour, B. 1988. The Pasteurization of France. Cambridge: HarvardUniversityPress, [5] Heidegger, M. 1977. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York: Harper& Row. [6] Latour, B. 1996. Aramis or the love of Technology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [7] Latour, B. 1993. We have never been modem. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [8] Martin, L. H.; Gutmnan, H.; Hutton, P. H. 1988. Technologies of the Self Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press. [9] Badiou, A. 1990. Le Nombre et les nombres. Paris: Seuil. [10] Deleuze, G. 1988. Foucault. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press. [11] Badiou, A. 1982 Theorie du sujet. Paris: Seuil.