Joseph Nechvatal

Immersion Into Noise


    The Art of Noisy Noologies

    Where there is simple information processing, there is simple experience, and where there is complex information processing, there is complex experience.
    David Chalmers, “Facing up to the Problem of Consciousness”
    [. . .] the value of an old work of art should be assessed on the basis of the amount of radical theory that can be drawn from it, on the basis of the nucleus of creative spontaneity which the new creators will be able to release from it [. . . ]
    Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life
    What is real is the becoming itself, the block of becoming, not the supposedly fixed terms through which that which becomes passes.
    Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
    You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
    William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

    Applied to culture, the concept of immersion into noise is an unfamiliar one. What do I mean when I say immersion? It is by no means uncomplicated. It is, like art, gradient. Even the word noise [1] on its own is fraught with philosophical implications and deserves to be closely scrutinized. And what is this diaphanous, dark designation called noise music and—even more problematically—art noise?

    It would be preposterous to pass judgement on the aesthetics of noise without asking such questions at the start. And so to begin, I will endeavor to answer them in terms of what I will propose as an art of noise. [2] This art of noise will be embodied in the literary/scholastic technique used here, one that embraces a noisy heterogeneity that at times may simultaneously be fun, frustrating and funny. Thus what I offer the reader is a text that will engage them in a dynamic play of noisy forces and fluctuating perspectives that exemplifies the propositions put forth here: propositions concerning the recognition of—and immersion into—cultural noise.

    First, we must consider that noise takes place in a general media culture of massive electronic deluge, where the mercurial reproduction of free-floating (ineffable) signifiers of language, sound and images has blurred into a problematized complex/compound/prodigality sometimes referred to as information overload. In one respect, all sounds and images are already a kind of noise: data without meaning. [3] But I want to argue that an art noise takes a slight step outside overload/intoxication by means of its fuzzy identity as art (something vaguely abstract that is linked to pleasure and critique). Of course, any simplistic explication of the function of art (a concept that has no single function, but several) within Western society alone today would be inept. However, by examining the various definitions offered over the centuries, we can see that the idea of art developed primarily out of notions of anthropomorphic aesthetic agency displayed first through manual dexterity and then through intellectual stratagems concerning collective or intimate demonstration. As this embraces many types of production that are not conventionally deemed to be art, perhaps a better term for art would be culture. [4]

    If so, perhaps an art of noise can also be postulated as a realm of anti-social cultural purpose directed toward the revolutionary transformation of an irrational social reality that insists on calling itself rational. I would like to think so and will argue this with the support of Gilles Deleuze’s (1925–1995) notion of the vacuole. This concept of noncommunication comes from Deleuze’s Postscript on Control Societies. [5] Deleuze’s notion of control is connected to information-communication technology—a concept he pulled out of the work of William S. Burroughs (1914–1997). A vacuole is like a sac in a cell’s membrane, completely bound up inside the cell but also separate from it. Vacuoles play a significant role in autophagy, maintaining an imbalance between biogenesis (production) and degradation (or turnover) of many substances and cell structures. They also aid in the destruction of invading bacteria or of misfolded proteins that have begun to build up within the cell. The vacuole is a major part of the plant and animal cell.

    If we agree to combine this thought of noise art as a vacuole of noncommunication with an insistence on signal-to-noise [6] psychological circuit breaking, we gain a more complicated image of noise—as vacuoles that re-route and break-up the pathways of control. Let us therefore entertain a noncommunicating art of noise as an aesthetic act that nevertheless communicates intricately.

    Consequently, I will focus here on the beatific aspects of noise (as I see it, the negation of negation) connected to an abstract non-communication as located in art that uses noise to re-route and break up our mental habits. [7] Thus the focus will be on signal-to-noise art relations, those relations that signal anti-social interruption, resistance, damage and frustration as sources of psychic pleasure. This concentration directs us towards an understanding of art noise as an art that distorts and disturbs crisp signals of cultural communications.

    Our focus will conclude with a broader theory of pleasurable resistance as applied to noise culture in viral infected networked systems.

    So to begin, I hypothesize that an art (or culture) of noise [8] produced in our milieu of image superabundance and information proliferation can problematize culture and hence enliven us to the privacy of the human condition in lieu of the fabulously constructed social spectacle [9] that engulfs and (supposedly) [10] controls us.

    As a consequence, this book’s aim is to open a dissonant space for a beatific noise theory that constitutes an alternative, although not necessarily a competitor, to the quiet manner in which most art and music theory is generally practised. As such, its strategic goal is focused less on delivering to the reader a sealed cultural product of recognition, and more on calling the reader into an immersive state of procedure that is based on the attributes of continuous spanning (distentio). This emphasis on the continuous spanning of listening—which itself is indicative of the immersive modus operandi of sound—lends a focus to thought that delivers a sense of continuity over time (extentio animi), as opposed to readily available—and thus fixed—intellectual strategies. This is particularly so in that the starting point of this intellectual investigation is the immersive position from within: intus. A position that necessitates a broad span of hearing, sight and thought—as well as a tight focus on disturbance.

    Towards an Immersive Noise Consciousness

    The highest art will be the one that presents in its contents of consciousness the thousand-fold problems of the time; to which one may note that this art allows itself to be tossed by the explosions of the last week, that it pieces together its parts again and again while being shoved by the day before.
    Tristan Tzara, Franz Jung, George Grosz, Marcel Janco, Richard Hulsenbeck, Gerhard Preiss, Raoul Hausmann, Dada Manifesto
    ...our previous history is not the petrified block of single visual space since, looked at obliquely, it can always be seen to contain its moment of unease.
    Jacqueline Rose, Sexuality in the Field of Vision

    In everyday use, the word noise means unwanted sound or noise pollution. I look at it (and listen to it) differently: from an immersive perspective. In music, dissonance is the quality of sounds that seem unstable, with an aural "need" to "resolve" to a "stable" consonance. Despite the fact that words like "unpleasant" and "grating" are often used to describe the sound of harsh dissonance, in fact all music with a harmonic or tonal basis—even music that is perceived as generally harmonious—incorporates some degree of dissonance.

    For music, I am using the term immersion in a strong sense: sound surrounds us, and in a weak sense: as a spontaneous substitution involved in suspending disbelief and outside stimulus for an interval of time—as when one’s attention gets wrapped up in something compelling. For visual art, the term will be applied to suspending disbelief when using one’s own interpretative imagination—plus a more physically based, and more scopic, application. For consciousness, the term is here almost mashed up with immersion.

    As with art, reductive explanations of consciousness have proved impossible. [11] And as Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) said, the fact that ready-mades are regarded with the same reverence as objects of art probably means he failed to solve the problem of trying to do away entirely with art. Thus, Immersion Into Noise will take on a very wide aesthetic interpretation of noise (in art) and push it to the limit: defining immersive noise art as a saturating border experience. [12] So the raucous understandings proposed here are going to fashion a synchronous theory of art, particularly informed by encounters with—and concepts of—the inside (and outside) of sensual noise. By attacking the important abstract aspects of aesthetic noise, Immersion Into Noise will propose a supplementary understanding of contemporary culture. But it will also touch on aspects of ancient Western culture as detected in the histories of art and architecture and so develop a general theory of immersive noise consciousness: one that is a disturbing, sensorially reverberating, compound unified field.

    In electronics, noise can refer to the electronic signal corresponding to acoustic noise (in an audio system) or the electronic signal corresponding to the (visual) noise commonly seen as “snow” on a degraded television or video image. In signal processing (or computing) it can be considered data without meaning; that is, data that is not being used to transmit a signal, but is simply produced as an unwanted by-product of other activities. Noise can block, distort, or change the meaning of a message in both human and electronic communication. What the art of noise does is to take the meaninglessness of noise and convert it into the meaningful.

    White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency. White noise is considered analogous to white light, which contains all frequencies.

    The French philosopher Michel Serres has interrogated the idea of noise in two of his books, Genèse and The Parasite, where he established that inherent to the concept of noise is the incident of interference. For him, noise is a chaotic parasite that is an excluded middle (or third)—without which the entire logical structure of western thought is unthinkable. [13]

    In noise art, modes of representation (categories) tend to be interfered with and thus bend towards collapse. I intend to show how the cavernous conversion in aesthetic perception engendered by noise (as it wraps around us) can also be stretched to identify certain shifts in ontology that are relevant to our understanding of being by attending to sound-wave vibration frequency. To do so, an automatismic artistic-philosophical consideration of noise must assume the two-fold task of establishing an axiomatic aesthetic epistemology based on theoretical texts (of artists whenever possible), while testing them against my own artistic experiences and by placing myself within the operations of noise, thus raising questions of the reciprocity between theory and practice. I have approached this reciprocity through the creation of a 99.28 minute laptop noise opus entitled viral symphOny in four movements with pOstmOrtem (2008). [14]

    Unsurprisingly, the fairly recent surge in the popularity of glitch electronica [15] and its clicks-and-cuts aesthetic of error (and to a lesser extent musique concrète) directly relates to my interest in noise as a form of negative dialectics, as it mines what was once the erroneous use of musical technology in the production of sound. In glitch, the effects of malfunction, such as bugs, crashes, system errors, hardware noise, [16] skipping and audio distortion, can be captured on computers and this material provides the fundamentals of glitch music. In the glitch sense, deciphering noise in art will be tied to the potent erroneous in a general way. But noise art is not pop, and the broad spectrum of people do not appreciate it. In each case, from the mainstream point of view, something is wrong with the art. Subsequently, I will examine what noise signifies to those who love it.

    To do so, I will be looking at the cultural and aesthetic benefits of noise [17] from my point of view both as a practising artist and as an art theoretician. Hence, in addition to preparing the reader for the previously indicated stylistic bounces back and forth between the first and the third person voice in the text, I shall establish my fundamental contention that all art is fundamentally conceptual and imaginative because art only exists conceptually and its goal is to change our consciousness. That is what Joseph Kosuth teaches us. This is not an uncomplicated matter however, for as the philosopher and specialist in consciousness studies, Dr. David Chalmers, says in his seminal essay “Facing up to the Problem of Consciousness”, “there is nothing that we know more intimately than conscious experience, but there is nothing harder to define”. [18]

    According to Gilles Deleuze, consciousness is “the passage, or rather the awareness of the passage, from less potent totalities to more potent ones, and vice versa”. [19] This hypothesis receives support from Thomas Metzinger who writes in Conscious Experience that “holism is a higher-order property of consciousness” and that “this global unity of consciousness seems to be the most general phenomenological characteristic of conscious experience”. [20]

    Noise is often loud, elaborate, interlaced and filigreed—but almost always gradient and highly phenomenological. [21] Noise is often a potent and transcendent negating intensity—but it is never unassimilable. The prime example of this will be the short history of noise music to follow. [22] What was once noise (unacceptable) has now become noise music (acceptable and even desirable). [23] What was once negating and exterior now fuels the inner artistic imagination. But for noise to be first noise, it must destabilize us. It must initially jar. It must challenge. It must initiate a glitch of psychic crumbling.

    Through the relationship between noise and noise music [24] we can see how both notions of in and out (of the psychic edge/frame) are contained in an expanded idea of noise [25] that becomes potentially unhindered. [26] This understanding offers the critic a complex amplitude that deepens both the inside and the outside because they both extend as part of a potentially vast scope. In noise, potentially opposing directions can lose their positions and meet in a crushed connectivity. This recalls Gilles Deleuze's wonderful statement that “the interior is only a selected exterior, and the exterior, a projected interior”. [27] If we amend these divisions within a conceptual noise homogeneity I believe we are much closer to the truth of the matter as concerns the experiential levels of aesthetic immersion into noise.

    Noise art theory, then, involves the exaltation of the void and the melting of unstable frontiers as it expands definitions both inwardly and outwardly to envelope from both sides a felt understanding of the unfettered immensity and myrrh of our universe (where noise of one sort or another is everywhere). [28]

    Given this thinking about noise’s special conundrum (particularly when depending upon the supposed filter of analogic thought, the step-by-step comparison of partial similarities between things) art as noise—or noise in art—is well suited for reflecting on noise’s overwhelming sensations and qualities of excess: an incoherent and multivalent excess that defeats attempts at reducing reality [29] to the indexical level of representation. I am theorizing here, then, a potentially shifting total excess where many once discrete elements are conceived as occupying the same space in a preliminary step towards producing an innovative unity (or ontological identity) as mash chaosphere. [30]

    Undoubtedly, at times in the past totalizing analogies have been fatuously and unequivocally self-sententious in their urge towards perfectification, embellished (as they must seem to be) with a sort of self-significance and often fallacious, sweeping universalism. However, this awkward question of totalizing in terms of immersive noise art and immersive noise consciousness is at the hub of this investigation [31] and so it immediately beckons the questions: what models we make for ourselves, which do we prefer aesthetically, and why?

    In terms of creativity and self-programming, the resultant new sense of synthesized unity noise provides is valuable in that it allows the creator to move from what exists and is known to the limits of knowledge and experience, and therefore to move into the realm of the unknown—a move from the familiar to the unconceived.

    To address this gradient subject of audio noise—and then take it outside the organ of the ear—I have accumulated aesthetic examples of noise tendencies as experienced by myself and as found in the histories of art and philosophy. These examples subsequently contribute towards the articulation of what I have come to call noise culture—or better—noise consciousness, [32] as even the proclamation, culture, presents a set of highly ambiguous notions in that the word culture has immediately conflicting insinuations, and it is invariably best to observe scrupulously the context of its use. For some it means High Art, but for others (myself included) the word has more anthropological applications where culture represents less hypothetical measures of excellence than a widespread way of hearing, seeing and being.

    What I will show here is that while formulating such an art of noise consciousness, a good deal of the basis for the questioning of the western ontological tradition has been found in the western tradition itself when we hear with new ears and look with new eyes and ask indeterminate questions.

    Noisy Aesthetics

    Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.
    Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful

    The term aesthetics is traditionally used to distinguish the appreciative from the expedient. The notion originated with a 1739 text by the German philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714–1762) who introduced the term aesthetic in his text Meditationes Philosophicae de Nonnullis ad Poema Pertinentibus, defining it as the study of attraction as concerned solely with discriminating perception. For Baumgarten, in other words, aesthetics should be a separate, independent concern dealing only with perception. In Baumgarten's theory, much attention was concentrated on the creative act and the importance of feeling. For him, it was necessary to modify the traditional claim that “art imitates nature” by asserting that artists must deliberately alter nature by adding elements of feeling to perceived reality. In this way, the creative process of the world is mirrored in art activity. Baumgarten's thought in this regard was influenced by the philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) and that of Leibniz's pupil Baron Christian von Wolff (1679–1754).

    The problems of aesthetics had been treated by others before Baumgarten, but he both advanced the discussion of art and beauty and set the discipline off from the rest of philosophy. Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), who used Baumgarten's Metaphysica as a text for lecturing, retained Baumgarten's use of the term aesthetics as applying to the entire field of sensory knowledge. When combined with logic, aesthetics formed a larger discipline which Kant called gnoseology, a theory of knowledge that other philosophers called epistemology. Only later was the term aesthetics restricted to questions of beauty and of the nature of the fine arts.

    Kant used the term aesthetics to argue that aesthetic appreciation reconciles the dualism of theory and practice in human nature, thereby leaving the way open to identify beauty (a relative, shifting and elusive concept) as a profoundly psychological quality (and not inherent in the artwork) by formulating a distinction between determinate, determinable, and indeterminate concepts. For him, beauty is non-determinate because we cannot know in advance whether something is beautiful or not by applying a set standard. He also deemed the concept of beauty non-determinable because, due to creativity, we will never find such a standard. Beauty, therefore, must reside in the indeterminate supersensible. And so must noise. This approach supports Walter Benjamin’s (1892–1940) conception of aesthetics not as a part of a theory of the fine arts, but as a theory of perception.

    For me, such an approach to noise aesthetics was anticipated by Georges Bataille (1897–1962) [33] when he considered excess the non-hypocritical human condition, which he took to be roused non-productive expenditure (excess) entangled with exhilaration. Excess, for Bataille, is not so much a surplus as an effective passage beyond established limits, an impulse which exceeds even its own threshold. [34] When one takes an interpretative metaphorical view of noise—broader than the typical, somewhat fatuous, reductive explanations—one soon detects that the concept of noise itself is an open concept. [35] The concept of noise itself is pantheoristic. But in my use of the term (based on my activities as an artist) I understand art noise to be fundamentally an extravagant activity of creativity. [36]

    However, a new meaning for noise in art (and in life) is not developed by thinking about the aesthetics of noise as an invasive and unpleasant return to a dark primal unconscious. [37] It works when noise is also understood as an expanded [38] psychic thermidor: when it takes us back from the edge and rounds out our sensibilities as it forces us to get with the underlying assumptions of excess inherent in noise. [39] As Allen S. Weiss says in his incisive book Phantasmic Radio, “Noise creates new meaning both by interpreting the old meanings and by consequently unchanneling auditory perception and thus freeing the imagination”. [40] This book is an attempt at facing up to the radical implications of those assumptions, and at purging us from conventional ways of thinking about noise (which is often disapprovingly).

    This purging strategy provides a means of exemplifying various methods of thinking about noise. But it will not position noise in an easy opposition to Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s (1717–1768) codification of classical ideals as those being primarily uncomplicated and Apollonian in their logic, for when the idea of simplicity takes on the intensity of a righteous injunction, the implied equation between simplicity and goodness obscures a less evident function, that of cognitive constraint.

    Plus noise today has become too subjective [41] and ambient for that kind of dialectic between Apollonian calmness in relation to Dionysian non-restraint. And too sublime, [42] with its mix of alarm, approval, apprehension, and ascendancy. As Edmund Burke says in his A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful: “The passions which belong to self-preservation, turn on pain and danger; they are simply painful when their causes immediately affect us; they are delightful when we have an idea of pain and danger, without being actually in such circumstances; this delight I have not called pleasure, because it turns on pain, and because it is different enough from any idea of positive pleasure. Whatever excites this delight I call sublime”. So this time, sublime immersion into noise promotes a conflicted but promiscuous ontological feeling (awareness/consciousness) where aesthetic cognition of the limits of the aesthetic attain the actual state of the generally subjective world of consciousness itself.

    Pertinent to these noise concerns is, of course, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) and his acute criticism of the static culture of the bourgeoisie, particularly as it relates to the gesamtkunstwerkkonzept in Die Geburt der Tragödie (The Birth of Tragedy), Nietzsche's account of classical Greek drama and its merits. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche procures the concepts of the Apollonian and the Dionysian principles from Greek tragedy. According to Nietzsche, the Apollonian principle: reasoned, restrained, self-controlled and organizing is subsumed within the Dionysian principle: that which is primordial, passionate, chaotic, frenzied, chthonic and creative. This dialectical aesthetic tension allows the imaginative power of Dionysius to operate, in that the products of this operation are kept intelligible by Apollonian constraint.

    Hence Nietzsche examined the dialectic between an Apollonian calmness in relation to an antecedent Dionysian non-restraining tragedy which has its origins in the chants of the Greek chorus. By invoking the power of the Greek drama, Nietzsche implied a pejorative judgement on subsequent dramatic forms of realism and inert spectatorship. Generally speaking, this aspect of Nietzsche's thought thus participated in the widespread ideal embedded in Romanticism [43] of a popular recovery of the mythic precondition necessary for cultural consciousness based on, in most cases, the sublime excess of the infinite. [44]

    In ancient polytheistic Greece, sacred rites were in certain cases enacted on or near sacred grove sites. One such well-recorded rite was the ecstatic Dionysian rite. The Dionysian rite was directed not at the nymphs however, but to Dionysos (also known as Dionysius, Bacchus and/or Bakchos), the God of wine, intoxication and creative ekstasis. Dionysian ecstatic festivities were based on an even earlier form of ritual, the ancient Springtime Spree which was a three-day agricultural gala which involved the uncasking and drinking of that year’s wine, the planting of seeds, and the encountering of ghosts. [45] By intoxicatingly mixing seeds with memories of their dead in the earth (which was viewed as the domain of the deceased) the ancient Greeks were able to incorporate their departed into the drinking and planting festival of the Spring Dionysia.

    Subsequently the Spring Spree evolved into the even more intense rite of Dionysian ekstasis which intensified consciousness through drink and ecstatic prancing. The culmination of the Dionysian ekstasis rite was an ecstatic frenzy in which the dancers tore apart and devoured raw a sacrificial animal, such as a goat or a fawn. At the center of the rite are the mental states of ek-stasis and en-thusiasmós, states where psychological frontiers are torn down in preparation for the immersive divine dive into a world of animalistic unity.

    As we will see further on, noise in art often evokes vast entropy [46] as a form of vacuole, even as entropy quantifies uncertainty in encounters with random variables. In his book, Poétique de l'espace (The Poetics of Space), Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962) speaks of the French poet Charles Baudelaire's (1821–1867) frequent use of the word vast, which is, Bachelard claims, one of the most Baudelairian of words: the word that marks naturally, for this poet, the infinity of the intimate. This, at first seemingly paradoxical statement, is correct, for Baudelaire is above all celebrated as a poet and practitioner of double consciousness: incarnating two intertwined natures. Apparent polar opposites play against (and ultimately with) each other dialectically in his thinking.

    In comparable ways, art noise is both decadent and sublime when it is founded on vacuole principles of debauchment and self-indulgent consternation. Of course, such a dithyrambic logic has manifested in all modes of decadent artistic periods, from the Hellenistic and Flamboyant Gothic, to the Mannerist, Rococo, and Fin-de-Siècle, as they all opposed dogmatically imposed paradigms with hyper-engendering strategies. This is precisely what art noise does today. Because of noise’s stimulation of the nerves, the decadent sublime (as safe terror) is agreeably engaging (particularly in grating harsh noise music) [47] even as this psychologically intense feeling is bound up with our sense of mortality in an existential way similar to the terms of Jean-Paul Sartre's (1904–1980) Being and Nothingness. Indeed the term sublime specifically refers to an aesthetic vacuole value in which the primary factor is the presence or suggestion of undivided vastness and immense breadth of space, which is incapable of being completely ascertained.

    Noise art (musical and visual) therefore never offers us conventions. Rather, when good, it is like a fertile seedbed which undermines the hitherto clear, false distinctions between representation (identity) and the imagination by way of negating and recombining. Here, semblances and sounds are always already connected within a crushed and dark and obscure excessive orb, as noise art negates artistic representations (and all they imply), thereby affirming a consciously divergent way of perceiving and existing. Such excessive artistic noise can therefore spawn in us a sense of affinity which communicates individuality in totality without forfeiting liberty.

    I should say that several of my ideas on this subject of noise stemmed from reading Georges Bataille's Visions of Excess (which appeared in English translation in 1985) after which I began to experiment with (and analyze through my artwork) various artistic approaches towards noise and excess. [48] In the terms Bataille proposes, any “restricted economy”, any sealed arrangement (such as an image, an identity, a concept or a structure) produces more than it can account for, hence it will be inevitably fractured by its own unacknowledged excess and, in seeking to maintain itself, will, against its own rationalized logic, crave rupture, expenditure, and loss. More specifically, for Bataille, the term expenditure describes an aspect of erotic activity poised against an economy of production. [49] Yet Bataille's accomplishment transgresses disciplines and genres so repeatedly and so thoroughly that capsule accounts of his work in terms of noise are compelled to delegate themselves to abstractions. One can say with assurance that his thinking consisted of a meditation on, and fulfilment of, transgressions through excess. Thus Bataille's Visions of Excess immediately impressed me as it resonated handsomely with the overloaded nature of my palimpsest-like grey graphite drawings from the early-1980s (which were reflective of the time's concerns with the proliferation of ideology connected to the proliferation of nuclear weapons).

    Figure 2: 

                  Palace of Power, 11x14” graphite on paper, 1984, Joseph Nechvatal
    Figure 2
    Palace of Power, 11x14” graphite on paper, 1984, Joseph Nechvatal

    So via Bataille, I can say that noise art’s probing at the outer limits of recognizable representation, the excited all-over fullness and fervor of this syncretistic probe, isn't a failing of communications in the art; it is its subject. Good noise art, for me at least, is capable of nurturing a sense of polysemic uniqueness and of individuality brought about through its counter-mannerist style (circuitous, excessive and decadent); it is a style that takes me from the state of the social to the state of the secret, distinguishable I by overloading ideological representation to a point where it becomes non-representational. It is this non-representational counter-mannerist representation which breaks us out of the fascination and complicity with the mass media mode of communication. Noise art frees us, then, from accustomed coyness, platitudes, and predetermined perceptions with which we are deluged daily by the mass-pop media. It is my experience that it is in this artistic condition of privately excessive formlessness that we can ascertain the delimitation of mass-pop media ideology and the resultant implications of that cognizance.

    Noisy Methodology

    The method used here reflects on the insights noise suggests to the traditional western history of unified being (which indeed engenders extraordinarily deep conflicts). This will entail a review of past and present approaches towards ontology and an analysis of a variety of artistic maneuvers. I will non-teleologically synthesize these questions and examples of ontology into an interrelated theoretical model for noise art by clarifying its underlying philosophy of significance. I will thus outline an integrative noise philosophy by tracing the visual noise impetus through its various expressions so as to examine the immersive noise philosophy from all possible sides. Of principal interest will be the discussion of subject/object cognition.

    Even though Otto Kernberg pointed out that the splitting of the subject from the object is “the crucial mechanism for the defensive organization of the ego” at its most basic (pre-oedipal) level, [50] the subject/object question pursued in this discussion will not appear in any stable binary positioning [51] of easy subject/object opposites as I recognize, as Stephen Talbott points out, that the subject/object set functions more along the dialectical lines of the magnet, where the north pole exists only by virtue of the south pole (as is the contrary). Like the supposed subject/object opposites, neither pole exists in isolation. [52] Hence a subject/object debate in terms of immersive perspective (a debate I do not wish to shy away from) is possible only with the radical conflation of this polarity into an omnijectivity (see below) which recognizes the mutual interpenetration that unites the apparent opposites. Then there is something of the subject in the most impenetrable object, and an objective, world-sustaining presence in the sheerest subject. As with the magnet, where if you nip off the slightest piece of one end of the magnet you will discover that it still possess both a south pole and a north pole, so the forces of subjectivity and objectivity co-exist in omnijectivity. It is as impossible to conceive of an isolated subject or an isolated object as it is to conceive an isolated north or south pole, but it is entirely imaginable to relinquish sight of their conjoint importance.

    Useful here is the concept of omnijectivity (the metaphysical concept stemming from the discoveries of quantum physics which teaches us that mind (previously considered the subjective realm) and matter (previously considered as the objective realm) are inextricably linked in reconciling the relativist ("subjective") style found here mixed with the more absolutist ("objective") style—as omnijectivity is possible only with the conflation of polarities. It is a stance which recognizes the mutual interpenetration that unites the apparent opposites of subjectivity and objectivity. More specifically, the concept of omnijectivity emerged from the theories of quantum physicist David Bohm (1917–1992)—protégé of Albert Einstein (1879–1955)—and Karl Pribram, author of the neuropsychological textbook Languages of the Brain. Pribram noted that modern theories of how the brain stores memories did not explain how memories seem to be distributed throughout the brain as a whole. Each memory a person has was believed to have a specific location somewhere in the brain cells. Pribram, however, made the discovery that memories are not localized, but are somehow spread out or distributed throughout the brain as a whole. Even when considerable damage is done to a brain, or pieces of it are removed, organisms don't lose sections of their memory. He knew of no process that could account for such a phenomenon. Finally, the process that made the most sense in metaphorically explaining this aspect of the brain was holography. Therefore Pribram offered the holographic model as an explanation of the functioning of the brain.

    The term, omnijectivity, corresponds with Gene Youngblood's term extra-objective, which he used to describe the synaesthetic and psychedelic features of what he termed synaesthetic cinema, an underground cinema tendency of the late-1960s that ostensibly combined subjective, objective, and non-objective features into a syncretistic perception of the simultaneous space-time continuum. [53] This syncretistic perception was chiefly accomplished by the use of superimposition and by “reducing depth-of-field to a total field of non-focused multiplicity” after closing the span between the inside and the outside of the picture plane. [54] Youngblood derived the term synaesthetic from Anton Ehrenzweig's (1908–1966) idea of syncretistic vision, which Ehrenzweig characterized in his book, The Hidden Order of Art as a Total Vision. [55]

    An immersive noise aesthetic beckons and amends the mind/body problem, the metaphysical problem of how the mind and body (and I would stress the body's ears and eyes) are related to one another, and of how consciousness relates to conjectural substantiality in immersion. Aesthetic immersive consciousness, particularly when comprehended as noisy, may be said to be in a vibratory self/non-self referential mode and thus illustrative of what Metzinger sees as the “infinitely close and at the same time infinitely distant” [56] characteristic implicit in all states of consciousness. This pre-pleonastic vibratory comprehension, which illumes Metzinger's attestation, occurs by way of the distance that the artifice of immersive noise art confers to consciousness—an artifice which lends itself to a reactive, self-attentive unification. As such, immersive artifice works to circumvent the current fragmentary view of the body/mind in the world which has been underpinned by the Cartesian/Newtonian model of optical physics.

    Based on these understandings of immersive consciousness, the abstract, immersive noise theory proposed here could develop a means for achieving insight into how the agency of aural and visual thought works when we release them from their compos mentis obligations. [57] To achieve such an examination would be to overcome the tendency for aesthetic visual thought to analyze itself in terms of a presumed separation between the process of visual thinking and the content of visual thought which is its product, and this view of immersive consciousness clarifies an initial issue of immersion into noise in one grand sense. Since visual thinking is shown to be a process consisting of the transformations of nuero-physical visual-thought impulses impregnated in continuous waves, our visual thoughts are not distinct from visual thinking. Similarly, immersive visual thought, visual thinking, and visual thinker make up a reverberating, incessant, multiple, and unified continuity.

    I realize that this comprehension is nothing more than visual aesthetics catching up to basic science today. As the analytical philosopher Thomas Metzinger says, “in the physical outside world there are only electro-magnetic oscillations of certain wavelengths”, and that in a scientific look at reality, “all we find are myriads of subtle electrical impulses”. [58] Taking it a step further in seeking the field of contact between the inner cognitive world and the outer penetrable world of physics (a realm which I posit is the veritable domain of art), it makes sense to see thinking, thought, self, and experienced immersion into noise as a non-localized flow of reverberating, incessant, multiple, but hyper-unified frequencies in which self-conscious manifestations occur through an awareness of the richness of noise.

    Among the more important positions in the formation of this general debate is René Descartes' (1596–1650) argument that the mind and body are quite disconnected elements that nevertheless interact with one another. Richard Rorty (1931–2007) asserts that Descartes' feat was to conceive of the human mind as an internal chasm in which both pains and clear and distinct ideas passed in examination before an inner eye. By contrast, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz asserted a theory of psycho-physical parallelism based on his theory of Monadology, his model of a system which conceived of unity in plurality and plurality in unity. Leibniz's monadological ideas have substantially influenced Gilles Deleuze, whose fertile philosophical articulations have played an important role for me.

    Based on the above understanding of aspects of qualified hyper-absolutes and post-modern omnijective understandings concerning immersion into noise, my formative contention is that immersive aesthetics—when re-contextualized in a wider historical arena—can be reasonably adept in assisting us in the intrinsically hermeneutical comprehension of our existence. Such an omnijective/immersive aesthetic could be capable of heightening the relative theoretical worth of art historical scholarship in relation to the most recent developments of the information revolution, in the service of an expansive conversation concerning our aesthetic self-consciousness.

    But for us to get started on the road to a fuller aesthetic self-consciousness, I wish to assert the idea of hyper-noise [59] a notion of noise as art constructed via connected-competing vectors. [60] This anti-pure approach suggests an encircling mental ideal [61] that allows unaccustomed creative situations and sensations to connect and tolerantly co-exist. This hyper-noise idea is based on my understanding of the flat random aspects of white noise in conjuction with the all inclusiveness inherent in white light. In hyper-noise, signal-to-noise touch, run over and become akin to each other, so that self-centered human comprehension may both deepen and spread into an expansive constitution of being. This being as centered vitality might be described, as John Cage (1912–1992) suggests, as “central to a sphere without surface, [...] unimpeded, energetically broadcast [...] as transmission in all directions from the field's center”. [62]

    So art as white-noise-light speaks to us both at the center and at the edges of our frame of cognition (that frame semi-forced on us by the social and psychological conditioning of empiricist/positivist philosophy). And, as such, white noise art might allow us to feel the outer limits and finer levels of our most exquisite vacuole sensibilities.

    Because we will never succeed completely in understanding these feelings, white noise art is tragic. Because we never stop trying, white noise art is comic.

    Towards a Noise Vision: the revolution will be visualized

    Following a short discussion of Noise Music (I point the reader to Paul Hegarty’s book Noise/Music, Caleb Kelly's Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction, Brandon LaBelle’s Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art, Salome Voegelin’s Listening to Noise and Silence, Thomas Bey William Bailey’s Micro Bionic: Radical Electronic Music And Sound Art In The 21st Century, Joanna Demers's Listening Through The Noise and Steve Goodman’s Sonic Warfare for a fuller audio/music-specific discussions of noise) I will exemplify my notion of visual hyper-noise with the physically contained (but optically boundless) palimpsest-esque, all-over, wall-paper-like image spread found in the Apse of Lascaux, that I experienced. Here I will speak of a kind of eye noise: a distinct visual-cognitive proclivity that addresses the multiplicitious/heterogeneous impetus within a visual aggregate. I will define this visual noise as being produced by an all-over, elaborate, spread out distribution of visual incident which calls upon the optic procedure of spatial summation—a process which unconsciously totalizes the visual excess encountered. I will refer to this noise aggregate as a summational but all-over net-condition/awareness of plurality in hyper-homogeneity, a supplementary order of diversity within orders of noise. Such creative noise, I will suggest, is capable of creating new forms of order. This creative condition will relate to what I will call hyper-cognitive noise with respect to my conclusions, conclusions that recognize that from now on things will be heard and seen only from the connected depths of a noisy and nervous inclusive density, withdrawn into itself, perhaps, adumbrated and darkened by its obscurity, but bound tightly together and inescapably grouped by the vacuole vigor that is noise. [63] I submit that such conclusions are capable of fermenting a phantasmagorical discourse that is both nervously capricious and, perhaps paradoxically, socially responsible.

    Accordingly, I wish to present the idea of noise art as that art which precludes established significance by replacing the assumption of conclusive meaning with one of vital excess (a non-objective communication of emotional significance). A noisy hyper-cognitive is where the particular of electronic connectivity is seen as part of an accrual total system by virtue of its being connected to everything else while remaining dissonant.

    The strategy of a dissonant hyper-anything includes principles of networked connections and electronic links which give multiple choices of passages to follow and continually new branching possibilities. The total-hyper-being model for a new connected noise noology [64] (especially when placing emphasis on tabulating an evasive orb) is the self-re-programmable internal function which explicitly offers a furtherance in envisioning internal, anti-hierarchical models of thought to ourselves. As such it is a procedure of epistemological symbolization. [65]

    This self-connected epistemological-strategic approach is based on the premise that behind all noise art, either representational or abstract, is the hypothetical exploration of the introspective rhizomatizing world of the imagination under the influence of today's high-frequency, electronic/computerized environment. Any analogue-to-digital conversion process transfigures various physical quantities into homogeneous numbers. And numbers, it must be remembered, are abstractions that have no solid tangible actuality. Moreover, since it is difficult to make sense of today's swirling, phantasmagorical media society, the general proposition behind noise art may best be to look for a paradoxical summation of this uncertainty by taking advantage of today's superficial image saturation—a saturation so dense that it fails to communicate anything particular at all upon which we can concur, except perhaps its overall incomprehensible sense of ripe delirium as the reproduction system pulses with higher and higher, faster and faster flows of digital data to the point of near hysteria.

    Perhaps the result of this ripe information abundance is that the greater the amount of information that flows, the greater the non-teleological uncertainty that is produced. Hence noise. So, the tremendous load of imagery/sound/text information digitally produced and reproduced all round us today ultimately seems to make less, not more, conventional teleological sense. Information as knowledge is myth.

    This seems to be in agreement with Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), as he too thought that the boundaries which make up the various territories of art historical knowledge needed to be transcended by their relation to the depth of mythic representation. [66] As a result, in my view, it is noise art's obligation to see what mythic, unconventional, paradoxical, summational sense—in terms of the rhizomatizing world of the imagination—noise might make of all this based on an appropriately decadent reading of our paradoxically material-based (yet electronically activated) social media environment.

    This formulation is familiar with respect to the fantastical aspects projected into the qualities of an idealized situation (as we know from many kinds of antediluvian religious metaphysics and their artistic transcendental expressions). Salient here is that the function of the symbol is to (supposedly) intellectually transposition people momentarily to other realms of reality. Indeed one prime aspect of any noise is its ability to relocate consciousness into another aspect of the world. [67] Noise art, then, is a form of deviant encoding that precipitates inner shifts within a communicative space by use of an annoying grammar that can smash together and interfere with neighbouring discourses.

    This subject of noise vision, and the rhetorical strategy needed to explore it, especially interests me in that encounters with noise art (one may assume) could create an opportunity for personal transgression and for a vertiginous ecstasy of thought. [68] As I suggested before, noise-based perception-cognition (awareness) requires a plenum consciousness where there is only the slightest difference between an intentional and an involuntary exceeding of representation. Such an explosive collapse of utilitarian consciousness (combined with the pursuit of inexactitude), I wish to suggest, may fashion an abstract intensity within our perceptual circuitry—hence exceeding the assumed determinism of the technological-based phenomenon inherent (supposedly) in our post-industrial information society.

    The history of art is, of course, full of new epistemological shifts and I maintain here that the shift in perspective which noise provides is just such a shift, replete with a newness based on a long preparatory gestational development. [69] Indeed, it seems to me that as human psychic energies are stifled and/or bypassed by certain controlling aspects of mass informational technology, such a personally transgressive ecstatic phenomena will most likely increasingly break out in forms of noisy thinking—resulting in noisy art.

    In closing this introduction, I just want to mention that in my view one of the most important characteristics of immersion into noise is its sense of encompassing being within a field of vibratory enshrouding: an intertwined embossed shrouding that places us at odds with the closed, cliché, visual-audio signal and resituates us within vibrancy.

    The emergence of the theoretical project I have outlined above will, I hope, contribute to the surpassing of thought representations by inventing a noisy thinking/art in which what matters is no longer only uninterrupted identities, or logos, or distinctive characters, [70] but rather a lush, phantasmagorical clamour developed on the basis of inclusion. [71] Such dynamic abstract thinking (and the art forms that result) I hope will be presented to us only in an already pre-connected vivacious state of noise, already articulated in that insinuated clatter that is linking us in a vacuole discourse which is both non-teleologically oriented and intellectually responsible.


    1. Torben Sangild points out in his essay “The Aesthetics of Noise” that, etymologically, the term "noise" in different Western languages (støj, bruit, Geräusch, larm etc.) refers to states of aggression, alarm and tension, and to powerful sound phenomena in nature such as storm, thunder and the roaring sea. It is worth noting in particular that the word "noise" comes from Greek nausea, referring not only to the roaring sea, but also to seasickness, and that the German Geräusch is derived from rauschen (the sough of the wind), related to Rausch (ecstasy, intoxication). [accessed 1/15/2008]return to text
    2. See Luigi Russolo’s seminal text The Art of Noises (1913) (Hillsdale: Pendragon, 2005).return to text
    3. Ideally, communication must be separated from noise. Noise is what is not communicated; it is just there as a kind of chaos, as the empirical third element of the message, the accidental part, the part of difference that is excluded.return to text
    4. Here I will focus on cultural virtues that cut against the grain and provide the grain.return to text
    5. Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Control Societies,” in Negotiations: 1972–1990 (New York: Columbia, 1995) 178.return to text
    6. Signal-to-noise ratio (often abbreviated SNR or S/N) is an electrical engineering measurement, also used in other fields (such as scientific measurements, biological cell signaling), is defined as the ratio of a signal power to the noise power corrupting the signal. In less technical terms, signal-to-noise ratio compares the level of a desired signal (such as music) to the level of background noise. The higher the ratio, the less obtrusive the background noise is. In image processing, the SNR of an image is usually defined as the ratio of the mean pixel value to the standard deviation of the pixel values.return to text
    7. In an interview Deleuze explains that the “key thing may be to create vacuoles of noncommunication, circuit breakers, so we can elude control”. Gilles Deleuze, “Control and Becoming,” trans. Martin Joughin, Negotiations: 1972–1990 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995) 175.return to text
    8. Normal noise, as opposed to art noise, doesn’t mean anything and isn’t about anything; it just is annoyingly so.return to text
    9. Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (Detroit: Black and Red, 1976).return to text
    10. After all, each of us must make decisions about screening the wanted from the unwanted and distinguishing the essential from the random.return to text
    11. David Chalmers, "Facing up to the Problems of Consciousness," Journal of Consciousness Studies: Controversies in Science and the Humanities 2.3 (1995): 200–19; 208–10.return to text
    12. Noise art presents us with possible saturating border experiences in that noise is a modality of modern communication systems that is by definition non-signifying and deals with signals, and not signs.return to text
    13. Maria L. Assad, Reading with Michel Serres (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999) 18.return to text
    14. Available at to text
    15. Hear in electronica music the unruly fuzziness of the fragile gestures of Pole, Boards of Canada, Oval, Christian Fennesz and/or Microstoria (Markus Popp of Oval and Jan Werner of Mouse on Mars) for example.return to text
    16. Impure and irregular sounds that are not tones.return to text
    17. The crux of the matter is in differentiating the difference between stimulation and wonder.return to text
    18. Chalmers, 200.return to text
    19. Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy (San Francisco: City Lights, 1984) 21.return to text
    20. Thomas Metzinger, ed. Conscious Experience (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1995) 30.return to text
    21. As I mention phenomenology here in passing, I shall briefly relate what it is. Fundamentally, phenomenology is a philosophy of experience but the term phenomenology is often used in a general sense to refer to "subjective" experiences of various types; thus it becomes relevant to an investigation of immersive artistic states, insofar as it is a descriptive science that covers the chief features of experience taken as a whole. It is, in this sense, the study of all possible appearances in human experience during which considerations of so-called objective reality and of purely subjective response are temporarily left out of account. In the philosophical sense, phenomenology begins to redress the alienation between objectivity and subjectivity as initiated by Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason where Kant proposed that humans do not see the world objectively but rather through a number of ideal and subjective theory-laden categories. Philosophical systems and aesthetic theories receive their standing as truthful and useful abstractions through the human experience of the phenomenological relationship to the world. More narrowly, phenomenology is a school of philosophy whose principal purpose is to study the phenomena of human experience while attempting to suspend all consideration of objective reality or subjective association. Historically, phenomenology is the philosophical movement initiated by the German philosopher (and teacher to Aaron Gurvitch) Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) in circa 1905 and his systematic study of consciousness from a first-person standpoint. Husserl's crucial contribution to philosophy was his methodical disclosure of how meaning emerges in our consciousness of the world by our becoming conscious of our internal rapport with the world. What is relevant to this discussion is Husserl's formation of a new field of experience, the field of transcendental subjectivity which, according to Husserl, incorporates a method of access to the transcendental-phenomenological sphere in which Husserl claimed his transcendental idealism advanced beyond common idealism, beyond common realism, and beyond the very distinction between these two ideas. With the advent of phenomenology, rigorous studies of the working of consciousness were undertaken, most noticeably by the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941).return to text
    22. Primarily tone-research that led to the introduction of noise as a musical possibility.return to text
    23. In his article, ''Noise as Permanent Revolution'', Ben Watson points out that Ludwig van Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge (1825) “sounded like noise” to his audience at the time. Beethoven’s publishers persuaded him to remove it from its original setting as the last movement of a string quartet. He did so, replacing it with a sparkling Allegro, and they subsequently published it separately. See ''Noise as Permanent Revolution: or, Why Culture is a Sow Which Devours its Own Farrow'' in Anthony Iles and Mattin Iles, eds. Noise & Capitalism (Donostia-San Sebastián: Arteleku Audiolab (Kritika series), 2009) 109–10.return to text
    24. See the list of noise musicians I have been helping to maintain at to text
    25. Where all can be noise, as well as noise itself being the message.return to text
    26. I do not agree with Ray Brassier in his essay, “Genre is Obsolete,” when he claims that “‘Noise’ has become the expedient moniker for a motley array of sonic practice—academic, artistic, countercultural—with little in common besides their perceived recalcitrance with respect to the conventions governing classical and popular musics”. Multitudes, 28 (Spring 2007).return to text
    27. Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy (San Francisco: City Lights, 1984) 125.return to text
    28. Unsystematic activity at the molecular level suggests that the universe consists primarily of processes of noise.return to text
    29. Nature's difference from human representational languages.return to text
    30. Aspects of uncertainty via excess equals increased information in this model—even as I recognize that the validity of a total anything came under severe attack with post-modernism/post-structuralism in which the realization emerged that concepts and images were always already laden with specific cultural values and implicated in networks of prejudiced and invested power. Structuralist concepts of totality (based primarily on the work of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913), led post-structuralists to formulate such theories, where the impossibility of ever adopting one transcendent meaning is maintained and this trend has carried over into a general inclination.return to text
    31. In The Allure of Machinic Life, John Johnston points to this required totalizing by recounting that while noise is often considered as coming externally into a non-noise entity (that ideally performs a clean communicative function), noise can also be viewed diagrammatized as an integral part of the same function of that system and so accorded a position within the diagrammatic structure (instead of residing as unmixed noise outside the communication performance). John Jonhston, The Allure of Machinic Life. Cybernetics, Artificial Life, and the New AI (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008) 136–37.return to text
    32. Fundamental psychology breaks consciousness into two essential categories: the state of awareness and the subjective aspect of neurological activity (i.e., the impression of self so produced, whatever its actual cause). There are sub-categories and variations of these however. For example, some researchers define consciousness as the totality of experience at any given instant, as opposed to mind, which is the sum of all past moments of consciousness. Friedrich Wilhelm Josef von Schelling (1775–1854), in agreement with Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), maintained that the only thing we can have direct knowledge of is our consciousness. However, consciousness, in Aldous Huxley's (1894–1963) view (as influenced by William James's (1842–1910) study The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature), is mainly an abridgement application that allows us to construct a coherent world view based on selective oblivion. Aldous Huxley (1970) 22. Brian Massumi upheld Huxley's/James's "subtractive" understanding of consciousness by seeing both will and consciousness as "limitative, derived functions which reduce a complexity too rich to be functionally expressed”. Brian Massumi, "The Autonomy of Affect," Cultural Critique (Fall 1995) 83–109; 90.return to text
    33. Librarian, libertine, paleologist, archivist, radical thinker, author of erotic fiction; Bataille took an active role in the mid-20th century Parisian avant-garde art and literary scene by objecting to what he saw as the aestheticism and sentimentality of the Surrealists. Consequently he became André Breton's (1896–1966) antagonist from the intellectual ultra-left. After World War II, as founding editor of the journal Critique and after authoring the transgressively philosophical books L'Expérience Intérieure (Inner Experience) (1943), Le Coupable (Guilty) (1944), Sur Nietzsche (On Nietzsche) (1945) and La Part Maudite (Accursed Share) (1947), Bataille's thought emerged as a viable alternate to Jean-Paul Sartre's then reigning philosophical school of Parisian Existentialism.return to text
    34. For Georges Bataille, examples of non-productive excess/expenditure can be found (in varying degrees) in forms of luxury, lamentation, spectacle, art, poetry, erotic activity and mystical endeavours; some of which place an emphasis on a loss that must be as great as possible in order for that activity to take on its fullest meaning. For the finest comprehensive overview of Bataille's thought in this regard, see his book Eroticism, trans. Mary Dalwood, intro. Colin MacCabe (London: Penguin, 2001), along with Denis Hollier's book on Bataille's general postulates, Against Architecture (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990).return to text
    35. As is art. Piet Mondrian has made the valid point that fine art is not made for anybody and is, at the same time, for everybody.return to text
    36. I should establish that the pantheoristic definition of noise in art which I am upholding here, and which I find requires reiteration as artists move increasingly from organic materials to the use of electronic and synthetic ones, is basically that supplied by Susanne Langer in her book Feeling and Form where she determines that "art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling,” Susanne K. Langer, Feeling and Form (NJ: Prentice Hall, 1953) 40.return to text
    37. Indeed Leon Cohen in his paper “The History of Noise” makes a case for noise being involved in the solution of some key scientific, mathematical and technological problems.return to text
    38. When I use the terminology expanded here I am referring to the rich meaning given to it by Gene Youngblood in his book Expanded Cinema as that which transgresses and exceeds the customary boundaries of our encounters. When Youngblood discusses what he calls "expanded cinema" he refers it to an "expanded consciousness,” Gene Youngblood, (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co, Inc. 1970) 41.return to text
    39. In science, and especially in physics and telecommunication, noise is fluctuations in and the addition of external factors to the stream of target information (signal) being received at a detector. White noise is always present.return to text
    40. Allen S. Weiss, Phantasmic Radio (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995) 90.return to text
    41. In philosophic terms, subjectivity denotes how the truth of some privileged class of statements depends on the mental state or reactions of the person making the statement. In epistemology, subjectivity is knowledge that is restricted to one's own perceptions. This implies that the qualities experienced by the senses are not something belonging to the physical beings, but are subject to interpretation. In metaphysics, subjectivity includes the idea of solipsism. In aesthetics, subjectivism is the view that statements about beauty (for example) are not reports of "objective" qualities inherent in things but rather cognitive reports of internal feelings and attitudes.return to text
    42. The concept of the sublime as such first emerged as the topic of an incomplete treatise entitled "On the Sublime" that is believed to have been written in the mid-third century AD by Cassius Longinus (third century AD). The author of the treatise defines sublimity as: (1) excellence in language, (2) the expression of a great spirit, and (3.) the power to provoke ecstasy. The immersive sublime, from the combined point of view of Cassius Longinus's last two definitions, is apprehended and grasped as a totality while at the same time experienced as exceeding our usual lucidity, therefore provoking a sensation of awe (as recognized by Longinus). Centuries later, the term was given special prominence by Edmund Burke (1729–1797) in his A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), one of the most popular 18th century treatises on aesthetics, which was translated into French in 1765 and into German in 1773. According to Burke, the sublime feeling (which contrasts with that of the beautiful) is caused by a mixture of terror, admiration, apprehension, and supra-attention. Burke maintained that the life of the spirit depends on this type of awe in agreement with the immense scheme of the universe.return to text
    43. Romanticism (circa 1795–1840) is the cultural movement inspired by the writings of Edmund Burke (1729–1797) and the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), (among others) that focused on individual passions and inner struggles and hence produced a new outlook and positive emphasis on the emotional artistic imagination which became perceived as a gateway to transcendent experiences of unity.return to text
    44. Torben Sangild points out in his essay "The Aesthetics of Noise" that in Genèse, French philosopher Michel Serres sketched out the idea that the ultimate being-in-itself is noise. Behind the phenomenal world (the world we perceive)—he proposes—is an infinite complexity, an incomprehensible multitude analogous to white noise. ( accessed 1/15/2008). What Serres initially finds intriguing about noise (rather than the message) is that it opens up a fertile avenue of reflection. Instead of remaining pure noise, it becomes a means of transport. Also, Serres addresses the theme of noise and communication to show that 'noise is part of communication'; it cannot be eliminated from the system.return to text
    45. Jane. Ellen Harrison, Ancient Art and Ritual (Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts: Moonraker Press. 1913) 80. return to text
    46. In information theory, entropy is a measure of the uncertainty associated with a random variable.return to text
    47. Harsh feedback sounds are tones that may have drone-like charactistcs or swarm chaotically.return to text
    48. Bataille has remained a great fascination, though always slightly out of distance, given his penchant for violence, as I am largely a pacifist, politically. I believe in the political effectiveness of civil disobedience and passive résistance. So he is always pithily slipping from my mental fingers. But with his last book, The Tears of Eros, he provided the inspiration for my art to attempt a visual sagacity that tests the limits of form and stretches the bounds of meaning by recasting our experiences of encountering wildly disjunctive phantasmagoric data on the Internet into the sumptuous physicality of negation. In that sense, he turned my work against the grain of its prior obsession with fabricating a complicated forensic fairy-tale out of the internet’s grisly mélange, a mélange which keeps slipping in and out of idiosyncratic narration as it keeps folding and unfolding. When I went to Vézelay to visit his tomb, I searched the cemetery for something like two hours, reading each headstone meticulously. But I was unable to discover his grave! Merde! I had hoped to leave a little perverse poem and perhaps defecate on it, but no luck. In that sense I am reminded that frustration often amplifies desire and that this is essential to noise in art also.return to text
    49. Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) 116–29. return to text
    50. Otto Kernberg, Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism (New York: Jason Aronson. 1975) 26.return to text
    51. Noise vs. music, non-intended sounds vs. intended sounds, life vs. art; the oppositional pairs resonating along with the first opposition form an ever-extending thread.return to text
    52. Stephen Talbott, The Future Does Not Compute: Transcending the Machines in Our Midst (Sebastopol: O'Reilly and Associates, 1995). return to text
    53. Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co, Inc. 1970) 81. return to text
    54. Youngblood, 85. return to text
    55. Anton Ehrenzweig, The Hidden Order of Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967) 9. return to text
    56. Thomas Metzinger, ed. Conscious Experience (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1995) 14. return to text
    57. For a consideration of aural history see Emily Thompson, The Soundscape of Modernity Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900–1933 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004).return to text
    58. Metzinger, 15. return to text
    59. This concept owes something to Quentin Meillassoux’s idea of hyper-Chaos that was sketched out in After Finitude (64): a form of absolutization where nothing is impossible or unthinkable. Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (London: Continuum, 2008).return to text
    60. Given our heightening condition of connectivity, the heterogeneous, multiplicitous, spreading and non-hierarchical nature of the epistemological rhizome come together under the hyper (i.e. connected) effect of hyper-noise.return to text
    61. We know from Michel Foucault (1926–1984) how all ideals, all symbols in fact, can be readily adapted to fit the dictates of social power. Surely incoherent views of the whole have been destructive, as Boris Groys's book The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship and Beyond (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992) substantially makes apparent. However, we also know that ideals are indispensable in creating possibilities for change.return to text
    62. John Cage, Silence (London: Calder and Boyers, 1966) 14. return to text
    63. Excess noise radiation indicates that the universe is continuously expanding.return to text
    64. Wikipedia defines as Noology or Noölogy deriving "from the Greek words νοῦς 'mind' and λόγος 'logos'. Noology thus outlines a systematic study and organization of everything dealing with knowing and knowledge, i.e.: cognitive neuroscience. It is also used to describe the science of intellectual phenomena. It is the study of images of thought, their emergence, their genealogy, and their creation." Available at to text
    65. The essential opposing philosophy to epistemological symbolization is that of rational empiricism, but there are many gradations and intermediary positions staked out from this binary opposition, including Immanuel Kant's synthetic a priori, which allowed for an account of art, among other things. Kant held that space was in essence mental and a priori to the perception of exterior objects.return to text
    66. Although Freud was not an intentional aesthetic theorist, he did influence aesthetic theory through his comprehensive psychoanalytic framework and through his use of art to elucidate the fact that the breadth of psychoanalysis extended beyond dreams and neurosis into aesthetic achievements.return to text
    67. In that regard, it is interesting that Russolo, in his manifesto of March 11, 1911 writes: “It will not be through a series of lifelike noises but through the fantastic associations of these various tones and rhythms that the new orchestra will obtain the most complex and new sound emotions”.return to text
    68. Extemporaneous conceptual/cultural intoxication involving powerful auto improvizations.return to text
    69. Take, for example, NoiseFold, an interactive visual-music-noise performance that draws equally from mathematics, science and the visual and sonic arts. This networked performance duet explores the use of infrared and electromagnetic sensors to manipulate and fold virtual 3-D objects that emit their own sounds. The work integrates multiple techniques including real-time 3-D animation, mathematic visualization, recombinant non-linear database, A-life simulation, image to sound transcoding, complex data feedback structures and a variety of algorithmic processes used to generate both sonic and visual skins. The result is a theater of emergence and alchemical transformation existing within an intricate cybernetic system.return to text
    70. Given the impossibility of self-identical signal transmission.return to text
    71. There is no opportunity to get rid of the deferring effects of noise, as it is a fundamental principle of the physical world.return to text