Brief excerpt from the midst of a paper:

December 16, 2006 at 15:40 | Posted in communicative media, Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Process oriented explanations, the body, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

Our conception of the sonic is a phenomenological feedback event, while our perception, as an event, is equally a perception of our own materiality and the materiality of the sonic. The conception of the auditized sonic always leads to its interface with usefulness, while the perception of the sonic always leads to either quantification or qualification. Perception is cartography of the self (both collective and singular, physical and metaphysical), and the space around the self. Perception is not a document of what exists; it is an event. Perception is the construction of what exists in terms of potentialities of usefulness; the perceived is of usefulness, and the unperceived is not. It could be said that perception leads to conception, but such a statement would not be true, only mythic.

Whirlwind theory

December 11, 2006 at 06:11 | Posted in Grad school update | 1 Comment

I have been living in one for the past six months. I don’t think I really ever want to leave, but it will be nice to have a break.

Metaphorical existentialism, or Existential metaphoricalism:

November 14, 2006 at 16:54 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, the body, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | 2 Comments

So, I’m applying to PhD programs–this is nothing new. I have two different prjects that I’m proposing, because I’m applying to two different programs. Both of my projects excite me, but both involve different kinds of work. The project that I am proposing for Performance Studies involves the way that bodies are formed and performed. The project for Musical programs involves phonography, its cultural feedback, and its interrelation with phenomenology.

My body project is the equivalent of moving a mountain.

My phonography project s the equivalent of travelling amidst the space outside of Earth.

These metaphors describe the ways that I interact with the work required for the projects.

Excerpt from recent bodily works:

November 12, 2006 at 06:09 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, the body, Things related to critical theory | Leave a comment

This is a small portion of the work that I’ve been doing on corporeal paradigm perception/conception. The formatting will be a bit off, and the footnotes are lost, but it is nonetheless:

In other words, the more resistive (that is, on the outside) X is imagined to be, the more unavoidably it is to lose its specificity (that is, become appropriated) in the larger framework of the systematic production of differences, while the circumstances that make this framework possible (that is, that enable it to unfold and progress as permanently self-regulating interiority) remain unchallenged.
—Chow (68).

If we follow from Chow’s logic then methods of corporal treatment that allow for difference to be mapped are broken; our discoursic attempts at mapping corporeal diversity only conflate difference as the eponymous meter of the reverberations of the voice of a normative centrality against which difference is qualified. The more we try to qualify difference (difference from hegemonic socio-cultural normativity) by contrasting it against normativity the more difference loses its meaning as a value independent of normativity and becomes a peripheral disjuncture constituted only by the lack of those traits that compose normativity; if difference cannot be defined as the lack of normativity, nor its opposite then how can it be defined? Through Chow’s hermeneutic we can see that any attempts to render difference solely through a referentiality that relies on difference produced by way of distance from normative centrality, only serves to reinforce that centrality; difference produced through contrast against centrality becomes the recurring affirmation of centrality, rather than the affirmation of difference as disruptive to an idea of centrality. So what do we do then, how can this short-circuit in difference-mapping be transformed from one that debilitates difference into one that effaces its fecundity? In order to produce efficacious dialog we need to have a way of talking about difference amongst human beings that 1.) Allows for difference to remain independently stable (unreliant upon a qualification of contrast), and 2.) Unifies human beings under some kind of rubric that doesn’t produce ultimate universality (there is difference amongst human beings, but we are still all human beings).
In her text The Scandal of the Speaking Body Shoshana Felman addresses a structurality that can serve as an inroad for the kind of bipartite structurality that will allow for efficacious corporeal dialog. In her analysis of J.L. Austin’s theories of performative language she assembles the centrality of his discourse around three terms: the constative, the performative, and the radical negative. While these terms are elucidated through the discourse of language—specifically the (potential) speech-act—their valence extends beyond language and into all aspects of performance, including corporeal performance. In the most basic sense the constative is that which is signified: the performance’s interpretation; the performative is the signifier: the actual performance itself; and the radical negative is a performative that depicts the acute limits of a structure’s methods of constative mapping: the expansion of the specific performance’s range of potential constatives. When the radical negative takes place it ruptures the structure that it emerges from; in response to Chow’s critique of the discourse of difference the radical negative invokes a performance of both difference and normative centrality in such a way that the binary structure of difference and normative centrality cannot map its constativity, and thus calls that the structure be reconstituted. Here Felman explains the occasion of the radical negative with regards to its rupture of the structure that Chow critiques; Felman offers an insight into the radical negative as potential solution for a portrayal of difference that does not refer to normative centrality:
The “abnormal” here does not take the “normal” as a positive term of reference; on the contrary, it is the “normal” that, in order to be understood, necessarily refers to the “abnormal” that breaches it from within, displaces, corrodes, and unmasks it: the “normal” is henceforth no longer anything but “the blinding veil of comfort and of obviousness, false evidence, that has to be “penetrated,” torn apart by the radical force of the negative.

Now if the Austinian negative does not aim simply to treat the negative as a function of the positive, neither does it aim—it aims still less—simply to reduce the positive to the negative. Even though the term “positive” is in the last analysis undone, the defeat of the positive does not involve any nihilistic complacency, in particular does not include any teleology of “negation for itself.” Paradoxically, radical negativity or the defeat of the positive does not in Austin, exclude positivism,”
—Felman (102).

For Felman then, the radical negative is exactly what Chow calls for; the nearly inconceivable instance in which difference is mapped in such a way that it destabilizes any notion of centrality, yet does not leave everything universalized into a featureless landscape in its wake; the negative that cannot be expressed in terms of the positive, and which functions in such a way that the positive cannot be expressed in terms of the negative. How then, does the radical negative translate into corporeality?
We must start first by examining the parameters of Felman’s claim. The radical negative is constituted by two factors: 1.) An irreducible, and non-referential negative; and 2.) An irreducible and non-referential positive. By negative Felman is referring to a performative that can be read as constatively negative within a structure; this is fundamentally the rendering of that which is not normative centrality through reductive measures. The constatively negative is achieved by rebuking the positive qualifications of a structure, but wind up only reifying those positive qualifications through their perceived absence. Likewise the constatively positive is rendered through its lack of those qualifications that would constitute its absence. An easy way to map this system is to think of human dietary behaviors. What is a vegetarian? A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat. In order to construct vegetarianism we must subtract some aspect of the normative diet, thus the difference of being vegetarian is qualified by an embodiment of a lack of normative centrality. Likewise to embody the diet of normative centrality is to be not vegetarian, or not someone who doesn’t eat fish.
The radical negative is that which is able to positively affirm, and negatively deny both the positive and negative embodiments simultaneously; the radical negative is both normative centrality, and difference because its embodiment of these structures is not constituted by the lack of either. The radical negative is able to occupy both the positive and negative elements of a structure through a single performative—it ruptures the structure by conflating the elements of qualification that compose positive and negative. If the positive can be the negative, rather than solely being constituted by its lack, and if the negative can the be the positive rather than solely being constituted by its lack, then the conception of the structure that contains positive and negative must be reorganized in order to account for this aporia. If a structure is defined by its positive and negative elements, and if those elements can be shown to be one in the same, then the structure must be re-rendered in order that it may be discerned through some other measure(s).
So, how do we map Felman’s system of radical negativity onto corporeality in such a way that it is able to rupture the structure of corporeality’s binaries of embodied normative centrality, and embodied difference? In order to do so a paradigm of corporeality must be envisioned in such a way that it may account for both difference and normative centrality simultaneously, and in so doing must commit two simultaneous acts of affirmation, and two simultaneous acts of denial: the body is normal through normalcy, the body is normal through a lack of difference, the body is different through difference, and the body is different through the lack of normalcy.
Departing from Chow’s call for enabled discourse, and Felman’s elucidation of the potentialities of the radical negative we can draw closer to a conception of what this structure of corporeality, this method of embodiment might look like when we begin to consider what Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick refers to as texture:
Technologies of travel, for example, as well as of vision emphasize that, although texture has everything to do with scale, there is no one physical scale that intrinsically is the scale of texture. As your plane circles over an airport, texture is what a whole acre of tress can provide. But when you’re chopping wood, a single tree may constitute shape or structure within your visual field, whereas texture pertains to the level of the cross-grained fibers of the wood in relation to the sleek bite of the axe.
–Sedgwick (16).
Sedgwick’s notion of texture proffers that there multiple simultaneous conceptions/perceptions taking place within a structure, and these conceptions/perceptions are dependant upon scale. This idea of scaler texture, and the idea of the radical negative then diffuse into one another rendering a fuller potentiality for the construction of corporeality. Sedgwick’s notion texture points to the scale of perception as the factor of conception; the object of perception/conception exists independent of its perception/conception. Furthermore the perception/conception of an object is only a partial rendering of its ultimate potentiality; while an object exists within perception/conception this existence is not predicated by either temporal or spatial singularity: the object’s potentiality for multiple scaler frames is the document of its polyvalence. This inherent polyvalence is the key factor in Felman’s construction of the radical negative; the radical negative is two simultaneous acts of affirmation, and two simultaneous acts of denial. It is Sedgwick’s rendering of texture that, not only allows us to move between multiple perceptions, but allows us to conceive of the simultaneous occurrences that are embodied in those perceptions. We can see the object at multiple scales because it can exist at multiple scales, the object’s existence at multiple scales renders it as agent of the radical negative—those simultaneous affirmations and denials.
In order to incorporate these two modalities I will insert a teleology that subsumes the individual body into a holistic notion of human super-organism that dismantles corporeal sovereignty . This notion of the super-organism then facilitates the re-mapping of the individual into a state of individuation that allows for difference to be mapped without relying on a state of contrast to a normative centrality—for the two are not rendered as a mutually exclusive binary, but interdependent modalities of a singular structure. When we apply Sedgwick’s texture to the non-binary oriented corporeal structure we can substitute the human body for the trees; the individuated body always exists, but the scale of perception determines whether or not it may be perceived. As well, its perception does not deflate its inclusion within the super-organism, rather the super-organism is rendered imperceptible as the scale of perception/conception is shifted so as to be able to perceive/conceive the individuated body; the texture of the trees at the level of the axe-swinger does not change the texture of the trees at the level of the airplane—their texture remains and only their mode of perception/conception is altered.
By arriving at the body through these scaler modalities, instead of difference and centrality being portrayed as polar opposites, they are treated as indications of scaler perception/conception. The construction of the individuated body within the super-organism is concurrent with the unification of Sedgwick and Felman’s theories, and thus provides the means to fulfill Chow’s call for an alternate paradigm of difference. Because the individuated body exists within the every-individuated-body-encompassing super-organism it is able to fulfill the four postures of Felman’s radical negative in response to Chow: the individuated body is embodied difference through difference because each individuated body is different from every other individuated body, it is embodied difference through sameness because each individuated body is part of the unifying bodily super-organism, it is embodied centrality through sameness because each individuated body is part of the singular every-individuated-body-encompassing super-organism, and it is embodied centrality through difference because the super-organism consists of the myriad individuated bodies. There is no individuated body without super-organism, and there is no super-organism without individuated bodies, the two are co-constitutive.

Like whoa…

November 11, 2006 at 06:23 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Performances/Exhibitions, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

First:

My colleague Chris Tabron has a new blog: .::Light Matter::. where he posts photos.

Second:

I saw Sekou Sundiata’s the 51st (dream) State earlier this evening at BAM’s Howard Gillman Opera House. New York: you should be there tomorrow and/or Sunday. As you probably know most everything passes through John Cage before it gets to me, so my criticism is usually related to issues of overbearing narrative/message, decisions in production that seek to preserve/achieve meaning that wind up being reductive in regards to meaning’s potentiality to traverse the space between intention and reception, and other such audience-oriented heuristics. Sundiata is an overhwhelming exception to my redundant critiques, and a welcome one for me. He manages to present a context rife with implications of political critique, yet not born out of a desire to instill those critiques; his performance is fundamentally imbued with poetry, yet fails to access the format’s most tired breaths; he sets up a fecund bed in which the audience may rest their minds, and simply goes to work quietly in the corners: the corners of the space in such a way that the work never imposes (neither on the audience or any part within itself), and the corners of our minds in such a way that the work remains tangential and fragmented enough that it only hints at possible realms of thought, it never asks us to step into them. Over the course of the performance I was engaged mentally, intellectually, emotionally, and spatially. Half-way through I felt that I should do productive things when the time to leave would arrive; I came home and thoroughly cleaned a salvaged step ladder. It’s refreshing to be involved in something that can become a state of exception within the structures that mire me in life; thank you Mr. Sundiata and company.

Third:

I have a performance coming up on December 12th at Tisch (721 Broadway) room 636 from 7:00 PM until 8:00 PM. The performance will be the premiere of Music High for Bouncing Balls–a work that I began conceptualizing at some point in the summer. There will be ten performers including myself–five women and five men (these people as of right now): Zachary Moldof, Christopher Tabron, Daniel Coeyman, Sarah Lasry, Montzerrat Contreras Robles, Maria Amelia Franchignoni, (possibly) Biba Bell, and (possibly) Amalia Cordova. I still need two more male performers, and (possibly) two more female performers; holler at your boy. The composition will not be rehearsed before the performance; the performers will alternate between bouncing balls, and reading texts; time brackets, and dynamic parameters will be used. I am hoping to render a composition that is simple enough to not require specialized knowledge in order to be read, and does not have to be rehearsed ahead of time because it seems like a useful way to approach a compositional practice that grows out of an understanding of sound that privileges indeterminacy and the unaccountability of temperospatial multiplicity.

Two Photos from Saturday…

October 30, 2006 at 04:07 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

I am doing a project in my musical ethnography course that looks towards the human event of hearing in hopes of uncovering some insights into the trace of a phenomenological interface with unmediated sound. By taking various instances of aurality and combining them into a single signifying matrix I hope to render some sort of artifact that can provide a mimetic conceptualization of unmediated sound; it’s paradoxical, but it’s fun. Friday morning Chris Tabron and I went out to do some field recordings. Here are some photos from then.

Performative of what though?

October 25, 2006 at 04:28 | Posted in Grad school update, new york, Things related to critical theory, Things related to John Cage | Leave a comment

I continue to work on/develop/think about body theories. School has been a bit slow the last week or two. My musical ethnography class hit a bit of a lull as our equpiment order has been sitting in limbo, and my Affect Terror Biopolitics class has been difficult for me to navigate. I feel like the discussion in class often focuses solely on the shortcomings of the texts that we read, and that conversation rarely revolves around points of dispersion, or integration. I don’t know why this is such a difficult thing for me to get over because I seem to spend so much time lately talking shit about my peers, but nonetheless I don’t think too fondly of my own digressions either.

It’s starting to get cold here in New York. For the first time in eight years I haven’t been sleeping well–it’s strange. I rarely sleep through the night, and if I do I don’t wake up feeling rested.

I took some splendid field recordings at the Southside Seaport last Friday night with Chris Tabron. We wound up with some great sounds. Of specific fascination to me were recordings of a footbridge (about forty feet in length) going from a dock to a boat. The bridge had wheels at its dockside base, and beneath the wheels was a large metal plate. As the boat shifted in the port’s water the footbridge moved back and forth slightly on the metal plate producing a massive squeaking sound; unique. I also got some great sounds by placing stereo contact mics on one of the steel support beams for the FDR overpass.

I met with Richard Shcechner today to talk about my bodily theories and he brought up some interesting points about genetics that I hadn’t thought of. I also met with Jason Stanyek today in order to discuss some concerns about my project for musical ethnography. I had originally planned to do an audio documentray on skateboarding, but scrapped that idea when I hurt my foot. My new project involves field recordings from all over New York edited together in a way that attempts a mimetic performance of New York’s unmediated sonic body. This project mimics my Body project as it is predicated on the notion that the individuated body exists only in its occupation of multiple parts of a larger whole. Individuated aurality takes place as individuated bodies accumulate a method for navigating collective aurality by focusing on certain sounds, frequencies, rhythms, et cetera, and then codifying these facets into a map that is continually transposed onto the immediate aural geography. My concern was that the project may not be focused enough and I may wind up with nothing but a mess on my hands. Jason suggested that instead of simply going out and recording, that I speak to some people about their notion of sonic New York, record the conversations, record their versions of sonic New York, and then edit the whole thing together. Such amazing advice. The dilemma of my aesthetic process is that in order to conceptualize a methodology I identify and occupy the polar opposite of anything that can be empathized with. In most cases my efforts work, but in this case the human identity provides a crucial aspect in the produciton of aurality, and thus must be integrated rather than expelled. Jason’s response was enlightening because he saw my concerns when I couldn’t.

I got a new job at Arium tea lounge. The job is great. I love being around tea, and people drinking tea.

Remember me?

October 13, 2006 at 02:44 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, No Politics, Things related to critical theory | Leave a comment

Time is not even a recognizable process as I seem to acquired such a multitude of tasks that they exceed the perceivable engagements of my socio-somatic existence; somewhere amidst the activities that engulf me my life transpires. Within the bedlem I seem to have effectively lost track of most of the known methods for orienting myself in quotidian affairs so that I feel a bit unstable. It’s somewhat comical because that was my ultimate intention in coming to graduate school, to put myself into a situation that would challenge me thoroughly while simultaneously removing the majority of places,persons, and practices that constitute my safety net; mission accomplished. I am not stable amidst this restructuring, but I seem to be sufficiently oriented, so I can’t be far from stability.
Now, I have not–for some time–thought of myself as religious until recent weeks. In my studies I have had my apathy confronted repeatedly, and I have had to truly consider where it comes from and why it exists. I have arrived at the conclusion–not one that I crafted–that religion is any device that allows a human being to disengage the chaos of the conemplation of unresolvable existential crises in life. I am a religious person. My religion is not so much a thing with a name as a plasticine method informed by what can easily be refered to as taoism. I am not a taoist, and I am not apathetic, it just sems that way. I willingly accept–and in ways craft–my inability to assume an overt agenda, or the disposition that I should be the supreme governonr of my body and its engaged systems. Thus, in my current academic setting I am finding my ‘religion’ pitted against a system that posits its rupture so I must either re-constitute my religion or re-form it. While my initial response is a sliver of panic the ultimate outcome of this challenge is that I have reached a point wherein the methods that I use to interact with Earth life are insufficient, which is necessairly the predicate of change, specifically change that reveals a vaster finitude. The thing about tstructures is that they only exists for as long as we remain within the realm that constitutes the structure, thereby any measure of ‘growth’ necessarily calls for deconstrution/reification in order for the structure to continue in its applicability. Alas, while I piddle about this life-matirx migraine that I have created I am engaged in the very thing I need most. Perhaps my smile is in my navigation.

And on and on…

October 3, 2006 at 17:24 | Posted in Documentation of things, Grad school update, new york, Performances/Exhibitions, Things related to John Cage | 2 Comments

My contributions to this blog have been less than regular of late.

I recently moved into a studio apartment hwere I live by myself; the kitchen is clean, and so is the bathroom. they will stay this way.

My last performance as interesting to say the least. I have discussed it with a few people of late so I think I have an adequate perspective on it.
This was the performance:I had a sneaker. Inside of the sneaker was an ipod shuffle that was playing my latest composition, Not my Brilliance., and a stereo contact mic. The ipod was connected to a set of headphones, and the mics went to a PA. I had a small sign that gave the title of the performance and asked audience member to use the headphones. I was drawing on the sneakers. Most people did not realize that I was performing, many people performed while I performed, and music was played through the PA while I performed. While all of this was difficult for the normatized conception of artist/performer that resides somewhere within me, it was at the same time quite enjoyable. My performances have gradually transformed from a situation where I present a supposedly captive audience with an emobdied artifact/ideology, to situations where I am making equal demands on both myseld and the audience to access the performance. By access I mean that the performances I have created of late do not neccesarily contain any agency tha allows them to becomes spectacle, or even rise to the din of their setting; I have essentially located myself/myperformance within a quiet ontology. The performance becomes challenging for me because I ahve to deal with the fact that no one realizes that it’s going on, and people are even sitting on/standing on portions of it.
Today I spoke with Nelson Hallonquist about this notion of a quiet ontology and he pointed out one common aspect of performance that has always disturbed me: the congratulatory audience. As Mr. hallonquist so deftly pointed out, a quiet ontology provides agency against congratulatory practices, which is a relief, and in some sense a goal.
I will be performing the second half of this work next month, however this time–after Shimpei Takeda–I will add a live feed of the illustration to a big-screen television. I am not entirely sure how this will affect the perceptibility of my performance, but I look forward to it.

Selling beer is a job that I have.

Holler at your boy.

Guilt induced:

September 17, 2006 at 07:11 | Posted in Beer, Documentation of things, Grad school update, Musings, new york, Performances/Exhibitions | 2 Comments

I am writing this post not out of a desire to write a new post, rather out of my guilt in not having updated in some time. Of late my time has become increasingly precious, and this is not a format in which I have felt a neccesity to materialize my time.

Of Late:
I am taking a class on methods in the anthropology of sound and music. I read John Law’s After Method: Mess in Social Science Research. I enjoyed the book. I recommend the book. I am going to a do an ethnogrpahy of skateboarding for the class.

My disdain for the blatant mistreatment of dogs in the city baloons tot he point of outbursts. Many people have the tendency of walking with their dogs on a leash instead of walking their dogs. By this I mean that people pay no attention to the desires of the dog, and merely walk. This often resuls in the dogs being dragged when they stop to smell something or for other reasons. It doesn’t take much thoguht to realize that this must hurt the dogs’ feet as they scrape against the concrete. Disgusting.

The weather has been unpredicatable unless I check it through a widget before I go out.

I’ve been spending time with my friend Danny Coeyman.

I’ve also been spedning time with some friends from school: Yu ni, Sarah, and Maria. Also Maria’s boyfriend Guillermo, and Sarah’s boyfriend Tom.

I enjoy spending time with those people.

I manned a tap at a beer festival last Friday. I had more than enough fun, but not in an beeric consumption way.

I have performances coming up. On Monday the 18th I will be performing in a Cabaret to benefit Richard Schechner’s “Home New Orleans”. I will be performing with Randy J. Hunt. The performance will be at the Village Pour House. On the 28th I will be performing a solo work in AUNTS. Biba Bell–a classmate–has invited me to take part. I will be performing a solo for audience, and playing a recorded composition for one person at a time–seperate from the solo. I’ll provide more info soon.

School is great.

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