Alan Sondheim on 19 Nov 2000 16:07:44 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] living in mediaspace series

(The following series, some of which has been sent out independently, is
from a current residency, at the Experimental Television Center in Owego,
New York, with Azure Carter and Foofwa d'Imobilite.)

living in mediaspace 0

living in mediaspace 1 azure, foofwa, and i are living in media space. the
air is filled with electromagnetic discharge, cooling fans create a dis-
turbing hum, wires snake through the room, we're in the midst of the mach-
ine, the belly of it. living in mediaspace 2 there's no escape; the sound
and radiation continues through the night, matched only by the bleak sun-
rise and furnace roar, one toppling the other, the other toppling the one.
living in mediaspace 3 it's here we create our body movements, over and
over again, the irony of heavy labor in within the virtual, as we become
aware of big iron, even in the smallest appliance - of the need for clean
and proper protocols, as our body becomes increasingly filthy. living in
mediaspace 4 century-and-a-half old brick walls, wooden floors, skylight
and energy, wooden tables, several miles of tables, interoperability among
machines ranging from yesterday to forty years ago, analog and digital
regimes snaking into each other, patchcords and internal proprieties of
memory; we're here, turning knobs, pulling levers, plugging and unplugging
cords and cables, moving tripods, focusing cameras, aiming lights, speak-
ing, singing, walking, dancing, playing, theorizing, discussing, eating,
sleeping, excreting, shuddering, washing, dressing, typing, aligning, re-
aligning, transforming input to output, output to input, looping through
interruptions of storage media, replaying, rehearsing, recuperating. liv-
ing in mediaspace 5 my hands move across the six strings of the electric
guitar; they're not moving fast enough; when my fingers blur - then i know
something is working - something is laboring properly - the output roars
into being. living in mediaspace 6 intermittent taking of digital photo-
graphs through the obdurate regime of the real: everything returns to the
virtual; we're leaving our traces. living in mediaspace 7 thus tracing our
cords - where does this one or that one go - following the line snaking
among hundreds of others to the obverse side, interior, of the device or
patchbay: they go on with three switches half-buried among distribution
amplifiers and sync generators. living in mediaspace 8 the day is ready
when the machines are ready; some remain on, alert and vigilant through
the night; some sleep uneasily; some keep their clocks right on time. liv-
ing in mediaspace 9 we are sure to be activated; there's no uncertainty;
the bricks glow with data bombardment; we're becoming suffused; there's
not a moment to lose; the machines are waiting, tapes and disks running;
other storage media as well; there's always flash memory, wetware; the
room pulses to a single sync; you can almost hear us living in mediaspace
10; you can almost hear us breathing


living in mediaspace

now there we are in the background, huddled naked against the dancer, this
is very old-fashioned, dance and articulation, bodies and dreams of bod-
ies, media11 as i play old-fashioned shakuhachi living-bamboo, mirage sam-
pler, electric guitar, media12 against crashing shinto bell-gong sounds
earlier recorded, media13, working through a barrage of errors, computers
closing down after sound and videocards malfunction, removing the board
making matters worse, media14, trying different .mov compressions and set-
tling on sorenson 30-50 percent, putting aside temporarily the belkin usb
input device, media15, although first uploading a character-generated text
into a short video of wounding and sadness compressed like wap protocols,
media16, working with both hi8 v5000 taping with noise reduction and time
base correct, and dv all over, even with what's saved of jpegs on the zip
drive played back through the g4 which handles the sorenson beautifully,
media17, as usual i'm amazed at the labor involved in finding the right
usb or rca or digital or s cables, moving from one to another conversion,
usually ending, media18, at adobe premier, recording straight wording and
harmonica through the mirage, media19, more and more impedance problems,
how can all of this work together, media20, the videotoaster 4000 no long-
er with us and the 2000 giving out right here, just now, but the images
from the nikon 800 beautiful and tomorrow we'll set up the analog video
synthesizer again for vocal switching, media21, while i'll play back the
live mirage sound recorded on the sony professional cassette player, not
dat, but with good plugin powered mikes, through the onkyo deck, while 
azure and i are working naked, shaved, elsewhere, dreams reflecting off
bodies against brilliant difficult dance taken from nikuko parable texts
and the problematics, media22, of ballet

    23	living in 23
    24	waking this morning, knowing i'm irrelevant to the world and all
    25	my instantiations which will have maybe another twenty years of
    26	creative life if alzheimer's doesn't get to me, azure and foofwa
    27	asleep in their respective rooms (she's in the back of the main
    28	studio with me, i'm typing in mediaspace on a pc laptop, there's
    29	a pc next to me, then the video synthesizer (analog computer), 
    30	then a couple of amigas, then the mac g4, all surrounded by and
    31	surrounding other dedicated units, actually the amigas are dedi-
    32	cated, one running a frame-bragger* / processor, and the other a
    33	time base corrector, as well as the dying toaster), am i dying,
    34	it is another early morning, knowing i'm the old man fading into
    35	the older brick walls, trying not to become too swamped by what
    36	might be depression slogging in; i'm thinking - here i want to
    37	become-, not -woman, but -digital, losing myself between one bit
    38	and another, leaving the odd eternal life, and outside, just as
    39	in joyce's story, it looks like snow and memories
    40	*should be frame-grabber, but the typo works in affect
    41  living in media41


living in 42 mediaspace

delicate fluttering pink things in the wires over there
labor of foofwa dance over here
alan wants to be a machine more than any other thing
azure will melt wires surround alan bleak insulation plastic
almost smudged against circuit boards, sputtering out
he doesn't become a man she doesn't become a woman
ballet doesn't need dancers screens don't need cables
rooms don't need ceilings cities don't need streets
fluttering pink things don't need air 



"43 yes a fingers and feet nightmare! your inscription finished, you have
created thing."

43% completed defragmentation next to me. last night, too many cameras,
five, to few microphones, one, too many devices, perhaps ten including the
video analog synthesizer, too unprepared for embedding. :camera say hello
to us and camera heal us

the seals were broken. what little text escaped was drowned in flesh burst
open by contrary bytes. blood short-circuited everything, including hearts
and motherboards, mute blindness of cameras recording it all

in the wires, my arms stuck out, and one leg was severed at the cable
junction, all of us could feel incipient life growing, tumors in the
midst of analog pots struggling to control signal feedbacks, keeping the
graph clean on the waveform monitors

your elegiac names my camera say hello to us and camera heal us

"your the seals were broken. what little text escaped was drowned in flesh
burst open by contrary bytes. blood short-circuited everything, including
hearts and motherboards, mute blindness of cameras recording it all. -4394
text is your final enunciation. for 43 sutured hours, we have been dead
and written. and it has taken you 43.450 minutes to write your last"
"production with ideogrammar"


living in media44space: the new piece

44 placing chinese chop below NOT 
ideogram 45 body under affect and
51 nipples dotted turned towards f
luttered five camera 52 thus jagged
against the other in fast switchin
g 57 bodies in cave pulled out into
and red on white skin of violent s
exual revolution 61 switching controlled
by audio 62 meaning, look, i di/s/
play myself, reading these from language
erasure 46 thin labia of supine bo
dy 47 NOT ideogram of violent sexual
five camera flicked twisted body i
nto body 50 handled penis of supine body
incision of kanji ideogram flicked
 across frame 53 twisted body jagged 54
meaning 58 pulled meaning from bod
ies flanged against dark blue 59 b
revolution 48 writing NOT ideogram
 above the cunt and cock 49 flutte
smeared kanji before erasure after
 violent grasp 56 cameras shifted 


living in mediaspace 60

we've finished fifteen pieces in three days. music sources include moog
and mirage, electric guitar and voice, shakuhachi and harmonica. video
processing includes adobe premier, an old titling program on an amiga, and
the analog video synthesizer. other media include the usual computer prog-
rams and everything's checked on the g4. shooting sites include a wildlife
refuge about two miles from here, as well as the interior of the loft.
other work produced includes about 45 digital photographs and a number of
texts. there are several strands to all of this - working with the nikuko
parables, working with a critique and sexualization of ballet, and working
through systems of signs and the body. for once the intensity has remained
through everything; we play back through premier, but also on cdrom, and
we're finding ourselves constantly astounded. the space and architecture
of the loft seem liquid, mobile; the movements and cameras are determining
the reading of worlds, not proscenia. the pieces are also fragmenting;
there may be several versions of each, and we don't choose between them
but keep them all.

burning them into cdroms which are write-once only gives them the perman-
ency of sculpture, of inert materiality, the grain of the planet. it's as
if we're there on-disk online re-enacting or recuperating the same move-
ments and the same firewalls against death, as ever; we're caught, to be
played backwards and forwards, repeatedly. you can see this in the seman-
tics of the work itself; one of the pieces is a parable scrolling in re-
verse, from top to bottom; through several loopings, the meaning, the time
of it all, become clear. last night i dreamed of my mother again, with the
same narratology - there is a traumatic interruption announcing her death,
that she is death; i wake somewhat later, almost in tears.  look at this,
this looping in wetware under constant mismanagement; it is inconstancy
which harbors memory, not the truth burned into microscopic tracks. it
takes the pure light of a laser to read them.

there seems to be a truth in nudity in all of this, something neither
machine nor inscription can touch. it's as if what's signified - the pre-
sentation of the naked sexualized body - converts only ikonically - that
is, through representation, into itself, looped through the viewer, who
completes the real. while foofwa is dancing, is a dancer, azure and myself
stumble or present differently, and the difference draws dancer and danc-
ing in; the fictivity of the dance is subverted by the labor and body of
the dancer, and everything reaches or lathers around or through the same

look at this, look at this, look at this.


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