Janos Sugar on Thu, 20 Jun 96 00:10 GMT+0100

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 Thinking Aloud

1. Rivers and Bridges

Even as a ready made image,  the bridge is quite a broad metaphor, easily
interpreted in a metaphor-hungry world.  New phenomena emerge, absorbing
metaphors,  traceless,  reminding the work of understanding to the hopeless
task of erecting a dam.  We are living in a notional-vacuum - searching for
synonyms to put an old content before the background of a new context,
with a grand gesture rendering them visible.  The tools of our analogical
way of thinking are the word-images,  rendering the representation of the
past to the notions of the present.  We try to discover new words,  finding
references to reveal the mechanisms of the medialized world - the global
feedback,  where past-less,  reference-less yet very efficient media
surround us.  In our multilevel networked age the world is full of
potential metaphors,  we need to attempt to let the mythical experience
interweave the products of our technological boom.

For me moreover,  the bridge was a returning dream, I dreamt about a bridge
standing alone and lonely in the sea,  not connecting - nothing to nothing
.  We are constantly participants in situations to which the metaphor of
Bridges and Rivers refers to - two different dimensions crossing each
other: a natural border and an artificial construction.  The overcoming of
natural obstacles is reached through the help of a civilisatoric technique,
an artificial construction,  an engineering masterpiece making possible
the 'get across' of a dynamic,  unstoppable entity.  The bridges have their
own names,  yet it sounds like the naming of a scapegoat, breaking the
biblical prohibition of loosen and binding. From an engineering point of
view,  the memorial to breaking the prohibition is the temptation of
possibilities.  One may not underestimate the strategic significance of

They mark important places,  exceptional points - border crossings,
checkpoints where we can cross the contradictions keeping our feet dry. The
blowing up of dams,  the burning of bridges has always had symbolic
significance - the Pope as Pontifex Maximus meant the biggest bridge
builder.  During WW2 all the eight bridges of Budapest crossing the Danube
were blown up and the rebuilding of these bridges signaled,  like a
gigantic concept art piece,  the speed of moving away from the past.
Bridges fulfill the need of limitless access to the 'everywhere' - two
separate entities connect,  a matrix of bridges creating a new dimension
based on connections .  The bridges are corridors for the Memes ,
isolation disappears and infections (multiculture) begin to penetrate - the
bridge as serious source of danger.

Today the bridge is a link,  one single association,  the memorial to an
accidental running thought,  connecting two isolated data-particles in the
information universe.  The quantity of links meaning popularity thereby a
tool of selection.  Links creating the hypermedia, where anything can occur
except metacommunication.

2. Revolution of Hearing

Multiculturalism is  a common place,  it is a daily routine, a continuous
experience.  In a situation where I cannot be sure to whom I am addressing,
overcultural,  superlinginguistic communication plays an important role.
To find our way around in the daily practice of the age of transit
passengers, we need obvious,  understandable signs.  This is a democratic
language understood by everyone - the language of symbiotic cooperation.
Visual communication is the most simple - we orient primarily through our
eyes,  images are widely understandable.  Seeing is more and more a merely
cognitive process,  the understanding is consciously controlled.  Visuality
becomes a unilateral communication tool,  in accordance with this our
environment is visually overloaded - our social, visual and acoustic spaces
are filled by the multicultural horror vacui. Everyone wanting to
communicate with images against the spoken word.  If we want to build a
bridge between ourselves and the 'other' - signs, symbols, logos,
pictograms crowd our visual space.

The spoken word remains the global English:  love,  stop,  go,  feeling,
new,  etc. - the 500 most important words to the inhabitants of the planet.
Deriving from its efficiency the image is no longer a mere spectacle,  but
a surface,  an interface; we need to get into an interactive relationship
if we would like to conquer the domain of the unknown.  That's why it had a
revolutionary significance when Ivan Sutherland presented the Sketchpad
software in 1962,  the sensation of direct freehand drawn lines on the
computer display: a gesture-input, associative of the visual communication.
The relationship with the machine has become anthropomorphised,  on the
basis of physical experiences all the operations are easily executable.

It seems that with our other hi-tech perception device,  just the opposite
occurs:  there is no communication business of that scale built on hearing.
Only speaking takes seriously advantage of our ear. Hearing is linear,
bound to the course of time,  like we are bound to  the irreversible
direction of time.  Medial design sees in listening the quickest way to the
subconscious. It's like a direct channel to subliminal manipulation.
Because of this our auditive space is continuously filled by prescribed
sound - consciously joined to our actual mental state, spatial noise
information and an incredible amount of engineered music/signals.  Thanks
to improving recording techniques the music has a background function. We
do not pay special attention (conscious listening),  because everything is
concealed, (canned, conserved).  Since the appearance of sound in motion
picture films, we are living in a continuos musical background. We have
learned how to regulate our musical taste and perception to our fate
(live-recorded ratio).  The case of concentrated listening is rather rare,
listening requires real-personal time in a society always on the move - the
spectacle is lost when the music is already recorded.  When we are really
(consciously) using
this high level perception device it is exceptional,  solemn,  quasi
ceremonial (live concerts, rave parties, etc.). Otherwise the sound is only
background,  muzak making the work easier on the assembly line.

The radio is one of the eldest 'new media',  it remains on a large and
clumsy infrastructure,  having been relegated to a secondary role after the
advent of newer 'new media' (sound plus visual, like TV).  Maximum as
supporting phenomenon of multimedia,  in which sound acts as illustration
material,  disburdening the eye.  The centers of power realized its
significance rather early and are interested to keep it a unilateral,
one-way form of communication,  creating a precedent for later developments
in technology.  Radio is the only medium where our fantasy is inspired
through our ears,  with a gesture-input twisting of the knob we can
navigate the cyber-ocean of various audio broadcasts.  So we can hear the

3. goals

Multi minus one medium. Using the ear, vacation of eye.
- to enhance the activity of listening, to have the same consciousness
toward the audio - acoustic environment,  as  to the visual; to activate
the passive perception of hearing, a postgraduate education of the ear,
revival of darkness,  thinking aloud,  with closed eyes
- building up dialog - bridge - between the institutional, traditional
suppliers  and the non institutional, non conventional users of the radio
medium, pirate stations, web radio, helping the transition toward the new
technological versions of the radio medium
- focus on  acoustic activity in the practice, (let artists onto the air,
acoustic performances) and in the realm of media theory have the spoken
language as the most basic territory

4. ideas

-collecting visual elements, (real bridges, rivers, architecture, drawings,
photos etc.) and textual references, sound documents in order to create
database published on the net;
-constructing a small wooden bridge, where in every hour one could hear the
12 o clock  news broadcast, always from a different time zone;
 -publish informations how to be an independent audio provider, technical
infos, (how to build a pirate stations),  examples, transcriptions;

5. Form

  I imagine a  radio play,  one homogeneous 24 hour live radio program- one
complete day of live broadcast,  with one central station,  center,  mixing
office.  Speakers,  hosts changing throughout the day.   The  radio program
should be directed (organized) by a story,  a drama,  a narrative tale - a
global narrative which can be a very simple (mythical) story.  The
allotment of time to the broadcasters would be in relation to content,  not
on an equal,  egalitarian distribution.  It should be a one day continuous
global radio play for a global public,  put together of local public
events,  by local suppliers:  live voice,  acoustic or theater
performances, etc. -  ideally this should span to outside of the actual
world broadcast.   The public could follow it either by listening to the
radio -- it should have as many as possible broadcasting stations as it can
(it should be accessible everywhere) -- or attending the local events. It
should be a multi-tongue (not multilingual )  situation among native and
not native speakers, bad and less bad translators. Since Rilke and
Heisenberg it's obvious that even the observer is observed. In other words,
there is no original, or everyone belongs to a minority.

The theme is rivers and bridges and the idea of translation could be
represented by various local moderators, particular professionals and
non-professionals,  who are commenting,  translating the events,  chatting
with each other,  and participating in this global live program.

6. Call

- for images, texts, documents concerning rivers and bridges
- for proposals for the narrative structure global radio play
- for proposals for local live acoustic events,  for bridges and rivers
related acoustic  materials

János Sugár