Thursday, 4 June 2009


In Cocteau's 1950 film Orphée, in scenes modelled on the secret communications networks operated by the Résistance during the Second World War, the hero hears lines of coded radio transmissions from a dead poet. In Calling All Agents, INS General Secretary Tom McCarthy argues that this conjunction of the technological, the aesthetic and the political is loaded with contemporary significance. He maps the transmission-reception figure across Freud, Heidegger, Hergé, Burroughs and Nabokov, the invention of the telephone and the discovery of Tutenkhamun, connecting it with contemporary artistic strategies and wireless technologies.
From General Secretary's Report to the International Necronautical Society  by Tom McCarthy

"...the starting point was, I was fascinated with this moment in Jean Cocteau’s 1949/1950 film Orphée—his retelling of the Orpheus myth—where this dead poet, Cégeste, after he’s dead, he sets up almost like a pirate-radio transmitter, and he transmits these short lines of poetry, these urgent messages. Orphée, who’s alive, picks them up on his car radio between stations—it’s not a registered radio station. And he is completely compelled by these messages. They say things like, “Listen, the bird paints with his fingers, two times. I repeat…” and then it repeats. Or “Silence goes more quickly when played backward. Listen, two times.” And then there is a chain of numbers and general sound of static and things. And it seemed to me, when I saw the film, that Cocteau was onto something. He’d intuited some essential relationship between technology, poetry, and desire.
And when I looked into it further I found that Cocteau had kind of stolen the idea, if you like, or had gotten the idea from World War II, when the British Secret Services were transmitting into occupied France, these lines of poetry, just like in the movie. Ninety-nine out of every hundred meant absolutely nothing, but every hundredth or two-hundredth was code for, like, “Now, blow up the bridge.” “Now, assassinate the colonel.” So, of course, the Germans didn’t know which was which. So they’re listening to them, looking for patterns of recognition and trying to crack them.
That was the starting point for the project that I ended up doing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts: sending out these radio messages, trying to open up this kind of sub-official, subliminal frequency that was at once an aesthetic project and a political one, I guess. "
From the Believer magazine 

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

sonic attack

"All music and talk and sound recorded by a battery of tape recorders recording and playing back moving on conveyor belts and tracks spilling the talk and metal music fountains and speech as the recorders moved from one exhibit to another- Vast mobile sculptures of music boxes and recorders wind chimes and movies of the exhibit reflected from ponds and canals and islands where restaurants enclosed in flicker cylinders spilled light and talk and music across the water- Movies mix on screen half one half the other- Characters walk in and out of the screen flickering different films on and off- Conversations recorded in movies taken during the exhibit appear on the screen until all the spectators are involved situations permutating and moving-(Since the recorders and movies of the exhibition are in constant operation it will be readily seen that any spectator appears on the screen sooner or later..."  William Burroughs 

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

popular man around the office

(...) record your boss and co-workers analyze their associational patterns learn to imitate their voices oh you U be a popular man around the office but not easy to compete with the usual procedure record their body sounds from concealed mikes the rhythm of breathing the movements of after-lunch intestines the beating of hearts now impose your own body sounds and become the breathing word and the beating heart of that organization become that organization the invisible brothers are invading present time.

William Burroughs, the invisible generation

Monday, 1 June 2009

Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps

Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps - Empires of Time
An interesting book by Peter Galison .

Description: "Clocks and trains, telegraphs and colonial conquest: the challenges of the late nineteenth century were an indispensable real-world background to the enormous theoretical breakthrough of relativity. And two giants at the foundations of modern science were converging, step-by-step, on the answer: Albert Einstein, an young, obscure German physicist experimenting with measuring time using telegraph networks and with the coordination of clocks at train stations; and the renowned mathematician Henri Poincaré, president of the French Bureau of Longitude, mapping time coordinates across continents. Each found that to understand the newly global world, he had to determine whether there existed a pure time in which simultaneity was absolute or whether time was relative.

Esteemed historian of science Peter Galison has culled new information from rarely seen photographs, forgotten patents, and unexplored archives to tell the fascinating story of two scientists whose concrete, professional preoccupations engaged them in a silent race toward a theory that would conquer the empire of time. 40 b/w illustrations."