Seventeen nukes and a microphone

Hace unos días vi un episodio de Last Resort (una serie estadounidense sobre un submarino nuclear que se niega a cumplir con la orden de bombardear Pakistán) en el que en un momento dado alguien dice: «You’re your own country. Seventeen nukes and a microphone, what more do you need?».

Ah, es que 17 torpedos nucleares no son nada sin el poder de un micrófono. Como decía Ivan Illich en El silencio es un bien comunal, «al menos que tengamos acceso a un altavoz, estamos silenciados».

Last Resort, temporada 1 episodio 9.

Soft power

“Soft power is the ability to obtain what one wants through co-option and attraction. It can be contrasted with ‘hard power’, that is the use of coercion and payment. Soft power can be wielded not just by states but also by all actors in international politics, such as NGOs or international institutions.”


Una dicha matemáticamente perfecta

«Y vuestra misión es la de someter al bendito yugo de la razón todos aquellos seres desconocidos que pueblen los demás planetas y que tal vez se encuentren en el incivil estado de la libertad. Y si estos seres no comprendieran por las buenas que les aportamos una dicha matemáticamente perfecta, deberemos y debemos obligarles a esta vida feliz.»

Yevgueni Zamiatin, Nosotros.


I’ve always been obsessed with the relationships between sound and image, and databending is one of the easiest methods to transform a sound track into a still image. I like this approach because it’s an automatic transformation, not a prepared visualization. You don’t decide the outcome, it’s just the result of a mechanical process that you can’t control. Sometimes the resulting images are not very interesting, but sometimes are really mesmerizing.

I’ve been doing this kind of experiments for years and lately I though that maybe it would be interesting to show them in some kind of form, so I created Transsubstantiatio.

Immersion Into Noise

“If anything is representative of the art of noise, it is ambivalence.”

“Art must indict—or at the very least play the role of the noisy jester who unmasks the quietly persistent lies of the powerful.”

“Noise may break some connections, but connections will always continue to grow in other directions, creating new thoughts and new affects.”

“In one respect, all sounds and images are already a kind of noise: data without meaning.”

“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.”

“If we agree to combine this thought of noise art as a vacuole of noncommunication with an insistence on signal-to-noise 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.”

“I hypothesize that an art (or culture) of noise 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 that engulfs and (supposedly) controls us.”

“What the art of noise does is to take the meaninglessness of noise and convert it into the meaningful.”

“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.”

“What was once noise (unacceptable) has now become noise music (acceptable and even desirable).”

“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.”

“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).”

“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.”

“Normal noise, as opposed to art noise, doesn’t mean anything and isn’t about anything; it just is annoyingly so.”

“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. 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.”

“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.”

hyper-chaos (…) a form of absolutization where nothing is impossible or unthinkable.”

Immersion Into Noise [read]
Joseph Nechvatal

Doblegaron y quebraron a los hombres con los ritos y la música

Cuando aparecieron los sabios, doblegaron y quebraron a los hombres con los ritos y la música, para así corregir las formas y actitudes de todo el mundo; y presentaron como modelo la benevolencia y la justicia, para consuelo de los corazones del mundo entero. Sólo entonces el pueblo se lanzó a la carrera en pos del conocimiento, y empezó a luchar ahincadamente por las ventajas materiales. Y ya no se pudo parar. De todo lo cual los solos culpables fueron los sabios“.

Zhuang Zi: Maestro ChuangTsé

Streisand effect

“The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.”


If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution

“I did not believe that a cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things. Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world —prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.”

Emma Goldman

This incident was the source of a statement commonly attributed to Goldman that occurs in several variants:

If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution!
If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution!
If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.
A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
If there won’t be dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming.


El tormento de la elección

“En cada acción siempre queda irrealizada la posibilidad contraria. Tenemos que elegir y decidirnos entre quedarnos en casa o salir, trabajar o no hacer nada, tener hijos o no tenerlos, reclamar el dinero o perdonar la deuda, matar al enemigo o dejarlo vivir. El tormento de la elección nos persigue constantemente. No podemos eludir la decisión, porque «no hacer nada» es ya decidir contra la acción, «no decidir» es una decisión contra la decisión”.

La enfermedad como camino
Thorwald Dethlefsen y Rudiger Dahlke

Exponential growth of stupidity

I have a completely schizophrenic relationship with television. (…) The exponential growth of stupidity and vulgarity is something that everyone has noticed, but it’s not just a vague sense of disgust – it’s a concrete quantifiable fact (you can measure it by the volume of the cheers that greet the talk-show hosts, which have grown by an alarming number of decibels in the last five years) and a crime against humanity. (…) And since you are exploiting my Russian penchant for confession, I must say the worst: I am allergic to commercials. In the early Sixties, making commercials was perfectly acceptable; now, it’s something that no one will own up to. I can do nothing about it. This manner of placing the mechanism of the lie in the service of praise has always irritated me, even if I have to admit that this diabolical patron has occasionally given us some of the most beautiful images you can see on the small screen (have you seen the David Lynch commercial with the blue lips?). But cynics always betray themselves, and there is a small consolation in the industry’s own terminology: they stop short of calling themselves “creators,” so they call themselves “creatives.”

And the movies in all this? For the reasons mentioned above, and under the orders of Jean-Luc, I’ve said for a long time that films should be seen first in theaters, and that television and video are only there to refresh your memory. Now that I no longer have any time at all to go to the cinema, I’ve started seeing films by lowering my eyes, with an ever increasing sense of sinfulness (this interview is indeed becoming Dostoevskian). But to tell the truth I no longer watch many films, only those by friends, or curiosities that an American acquaintance tapes for me on TCM. There is too much to see on the news, on the music channels or on the indispensable Animal Channel. And I feed my hunger for fiction with what is by far the most accomplished source: those great American TV series, like The Practice. There is a knowledge in them, a sense of story and economy, of ellipsis, a science of framing and of cutting, a dramaturgy and an acting style that has no equal anywhere, and certainly not in Hollywood.”

Chris Marker, originally published in Libération, March 5, 2003. Documentary is Never Neutral