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<nettime> Revised: Scripted Space: Film Form/Film Formlessness
Paul D. Miller on Thu, 7 Apr 2005 04:23:21 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Revised: Scripted Space: Film Form/Film Formlessness


Hey People - for some reason the footnotes got=20
clipped off, plus it was late at nite, and I=20
forgot to mention that the festival was. So I'm=20
resending the essay's final draft. The Festival,=20
by the way - it's called "Sonar" and its one of=20
the largest electronic music festivals in Europe.=20
The book that accompanies Sonar is called "The=20
Sound of Speed." I've written the introduction.=20
It has essays and interviews from a wide variety=20
of artists involved with the electronic music=20
scene plus film directors and multi-media=20
artists. More info: www.sonar.es

Sorry 'bout the mix-up, but hey, that's what=20
happens when you finish an essay at 5 a.m.

and oh yeah, it's f*cking multi-cultural contemporary art.



The Sound of Speed preface by Paul D. Miller=20
a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid
with

Darren Aronofsky
Coldcut
Matthew Herbert
Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid


and others

pax,
Paul



=46ilm Form/Film Formlessness


"In Nature we never see anything isolated, but=20
everything in connection with something else=20
which is before it, beside it, under it, and over=20
it."

Goethe, 1825


"The Perfect Beat - can never really be found,=20
it's the search that makes the event happen"
Afrika Bambaataa - Looking for the Perfect Beat, 1979

goto>text>file>original>flipmode

	What happens when you see an image, but=20
hear no sound? What happens when you hear a=20
sound, but see no image? These are rhetorical=20
questions in search of rhetorical answers. The=20
method of the inquiry is what drives the=20
investigation. Thought holds the bits and pieces=20
of the process together, but that's my point.=20
These days it almost seems as if media has become=20
an entire ecology for most of the "developed=20
world." With our cell phones able to beam us high=20
resolution videos, our 'podcast attention span=20
searches for the next download almost like a=20
character out of William S. Burrough's "Beat"=20
imagination. Our bill boards switch images with=20
blinding speed, our advertisement drenched urban=20
landscape that stretches from the city to the=20
suburbs, and the exurbs beyond. These=20
hyper-accelerated phenomena of what I like to=20
call "prosthetic-realism" are the principle=20
metaphors for a culture that has shifted away=20
from the physical objects of the 20th century, to=20
the wireless imagination of the 21s. Today, our=20
contemporary information ecology is a coded=20
landscape: it is a Sphinx that asks a riddle for=20
which there is no answer - how do you make sense=20
of the datacloud? The "mix" has absorbed all of=20
this. Artificial or real, nature or nurture - the=20
idea of nature has been displaced by the man made=20
environment of the urban NOW. All of this we take=20
for granted. We wake up in the morning, and we=20
turn on the computer to download the days=20
details. We move in a stream of data that almost=20
seems insatiable. Bits and bytes are how we=20
define the information around us. In our info=20
experience economy, they are omnivourous and ever=20
present.

Go to:

	To put it in some perspective, a Terabyte=20
could hold about 3.6 million 300 Kilobyte images=20
or maybe about 300 hours of good quality video. A=20
Terabyte could hold 1,000 copies of the=20
Encyclopedia Britannica. Ten Terabytes could hold=20
the printed collection of the Library of=20
Congress. A brontobyte is million million=20
petabytes, enough to store everything that's ever=20
been filmed, taped, photographed, recorded,=20
written, spoken, and probably even thought . At=20
the current moment, humanity produces about 5=20
petabytes of data a year - most of it is data=20
transmissions - cell phones, faxes, and whatnot.=20
The basic implication is that database aesthetics=20
are the way we think - the creative act in this=20
environment is as much about how we explore the=20
information that we live in, as it is about how=20
to play with the density.

Collage? Forget it - its last century's news.

Bricolage? So very 1920's.

=46luxus? C'mon=8A

Neo-Expressionism? C'mon=8A that went out in the 1970's. It's tired.

New term:
Scripted Space

Public Expression, private space: a flux of=20
architectures frozen and then dethawed. Think of=20
the description as the liquid play of software,=20
wetware, and hardware.  Like Warhol: From A to B=20
and back again. The loops these beats are made=20
from move between the realm of the visual and the=20
audio, the tactile and the invisible. They=20
describe the space in between all of the defined=20
points on the landscape to create a mesh of=20
invisible correspondences. A new axiom remixes=20
the old: from landscape to datascape and back=20
again, we live the exchange. Call it=20
transactional realism.

Scripted space: Architecture is nothing but=20
frozen music. Music is nothing but liquid=20
architecture. We dethaw the process. This is the=20
experience economy.

It's generally agreed that the first known use of=20
music with the cinema was on December 28, 1895,=20
when the Lumi=E8re family attempted to test the=20
commercial value of some of its earliest film=20
works. That first screening, with piano=20
accompaniment, took place at the Grand Caf=E9 on=20
the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris. It's also=20
generally believed that at the fist public=20
showing of the Lumi=E8re program in Britain, at the=20
Polytechnic on Regent Street, a harmonium from=20
the Polytechnic's chapel was used to accompany=20
the screening. This performance occurred on=20
=46ebruary 20, 1896, and by the time Spring arrived=20
in April that year, orchestras had become popular=20
musical accompaniment for films wherever they=20
were played  . The idea of the "theme song" took=20
on a life of its own as cinema evolved from the=20
small theaters to become a genre in its own=20
right. Today when we look at remixed video clips=20
by groups like Emergency Broadcast Network,=20
Hexstatic, or Eclectic Method, one can see the=20
same logic at play: essentially, sound is meant=20
to be the glue holding the collage of experiences=20
together. The theme song is an audio logo lifted=20
from any scene, any mix CD, and sound file - and=20
given an imaginary context. Theme and scene.=20
Rhythm and edited context. The spectator puts the=20
meaning together. Again, the mix, is what you=20
make of it.
	A couple of years after the Lumi=E8re crew=20
made their name in the film industry the Russian=20
composer Alexander Scriabin created works that=20
were meant to embody a concept where light=20
projections were extensions of the orchestral=20
works he composed. Light and sound were meant,=20
essentially, to be interchangeable. It's hard to=20
say whether Scriabin was a madman, a genius, a=20
philosopher, or a mystic. All that's certain is=20
that he wanted to, as he would put it, create a=20
'theater of sound' that immersed the listener in=20
an imaginary landscape. "I create you as a=20
complex unity" he wrote in his "Po=E9m de l'Extase"=20
(Op. 54, Poem of Ecstasy, 1905). A visionary?=20
Scriabin was all of this at the same time - a=20
personality that combined contradictions. I like=20
to think of him as a "conceptual engineer."

CD:dir>
Sample clip begins:
	We take a sample from a text, and flip it=20
into the remix file: In his first compositional=20
phase, which lasted until around 1898, Scriabin=20
was explicitly influenced by Chopin. After that,=20
he became interested in philosophy, and explored=20
several systems of thought, but didn't delve=20
deeply into any. Having read authors like Goethe,=20
Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Plato, and Schelling,=20
Scriabin decided on synthesizing a system of his=20
own. Wagner's idea of  "Total Work of Art"=20
attracted Scriabin's attention, because like=20
himself, Wagner was a totalist - he wanted to=20
create music that acted as a crucible for an=20
entire spectrum of experience, and in a sense, he=20
followed the path that Wagner set up, but added=20
several layers of complexity. Like Wagner,=20
Scriabin could not consider music as "pure" - it=20
was a reflection site for almost any possibility,=20
a reference point that could combine with any=20
circumstance. Music, because of its total=20
invisibility was the location of sonic alchemy.=20
Thus he made his works tone poems. For him, the=20
basic process of understanding how to make=20
meaning from sound, and provide visual content=20
for it was the contex of the composition. Think=20
of the tension between context and content as a=20
deliberate ambiguity. It's that kind of mapping=20
that I'm writing about in this essay - it was an=20
attempt to break down boundaries between the=20
invocation and the conception of music and images=20
as separate artforms. Music had to express=20
something. Wagner's concept of Gesamtkunstwerk=20
was based on a convergence of philosophy,=20
religion, and art. And for Scriabin - this was a=20
location where a transubstantiation would be=20
achieved through music - he wanted a tone-poem of=20
sound leading to ecstasy. Through this musical=20
rite, he intended to recover the ancient history=20
of magic powers (Bowers 1970,1:319). Again: this=20
was his alchemical impulse.

It's in "Prometheus, The Poem of Fire", his last=20
symphony (1908), that his project was fully=20
realized. It's essentially one of his most=20
profound compositions. Unlike much of\\classical=20
music before or after it, "Prometheus=8A" set the=20
idea of light and sound solidly combined to=20
create a fully immersive experience - as such, it=20
was a predecessor to much of what we experience=20
today. Flip the script - read the light, hear the=20
projection, taste the sound: "Prometheus=8A"=20
requires, besides the orchestral apparatus=20
(orchestra, choir, and piano), a "tastiera per=20
luce", a keyboard for light that projects=20
predetermined colors in synchrony with the music.=20
In the original score, there is a motif entitled=20
"Luce",  that indicated musical notes=20
corresponding to the colors determined by the=20
composer. For Scriabin, this correspondence was=20
meant to occur in a synthetically. Think of all=20
of the material on one palette - color tones,=20
modes of projection, and of course, how the=20
intent of the piece is an invocation of a=20
different world, and you get an idea of the power=20
of the poem as audio logo. With this view,=20
starting from an arbitrary, personal color scale,=20
he matched the colors chosen with the fundamental=20
notes of the inversions of the synthetic chord.=20
The "Luce" motif ends up accompanying the=20
harmonic succession of the work - sound became=20
abstract image, abstract image engulfing the=20
spectator in a mesh of correspondences.

	With "Prometheus", Scriabin opened a new=20
vocabulary in his musical language. He created a=20
musical calculus where concepts of basic=20
traditional harmony such as the idea of tonality=20
are replaced by almost "ready-made" harmonic=20
nuclei that could generate the theme and unify=20
the derivations of the chords in the composition.=20
Like "lego blocks" of sound, he made structures=20
that were mutable, yet consistent with his=20
compositional strategies.  The orchestral work=20
was essentially a large scale multi-media poem=20
before the idea of multi-media had come into=20
existence. Today, what for Scriabin was at the=20
edge of the imaginable, we now do with the ease=20
of a generation that has grown up in an=20
environment akin to almost everything artists=20
like him anticipated. We do the same thing with=20
software. It's an inheritance as much as from=20
Duchamp's "found objects" as it is from the idea=20
of using pre-composed blocks of sound (then=20
having an orchestra play them). Musical=20
variations on a myth become software=20
improvisations, game strategies for the digerati.=20
In this context the "sample" is an abstract=20
machine: it can be any instrument. Check it: For=20
Scriabin this "nucleus" in the middle of his=20
chord is a code generator - he described it as=20
the "synthetic chord", also known as tonality=20
chord or mystic chord.  It's used continuously as=20
an emblem of composition enmeshed in poetry,=20
besides serving as a basis and a unifying=20
principle. The poem is a code of repetition. The=20
code in an editing machine. Repeat. Update the=20
formula, and transfer the metaphor. The will of=20
the producer is the driving force - in this=20
context, the musical discourse became a kind of=20
ideological software.  So to with multi-media. I=20
draw a link - it's up to the reader to connect=20
the dots. Myth thinking becomes myth science.=20
Play variable X to generate variable Y, cut and=20
paste the end result. Edit, loop, break it down.=20
Compile and render the file. Repeat . Sample Clip=20
Ends: goto>text>file>original:
So what are we art loving, ADD (attention deficit=20
disorder) frazzled, and digitally overloaded=20
artists, writers, and musicians to think about=20
all of this? My answer is simply this: think and=20
play. Plug and play. Download and play. Always=20
remember: the keyword in this search engine:=20
"play." So many of us are too serious. We in the=20
United States have had the most mediated war in=20
human history fought in front of our eyes, and no=20
one knows what's going on. We've watched=20
elections televised, edited, and sequenced in a=20
way that would have made Stalin proud. It's that=20
obvious, and still, the population has no idea=20
what's going on. How does one of the most=20
advanced nations on the planet have one of the=20
most ignorant populations on the planet? Simply=20
put: our media ecology, like so much else in the=20
world, is completely screwed up. It doesn't take=20
a rocket scientist to understand that the=20
difference between Europe and the U.S. is based=20
on a different ecology. The soundtracks are=20
different too! Once it gets to multi-media and=20
contemporary art, the difference meter goes off=20
the scale. I don't even know where to begin or=20
end the critique, but the main thing to think=20
about is that the way we consume entertainment is=20
a good place to start. A parade of characters -=20
That Subliminal Kid, Dizzee Rascal, Blacktronica,=20
Airborne Audio, TV on the Radio=8A. Hexstatic,=20
Coldcut, Macrosound listserv, Amon Tobin's "Chaos=20
Theory" sound track to Tom Clancy's "Splinter=20
Cell" video game, Scanner's soundtrack to Derek=20
Jarman's "The Garden is Full of Metal," Illegal=20
Art - www.illegalart.org, Craig Baldwin's=20
documentary on audio theft and copyright=20
violation entitled "Sonic Outlaws," Emergency=20
Broadcast Network's "Zoo TV" tour for U2, Kembrew=20
Mcleod's "Copyright Criminals," Panoptic=8A And so=20
on. These are names of producers, artists, and=20
creatives. These are pseudonyms for the work they=20
do. Flip it: The method is the mode. The mode is=20
the medium.

	According to the Economist's April 2005=20
edition and TNS Media Intelligence=20
(www.tnsmediaintelligence.co.uk/) there are=20
something like 400 to 700 brands that come into=20
existence everyday. And each and every one of=20
them needs attention. It's a world where identity=20
and attention are scarce resources. In this=20
info-drenched landscape the sounds of film, the=20
film of sounds, are a mytho-poetic space. They=20
create a logo-centric realm where we inhabit the=20
images that we create with an ease that would=20
have astounded Scriabin and the Lumi=E8re family.=20
One era's technology is another era's mythology.=20
That's what I've been hinting at all along: the=20
multimedia environments you'll be reading in the=20
rest of this book are conversations about a=20
certain kind of media literacy. One that posits=20
"reading" as being aware of the interplay of=20
archival elements, and asks, like a dj, for you=20
to make your own mix of the fragments. Again, we=20
go back to the idea of the "audio logo" - this=20
time think about the impact of Raymond Scott's=20
compositions that were used as backdrops for Bugs=20
Bunny, and think about how each character's=20
movements are accompanied by a shift in sound=20
texture. The fragments become echo chambers for=20
the movements that they reflect. The same thing=20
happens with multi-media and film composition in=20
a digital environment.

"Whatever our hearing tells us about space and=20
the directions from which sounds reach us is not=20
strictly indispensable=8A space and time are=20
annihilated=8AIt strikes us as uncanny that=20
pictures can be sent by telephone, and that we=20
can see by radio=8A "
Rudolph Arnheim "Film As Art: A forecast of Television"
1935

"Cellulae" means simply, in Latin - "little=20
rooms" or "compartments" - think of the same word=20
applied to cellular networks, cellspace, mobile=20
networks, virtual reality, evolution,=20
nanotechnology, and mobile media - frames per=20
second on celluloid, or lines per millimeter for=20
NTSC and PAL. You've just mapped one metaphor=20
onto another. Biology meets technology in the=20
exchange. And both gain. It's a situation where 1=20
+ 1 =3D anything. Think of the wordplay on the term=20
"media" and apply the same metaphoric shuffle,=20
and you get all sorts of multiple perspectives.=20
Again: that's the point.  The woes that have=20
befallen the "old media," all puns intended, have=20
reached cartoonish proportions. Let's look at=20
Sergei Eisenstein's essay written in Moscow,=20
April 1929 after the rise of the Soviet Union -=20
and see how resonant it is with our media=20
landscape:

A DIALECTIC APPROACH TO FILM FORM

Thus:
	The Projection of the dialectic system of things
	Into the brain
	Into creating abstractly
into the process of thinking
	yields: dialectic methods of thinking;
	dialectic materialism -			Philosophy.

And also:

	The projection of the same system of things
	While creating concretely
	While giving form
	Yields:					Art.

What Eisenstein focused on was a kind of=20
"dialectics" of projection that we are now living=20
in as a basic foundation for contemporary=20
multi-media. He went on to write: "The foundation=20
for this philosophy is a dynamic concept of=20
things:

Being - as a constant evolution from the=20
interaction of two contradictory opposites.

Synthesis - arising from the opposition between thesis and antithesis=8A.

The spatial form of this dynamism is expression.
The phases of its tension: rhythm. 

[script>goto:skip>fade>enter:]
	When the record collection of noted=20
anthropologist Harry Smith was released as a=20
statement that sought to define American folk=20
music he was perplexed. He won a Grammy Award for=20
it, and he was still pretty confused. For him,=20
his record collection had always been a sound=20
track to play for friends that would come over to=20
his loft in downtown Manhattan. The records would=20
play, and he would switch them in time to the=20
collage films he had hand drawn in sequence to=20
music by the likes of Charles Mingus, Prince=20
Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers, and the Beatles.=20
=46rom Cajun social music to Appalachian murder=20
ballads, his film's record-turntable soundtracks=20
were collages of radically disparate cultures=20
and, like the multi-media scene today - they were=20
often unfinished and unstable. They were drawn by=20
hand because that was the way things worked for=20
Harry Smith. For our digital media drenched=20
landscape, we edit by hand and use software to=20
interpret the gestures. We've come full circle.=20
The Beats of the 1950's represented a break in a=20
hyper conservative American culture, and in the=20
same way that Eisenstein would link montage to=20
his state apparatus (he made films dedicated to=20
Lenin after all=8A), Smith made films that=20
reflected his milieu. Multi media - the speed of=20
sound, the sound of speed, reflects this like an=20
archaeology of broadband. See how those old 56k=20
modems work in the era of Land Area Networks, and=20
cellular relays, and think of what it was like to=20
play records at a "Beat" party of the 1950's with=20
projections. For us, the Beats have become our=20
beats. We move to rhythms dispersed like=20
waveforms, our sounds are alive like the last=20
living leaf from a dying tree. We reflect deeply=20
uncertain times. Again: the natural and the=20
artificial blur with blinding speed. In the 19th=20
century Karl Marx could say "all that is solid=20
melts into air." In our era, we repurpose that=20
phrase and remix it: all that was solid becomes=20
software. Music is a mirror held up to the world=20
to see what stares back. The image is what we can=20
make of it. Sound track/image track. All mutable,=20
all mutually conditioning.

>goto>
Scripted Space>Sample Clip begins> Norman M. Klein, film historian>C:dir>

Where does that leave our public culture today?=20
We return to arrangements vaguely similar to the=20
Baroque mercantile public world of 1620 A.D. but=20
dominated by new systems of power - under the=20
cybernetic impact of metaconsumerism (from=20
warfare to computer games). This eccentric blend=20
of miniature and the massive produces monuments=20
for transconsumerism, like the Rococo ceilings in=20
Las Vegas super malls, and IMAX cinemas, a faux=20
sky, a transnational special effects sunrise,=20
instead of the hundreds of thousands of lights=20
that mapped the Coney Island amusement parks in=20
1910. Beside it, like princely lords, a baronial=20
warlord capitalism takes on the heraldry and=20
paradox of mercantilism in 17th century Rome or=20
=46lorence. Entertainment, public space, and=20
electronic feudalism become essentially=20
indistinguishable. Not that this is new. Feedback=20
systems have always been essential to special=20
effects =8A Scripted space implies code as the=20
foundation for any kind of media environment. It=20
was Oscar Wilde who said so many years ago; "mere=20
color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with=20
definite form, can speak to the soul in a=20
thousand different ways." I like to think of this=20
essay as an exercise in collage thinking, of=20
starting the reader on a path into the other=20
writers, artists, and musicians who inhabit this=20
cinema mediated realm. Turn the page and a=20
different story emerges from each text.
End>scripted>space:endtext>
I'm not exactly sure where its all going, but=20
then again: I know this - for those who are open=20
to the world and the information that describes=20
it, its going to be a very very very fun century.=20
Make your own mixes! This is a text that says=20
simply: play instead of pressing "play."
goto>text>file>original>flipmode

Paul D. Miller alias Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid

NYC 2005




Endnotes:
   Smart Papers: http://www.smartpapers.com/13_kb/13f_dig_gloss_ac.asp - top
bit
  Bit is a contraction of the words "binary=20
digit". It is the smallest unit of information in=20
a digital computer and can define two conditions=20
(on or off, 0 or 1, black or white, etc.).

bit depth
  A measure of the tonal resolution of a scanner=20
or output device. For a scan, bit depth refers to=20
the number of grays or color that are represented=20
within each pixel. A one-bit scan can represent=20
two levels: black and white. An eight-bit=20
monochrome scan can represent 256 levels: black,=20
white, and 254 levels of gray. A 24-bit color=20
scan can represent over 16 million levels. For an=20
output device, bit depth refers to the ability to=20
vary either the size or the intensity of the=20
smallest mark that they make.

bitmap
  Strictly speaking, a bitmap is a=20
resolution-dependent computer file (usually a=20
scan, but perhaps a file from a paint program) in=20
which each pixel contains one bit of tonal=20
information. In practice, people don't limit the=20
use of the term bitmap to single bit per pixel=20
images.

bits per second (bps)
  The rate of data transmission by a modem, for=20
example: 300, 1200, 4800, 9600, 14400, and 28800=20
bits per second (bps). Bits per second is=20
sometimes referred to as "baud," but bits per=20
second is the more accurate term to describe=20
modem speed.

byte
  A standard unit measure of computer file size. There are eight bits in a
  byte. See gigabyte (GB), kilobyte (KB), megabyte=20
(MB), terabyte (TB) and petrabyte (PB). It's  2=20
to the 50th power (1,125,899,906,842,624) bytes.=20
A petabyte is equal to 1,024 terabytes.

   Film Music: A Neglected Art, by Roy M.=20
Prendergast, p5 WW Norton and Company, 1977
   Sample taken from: "The Mythical Time in=20
Scriabin" by Lia Tomas an essay written for the=20
=46ifth Congress of the International Association=20
for Semiotic Studies, Berkeley 1994=20
http://users.unimi.it/~gpiana/dm4/dm4scrlt.htm
   "A Forecast of Television (1935)" taken from=20
"Film as Art" by Rudolph Arnheim, p191 University=20
of California Press
   "A Dialectic Approach to Film Form" - taken=20
from "Film Form" by Sergei Eisenstein, pp45-47=20
1949 Harcourt
   "The Vatican To Vegas: A History of Special=20
Effects" by Norman M. Klein, p404, 2004 The New=20
Press


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