Paul D. Miller on Thu, 23 May 2002 03:11:23 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Optometry and the Topolgy of a Phantom City

This is the "dub version" remix of the liner notes for the upcoming free
jazz project I wrote for Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Daniel Carter and
various other jazz headz. It'll be out in a little while.  Digital jazz
equal free jazz equals "free verse" of the soundz. Code as context... or
something like that. It's called "Optometry" and it's about being bored
with normal "theory" and digital media situations in contemporary digital


the text begins here:
Cd:dir>goto: The original message was received at Mon, 20 May 2002 
07:22:33 -0700 (PDT)

from []

    ----- The following address had transient non-fatal errors -----
Reporting-MTA: dns;
Arrival-Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 07:22:33 -0700 (PDT)

This is a story of the shadow and its shadow... zones of contention, zones
of retention: the scenario as they say in hacker culture is all about
getting into the root extension of the system. Mille plateaux du son...
lexical involution... an index of labyrinthes... timecode fallout...

again: invocations>

"I visualized this new world as a place in the distant future where there
would be no war, no greed, no categorization, no non-believers, where love
was unconditional, and no pronoun was good enough for God." Duke
Ellington, "New World A-Comin'" (Sacred Concert series, 1965)

"it is only necessary to track for a little while the routes repeatedly
taken by words to discover the disconcerting sight of a human beings'
labyrithine structure" Georges Bataille, "Le Labyrinthe"

Raymond Queneau, "The Blue Flowers" Oullipo Manifesto for a 
Mathematical Narrative

"Casualties of war, as I approach ther barricade
where is the enemy, who do I invade?"
Rakim, "Casualties of War"

Jazz. It's a word that's got as long a history as deep, as diverse, and as
rich as the American spirit - but wellŠ that's part of the density of the
medium. What music comes from this land of shattered dreams, shattered
cultures? Music is a mirror we hold up to the world to see what's
happening - like the relational architecture of a city made of lines of
flight, manifolds, texts encoded, outsourced, an invocation arises from
the cross roads of the new sonic spectrum - it's a flipmode quotation of
the here and now - flip the switch, push the button - check into the
system as an unscripted soundtrack - think of it as a dialectical
triangulation of the information streaming into the eye and ear: "...New
Babylon will first be realized by its inhabitants"

Manifesto for a New Babylon
Constant, 1960

\Op*tom"e*try\, n. 1. (Med.) Measurement of the range of vision, esp. 
by means of the optometer.
2. As defined (with minor variations) in the statutes of various 
States of the United States: (a) ``The employment of subjective and 
objective mechanical means to determine the accomodative and 
refractive states of the eye and the scope of its function in 
general.'' (b) ``The employment of any means, other than the use of 
drugs, for the measurement of the powers of vision and adaptation of 
lenses for the aid thereof

Yes, words like "dialogic imagination" "vers libre" and "dialectical
materialism" echo through the optical sound chamber as we hear the music
of the computer screens after the sounds kick in. The arcades of the
memory palace are made of their traces. It's a virtual scenario... But
that's kind of the point. Check the vibe as a kind of involution of the
here and now. Check the vibe as jazz for the gene-splice generation. An
echo of the here and now put through the hard-drive. Again, sound is the
source, and sonic fiction is the source code. At the edge of that 20Hz to
20,000 Hz wavelength the ear drum responds to the new sonic boom. Map the
doors of perception onto and into a new metaphor - the frequencies of
perception become a transduction mechanism. It's a vodoo economics of the
sound waves rolling across the basilar membrane. A collaborative filtering
of the input and output flowcharts guiding the architecture of the scene.  
Feel the fragments.... The reflection on the surface of a shattered mirror
is never whole, no matter how much we'd all like to think of contemporary
reality as a seamless full scale situation: there is no one narrative
holding the fabric of Americana together. And that's a beautiful thing.
Opposites extract. You play with the shards, and that's what music in this
contemporary electronic information saturated landscape is about: watch
out, you just might get your hands cut. This optometry jazz of the
invisible city: is it live? Or is it a sample? The language that describes
this album is a syntax of transparency - language in flipmode, outsourced
into the multiple paths of the world. You know the sounds. You know the
scenario. To paraphrase Ralph Ellison: when one has noise all around, the
best way to think of it is as a kind of theater of the everyday, and then
use your role to change the script. That's one of the core issues for me
on this "Optometry." It's a post-Rational thingŠ It's a synaethesia thingŠ
Use your eyes to hear and your ears to see - check the rhythm reality.
Basically, its a new way of doing something that's been with us as humans
for a long time: creating with found objects. The rotation gets thick. The
constraints get thin. The mix breaks free of the old associations. New
contexts form from old. The script gets flipped. The languages evolve and
learn to speak in new forms, new thoughts: the sound of thought becomes
legible again at the edge of the new meanings. After all, you have to
learn a new language...  Think of Duchamps "roto-reliefs" mixed with
Thelonius Monk's "Notes

 From Undergound" and flip 'em both through the Dostoyevsky novel with the
same title. Reverse engineer the scenario. Sound. Invisible.  Transient.
Patterns in the air. Think of it as a new way of engaging electronic
culture with what Amiri Baraka called the "changing same."  Take the idea
and fold it in on itself.  Think of it as laptop jazz, cybernetic jazz,
nu-bop, illbient... a nameless, formless, shapeless concept given
structure by the rhythms, and that's a good start.  Optometry: it's a new
way of thinking about something that's in all of our lives every day:
patterns, codes, ciphers... whatever angle you look at it from, it's all
about speaking with the invisible and letting the conversation become
total media, total text. The script is not permanent, and everything can

	AmericaŠ land of the mix. America, land of deferred dreams.  
America - a place where no one's roles are cast in stone: it's a all about
total flux, and with "Optometry" check the source code to the situation as
a jazz sound track to 21st century America the NYC way:  when this mix was
put together everyone was an element. The end result: optometry.
Gesamkunstwerk or "total art" becomes source code for the context. The
soundtrack floats away and leaves the film altogether. Sound and image
divorce and re-configure before they re-unite in the mix. Please think of
that when you listen to "Optometry." The wheels turn, the times change,
and the music evolves. But at the end of the day, its all about the
changing same, the core of repetition at modern thought that Duke
Ellington liked to put as a question at the beginning of his
"Afro-Eurasian Eclipse":  "who is playing in the shadow of whom?" It's the
21st century.  Afro-Eurasian eclipse meets nu-bop in the streets of the
remixed city. A list of ancestors: Sun Tzu and the "Art of War," Rimbaud,
Countee Cullen, Bud Powell, Claude Shannon, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington,
Norbert Weiner, The New York Art Ensemble, Erik Satie, Morton Feldman,
Alan Kay, Douglas Englebart, Vannevar Bush, Tim Berners-Lee.... the litany
is long, and could go on forever. But that's kind of the point. The
samples and fragments speak the unspoken, the ascent remains unbroken.
Check the wavelength of the spectrum... Nu-bop, nu-forms, nu-soundz,
iLL-matic stylz: flip the script, open the equation, check the situation.
Its a relational arcitecture where sound and samples all mix - like
Kraftwerk vs Afrika Bambaata, but like a shareware version of their core
rhythm codes reverse engineered for the new styles. Code as context
resequenced into formless-ness but a little more erasure of the physical
forms (the keyboards, the guitars, whatever...) it all turns into
Deluezian "abstract machine" code. The ancestors - there are no boundaries
between these people in the mix. But that's kind of the point. The samples
and fragments speak the unspoken, the ascent of mix culture remains
unbroken. Nu-bop, nu-forms, nu-soundz: flip the script, open the equation,
check the situation. An echo - again - music of the laptop screens: The
Situationists used to call this style "psychogeography" - it was all about
situations then, and its like that now, only a little more entrenched. Is
it live? Or is it a sample? Look at the screen and reflect. After almost
three decades of rhythm science, the question remains just as powerful as
ever. The Uncanny remains with us as total theater of the urban landscape.  
Charlie Parker and Charlie Patton played notes from an underground that
was about content rather than context. Flip the script into European
Modernism and the early jazz record cover sleeves that helped bring that
style into American culture in a way the museums and galleries never
could, and the picture gets bettter resolutionŠ Mondrian's "Broadway
Boogie Woogie" as geometric painting with the sounds of jazzŠ flip the
script and the mix inherits the same scenario. Think of "Optometry" as
sound-art - a way of seeing why concepts and sounds converge and, listen
for all of the new forms you see coming out of your stereo when you press
"play." As John cage said a while ago: "its about the sounds of an
imaginary landscape."

Dir:op>code:source> goto:
Final-Recipient: RFC822;
Action: delayed
Status: 4.4.1
Remote-MTA: DNS;
Last-Attempt-Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 11:49:00 -0700 (PDT)
Will-Retry-Until: Thu, 23 May 2002 07:22:33 -0700 (PDT)

Return-Path: <djspooky@ >
Received: from 
( [])
	by (8.11.6+Sun/8.11.6) with 
ESMTP id g4KEMXN12169;
	Mon, 20 May 2002 07:22:33 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from ([] 
	by with esmtp (Exim 3.33 #2)
	id 179o34-000626-00; Mon, 20 May 2002 07:22:07 -0700
Mime-Version: 1.0

Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid
NYC 2002

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe 
they are free...."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

wildstyle access:

Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid

Subliminal Kid Inc.

Office Mailing Address:

Music and Art Management
245 w14th st #2RC NY NY

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: