domiziana giordano on Mon, 1 Jul 2002 08:34:46 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The transit is the message

This presentation took place at the University of Naples in which Derrick
De Kerckhove and the music band Planet Funk also took part.

by Domiziana Giordano
University of Naples - Department of Sociology
June 19th, 2002

Piet Mondrianıs work is a good example of how during the last century
figurative arts went hand in hand with music. He was a fine connoisseur of
the music of his time, and inspired by it to such an extent that his work
represents the closest connection (or ³contamination²) between visual arts
and music.

This ³musical language² can be found in those works he painted while
living in the States in the thirties, works he appropriately called
Boogie-Woogie. Here, the black lines are interrupted by a fine,
transparent layer of white paint, almost as to say: Ğthis is not an empty
space, this is a pauseğ. He thus creates a representation of rythm, that
is transformed into a language in code by the use of a personalized symbol
of sign and color. The empty space between the lines is none other than
Silence, which in music is the pause that sets the rythm. The repetition
of a pause through time creates Silence. A silence that is conventionally
known as Music. As a matter of fact, in one of his compositions, John Cage
only used this ³note².

In these last years technology has entered our everyday life, and various
formal aspects have converged together during the evolution of the
different expression modes, creating a new language: the Internet. This
discovery could be compared to the birth of a new color of the rainbow.
Its origins can be found in the invention of televisionıs remote control ­
which could be considered the hardware of what has followed. Zapping from
channel to channel has contributed to the birth of a hypertext (passive)
language that has helped us to adapt to the Webıs specific modalities and
timing. This faster mental process makes it easier and quicker for us to
digest information. Weıre not smarter, just faster, and the consequences
from a neurological point of view are interesting. (topic that will not be
analyzed here any further). ³Hopping from one thing to the other² has
trained the mind to jump from one assumption to the next, and the brain is
now capable of processing information faster and using a less elaborated
synthesis. This behavior has brought on a transformation on how
information is understood, but it doesnıt mean that human intellectual
powers have evolved. This is an isomorphism at the heart of semiotic
research that spills directly into a purely sociological subject. Whatıs
interesting about this linguistic evolution is that the sociological
phenomenon is much more apparent now than in the past. The result is that
the general level of culture has dropped, replaced by an ephemeral
shallowness that does present interesting aspects because of its own
formal linguistic evolution. And which are these substantial changes? A
good example representative of modern society, could be the language used
in Internetıs chat rooms and in messages sent through mobile phones. Here
weıre faced with a grammatical and psychological synthesis. The word
itself doesnıt loose its purpose because of its misspelling but is often
transformed in a series of acronysm belonging to a language that is
recognized and understood by a specific group of people. A new concept of
Tribe can thus be defined.

Music itself is also personalized. The DJ is he/she who creates a unique
yet reconstructable moment during which different tribes confront each
other: a place where a meeting of the minds takes place that is
approximate intellectually but filled with eloquent sign of belonging to a
specific tribe. This pertaining to is expressed through clothing and
movement that establish a new culture as interesting as the more learned
one. At least from an anthropological point of view. Thereıs a direct link
between language, art and music. I personally think that music is the
moving force behind this evolution. DJs create live and in discotheques,
new personalized compositions that render homage to different musicians
through the use of samples of pre-composed music. Whatı interesting about
this way of composing is not the homage, the citation, but its lexical

The narrative mode, which can be applied to other forms of narration, can
be found in the model of the Sonata. Refined during the 17th century, it
deals directly with the structure of a musical idea. The score is divided
in three movements: introduction, conflict, solution. In contemporary
music, on the other hand, we have a musical excerpt that goes but doesnıt
return. The musical turn doesnıt have the possibility of taking off
because the rythm is blocked in the repetition of its first notes, in what
is better known as the loop. The loop never evolves, and other rythm are
added to it but donıt contribute to the development of the song because it
remains suspended, turning almost into a mantra. The interest lies in the
loop, in the repetition; to dance at the same music that offers nothing
but innumerable similar versions of itself The specificity of the loop is
that itıs the example the most reliable for understanding the Western
World. This society is so fragile and distressed that, just to avoid
thinking the direction in which itıs headed, it repeats over and over
again the same media output. A hypnotic repetition of clones. In
Psychoanalysis, this search for a sense of security is quite normal during
the infant stage, but itıs clearly considered a regression if it takes
place during adulthood.

Security lies in seeing and living the same sensation, sign, and sound, in
their continuous repetition. Everything moves fast but stays the same.
Whatıs missing is the isomorphism of the message. Whatıs more important is
the passage, the fact of ³being there².

Mc Luhan stated that ³the Medium is the Message². Now itıs time to say;
³the Transit is the Message². This self-referring process brings us back
to the terms of Gödelıs Theorem of Incompleteness.

The contents isnıt interesting any more, it has ceased to exist, and if it
is there, it cannot be stopped and analyzed for lack of time. Everything
flows, everything is in transition. Whatıs important is to transit and be
part of the flow.

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