[NetBehaviour] Viola, Stockhausen, Infinite Space

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Oct 8 21:03:28 CEST 2014

Dear Alan
thanks for your replies.
After reading you I realize that my questions about vibration were too much influenced by working in dance and theatre,
forgetting how important, as you suggest, vibration  and oscillation has been in music and sound art; I suppose I got
confused initially when I was trying to imagine your experiene performing in the cave space (immersed in the moving
graphic projections too), and the vibrations you recorded, and which I received as a hum on my left channel (headphone),
thus were no longer the vibrations you felt resonating in space and your body. I remember now when Phill Niblock
came here to London and did a long drone concert, many of us were lying on the floor to experience the sound as fully
as possible, and now (after we discussed Stockhausen, early and later work, such as Oktophonie) one could wonder
about the immersive experience of your playing and whether one could imagine lying on and rolling into the virtual
space of the projections.
I showed your slide of you playing the viola in the cave to one of our sonic arts students who is investigating 
participatory art, and she thought that the Cave looked large enough perhaps for one-on-one performances,
where you invite audience inside (finite or infinite, cosmic or not, never mind; the "cosmic" one might guess is
a romantic delusion; heard an expression last night, which i liked - "you're wired to the moon" - though probably
meant as an insult to say, you're a bit crazy.  Apologies also for chicano use of spanish inside english). 

with regards
Johannes Birringer


I'll intersperse comments re: below, but I'm not sure anyone else is
On Sun, 5 Oct 2014, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> I wonder whether we could have a longer discussion, here, and whether
> that might interest others as well?  I am particularly curious about
> three aspects, and just mention them here.
- the sonic:

I'm not sure re: above, but musicians I know have been interested for
years in vibration, which also connects to video feedbacks - not just
audio. People have performed in silos, etc. and there are a great number
of people working with natural phenomena in natural circumstances. Anyone
by the way playing a qin or performing noh - two examples - works with
resonant surfaces - the qin table or noh stage for examples; there are
also people claiming that paleolithic sites exhibit sonic characteristics
that were deliberately cultivated. Guitar feedback is another example. My
own work with the synthesizer we built in 1968 explored reonant harmonics
produced by overdriving oscillators. The current work is based on an
awareness of the resonance / vibrations in the Cave, and I've worked with
recording building vibrations for years. Even VLF lightning signals are
based on resonance within 'tubes' in the ionosphere connected antipodean
points on the earth. So it's not new to me at least, nor to a number of
people I admire, for example the environmental artist Geoff Dugan.

- the graphic

If I knew what the transcendent was, I might believe in it; we were
talking with a friend about the numinous yesterday. I'd say I was seated
within the graphics, and you're right of course, that can't be transmitted
which is a huge problem with the cave. I do think that Oculus Rift or some
such will clear that up - I know people who are using the developer's Rift
in Second Life - objects in fact are clearly recognizable and you can
walk about your own creations. But I haven't pursued this - partly because
of lack of money, and partly because of the privacy of the experience -
others would have to purchase the same equipment to see the same things.
In fact if people went 'around' my structures, now, in MacGrid or on
Second Life's Odyssey Sim, they _would_ be in the immersive 3d objects;
all the information is there!

Of course music is easier, and one can use binaural headphones - I've
worked with binaural recording / playback at times and it's amazing.

I believe btw in the cosmos - how could one not - but again, I'm not sure
what the 'cosmic' is - I've certainly had mystical experiences, but I
don't ascribe any ontological or epistemological status to them. I feel
I'm lucky enough to see the amazing variety and beauty of our own planet,
even while it disappears -

 - the metaphysics 

I also want to mention Jackson Moore, whom I've worked with, who did a
sonic cube with twelve channels - he was creating 'sonic objects' within
it, in a pitch-black environment; they were amazing, and a kind of
parallel to the cave. (we also did some performances in the cube, but
that's another story). And even back in the 70s I think, at UCSD, there
were similar things going on with 12-channel compositions fully occupying
a space.

> do you think the "cosmic" sensation is multiple effects of light,
> abstract motion graphics, vibration, hum, drone, and high freqency
> squirms (as an acoustic range of phenomena, with the visual a necessary
> vertigo arouser)?

It all adds up to a totality of course, of one sort or another; nothing
really 'happens' in these pieces, but they're surrounding, and I try to
convey that on the small video screen that can be transported within the
Internet, on personal laptops. The visual 'swaying' does create, even on
the flat screen, an illusion of depth, and of course listening with
headphones contributes as well. Everything goes together. I think of the

But the cosmic is only a sensation -
Thank you!, Alan

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