Music as artificial time


The 0rphan Drift signal has the same frequency as the music.

It is inspired by digital alchemy, friction, dark sound, psychoactive situations, moebius strips, physical magic, tracking processes, touch, schizophrenia. voodoo. oceans. machine vision, change, escape velocity, difference in the species. intensity and convergence.

0rphan Drift, formed in 1994, is a group of artists from diverse creative backgrounds working with video, computer manipulation and photographic processes, to create imagery designed for live multi media events, music videos, new technology publications, conferences and site specific art installations. It produces work built by multiple identities, in response to a culture increasing in complexity and rates of change through new technologies and sciences, global power structures and media scapes. Our collaborative process is related to the notion of the third mind developed by Burroughs and Gysin as well as to the philosophies of Deleuze and Guattari, in the sense that our works are designed to make new connections between things, built through response, feedback and varying points of view. We create works in which disparate frames of reference coexist and bleed into each other, with the purpose of evolving our perception of what it is to be human. We are fundamentally concerned with developing new modes of expression sufficient to convey a hybrid and complex sense of the ‘real’.

Our working process is more akin to the white label collaborations operating out of a home sound studio than to the individual artist identity. We take a deliberately feedback oriented, non-purist approach to the technics of interface. We want to activate the central nervous system through overlapping rhythmic patterns of image, sound and voice. Our tactics are tactile and haptic. Haptic space refers to a perceptual field where tactility becomes an element operative in all the senses, involving crossings between senses (synesthesia), and also between sensation, thought and memory. The work is designed to activate this buried sensual plane which we feel operates in a more extensive and physical way than does the learnt model of sight-led (specular) perception. We want to show that cybernetic processes do not lead to the body’s disappearance but re-engineer its sensory responses. We take the position that many of the new sciences and engineering systems are significantly altering prior conceptions of subject/object relations.

Spatial disorientation is important. Music is the science of sensory engineering, of intensified sensation, according to Kodwo Eshun in his book ‘More Brilliant than the Sun’. He writes –

‘Fall into a universe of sound, and it’s granular. Sculpt in four dimensions. Music synthesises and virtualises the human body., through transference to tactility. Whenever sound gets subdermal, it is too distributed, too mobile for the ear to grasp as solid sound. The sound travels to the skin instead, as the beat presses across it. With light and sound, there’s a stratum across which both elements cross all the time. This lets you analogise a lot of things and mutate and recombinate. A warzone of kinaesthesia. The nervous system is being reshaped by beats for a new kind of state, for a new sensory condition. Sonic fictions, music as exoskeleton. The sensory impact of volume and of repetition. Pressure. Creating a new sonic lifeform. What the future feels like as sensation. To have the feeling of being recognised by sound. Sound is a sensory technology.

0rphan Drift is displacing processes associated with audio technology – the video is made using processes most often applied to digital sound production such as looping, sampling, feedback distortion and detailed speed changes, creating a rhythmic pattern. We research assembly patterns for video through detailed analysis of the processes of digital audio feedback and reverb, its complex layering and warping, textures and channel interactions and we use the audio sampling and remixing model to set up a video production process that operates across the members of 0rphan Drift. Applied to recognizable imagery this evolves techniques which mutate familiar codes of sensation, temporality and recognition in order to break with the tradition of screen space as a distant and purely representational dimension. Cutting between ‘digital’ and ‘analogue’ sensibilities, we distort representational distinctions between artificial and real.

We are primarily interested in frictions occurring between imagination and sensation and see our works as manifestations of the ‘webs’ created by these frictions. We bring our audience into the interactive circuit of this process through the immersive and multi-layered nature of the work. It is essential for us that the interaction is based on haptic perception and explores the inherently tricky eroticism involved in the relationship between skin and screen.

Again developed from studying the assembly patterns of digitally produced music, replication operates in the work. By combining both analogue and computer based effects we make similar imagery change register in a time based way. We see replication as the technics allowing us the explore the way things change in different contexts/environments and that new technology does not necessarily have to engender a homogenous universe. Our video making process involves sampling as many points of view as possible and bringing them together into a singular rhythmic data flow, signaling the way that new points of view change our fictions about ourselves. Replication and sampling both allow us to focus further and further into an image surface and to feel its presence as a trajectory [as one can follow a line in a track], allowing us to try to experience the possibility of moving in and out of it. By folding representation into replication as one of many points of view, it ceases to be the dominant form of perception and allows us to work with it in a transformative way. The replication and mutation of particular imagery through a video develops a sense of evolving real presence.

The visuals produced always exists in sound. The 1997 piece ‘9006’, for example, was designed to manifest the virtual processes of the digital aesthetic on screen, extended as actual yet invisible physical process outside of screen space, embodied through sound. A mesmeric induction of synaesthetic response and corporeal disorientation. Emotional and physical triggers are meshed up by the choreographed rhythmic exchange between video and sound. Their frequencies match continuously. Volume differences in the sound are matched by intensity shifts in the visuals. A sense of spatial abduction and sensorial experiment are suggested.

The combination of a journey further and further into abstract process with the continuous mutation of image makes the video space a fluid, mesmeric space, dissolving the sense of a projection on a solid wall. ‘9006’ visualises and tracks the space that digital music makes not only rhythmically but emotionally and texturally. Machine processes usually made invisible in broadcast images (ie feedback, static, magnetic fields etc.) are manifest as an integral part of the representational images on screen. These vibrational fields, usually confined to sonic imagination, trigger vision led sensations of intimate touch. Synaesthesia rather than audio sync. ‘9006’s fluid shivering half recognised imagery weaves a molecular and hidden perspective with the seduction of surface: translating the essence of sonic vibration.

The digital music aesthetic is so much about non linear time for us. We call it ‘artificial time’. Our fictions always explore the speed or pitch and time warps usually expressed by digital sound artists. Experienced time is utterly recoded by rhythm, complexity and feedback. Our video offers some kind of alternative version or ‘real time simulation’ of artificial time, whereby the audience feels spread out simultaneously across multiple speeds and directions, physically held in the possibility of seamlessly splicing and draining time. We try to push the time based nature of video into extremes, constantly feeding analogue and digital sections of video into each other in order to create frictions between their different time registers. One also feels time layers through imagery whose tones reveal the abstract in the familiar and vice versa. Liquid surfaces convey these intensities materially whilst always in a time frame you could never be in: again, audio tactics. These time frames are partially created through time stretching and looping- digital replication of time. The effect of this when rendered visually and in sound simultaneously, can suspend the audience in a state of mesmerised synaesthetic sensation. Uncertainty and afterimage. Subphysical and hyperphysical. Where linear time falls apart.

Mutated images trigger ideas about the both beautiful and extreme fictions that are produced out of the visions we get from new technologies. We are interested in evoking aspects of subjectivity which humans are not necessarily in control of, namely to express an insistence and intensity of evolutionary concern which we feel shapes contemporary life. By evolution we mean; evolution as the uncontainability of change, evolution located in the destabilization of relations between the concrete and the imagined and evolution mapped as ritual (the evolutionary modification, usually intensification, of a behaviour pattern to assist communication).

The issue is the evolution of perception. Of adapting. A Technology of the Imagination that designs human convergence with machinic process. A universe that isn’t this one has trade routes now. Collective unconscious software producing itself in your stories. Machine memory deep inside. dna felt from a different distance. Vibration bent out of its source. Eating your nervous system. The deepest form of interference.

We are exploring perceptions of technological and biological mutation. Our project emerges out of a unique perspective of cybernetic culture which contests the commonly held assumption that cyberspace exists solely inside of computer systems and the internet. The ‘cyberspace’ being produced inside of computer systems has many parallel manifestations outside of the black boxes within which it is supposedly contained. A cybernetic environment is essentially interactive and transformational, requiring reconfigurations of space, time and agency. We want to make perceivable the evidence that virtuality has always been involved in human responses to environment. From our perspective, new technologies unlock fields of perception already existent, sometimes relegated to the subconscious and sometimes impacting as physical abstracts. Vision discovers its physicality in Virtual Reality and in music. Tactile infection. Tactile immersion. Art engineered through tactile vision; a multimedia experience that touches every sense simultaneously. There is no transcendent ‘elsewhere’ left. It’s all moving in, quite literally, crowding in to change our notion of the real. The actual has expanded to access the Fourth Dimension. Music is constructing neural networks wired up to bypass the mediation of linear language. Minds that are autistic, multilayered, schizoid, respond to the obsessive, the fantastic, the compulsive, confessional, supernatural and extreme. Everything reduced to plasticity by ones and zeros. Identity becomes multiple, not singular. You are the product of mimetic contagion, cut up by vectors of desire. Contagion rather than seduction. Contagion doesn’t seduce – it recodes. Like Sympathetic Magic, like music, it affects in the convergence of corporeal and immaterial spaces.

Communication becoming pattern recognition between desiring machines.

Posthuman visions. The music takes you there. Follow the solitons of sound. Species change. Machine vision: not just a visual technique, but modelling the experience inside machine intelligence, akin to the disorientation and simultaneous complexity of drug perception. It keeps you in a constantly dilated present, out of mundane time, out of self consciousness. 500,000 texture mappable light sourced polygons per second. Machine time. Datasphere whisper. a cascade of reflections, water over quicksilver over chrome. body surfaces become magnetised fluid.

Fictions: We work in the belief that what we perceive of as the real is made up of a mixture of virtual and actual and we try to expose the workings of that circuit. We use various fictions to symbolize insistent cultural patterns, giving them names and forms (avatars). They operate as trickster figures, in that they appear to be easily manipulable but actually use the unknown in you. The fictions then become catalysts for exposing us and the viewers alike to immersive experience. We want the audience to be unable to determine the boundaries of the space and its relationship to the real: for them to respond in the circuits between technology and rumour, information and mystery which proliferate in our mediated electronic landscape.

0rphan Drift developed five avatars in 1999 that have stuck with us thematically.

Katak: who is friction, brutality, radiation the artificial element. meltdown. fever, madness, and atrocity. pounding solar waves. Cataclysmic convergences. pressure sun heat electricity. DNA fuckups. escape velocity. mean symmetries. fanatical. the artificial night spending and being spent. atomic breath. Then Spl/ce: the nomad war machine. Time crisis and cyclic discontinuity. Replicating precarious states.swarm. suck radius: exhales insanity. a strobing black-mass of chronodisintegration. unstable dramatic shocks. no linearity. abduction. twin-tracking through traumatic dissociation (whilst constantly doubling-back). machine-memory deep inside. atomic particles of lost touch. And Xes: erotic, magnetic mutation, currency waves, cellular radiating. physical telepathy and trickster touch. addiction. seduces with ecstasy and pain. codes your want. evolutionary risk factor. intimatter traffic. third eye scar. silicon/clone/labyrinth.

glitter/trance/attention. Murmur: Liquid Camouflage. perception warp. wet metal. waiting. bent light. bent time. shapeshifters. spinal fluid. fed on dreams and mercury. immersive weave. oceanic sensation. mergings. makes monsters and waves. Uttunul/IIs: zero intensity flatline. shadow luminescence. undead. strange attraction. time vampire. feeds on time rather than blood. the furthest out and the deepest inside. hypothermia feedback seeping circuit. seething void. utter atonality. the body without organs.

Our fictions are the twin of the art production, in that both actualize the feedback of our interactions with the machines. Fictions we create involve vibration, magnetic fields, entities in other dimensions. They trigger technics of manifestation associated both with virtual reality and older forms of cultural production such as Vodou, part urban fuckup, part sci fi. And emphasise proliferating circuits between.the work and fiction. They each have numerous guises ranging from the recognizably human-like (or iconic), to the abstract (eg. texture, rhythym and speed in sound), to the elemental (eg. a flowing river or molten metal).

It is this trade between the ‘artificial’ and the ‘real’ which motivates our interest in the methods of Vodou and other ritual traditions of African origin. These collective practices model the virtual as it interacts with the physical world. The Loa (spirits) of Vodou are thought of as ancestors which can temporarily inhabit living bodies. They each maintain their specific characteristics and domains whilst also changing with time and circumstance. This flexibility ensures that they always reflect contemporary needs and desires, rather than maintaining a fixed ideal. Vodou recurs as a theme in much literature about cyberspace and information technology because many new sciences and engineering systems work with response oriented models that significantly alter prior conceptions of subject/object relations. Vodou possession treats the body as a rhythmic process receptive to ancient or futural entities. These virtual non-human agencies open human bodies into wider time circuits through rhythm.

drowned in outside.  neurotic discrete  repetition. matter has virtual zones of existence.

patches of pattern.    grafting.     stretched out.      speeding.  process.    intensity.   surface.     delirium. liquid. material.       reality   production sliding in.  human can’t focus  on  something  so alive.

music produces memes.  Its codes understand the convergence points of the literal and potential.   code programs change.  code manufactures holes. hooks for the future. leaking.     replicating.     code is interface. reprogramming matter forms.

how would you remember?  could you remember?  beyond  assimilation  by the structure  of human imagination  there are other kinds of memory. You are a precarious  blank meme.  placed  to succumb. hacked  dna         is the interface  with dynamic systems. intelligence  dives into its own  materiality.   touching.  responding out of the body.   reaching to unfix.   one body two speeds  searches  in escape  velocity.

incendiary data particles  navigating  in detail.  complexity.  frequency.  intensity. lines of manifestation.    these sounds.  as indifferent as the cyclone out there.  models intensity.   subversive and subliminal.    slow channels the codes. invades the core. anti social and intimate. intimate:  entering deeply or closely into matter.  cellular. informational brain spread weave. can’t see but continue to find.

speeding towards collision  with abstract machines. machines read your processes.     implanting machine memory deep inside. machine faciality    deep inside.   atomic  interface. avataraliens  embedded under skins.  through. touch.  filigree chip intricacy replacing the thick slow space of logic. mutating.    matching.  in down the spines. into the wired stillness that registers everything  as vibration.  an invasion rather than behaviour aquisition. evolution of one as it contacts and simulates one and two.  attack in collusion. vibration is the capacity to unfix at an atomic level.  it melts boundaries between things.  it melts things into boundaries.  vibration is the potential for movement. vibration is the technics of change.  vibration happens always to substance.  it is its state of responding.  it touches in micro levels of matter.  it produces reverb. it is at the core of every system.  every organism.  every machine. It materializes change. unstable atoms change state at certain frequencies. fluid tsunami. planes of viral. shifting. encoding phase transition. moulting human. resonant fibrous pulsing into the DNA’s binary codons. already the molecular body moves information around between two speeds. light and sound. it is a resonant matrix. resonance. the quality of active sounding again. it is always a circuit. information is in the frequency of reverberation. the level of a sustained frequency determines what matter is affected. what pattern matches. a new species. as interface.  a facilitator. its territory  is the real.   prowl   emergent.

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