9.10.2008

Dear Sarah Palin,

Thanks for reigniting a culture war. Thanks for turning this presidential contest into a spiraling race to the bottom. Thanks for lying to the American people over and over and over. Thanks for showing us that you don't care if it's a lie as long as it serves your purpose. Thanks for being demeaning and sarcastic, and setting a new tone of vindictiveness. Thanks for refusing to take questions from the media or voters for nearly two weeks after your nomination. Thanks for lying about your record on energy. Thanks for lying 27 times (and counting) about your record on the "Bridge to Nowhere." Thanks for lying about your record on earmarks. Thanks for putting out a press release about your daughter's pregnancy and then calling the press sexist when they cover the release. Thanks for degrading community organizers who are some of the hardest working and most selfless people in our country. Thanks for degrading Habeus Corpus, which is one of the most sacred pillars of our democracy. Thanks for completely ignoring and effectively denouncing the idea of the separation of Church and State, which is another pillar of our democracy. Thanks for opportunistically praising Hillary Clinton while cynically denouncing nearly everything she has spent her life working for. Thanks for claiming that "God" wanted you to build a gas pipeline. Thanks for saying that the war in Iraq is "God's work," and invoking the specter of religious violence and holy war. Thanks for plunging Wasilla into millions of dollars of debt and raising the sales tax (which is one of the most regressive taxes there is). Thanks for firing people that don't agree with you and abusing your power as Governor. Thanks for going along with a whole slew of smears and attack ads (many of which are filled with blatant lies). Thanks for lying about selling your state's plane on Ebay and then billing the state for $93,000 in airfare during 2007 for you and your family to fly. Thanks for billing the State for your travel per diem while you were at home in Wasilla more than 30 times. Thanks for lying about Obama's authorship of legislation. Thanks for opposing major legislation for health care, education, and seniors. Thanks for slashing funding for Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers.

Thanks for offering to change Washington, but I think that what you're offering looks much worse than what George W. Bush has already done.

Thanks, but no thanks.

If we want change in America we'll build it ourselves.

Sincerely, César

Donate to Barack Obama and Vote on November 4th!
Please Forward.

9.03.2008

Dog Under Porch


Dog Under Porch is an anthology of work from members and friends of the Bard College MFA community. It was published by Little Socks Press 2008

Download it HERE.

It features work by:

Dorothy Albertini
Cesar Alvarez
Alisa Baremboym
Sylvie Baumgartel
Anselm Berrigan
Linh Dinh
Cecilia Dougherty
Amit Dwibedy
Corrine Fitzpatrick
Marley Freeman
Lucas Geronimas
Jeremy Hoevenaar
David Horvitz
Julia Klein
Ann Lauterbach
Jeanne Liotta
Joshua Lovelace
Alfredo Marin
Anna Moschovakis
Laura Neuman
Brett Price
George Raggett
Isabel Sobral
Chris Stackhouse
Ann Stephenson
David Levi Strauss
Deirtra Thompson
Stephan Westfall
Matveii Yankelevich


Untitled by Alfredo Marin



One Small Step for a Man by Jeanne Liotta



No title. No author.

7.08.2008

Dystopia Watch



The remote stun bracelets in this gizmodo post are exactly like what Octavia Butler describes in her book Parable of the Talents. In the novel "collars" are used to enable modern day slavers to subjugate their victims. The slavers are able to remotely "lash" their victims and inflict brutal pain. Very creepy.

6.25.2008

Audio Surveillance
and the Phono-Centric Fabulousness of Tom Levin


1. "Audio-Surveillance in Narrative Film manifests as a narrative excess"
Which as I understand it means that the depiction of surveillance in film, creates a network of possibilities for the viewer/characters. The collection, storing, manipulation, use, misuse, and erasure of the collected data becomes an undepicted but revlevant "excess."

2. Listening as Menace.

3. The sound of rewinding = "The materiality of the signifier"

4. Though the representation of digital is not phenomenally accessible (we can't perceive the media with our senses) , "I insist on the materiality of the digital" ( and it's nearly impossible to get rid of).

5. Error conditions specific to transcriptions are harnessed to signify specificity of new media. (We have such a bright future of errors and artifacts)

6. "A sign is any thing that can be used to lie." - Umberto Eco

7. Tom views himself a working for the "Production of surveillant literacy"

8. Shape Your Data Shadow

9. I'm watched therefore I am.

10. A short history of voicemail.

6.23.2008

Notes for a Talk on Technological Singularity

1. On Wikipedia: "The technological singularity is a theoretical point in the future of unprecedented technological progress, caused in part by the ability of machines to improve themselves using artificial intelligence."

"Statistician I. J. Good first wrote of an 'intelligence explosion', suggesting that if machines could even slightly surpass human intellect, they could improve their own designs in ways unseen by their designers, and thus recursively augment themselves into far greater intelligences. The first such improvements might be small, but as the machine became more intelligent it would become better at becoming more intelligent, which could lead to an exponential and quite sudden growth in intelligence."

2. If you are unfamiliar with the idea of technological singularity check out this video on ted.com by Ray Kurzweil. And this series of articles at IEEE Spectrum for a more mediated set of views.

3. Inventor, Scientist, Dietary Supplement fanatic Ray Kurzweil is the tech singularity's most feverish advocate. He works to extend his own life in order that he might live to the days of medical immortality (probably before 2040 in his view). And he's got a cryogenic account lined up if that doesn't work out.

4. While learning about The Singularity from Kurzweil is a little like learning about Jesus from an Evangelist, (maybe it's the eternal life fixation) he seriously knows his stuff. He has spent a lot of his resources trying to prove his idea of the exponential technological evolution/growth that has been happening since we were solitary proteins floating in a primordial goo.

5. The main criticism for "Singulatarians" as they call themselves seems to be that they are unabashed techno-optimists. And that they don't focus on the dangers of what they propose, but only the virtual and cybernetic joys. Also that it ignores the complexity of nature's engineering feat. V.S. Ramachandran says “God is a hacker, not an engineer," and you can't reverse engineer a hacker. Also there is the unresolved question of consciousness. The most cited rebuttal to the idea of a Tech Singularity is Jaron Lanier's One Half Manifesto from Wired Magazine, though it's 8 years old now. This is how he articulates framework, which is in his view all wrong, of the Singulatarians who he calls "Cyber-Totalists":

a. Cybernetic patterns of information provide the ultimate and best way to understand reality.
b. People are no more than cybernetic patterns.
c. Subjective experience either doesn't exist, or is unimportant because it is some sort of ambient or peripheral effect.
d. What Darwin described in biology, or something like it, is in fact also the singular, superior description of all creativity and culture.
e. Qualitative as well as quantitative aspects of information systems will be inexorably accelerated by Moore's law.


6. Nano Technology is key. Cybernetics. Turing test. Dumb Software. Wetware?

7. Man this gets confusing.

8. I have a hard time not seeing Kurzweil's point. And though a million science fiction authors have warned us about the possibility of self-replicating, self-improving, and self-aware AI Kurzweil seems to have a very pure optimism.

9. One thing is for sure though, nobody is going to stop the exponential pace of technological advancement, and AI is going to be at the center of the great ethical debate of the 21st century.
According to Kurzweil's pretty compelling speculation robots will be as smart as humans AND self-replicating before I get the senior citizen discount at the movies.

10. What is the relationship between the development of AI and human evolution? I think in a twisted way they are fundamentally the same. Humans took evolution into our own hands with the first rock we used to crack a nut. Not to mention when we started fires and made wheels, invented languages, writing, and machines. All of these are clearly an external evolution that has been exponentially advancing since the beginning.

11. I find the difference between an iPhone and a computer installed in your body or clothing very minuscule.

12. I have to admit I'm guiltily looking forward to full-immersion brain-based virtual reality.

13. Uploaded skills, language and consciousness will be handy.

14. It's when they air around us becomes materialized intelligence that starts expanding out into the universe, colonizing space. That's when my understanding breaks down. My friends say the air already is intelligence. Ok, but this is going to be different.

15. Reminds me of the dictum from Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talent's: "And the Destiny of Earthseed, Is to take root among the stars."

16. We may not be long for this world but not in the way Al Gore thinks.

6.07.2008



"Music is more than an object of study: It is a way of perceiving the world. A tool of understanding. Today, no theorizing accomplished through language or mathematics can suffice any longer; it is incapable of accounting for what is essential in time- the qualitative and the fluid, threats and violence. In the face of the growing ambiguity of the signs being used and exchanged, the most well-established concepts are crumbling and every theory is wavering. The available representations of the economy, trapped within frameworks erected in the seventeenth century or, at latest, toward 1850, can neither predict, describe, nor even express what awaits us. It is thus necessary to imagine radically new theoretical forms, in order to speak to new realities. Music, the organization of noise, is one such form. It reflects the manufacture of society; it constitutes the audible waveband of the vibrations and signs that make up society. An instrument of understanding, it prompts us to decipher a sound form of knowledge."

- Jacques Attali from Noise: The Political Economy of Music

5.15.2008

Thoughts on Cybernetics

Cyborg Lincoln By annihilist

1. Humans have a hard time imagining post-linguistic civilization.

2. Cybernetics have a popular myth:
  • a. Metal (cold, hard, sharp, dangerous, sterile, durable, unbreakable)
  • b. Unfeeling (computer)
  • c. Destructive/Facist (weapons oriented)
  • d. Viral/Power Hungry (human)
  • e. Dualistic (hardware/software)
  • f. Digital
3. Robots made of wood are nonthreatening. What about:
  • a. Flesh (bone, organs, dead human matter)
  • b. Plant Matter
  • c. Elemental Particles
  • d. Glass
  • e. Plasma
  • f. Plastic
  • g. Mud (dirt)
  • h. Water
4. What is the technology that will replace language?

5. When humans start interfacing with one another wirelessly ("telepathically") first it will be through a chat room template; Then direct mental language interfacing; then pure thought exchange. Humans will develop acute skills of mental compartmentalization in order to maintain privacy. Eventually privacy (deception) could fade away but it will more likely just vastly complexify.

6. Why is there an idea that man-made consciousness will be similar to human consciousness?

7. When computers gain the parallel processing power, pattern recognition, and self-contemplation of adult human brains they will likely devise their own language.

SPECULATION


Rodney McMillian, Untitled, 2007.

When computers begin to feel it will be delusion alone that is uniquely human. There are so many layers to this. Here's a fake map for the development of intelligence from the beginning of life to the materialization of intelligence. We're at about 7.8:

0. Void
1. Animation of Life
2. Multiplication of Life
3. Complification
4. Relationship
5. Linguistic Stucture (meaning created)
6. Codification (referential)
7. Extension (externalized evolution eg: tools, technology)
8. Genesis of (man-made) self-replicating species
9. Explosion of Species
10. Materialization of Intelligence (permeability becomes a sensation)

It is so hard to imagine the materialization of intelligence without feeling like you are drowning.

5.03.2008

riverplatetectonics

I just discovered Chris Leo's new blog which is re-inventing the english language.

"Numenous thoughts can’t see the fours through the threes. Their nebulous numeric looming just as easily gives way to numinous luminescent leaps as it does to breaches with faith. Never forget, neither Darwin, nor Galileo, nor Copernicus, nor Hawking ever renounced God. It’s God’s frenzied vocal advocates that renounce them first. In fact, they like God just fine and can't for the life of them understand how thier proofs contradict anything he says. If he made anything didn't he make the numbers as well?

numbers + numinis (Latin for “Divine Will”) = continuous fractions, wherein continuous means nothing short of continually continuous

-- Chris Leo

4.15.2008

Kodwo Eshun on Rhythm (in modern music)
from: Swarm 3 "Abducted by Audio (Live)"

Thank you Mr. Eshun. I've been grasping at the Rhythm question a lot in the last few years and I was so elated to have happened upon some real insight.

"Part of the assumption that still exists in music is that futuristic music will somehow be beatless, somehow there won't be many rhythms, somehow it'll be weightless. It has a long heritage, going back from Holst's Planet Suite through to Kraftwerk, this idea that music will be transcendental and weightless, that somehow the beats will just slough off and we'll just kind of float through space astrally. But we know better now. After drum 'n' bass has retroactively switched us back on to the presence of rhythm, we know that the future will not only be just rhythmic, it'll be hyper-rhythmic. So in this sense when cyber-people keep talking about, "What's the fate of the body?", when they keep on moaning, "the body's going to wither away, the mind-body problem, it's so depressing," as far as I'm concerned rhythmic psychedelia is the opposite. The body's being triggered, the body's being switched on. Sensory perception is being triggered at a furious rate and, as far as I'm concerned, it's much more interesting to look at the idea of rhythm. Look at any piece of music writing and you'll notice an incredible absence about rhythm. So many people are unable to talk about rhythm. Music writers will talk about anything except what the beats are doing. It's actually very difficult. Rhythm is this terra incognita, it's this continent we've yet to land on. So you've got this strange dichotomy, what we call a gulf crisis: on the one hand, music is getting hyper-rhythmic, more rhythmic and psychedelic; on the other hand, the writing and the way we discuss it is more impoverished than ever. It's the most incredible thing."

"That's where I see music going: it's getting much more rhythmic, much more rhythmically psychedelic. We really have to start thinking about what rhythm does, how do we explain it, what is it, how does it work? The first thing to do is to acknowledge that rhythm isn't really about notes or beats, it's about intensities, it's about crossing a series of thresholds across your body. Sound doesn't need any discourse of representation, it doesn't need the idea of discourse or the signifier: you can use sound as an immediate material intensity that grabs you. When you hear a beat, a beat lands on your joints, it docks on the junction between your joints and articulates itself onto your joints, it seizes a muscle, it gives you this tension, it seizes you up, and suddenly you find your leg lifting despite your head. Sound moves faster than your head, sound moves faster than your body. What sound is doing is triggering impulses across your muscles."

"That's why drum 'n' bass talks a lot about the stepper, because sound is literally articulating you as a kind of exo-skeleton It's almost like your feet are gaining an intelligence at the expense of your head, or your arse, or your back, or your shoulders are gaining intelligence at the expense of your head. Anywhere you have a sense of tension, that's the beginning, that's the signs of a bodily intelligence switching itself on. And that's what rhythm is doing. You can foresee a point where the body is mutated by rhythm to the point where the head becomes completely superfluous, becomes this flabby muscle bouncing around, aimlessly lolling around, while your muscles go twenty to the dozen. In fact, of course, this already exists; its jungle. That's the whole point of it."

50 Proposals for the Future of Sounds


Martin Puryear “Plenty's Boast”

1. A digital recording is a score, performed by trained and partially equipped experiencers.

2. New bots inhabit the spaces between samples. They communicate to one another the absences and potentials alluded to by a moment of media.

3. Inter–disciplinary gave way to anti-disciplinary fades into post-disciplinary erased by the inconceivable volume of communicative possibilities.

4. One moment (in multitudes) of sound: so loud that every mobile Malleus (hammer) on earth flexes in honor of the experiment

5. Sample rate so rapid that the time each bit inhabits has been warped by the speed necessary to collect its binary name.

6. Immerse the public in Perilymph.

7. Chemical composition determines resonance. The composer is a chemist.

8. Emotional resonance is the body’s unwillingness to relinquish expressive decisions to the brain.

9. The network, starts as a string (cable). Becomes a web. Becomes a porous fabric. Becomes a metallic sheet. Becomes a dense compression of strata. Becomes a living skin inhabited by emerged consciousness.

10. The network has wildlife. Predators, Prey, Parasites, Fauna, Sickness, Herbs.

11. Design is Disease. Disease is Mutation. Mutation is Design.

12. Learn to understand memory by depleting/processing your material possessions.

13. I believe in emptiness, vibration and electricity.

14. Isolate the ingredients for your projects. Molecules, Cells, Atoms, Consciousness.

15. Dark matter is a musical frontier.

16. Space travel is inhabiting sound on pause.

17. Rhythm is the body. Headphones are disembodiment.

18.Sounds to examine: purchases, energy, children interacting on the network, the oscillation of viral exchange, the afterlife of packaging material, human migration, melting.

19. Designate each person as a sample and derive 37,792 hours of CD quality audio.

20. Screaming is a commodified point of view.

21. Vibration is an elusive business model. Purchasing power is equivalent to memory.

22. Musical creation becomes the output of networked and cybernetically predictive conglomerates. Their objectives fluctuate between arousal, placation and inciting amnesia

23. Atonal and arrhythmic recordings are subjects of anthropological discourse.

24. Isorhythm becomes an affliction.

25. Audio warfare is the subject of congressional hearings in which the public debates sonic cruelty and the woeful of lack of adequate protection for the nation’s citizens and armed forces.

26. Middle Ear nano-receptors revolutionize the memory enhancement and psycho-acoustic capabilities of multi-function cognitive entertainment systems.

27. Neocortical Sound Synthesis programs are officially added to most prenatal and early childhood music curricula.

28. Vibration from city, highway and airport noise is stored and reused via kinetic energy cells.

29. Standardized measuring of personal sound energy flux allows everyone to ascertain his or her own relative (native) receptivity (density) to experimental audio.

30. Teach fractal synthesis, electrical current phrase mimicry, breath/pulse listening, audiosomatic pain reduction, “hearing things” as composition, and sonic turmoil.

31. Post-Digital is the frontier in which ones and zeros (quantum particles) exhibit predictive behavior.

32. Bruises are bodily reverberations of compacted/inertial sound.

33. Sounds to examine: Vocal and cerebral activity during prayer, the oscillation of public opinion, internal organ noise of grain fed livestock, bacterial evolution, the numerical resonance of economic collapse.

34. Develop a new theory of musical pleasure based on perceived hype, redundancy, and novelty.

35. As a composer, expect emotional and critical sublimation from your audience.

36. Sensory dissonance on the basilar membrane (inner ear) is a widely accepted technique in popular/commercial music.

37. Auditory hallucinogenic drugs are delivered illicitly on personal music players.

38. Drum machines develop cybernetic (organic) personality.

39. Rhythm regains lifespan.

40. After the unification of Physics, composers work to make the world of quantum mechanics audible (popular).

41. Musical Nano-Drugs, which allow adults to enjoy their children’s music, are commercially available. Bots benignly invade the auditory cortex and install the neuron structures of your choice.

42. Absolute Pitch, Environmental Mute Function, Hearing Reinstatement, and Earshot Extension, are all available commercially.

43. Sound comes from the brain’s evolutionary need to fictionalize (embellish) vibration.

44. Pitch is an invented linguistic outgrowth of sound.

45. Music is a longstanding human accident (adornment) in which the brain rewards itself, and the body, for it own accomplishment and discovery.

46. Noise is a constructed regret. Fake.

47. Rhythm, as a structure, is the (a) fundamental unit of life and physical organization.

48. The composer is measured against the possibility of visceral ecstasy. She is loaded down with the failures and Gnostic wisdom of tradition. She is able to conjure and deaden. She is never taught what is available, but it is still available.

49. Recording: initially the instatement of illusionistic reverberation into the seat of authentic experience. It inaugurated a colonial structure onto the haphazard economy of musical experience and experimentation. Recording turned on itself and became the subject of it’s own gaze (colonization). Recording became wilderness anew. It seeped into the ground.

50. Music is the human effort to civilize air.

4.14.2008

What are we working with?

Memory (antiquity)

Recording (depletion)
Prediction (pleasure)
Synthetics (authenticity)
Energy (source)
Waste (creation)

Pulse (rhythm) Vibration (imaginary) Pain (stimuation) Pleasure (survival)

2.03.2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama.


1. "I don't want to just end the war, I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place." -Barack Obama

2. When Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the war on Iraq I was devastated. Millions of people all over the country knew that she voted for an unjust and unnecessary war. The fact that she said "If I knew what I knew then I never would have voted to authorize the use of force," is exactly right: If she knew that her vote for war would become a massive political liability she would have voted differently. That's how she has approached so many issues as a senator, and especially when it comes to the military. Twenty-three senators voted against that resolution and she clearly showed the world one of two things:

a: She is hawkish and entirely too willing to resort to military force.

or

b: She is calculating and willing to vote against what she knows is right as a political maneuver even when thousands of lives and livelihoods hang in the balance.

And while I honestly don't know which one she exhibited, either one of those two characteristics definitively disqualify her for my support.

3. Obama is an inspiration to me. His language and his integrity have changed the whole atmosphere of the primaries and I believe that as president his way of being and speaking will entirely alter what is possible for our government. Just like JFK, maybe he won't be an extraordinary policy maker (though his experience shows much more promise than JFK's). But just like JFK I think he will create an atmosphere of hope and possibility in which radical change on the ground level will be possible in our country and in the world. An Obama presidency will vastly change the Global perception of America, and a Clinton presidency will not.

4. Obama unlike Hillary seems abundantly willing to say what he believes and what is right even when it is unpopular. Hillary started sounding that way in the last debate clearly following Obama's lead, but from what I know of her senate record it was a very new development in her rhetoric. From his support for Driver's Lisences for undocumented immigrants to his expressed willingness to talk to embattled foreign dictators. From his straight talk about taxes even to his stance on health care, he tells the truth plain and simple.

5. Hillary's health care plan is universal. The problem is that I don't believe Hillary has the kind of leadership and integrity to make her plan happen. Again I believe that Obama has that strength. I believe that Obama has considered more deeply the current political landscape and come up with a plan that is more viable, and is a powerful and imperative step towards universal coverage. This for me is the main reason Democrats are hung up on Hillary. Because they are focusing on positions rather than interests. Hillary's policy solution is more enticing to democrats but really Obama is who promises to start a conversation about interests on both sides of the aisle, which is the only way to pass health care reform. Both of their plans are campaign promises and I believe that choosing a candidate based on their promises is an error. I want to support a candidate who I believe will have the greatest capacity to make change and be change.

6. Obama said it best: Hillary does have the experience to hit the ground running on day one. But it is just as important (and probably more important) to be right on day one. To put the interests of humanity and a commitment to honesty before your own political well being. Here is the video of that moment in the debate.

7. Hillary is an absolutely brilliant woman. Watching her debate is truly impressive. She is immensely knowledgeable and well spoken. If she were to win the nomination I would be happy to campaign like hell for her, and would be thrilled to have her in the White House. But it is overwhelmingly clear to me that an Obama presidency would usher this country into a very new and radically different era of governance. I hope that you agree and vote for change on Tuesday.

love, César
cesar@cesaralvarez.net

If you need to see what I mean I recommend watching Obama's Iowa acceptance speech or his speech on MLK day.
Hillary & Barack, I'm Sorry.


Vote on Tuesday! For Obama!

love, César