DJ Spooky

Gallery Performances, the “electromagnetic imaginary” and interior objects


Today. Situation>signification: Harmonia Mundi, Harmonia Digitalis

Skip>fade>enter?delete>>>cd:dir:goto>Asymmetric Dialectic, Prosthetic Memetic, script unbound, bond. A friend of mine, Erik Davis, wrote a book earlier this year called Techgnosis in which he comes up with an idea called “the electromagnetic imaginary.” For Davis, the current moment is so defined by electricity and its attendant sense of immersiveness (everything from our neural systems to the networks used to hold together the post-industrialized world … in this milieu, at least for the moment, the electron is king) that we’ve drifted deep into the realm that people like Tesla and Marconi, McLuhan and Du Bois, Artaud and Edison posited long ago: The environment has become a deep reflection of the internal psychology of the machinations we human beings have inflicted on the planet. Natural versus artificial? A moot point at this stage in the evolution of global digital culture. The next stop in the trajectory? Art, it seems, points the way … So the evening this time finds my eyes wandering through a crowd at Postmasters Gallery. The invite to the performance read:

Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 08:21:47-0400 (EDT)Subject: POSTMASTERSFrom: info@e-flux.comTo: anansi@interport.netPostmasters Gallery is pleased to present: TERBOLIZARD and JARRYD LOWDERthis Thursday, June 17th at 8 PM San Francisco based digital artist Terbo Ted will spin and scratch the web in his off-the-web digital audiovisual performance. See / hear and play with his toys yourself: http://www.sirius.com/~shag >>>go to VJDJ ZERO ZERO or anywhere else “Composite Cells” is a piece/system used to combine and control tightly integrated A/V elements in an improvisational fashion. The audio and video in each element contain a blend of materials of organic or inorganic origin. Jarryd, the performer/composer uses a custom-built interface to control the piece and the video is projected onto several disc-shaped surfaces.Admission: $5 ($3 for students)Postmasters459 W 19 Street between 9 and 10th Avenuephone: 212 727 3323 e-mail: postmasters@thing.net



… and basically, Jarryd played at a party of mine called “Abstrakt” a while ago, so I wanted to swing through and check the mix. People milled about during the moments while he got his material together. The room was a basic gallery cube, but Jarryd had taken over a corner and erected three circular projection screens, and was testing his “composite cells” through a three-channel digital video projector. Digital art and performance is always a dicey affair: The sound of a computer crash/restart is just as much a part of some of the performances as the actual compositions, and non-beta-tested bugs abound in the handwritten and handmade software driving the art, so you never know what you’re going to get. Jarryd’s work is based on surgical cameras that normally travel through the veins and arteries and other body cavities, but tonight, he used images captured from the same camera to explore objects of nature and the environment made by the bodies the camera usually explores. Loop, add three circular screens, and give the performer two handmade control boxes whose surfaces are covered with mix control buttons, and you’ll have a vague idea of what the setup looked like. So the mix>>enter>>objects in the everyday world. We almost always dwell on the surface, and the way Jarryd used the camera to go inside things, and then translate the loops into music, was a poetic and lyrical critique of perception in the late 20th century. In a way, it’s kind of like looking for perceived patterns in the ocean of noise–visual, aural, psychological–that surrounds us at all moments, not to mention the idea of recycling–of making music and the environment become one in an elegant and fluid style. The artist Piet Mondrian said back in 1943 when he was asked to describe the geometric patterns in his famous work Broadway Boogie-Woogie: “I view boogie-woogie as homogenous with my intention in painting–a destruction of melody equivalent to the destruction of natural appearances, and a construction by means of a continuum of pure means–dynamic rhythms.” Several decades later, the geometric abstractions painters like him, Cubist-phase Duchamp, Kandinsky, and a host of others almost seem to be a direct precursor to the digital graphics that pervade the world we inhabit. Hearing the loops reverberate throughout the gallery, and looking at the crowd immersed in the asymmetric rhythms of the looped interiors of the objects Jarryd has “explored” and sequenced, I can only wonder what the work of today’s artists is pointing to in the future. The future as we live it in the cd:dir:goto>>hear and now? Well, it too once was an artist revery. Dreams within dreams, names within names, at this point in the digital game, well, world without end, that’s the thought with which, at the conclusion of the diary journal, I end. Then of course, press >>return>>send.