Event date: 29 October 2011
King’s Anatomy Theatre & Museum,
6th Floor, King’s Building
King’s College London,
London, WC2R 2LS
Rhythm and Event
Shintaro Miyazaki (Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart):
AlgoRhythmics. Microtemporal Transductions of Information, its Aesthetics, Production of Capital and Affects.
The proposed paper tries to resonate with the concept of rhythm as an elementary movement of matter, which oscillates in-between the discrete and the continuous, hence between the symbolic and the real. The attention on micro-temporal and molecular zones of mediated experience created by time-critical processes generated by technologies of information storage, transmission and processing shall be cultivated further and sharpened to a focus on its underlying rhythmic structures, which are generated by an inter-play and orchestration of abstract organisational, calculational respectively algorithmic concepts and real-world signals with measurable physical properties. This interleaving I called algoRhythm (2010; 2011), which was firstly a heuristic word play and combination of algorithm with rhythm, but then became a critical media archaeological concept, that allowed to track down some unrevealed aspects of the current digital culture and its history. Algorithm is a term crucially used in computer science and means a finite sequence of step-by-step instructions, a procedure for solving a problem, often used in computers as a fundamental principle of software or in everyday life for example as cooking recipes. Algorithms are abstract structures, but at the same time they „bear a crucial, if problematic, relationship to material reality (Goffey 2008, 16).“ Under such conditions algorithms are mathematical structures, but still not to be mistaken as algebraic formulas, for assignments or instructions operated or performed by algorithms are non-reversible. They are vectorized and have build in a time function. This boundedness to machinic reality and operativity makes algorithms time based and as such part of rhythmic procedures, which are able to cause effects in reality.
Rhythm on the other side is defined since the ancient Greek philosopher Plato as a time based order of movement, whereas movement should be understood as movements of materials that can be measured by technical, but at the same time epistemological tools. AlgoRhythms are consequently combinations of symbolic and real physical structures. They occur when real matter is controlled by symbolic and logic structures like instructions written as code. The proposed paper describes and explains some case studies of concrete historical situations, where an algoRhythmic approach brought new insights of a more accurate understanding of current digital cultures. Firstly I will account some concrete aural engineering practices of mainframe computers (late 1950s), where machine operators and programmers listened to the processes of the computers via build-in loudspeakers, which amplified the electronic signals of computational processing (with audio examples). Secondly I will briefly explain some basic sets of algoRhythmic processing in the realm of digital signal processing and wirelessness (Mackenzie 2010). Thirdly I will briefly describe the recent algoRhythmic breakdown and crash of US-financial markets on the 6th of May 2010. Finally as an outlook into further areas I could briefly mention a possible coupling of algorhythmics with neural coding and brain-machine-interfaces. Generally formulated I will try to answer the question, “Is rhythm is capable of theemergence of the new?”, by trying to read Deleuze/ Guattari with Bachelard and not against them. It is important to combine the micro-temporal concepts posed in Bachelards “La dialectique de la durée” (2006, 129 et seq.) with the seemingly continuous understanding of catastrophic processes and non-linear dynamics of Deleuze/Guattari. The essential update and escalation of our current culture of knowledge since the late 1970s is, that many seemingly non-linear, dynamic, rhythmic, non-digital processes, operations, situations and becomings can be simulated with symbolic, thus discrete, abstract, non-continuously operating, digital instrument of computation.
Shintaro Miyazaki holds a M.A in media history and theory, musicology and philosophy, University of Basle, Switzerland. He is a PhD candidate of Humboldt University Berlin at the Chair of Media Theory, Wolfgang Ernst and will be a research fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany from November on. His PhD in-review is about computer and media archaeology, rhythms and algorithms. Other recent research interests include, history of neurosciences, electrophysiology, media technology and science of complexity.