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Newsletter 2-98 - Closing the Loop

Release Date: 
04 - 1998
Authors: 
Trevor Batten, Tim Boykett, R. Kreissl, Just Merit

Newsletter 2-98 Closing the Loop

2-98 Closing the loop
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editorial
Es kann uns eigentlich nicht mehr darum gehen, die Welt zu erklären, im Zeitalter des Samplings muss es uns möglich sein, aus den bestehenden Welterklärungsmodellen eines zusammenzuscratchen, das unseren individuellen Bedürfnissen gerecht wird.
Speziell das leidige Jahrtausendwende Thema mit all seinen üblichen wehwehchen von religionswahnsinnigkeiten bis zur üblichen technohype und paradiesgeselligkeits-um die ecke-versprechungen, gibt anlass zur hoffnung, insofern als wir gelegenheit bekommen, viele varianten auf einmal vor uns zu sehen. Warum komm´ ich mir aber vor als hätte ich das schon ein paarmal durcherlebt, obwohl ich meines Wissens nach noch nicht über 2M oder so alt bin? Wer weiss, frag den nächsten guru an der strassenecke und wahrscheinlich erklärt er mir dies aus irgendeiner Sternenkonstellation bei der Geburt meines drittvergangenen Lebens heraus.
Was wollen wir also?
Wird Time´s Up versuchen, die Welt neu und endgültig zu erklären, mit den mitteln einer zusammengebastelten religionsfanatischen Pseudowissenschaft?
Nur teilweise - wie in Boyketts Manifest zur Wiedergewinnung der Pseudowissenschaften detaillierter dargestellt, geht es wohl eher darum, die Frage wieder in den Mittelpunkt zu rücken, wir wollen eher die achtjährigen im Sandkasten der Wissenschaft sein, die es nicht kümmert, Paradigmen stehen und fallen zu lassen, wenn sich daraus interessantere Fragestellungen ergeben.
Jede Wissenschaft ist definiert vom Weltbild des "Forschers". Astrologie war bis zum Eintritt des Kopernikanischen Weltbildes durchaus eine anerkannte Methode um zu zuverlässigen Vorhersagen zu gelangen.
Boykett´s Theorie der Hyperkompetition, scheint zu bestätigen, dass die Notwendigkeit Paradigmenwechsel als legitime Methode einer pseudowissenschaftlichen Untersuchung einzuführen, zumindest interessante Schlussfolgerungen zulässt.
Unter diesem Blickwinkel steht auch das bei Time´s Up durchgeführte Labor "Closing the Loop" nicht im Zeichen der Erklärung der Welt, als vielmehr der Infragestellung unserer angelernten Interpretationsmuster.
Essentiell daher auch die Öffnung sämtlicher Labordaten für eine Interpretation aus verschiedensten Blickwinkeln, der Guru an der Strassenecke ebenso wie der Quantenforscher in seinem Elfenbeinturm soll sich angespornt fühlen, seine Erklärungsmodelle darzulegen, an uns wird es liegen, die Fragen neu zu formulieren, auf diese Weise die Skalpelle, wie Boykett es formuliert zu schärfen.
J.A.M
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pseudo-science

What is this "pseudoscience" business? It's got something to do with the undeterred feeling that science, writ large, small or in italics, is something that is good and interesting, or at least value-free and interesting. That there are too many redefinitions of science that don't quite meet my specs for what it is that makes my ears prick up when I hear the word. That abstraction in all its glory is a good thing, that there are connections, that things can be valuably seen in solitary situations, also in connection, that there are ways of talking about all these things that are not completely meaningless. Perhaps it's the romance, perhaps I want justification for having bad hair.
These notes are an attempt for me to piece together what it is that makes me wear the badge "pseudo scientist" without shame, why it is that a scientist is a good person, why this thing is interesting.
Some distinctions. Some definitions belong to the beginning of every good pseudo-scientific text. We need to know what is being said, not falling into the obfuscation or intellectual brow-beating-techniques of art critics, politicios and popular scientists. For us, popular science denotes all those science-type things that are based on some kind of popularity, whether it's occult National Enquirer stuff or peer-reviewed journals. Science itself is about separation and cutting, using the etymology of the word, it's about abstraction and understanding, as compared to development, which is about product, technology, use. Of course development of tools is necessary for science, one needs scalpels to cut, but science is not about knives. Scientists are by their nature mad, they are unusual, they are other, whether solitary crazies in the wilderness or groups in ivory towers. A scientist is someone, or even something, that does science.
I speak from the position of a confessed pseudo scientist, I am not in a twelve-point program.
The expression "pseudo" science is meant, above all, to push buttons and ensure that we do not get lumped with all them other sorts of scientists. Since most things are useless by their nature, so will our science be "useless", angels on pins, but infinitely important to us, in the same way hat any obsession becomes all-consuming. Our researches are not meant to be barren, although there are not, a priori, tangible results in the sense of new machines or protocols or systems. We produce understanding which by its nature must be transmitted to be regarded as real. We are not Gnostics, looking for intimate knowledge of the universe for our own sake, we are explorers bringing back maps to new treasures. We seek to explain, in much the same way that many seek to represent. Thus there must be texts, diagrams, discussions. This is a parallel universe to that of the working day of the pseudo scientist, it is not the creation of these texts that are important, it is the development of understanding and abstraction behind them.
The job of the pseudoscientist might be said to be the opposite of the (classical) artist. The artist creates a specific version of a general idea, a work that is an embodiment of some thoughts, feelings, intuitions that have apparently happened. The pseudo scientist does the opposite, the development of abstractions, reasoning and intuiting about those abstractions, developing methods to convey those abstractions in ways that do not become concrete, that survive bad photocopying, that can be explained in the dust with a stick as well as with an interactive high-tech computer thing.
In these developments of abstractions, the pseudoscientist will run across similarities that span widths unexpectedly, there will be connections where truths in one area can be transported across to truths in another area via the bridge of abstraction. Understanding in one area can be spread, shared, developed through appropriate imagery, similarity, difference.
The depth of applicability is always in question. Thus the pseudoscientist returns to perhaps the most romantic of all things scientific, the laboratory, where experiments must be carried out. Technology must be developed, devices constructed, situations composed that let the scientists see what is going on, methods to look inside systems, to analyse, record, translate and transpose. These experiments must be reproducible, but the equipment does not need to be reliable beyond some measure of accuracy. This is not technological development of idiot-proof consumer electronics, it's about searching for understanding. Though it probably looks pretty cool as it produces its results.
tb, linz, may 1998
# theory of hypercompetition

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closing the loop
Closing The Loop lautet der Titel einer Experimentreihe, von Situationen konstruiert und komponiert zur Untersuchung der Theorien von Biomechanik und Hypercompetition, kulminierend in einer Reihe von Veranstaltungen im September 98, die die Interrelation analoger und digitaler Medien im hyperkompetitiven Zeitalter zelebrieren.
Theoretiker und Pseudowissenschafter von Time´s Up entwickelten einen Rahmen zur Untersuchung des „öffentlichen Individuums" in Situationen des Alltags. Time´s Up lädt bekannte Forscher aus verschiedensten Ländern, Wissenschafter, Künstler und Technologen, um in seinen Labors die Zusammenhänge von Wahrnehmung, Biomechanik und Kontrolle im Zusammenhang mit heraufbrechenden Technologien neu zu untersuchen.
Die Kontrollrichtung von Subjekt zu Objekt ist weitläufig untersucht, die Entwicklung von Interfaces zwischen der biomechanischen Einheit Mensch und wahrnehmungsorientierten Anwendungsapparaten den Kinderschuhen entwachsen. Die Experimentreihe zielt auf die Rückschlüsse dieser Kontrollrichtung, auf die Einflussnahme des Objektes auf das einflussnehmende Subjekt, daher der Titel "Closing the Loop".
Das Labor startete im Mai in einem Prelude mit dem Musiker und Performancekünstler John Duncan in Italien. Dem Eröffnungswochenende am 29./30.Mai mit wissenschaftlichen und pseudowissenschaftlichen Filmen und Vorträgen im Linzer Hafenlabor von Time´s Up, folgt eine Experimentreihe mit Nic A. Baginsky aus Hamburg, dessen Untersuchung von biomorphologischen Systemen und deren wachsende Konstruktion in neuralen Netzen die Fachwelt nachhaltig beeinflusst hat. Experimente wie jenes von Prema Murthy (Floating Point Unit, USA), die Überreaktion von sich selbst beeinflussenden Kreisläufen von Kontrolle und Wahrnehmung unter Bedingungen steigernder Medienstimulation untersuchend, sowie Rosa von Suess´/LeoSchatzl´s Erforschung der Interrelation zwischen Videostimuli und Reaktionen der Gehirnwellen seien hier nur als beispielhaft für die zu untersuchenden Rückkoppelungen genannt.
Der aktuelle Stand der Experimente, sowie deren Messdaten sind jederzeit abrufbar unter:

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>>Computer(Sound)-Installations<<
(extract)
I. SOURCE or MAINSTREAM?
Question: what is mainstream? I choose to continue the now forgotten tradition of "artist/programmer" which was mainstream in the early days before the graphical user interface became master of all.
Since those days the popularization and de-formalization of the computer has generated a new "mainstream" of computerized tools for video and CD production but the revolutionary "essence" of the computer as a medium may somehow have got lost on the way.
i. So What's a Name?
So how should we categorize this work which is inside a mainstream which is not mainstream? Should we call it a Computer Installation, -Environmental Video, -Live Computer "Performance", -An audio-machine interpreting its own self-generated score, -A conceptual sculpture, -An ecological model, -A social laboratory or An anti-entropic audio-visual automaton?
Is it a work of artistic expression or of scientific research?
ii. So What are They?
Ecologies of virtual machines moving through (visualized) space, both modifying their environment and being modified by it. Perhaps they are imaginary animals eating their environment and leaving their (recyclable) trails behind them. Or Goedelian machines, interpreting their space/time environment and sending us their anti-entropic messages in the form of sound and image.
iii. So What's the Difference?
The integration of necessary difference is the basis of an ecology. Co-existing objects may easily be considered different, but if things change over time - are they the same or are they different?
Change, constancy and identity are fundamental to the work. Variation between elements but also variation in time. There is also variation in the variation (constant or variable?) - determining what, when and how things may change.
How much variation is needed to avoid simple repetition and how much does it need to be restrained to avoid degeneration into chaos?
Most pieces are not single works but series of related works which are being modified and developed as progress continues.
II. BASIC PRINCIPLES:
The work is an investigation of the aesthetic and practical implications of auto-genetic systems and involves the integration of several principles:
i. Translation (re-interpretation) as a creative principle:
-Development of this aspect is based on experience with the "Cross Media Mapping" project carried out at the Institute for Sonology.
-The introspective generation of visible form from empty space could be considered to a model of, or a metaphor for, human creative processes such as science and art.
-The way in which the automata reinterpret the result of their actions to generate new variations in behavior could be considered to be a visual generalization of the Goedel paradox exhibited by formal systems when interpreted as statements regarding themselves.
ii. Ecological diversity as necessity in closed systems:
-At present based on non-intelligent systems (i.e. natural evolutionary systems, both biological and non-biological).
-Possibly involving potential models for biological or human, i.e. social/political/economic/knowledge systems of organization.
-Similarity and Diversity as basic elements in Aesthetic systems.
iii. Auto Modification:
-Essentially the construction of time/space interactions manifested as structures which modify themselves in response to their self-created environment.
iv. Minimalisation of a-priori structure:
-This work is the least developed and should involve self structuring systems, possibly the development of self programming programs.
-Basically concerned with ontological questions regarding which types of universe are conducive to self structuring under which conditions -and how they can be realized in a (computer) programming environment.
-Studies in Complexity and Simplicity.
III. PRESENTATION:
The work consists of computer programs which continually weave an audio/visual texture. They have no size, and no weight.
When operating, the programs form an intersection between visual, auditory, mathematical, electronic and conceptual (metaphorical) worlds. Although at present all processing takes place in the visual / mathematical world the sound could be considered as being produced by an auditory automat reading a self generated (visual) score. It is highly probable that interpreting the visual image generates auditory structures that are more complex than could be produced without doing so. Maybe media are more interesting as generators of information than as carriers of information.
The images can be recorded on video but then the real-time performance nature of the work is destroyed (and image quality is less). In sound saturated environments the work can be presented without sound. Presentation is therefore dependant on local conditions.
Because the works are real-time programs (under continuous development) which vary each time they are run, any documentation (slides or video) can only give an indication of the type of image which may be produced.
Trevor Batten
Amsterdam, March 1998
original available at http://www.dma.nl/batten

Appearances: 
Closing The Loop 98