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4 / d i s t u r b i n g s l o w n e s s i n s p e e d y t im e s - Lo-res.org

4/disturbing slownessin speedy times


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4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Manu Luksch1996/2008---DIAMONDS & CLOVERLEAVES35 mm transparenciesDuring a visit to Beijing in 1996, I captured images of newlybuilt, empty road intersections. Between 1966 and 1996, morethan 160 intersections were built in Beijing, some over 500 m longand covering areas of 250,000 m 2 . This grandiose constructionproject necessitated the demolition of many hutongs and themass resettlement of their inhabitants. Over the past decade,the city’s highways and intersections have become clogged withprivate cars that are major contributors to its pollution problem.---


4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Manu Luksch2004Call for works, Video asurban conditionwww.video-as.org---Urban Road MoviesFebruary 2003: the Congestion Charge is introduced in London.The fee applies to all vehicles entering the central zone.Compliance is ensured by a surveillance apparatus that recordsvehicle registration plates. Vehicles are monitored throughoutthe charging zone. In mediaeval times, city walls signified tothose entering them that they were approaching the centreof political, economic, and religious power. Today’s guardians,closed-circuit TV cameras that peer down from posts on everystreet corner, ensure that modern citizens are no less awareof this fact.In 1995, at the Telepolis symposium in Luxembourg, an attemptwas made to redefine urbanism for an emerging digital age,in which trade, communication, and information exchangewould be increasingly carried out by means of e-commerce,video conferencing, and chat- and newsgroups. Today, mediaconvergence is a reality, but the predicted decline in thephysical movement of people has not occurred. The increasein traffic is not just across national boundaries, but alsoacross the economically more significant city borders. Formerinhabitants leave older European and American city centres,now turned into lifeless zones of speculation. The influx ofpeople into newer urban centres in Asia and South Americais creating mega-cities. The European city plan is mediaeval,its nodes of activity are crossroads. The new Asian mediacities (attached to Dubai, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur) are growingaround an infrastructure of data highways, and their nodesof activity are the access points to these highways. To whatextent can electronic media impose or create an urbanism?What kind of urbanism will this be? could this be? Or, will theurban appear only in the interstices, despite the planners’best intentions?Media convergence and the diffusion of digital technology,coupled with increasing anxiety and paranoia in the city,has greatly expanded the realm of video. The telephoneconversation, the journal entry, the eyewitness account, theinfant’s room – all are enhanced, supported, substantiated,monitored, or otherwise qualified by the use of ‘moving’ image.Video is most prevalent not in any ‘pure’ form, but in suchhybrid manifestations.


This symposium and exhibition will examine the extents to whichmediation forms our urban experience, and urban experienceinfluences video culture. We invite works that throw light onthe place of video in the city, and of the city in video. Worksthat situate urban experience around networks of traffic(human, vehicular, or data), or that examine the relationshipof newer, developing cities to media, would be of particularinterest.Video as urban conditionAnthony AuerbachVideo as urban condition examines a medium whose mostdistinctive characteristics are multiplicity and diversity, aform which is not contained by the norms of art institutionsor the exclusive domains of professionals. Video is a medium ofmass production — that is, mass participation — as well as ofmass consumption.The project was launched in 2004 with an interdisciplinarysymposium which took place at the Austrian Cultural Forum,London, with: Juha Huuskonen (Katastro.fi), Manu Luksch(ambientTV.NET), Anna McCarthy (New York University), PaulO’Connor (Undercurrents News Network), and Ole Scheeren(Office of Metropolitan Architecture), and chaired by AnthonyAuerbach.---Project statement, Videoas urban condition. Theproject is ongoing; in2006–07, it toured to Paçodas Artes, São Paolo,the Armenian Center forContemporary ExperimentalArt, Yerevan, and theLentos Museum of ModernArt, Linz.122/123


4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Manu Luksch2006Statement on BroadbanditHighway for VBI: theambient.lounge at Wittede With, during the 35thInternational Film FestivalRotterdam---BroadBanditrySix years ago, ambientTV.NET was invited to participate inPlease Disturb Me, a show at the Great Eastern Hotel in London(24 March–8 April 2001). Each artist was offered a space oftheir choice. We (Ilze Black and myself) decided to inhabit themedia-space of the hotel’s cable TV system rather than aroom: we wanted to make ‘ambient television’.It was around this time that webcams and streaming videohad become practical and popular on the Internet. I was veryenthusiastic about this development: I thought that it couldhave a positive effect on TV programmes if expensive airtimewas undermined by do-it-yourself television. After all, anyonecould run a little broadcasting (or narrowcasting) station fromtheir kitchen table by using the Internet.I researched how people were using webcams and discovered anuninspiring reality: the most widespread use was pornography,followed by weather cams (to help office workers decideabout surfing or skiing on the week-end), and thirdly, trafficsurveillance cameras. The traffic cams were operated by cityadministrations, universities, freeway departments, tourismoffices, and even individuals who simply stuck a cam out of thewindow overlooking the local street crossing.Our idea was to use these traffic cam streams to make a roadmovie – an endless, self-generating road movie. We took onthe roles of ‘bandits’ of the Information Superhighway byimplementing JavaScript code that chose a new cam sourceevery 40 seconds from an array of about 100, hijacked thevideo stream, and resized it into full-screen format. Wediverted the video onto the hotel television network, whereit ran 24/7 on Channel 26. The soundtrack was created live bySupermodem (Kate Rich and Sneha Solanki) during the openingof the show. The result was Broadbandit Highway, a film thateventually became five years long, ending only when the last ofthe traffic cams we tapped went offline in March 2006.---


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---Meanwhile, over on channel 26 ...---Ilze Black & Manu Luksch2001Franko B: I miss you[13 min, UK 1999]Shu Lea Cheang: I.K.U.[3 min, UK/Japan 2000]F5: Bloody TV[3 min, Latvia 2000]Bureau of Inverse Technology: BIT Plane[15 min, UK/USA 1999]Andree Korpys & Markus Löffler: 3 US buildings[15 min, Germany 1997]Chapman Brothers: Bring Me the Head Of[10 min, UK 2000]Derek Ogbourne: Gutter[3 min, UK 2000]Motoko Ohinata: Rabbit People[6 min, UK 1999]Richard Wright: LMX Spiral[8 min, UK 1998]---Channel 26 was a programmeof contemporary video artcurated for an internalTV channel of the GreatEastern Hotel, London, aspart of the Please DisturbMe show.---1Broadbandit Highway inthe ambient.lounge atConnecting Worlds, NTTICC (InterCommunicationCenter), Tokyo, 2006Photo: KIOKU Keizo2Broadbandit Highway(Manu Luksch & Ilze Black)3BIT Plane (Bureau of InverseTechnology)4I.K.U. (Shu Lea Cheang)5LMX Spiral (Richard Wright)3 4 5126/127


4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Mukul Patel2002Official report on 2002Arabian Nights, the NewYear’s Eve tent-warming atambient.spacePhotography by ChrisHelgrenOnce upon a timeFair Cleopatra of Slackneythe Black Queen of Balsam GreenKhalifa Khera (head of the harem)pipe/line layer Badmash Basmachiand Plastic Smoking Camel Jockeyplayed host to a multitude of mullahsimams and cantorscalligraphers of lightmosaic artists of the nightchess players and tea drinkersOPEC sheikhsUkranian rebelsa Transoxianian Emirpursued by shooting Tsarsa band of Tuarega worshipper of Raand Olive Ra herself (princess-in-waiting)Parsi percussionistsAfghani viola playershashishin and harafisha Goth and a camelfive Yasser Arafats


Mr. & Mrs. Leila Khaledand all kinds of lesser terroristswho Rocked the Casbah for 14 hoursand Painted it green and whiteand redand BlackTurbans were wornand torn offeyes gazed atand avertedgames won and lostincense inhaledand senses inflamedsweet wine imbibed with sweetmeatsa dervish whirled desert discsand a story was whisperedthat began:“Once upon a timeFair Cleopatra of Slackneythe Black Queen of Balsam GreenKhalifa Khera …128/129


“CNN-ESPN-ABC-TNT but mostly B.S.4/disturbing slownessin speedy timeswhere oxymoronic language like‘virtually spotless’‘fresh frozen’‘light yet filling’ and‘military intelligence’have become standard“ T.V. is the placewhere phrases are redefinedlike ‘recession’ to ‘necessary downturn’‘crude oil on a beach’ to ‘mousse’‘civilian death’ to ‘collateral damages’and being killed by your own armyis now called ‘friendly fire’ ”---The Disposable Heroesof Hiphoprisy, ‘Television,the Drug of the Nation’(4th & B’way, 1991)Lyrics: Michael Franti


---Our Man In Baghdad---[Redacted]2002-04Ramadan in Kuwait, November 2, 2002Merhaba from Kuwait.It’s a dry country here (no booze) and due to get even drier:Ramadan starts Nov 6. So, beginning next Wednesday, I’m gonnahave to learn how to smoke without anyone knowing it, sneaka drink of water or hide a bite to eat during daylight hours.Maybe I’ll return looking like Twiggy. If I’m not dead fromthirst. This place has beautiful mosques at every corner, paidfor in part by the cash certain multi-national corporationsgive the country. Boys race the streets in Maseratis chasinggirls driving Mercedes, eventually they catch each other andgo off to park. Apparently though, they are not as rich as theylook ... my friend says most of the youth are in perpetual debt,leasing a hot car, then selling it for cash so they can live it upin places like New York and London (you can’t get personal loansfrom the banks but they will happily finance a car). Then theyspend five years paying it off. All because their other friendsdo it, and there’s no sense being left out, is there?ambientTV.NET’s rovingoptoelectronic eye wasbased in the Middle Eastin the build-up to andduring the early part ofthe current war in Iraq.He shared his secondthoughts on the situationvia a web log.There is also a darker side ... Sri Lankans arrive here withpromises of $200 a month as security guards, then the securitycompanies get them to sign a contract for $100 and if theydon’t like it they can go home. Which they can’t, becausethey’ve already taken a loan to come here in the first place.Also, bus services that run intermittently, so the story goes,in order that employers can squeeze an extra four hours outof the workers, who eventually go home to sleep in a squatwith 14 others. And horrific tales of rape – on Filipino maids byemployers, or the uncle, father and brother abusing the girl inthe family. Apparently it’s quite common. And as far as alcoholgoes, guess who runs the illegal cartel?But there are nice things too. I went to cover a story todayabout old shipwrights who used to be the toast of society,and now after the oil boom they just make wooden models ofthe once grand dhows which plied the seas. Bahrain was a goodstory in that women were allowed to both vote and run ascandidates for national office, for the first time. And I got tohang out of a helicopter, my favourite mode of transport, for130/131


4/disturbing slownessin speedy timesthe first time since Bosnia, while covering speedboat races.The sunsets are stunning, the food always fresh, and fishermenbring back some of the best prawns to be found anywhere.Tomorrow we are off to shoot pix of falcon hunters kicked outof their desert grounds due to upcoming ‘war games’ whereone-third of the country is to be out of bounds. Right in themidst of camping season, a Kuwaiti tradition.---Birthdays on the road, Kuwait, November 2002We celebrated my birthday with a nice curry and played pool ata Filipino karaoke bar. At first, no alcohol, since this is a dryIslamic country, and we got banned from the British embassypub, but then a friend of mine provided some ethanol (actuallyKodak computer screen cleaning fluid) and we mixed it withlemonade. The plastic bottle it came in had been sitting on ashelf for a year, so at least it was aged. My friends here gaveme a portable shisha kit in a padded briefcase. And the hotelhead chef brought me a birthday cake for breakfast ... thenanother one came to my room in the afternoon.---Embedding with the U.S. Army, December 18, 2002I was shooting the opening match of the Arab Cup soccertournament here in Kuwait City and got the Moroccan fans tochant ‘Vive le Canada, vive le Canada’!Kuwait is getting a bit chilly, down to 16°C in the eveningand dropping out in the desert to 9°C at night. So I guesstomorrow will be a shopping day for a winter coat as I’m goingout on another four-day junket with the Yank army. Last weekI was with a company of Abrams tanks and we got stuck in thesand three times (I think due to a Brit driver who we won’tname), and got pulled out by a monster of a tank that all of asudden loomed in my night vision goggles. Later, we returnedthe favour when we got lost with another tank in some massivesand dunes and I found us a route back to base using a bitof common sense rather than satellite tracking devices. Andthe next night, we were being escorted by a sergeant with18 years experience who started freaking out when his GPSbroke. I calmly pointed to the Big Dipper and taught him how tofind North. Then I suggested we drive to a place with lights acouple of kilometres away, which we did and it turned out to be


an engineering base where we found help. I guess the learningcurve is so great when teaching them how to push a button on atank’s computer that they miss the basic stuff that I learnedin boy scouts. Please bring on the British Army, who would knowhow to use a hammer to fix a tank rather than calling in an MITgraduate – and even how to find Kuwait on a map.Christmas is coming up and I expect I’ll be dining with thetroops on the same turkey that we had at Thanksgiving – meatpressed from several different birds/species, washed downwith a lovely 1998 ‘Cabaret’ (sic) nonalcoholic wine/grape juicevariant.---The march to war, Kuwait, January 2003Another year gone by, and the march to war continues. TheKuwaitis are used to this monotony by now – every three yearsor so there is some sort of ‘crisis’ where certain members ofthe world press announce that we are ‘on the brink of war’, withtanks massing on the borders etc. If you read the Sunday Timesany given week you’d think the Yanks were to invade Oct 30,Nov 6, Nov 30, Dec 7, Dec 16, and so on.In reality there are enough US troops in Kuwait to police aRolling Stones concert, that’s about it. But yes, there is a bigdeployment underway, though it’s gonna be a lot longer thananyone thinks before they are up to battle strength. In themeantime, the circus is forming. The media circus, I mean. Onenetwork has just booked the entire Ritz Carlton hotel, andI overheard an executive say that if there isn’t a war, theybloody well hope they can make one, as the costs will start tospiral. Think I read the same thing about newspaper magnateWilliam Randolph Hearst before the Spanish American War. Nextweek we expect a huge influx of American wannabe Pulitzercandidates, just like in all the other wars ... By the way, JosephPulitzer was just as guilty of sensationalising the war in 1895.The U.S. Army and Marines have been attempting their ownversion of Spin Doctoring. Seems they don’t want to go ‘offmessage’ from the White House saying they’re hoping fora peaceful settlement, while pictures and video show upof troops firing rockets during exercises. So when we visitAmerican bases, questions on Iraq are banned and reportersare shadowed by minders. Even the word ‘censorship’ seems tobe banned. Personally I think they are testing us to see who will132/133


4/disturbing slownessin speedy timesbend over for them, who will or won’t report on a fuckup if ithappens. Soundbite from a U.S. trooper next to a huge desertbonfire on New Year’s Eve: ‘See that? That’s what Baghdad’sgonna look like.’---Northern Kuwait, March 20, 2003My view on the invasion of Iraq is from a farm’s water towerjust a kilometre or so from the frontier. It’s different thanthe ‘shock and awe’ in Baghdad that everyone else was watchingon TV. Mostly, it’s the flash and thud of artillery landing, arcingof rockets, and drone of fleets of helicopters traversing thefront lines. We go in tomorrow.---Umm Al Qasr, Iraq, late March 2003Oh my lord, I shouldn’t have done that. You cannot imagine whatit’s like to sleep on open ground for three weeks in the desert,bathing with bottled water, using a filthy petrol station toilet ina war zone, and cooking tins of beans with mango pickle chutney toflavour them. It’s a hot, horrible, poverty-stricken place withchildren who look like they’ve never seen a bar of soap, and convoysof tractors laden with tasteless tomatoes criss-crossing theroads in search of non-existent customers after the electricitylines were bombed, crippling the canning factories.Anyway, this is the background to the day the power came backto Umm al Qasr, which lies just across the border from Kuwait.Everyone was taken by surprise, and all the locals rushed backto their homes to start filling refrigerators at long last. Andsome enterprising souls found large freezers in which theystuffed bottles of Iraqi Pepsi. The first problem was, thesefreezers had been full of rotting fish since the electricitywent off. Second problem was, I didn’t smell the fish, nor didI want to, as I guzzled three bottles of the gorgeous coldliquid in 45 degree heat. To make a long story short I got sosick that I was taken back to Kuwait City to lie on a hotel bedfor three days.---Baghdad, April 17, 2003A week after I arrived. Things are settling down now, if that’s aword for it. At least no masses in the emergency wards due to


nervous American troops shooting and blowing up anything theydeem suspicious. That includes us journalists ... both Reutersand Al Jazeera lost cameramen (plus several others sufferinginjury) to a tank crew who didn’t realise that the PalestineHotel was full of press and not snipers. Even though it has beenthe main press hotel for months. That knowledge also didn’tstop the U.S. Air Force from heroically giving freedom to theIraqi people by dropping a 2,000 lb JDAM bomb across the streetlast month. Friends embedded with the U.S. Marines warned thatthose guys shoot first and ask questions later, claiming scoresof innocent lives in their wake. Even our armoured Land Rover,Brenda the Defender, didn’t escape their notice as twice nowArmy soldiers and Marines have fired their M-16s in the air whenwe slowed to cross a checkpoint. Brenda has TV stickers allover her as well as bright orange markings, but I guess Armyopticians aren’t so good.The final leg of the trip into the capital was the scariest driveI’ve ever done – three hours on a deserted, no-man’s landhighway on which we had to manoeuvre through chicanes ofdestroyed Iraqi armoured personnel carriers. The three of usin the armoured car, which would not have withstood much morethan a burst from a Kalashnikov, were chain-smoking over anashtray overflowing onto the carpet.When I first arrived at the top of Highway 8 en route toBaghdad’s Saddam International Airport, I was horrified. Wewere met by shell-shocked embedded journalists and thesight of charred bodies still entombed in gutted cars, withspent shell casings carpeting the road. Smoke rose from everyvista, and the pall of death made its way through Brenda’s airconditioning. The road to the airport told a story of mayhem –trees split by shellfire, full size cars turned into compact onesunder the wheels of Abrams tanks, bodies lying helter-skelter inthe woodlands alongside the boulevard. I was thankful I wasn’taround to see the place when it had been a battleground.Then there were a few days of chaos ... looting, shooting andsniping amid the thump of artillery shells landing. Relatives lookingfor lost prisoners crowded the former secret police bases,shouting down wells in the unfounded hope their loved ones werestill alive in what they claim are underground dungeons. Wevisited a Muhabarat jail and saw eerie pictures of a family drawnon cement walls without light, and in other cells the days ofthe Muslim fasting month of Ramadan were scratched. It musthave been hell living through solitary confinement in that place.134/135


4/disturbing slownessin speedy timesNow, after the looting, the shopping spree begins and onecan pick up bargains on street corners staffed by ‘Ali Babas’,what the locals call thieves. The best buy seen today wasdiesel powered electricity generators. The local police arenow patrolling the streets with the U.S. Marines, to someeffect.Yesterday we came across the aftermath of a bank robbery ...three suspects lying on the ground, receiving the odd kick orwhack from a cop (20 more got away). All of a sudden there wassome commotion and about 15 Ali Babas were fighting amongstthemselves for a loose bag of Iraqi dinars abandoned by therobbers. One policeman took it upon himself to chase down thenew group of blighters, armed with only his truncheon. A fewmoments later he was bounding at full speed past me, minus hisbaton, with some thieves in pursuit throwing bricks. Then theystole his Toyota Landcruiser, fishtailing out of sight. I told aMarine what had happened and he replied, ‘Oh great, not onlydo they have a getaway car, we don’t even have the means totransport the suspects we did arrest!’It’s now been over six months since I arrived in the Gulf tohelp organise our presence here. In that time I’ve choked insandstorms, gotten food poisoning and a chest infection, sleptin the desert for weeks on end, and been regarded as scum (asan independent journalist) by the British and American pressofficers. If I had been embedded into an army unit I would havebeen given more respect, but even worse living conditions – gofigure. We were first into Basra, greeted by a mortar attack,and first to have linked up teams from north and south Iraqin Tikrit – Saddam’s birthplace and site of the last battle ofthe war. Very fitting as the guy I linked up with in the drivewayof Saddam’s palace was no less an icon than [redacted], my oldpartner and great friend from [redacted]. I wouldn’t tradethe experience but it’s time to take a break, and I have beenpromised one in about 10 days.---Baghdad, August 7, 2003The city has no water, power, or gas and petrol is in such ashort supply that motorists are forced to queue for hours.Tempers flare and there is a growing insurgency. Arson blazesbreak out amid a lack of firemen. Riots over unpaid salariesturn deadly. The answer to the problem at hand is to throw inmore security forces or ... build more mosques?


4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Manu Luksch & Mukul Patel2002The Net art work StealthWaltz was commissioned forKOP (Kingdom of Piracy) atthe Acer Digital Art Center(ADAC), Taiwan. A pilot sitewas launched in December2001 at the Museum ofContemporary Art, Taipei.In April 2002, as Taiwaninitiated a major antipiracydrive, the leadershipof ADAC changed. KOPbecame politically sensitiveand the curators andartists were denied accessto the KOP server at ADAC.By mid-June, the KOP sitewas taken offline, with ADACdemanding editorial rightsand a change of exhibitiontitle. The curatorial teamrejected these demandsand sought ways ofpreserving the project asboth a Taiwanese initiativeand an international onlineart project. Through theefforts of ADAC’s formerdirector Ray Wang, serveraccess was restored.However, the use of thedomain name was denied.First public exhibition:Ars Electronica, Linz 2002---STEALTH WALTZThe Corporation’s Announcement to Stakeholders:Heritage License AgreementFollowing the highly successful appropriation of bio- and ecoknowledgeand techniques through patent legislation, TheCorporation today announces the extension of its reach tothe regulation of folkloric production—in particular, music.Folklore encodes traditional wisdom that rightfully belongsto everyone. The current inheritors of these forms do nothave the means to adequately preserve or share them. TheCorporation, with the support of a consortium of publishingcompanies, will safeguard this global cultural heritage, developefficient distribution mechanisms, and conduct an archaeologyof the traditional wisdom encoded in folklore through theHeritage License Agreement (HLA). The HLA is effectiveimmediately. Only instrumental electronic music in 2/2 time(binary beats) is exempt from the Heritage License, and may bedistributed and consumed without reference to an agent ofthe HLA. The Corporation will be the exclusive licensing agentfor traditional music production and distribution. As a valuedstakeholder, you are assured of high rewards.Ambient Information Systems’ responseA m bie nt Info rmation Syste m s, Ltd. re s p o n d e d to Th eCorporation’s HLA by launching a server that stores ostensiblylegal, HLA-free 2/2 music files. These files are, however,also containers for other files, hidden using steganographictechniques. The hidden file is designed so that when a userextracts it and combines it with the wrapper file, the resultis a piece of non-2/2 time folk music. Thus, the server allowsusers to securely and covertly exchange folk music withoutthe knowledge or interference of The Corporation.---(text adapted from thecurators’ statement by ShuLea Cheang, Armin Medosch,and Yukiko Shikata, athttp://kop.fact.co.uk)


---IST: New clocks for the city of Lille---Mukul Patel2006The Indian subcontinent has accumulated a complex set ofrelationships to time. Hindu philosophy (and by extension,Jainism and Buddhism) marks time with a scale of units rangingfrom less than a millionth of a second (a truti, the time it takesfor a needle to penetrate a lotus leaf), to over 300 trillionyears (the life cycle of Brahma). Indians are also philosophicalabout time in a more quotidian sense – Indian Standard Time [1]is, so a long-standing joke goes, always a little late (thoughthe trains tend to run on time). There also exist many otherstandards of timekeeping, more in proportion to human lives orhabits, or bound into performance genres (music, dance).IST, a series of publicsound, light and videoinstallations, wascommissioned byLille3000.[1] IST = UTC+5.30.Pakistan is UTC+5,Nepal UTC+5.45 (!),and Sri Lanka andBangladesh UTC+6.IST is a suite of idiosyncratic public clocks – some precise,others vague; some hig h ly re g ula r, others n ot – thatprovide novel ways of marking life’s passage. Some clocks aresynchronized to UTC and others to the Sun, so they naturallymeander in timekeeping relative to each other. Several of theclocks are programmed in the Max/MSP/Jitter environment.RagaA tonal clock based on Indian melody, linked loosely to theseasonal position of the sun. The melodic material of classicalIndian music is structured by raga – a very complex frameworkfor improvisation, more than a scale but not yet a tune. InHindustani music, a raga is associated with a season andtime of day (as well as mood). For example, Lalit, a sandhiprakash(twilight) raga usually heard in the morning, has both anaugmented and natural fourth; Shree, another twilight ragaassociated with the evening, has an extremely flattened seconddegree; and Malkauns – deep in the night – is pentatonic.This clock signals time by generating tonal material and lightaccording to the position of the sun in the sky (found in alook-up table). The sound is a mixture of tanpura (drone)instruments tuned to different raga. Volume is modulated,peaking at times of transition – sunrise, sun in the south,sunset – and generally lower at night. Architectural lightingis used to flood the surroundings. Light intensity and colourare modulated in sync with the sound, most actively at times138/139


of transition. Conceived for the Jardin de l’Abbaye de Loos;installed in the rue des Débris St. Etienne.4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Public address controlsystem, Gare Lille FlandresTimetableAn audio clock that inhabits the public address system in GareLille Flandres, marking the time precisely but eccentrically byannouncing the arrivals and departures of Indian trains, usingrecordings made in railway stations around India. Trains may bescheduled to depart at any number of minutes past the hour, sothis clock ‘chimes’ in irregular intervals. The clock is in Indiantime (so at 2350 CET it marks the departure of a train leavingCalcutta at 0350 IST). The Indian Railways timetable also varieswith the days of the week, and this is reflected in the clock.TalaDigital video clock based on gestural counting systems of Indianmusic. Each ‘digit’ of the clock is a discrete video monitor thatshows a hand in close-up. Three hands mark rhythmic cycles of7, 12, and 16 beats, coinciding once every three days. Installedin the vitrine of boutique Série Noire.The Birth of FablesDesigned for the Vielle Bourse (now a book market), this clockwas not installed due to planning restrictions.---Sketch for TalaBased on the Jataka Tales – moral fables of the Buddhistcanon, dating back to 300 BCE, which are well known in Francethrough adaptations by Jean de la Fontaine, the clockpunctuates the activities in the book market with a fable foreach day of the week. Recordings of versions of each fableare made in 15 major languages of the subcontinent, fromNepali to Tamil. Every 30 minutes, one of these recordings(c. 3 minutes long) is played back. Speakers are installed justinside each of the entrances to the Bourse. The volume isconversational. Excerpts from the written texts in differentscripts are projected (bright white text) continuously on thefloor of the shadowed entrances from ceiling-mounted slideprojectors. A panel by each entrance includes the French textof the seven fables.---


4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Manu Luksch & Mukul Patel2008The mixed-mediainstallation A New andExciting Experience wascommissioned for ‘THENOT QUITE YET: On theMargins of Technology’,a collaboration betweenQueen Mary UniversityLondon and SPACE Media.Gallery show at SPACEStudios, Hackney,January–March 2008.---A NEW AND EXCITING EXPERIENCEThis is the story of a woman who does everything by thebooklet. The booklet in question could be a user manual,warranty papers, terms and conditions, or any other relevantinstructional or cautionary notice. For her own safety andthat of those around her, the woman acts only on such explicitprinted instructions.There follow excerpts from the forthcoming volume of herelectrifying adventures ...Security and safety are key contemporary concerns, inflamedby extravagant assessments of risk and an environment thatis increasingly regulated and litigious. People relegate thecalculus of danger to experts, pursue risk-averse behaviour,and surround themselves with products that limit exposureto novel experiences and cater to a culture of fear. A Newand Exciting Experience addresses these perceptions andbehaviours while poking fun at the technobabble and nannyingtone of user manuals.‘THE NOT QUITE YET’ beganas a research project witha series of workshops withthree community groupsin East London, usingtechniques drawn fromLois Weaver’s performancepractice. The artists,who also included LorraineLeeson and Stacy Makishi,explored the humanmachineinterface withfocus on the experience ofsenior citizens.The work has a number of manifestations, including a soundand text installation, a book, and a film. For the exhibitionat ambient.space in August 2008, the text of the woman’sadventures was printed on large banners, hung by theobjects she uses. Visitors were immersed in a surround-soundenvironment made in collaboration with the SPACE Age Sirens,a choir of senior women from London’s East End led by Laka D.The choir set extracts from washing machine user manuals topopular melodies including ‘(How Much Is That) Doggie in theWindow’ and ‘Rum and Coca Cola’.The installation at NIMK (Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst),Amsterdam (November 2008–January 2009) took the form of adecagonal prism of 10 text banners and sound sources thatformed a script for a day in the life of the woman.---


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4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Mukul Patel2007---Music language indeterminacy luckTo have witnessed Reich’s Four Organs performed once may beregarded as good fortune, but twice within four years can onlybe described as Wilde – so testified one of the performersafter the show at the Almeida Theatre, London, 2005. Theprogramme Systems in Time 1 (featuring Come Out, PendulumMusic, Vermont Counterpoint, and Four Organs) was devisedto complement the Open Systems show at Tate Modern. FourOrgans, like many of Reich’s early works, remains powerful. TheLP (a split release with Cage’s Three Dances) is worth it for thecover picture alone – and, also, alone, for the sleeve notes onthe back, which include his important essay, ‘Music as a gradualprocess’.I chanced across Reich speaking about music (in an interviewon BBC Radio 4 in the early 1990s) before I’d heard any of hisworks. I immediately sought out both his writings and his music.‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture’ –attributed variously to Elvis Costello, Laurie Anderson, Zappa,Mingus, Monk, and others – describes Reich’s texts. (I take itas axiomatic that architecture is to be danced about).---From a radio interview withSteve Reich, KPFA Berkeley,November 2000In 2000, in Berkeley, California, I heard him speak again – thistime unmediated, at the University’s Department of Music,ahead of a concert series. Reich’s visit to Berkeley was akeynote of my time there. To attend so many performances (ofa music that must be seen to be fully heard) with the composerplaying, to be led by him through a group listening of DifferentTrains, to be directed to Alvin Lucier when I asked him tosuggest a path for my enquiry – these were all elements ofgreat fortune.and at the end of that pie- -ce I thought if I sa- -w or hea- -rd one more sam- -ple I was gonna you-know


I was not so lucky with my seat allocation at the Almeida – inthe wings, by the door – or so I thought. But as soon as Isat down, I recognized the fortuitousness of my position, andregretted not having brought some binaural microphones anda recorder: the performance began already with the usher.Young, bored, and a little stern, his instructions looped withinsistent melody and rhythm – ‘move right across the hall, asquickly as possible, please switch off your mobiles’. And then,semantic variations: ‘take your time, slowly as you like, leaveyour mobiles on’, with the speech melody and rhythm intact.Then, Come Out – and for nearly two minutes I could barelycontain my anger. Instead of a performer with open reeltape recorders, manually phasing and dubbing them live, asReich had done when he created the work, there was – a CD,identical with the one I had at home, being played back. Afterthe usher’s prelude, this was a sore disappointment. But asthe playback progressed, the work revealed itself to me in anentirely new manner – and yet again I had to be grateful formy ‘sub-optimal’ seat. I was about twice the distance from thefar speaker as from the near one. The sound stage explodedinto three dimensions: pulsing lobes of sibilance chasing eachother around the auditorium, revealing sweeping new depths inthe work. This is a music that one must move around in (writingabout music dancing about architecture).After the show, I asked one of the musicians about the‘performance’ of Come Out: apparently, the score instructsfor CD playback. When I suggested that it might be moreinteresting for all if the piece were to be reconstructed onstage live, he became quite excited about the idea of a ‘periodperformance’ of Reich’s work. He elaborated: to performPendulum Music using 1960s vintage microphone cables!To which I could only respond, ‘gavagai’. [1] ---[1] ’A carrot is as close asa rabbit gets to a diamond’(Don Van Vliet), or:‘A sudden silence in themiddle of a conversation ...reveals how dearly we mustpay for the invention oflanguage’ (E. M Cioran).---Sidelong Glances2. The sterility of a digital death---Mukul Patel2007Sam Taylor-Wood’s Still Life (2001) might be more than aSisyphean video pun beguiled by its technological substrate ifonly it employed VHS, or other medium that decayed smoothlyat a humanly-perceptible rate. (The plastic pen reinforcesthe point). The work will mature when the playback begins toskip. Until then, there’s a conceptual glitch.---152/153


4/disturbing slownessin speedy times


---Mukul Patel & Tuomas ToivonenDigital Analogue Soundclashat Kiasma Theatre, Helsinkiduring pixelACHE 2004154/155


4/disturbing slownessin speedy times---Arfus GreenwoodMay 2005, New York CityInterview with Mukul Patel,first published in July 2005at THE THING. http://post.thing.net/node/371Photos by Jee Won KimAG = Arfus GreenwoodMP = Mukul Patel---Speak Slowly after the ToneOn the telephone, artist Wolfgang Staehle stated that Ishould get out of the house, that we all should get out of thehouse. ‘It is a kind of exercise.’ He suggested a small gatheringat 149 Ludlow. The ground floor was being prepped for a soundinstallation by THE THING residency artist Mukul Patel, and atable could be set centre to host 8 to 10 people, sipping onbouillabaisse. It is a very grand idea, indeed, to have a dinnerparty and an installation simultaneously. I was there.The nonchalant hostess, Gisela Ehrenfried, floated through theempty space in a flowing black dress, dripping off her small framelike Gena Rowlands in Positano. Wolf began by mopping. He had anair - there is no task too big or too small. Meanwhile, Mukul wasmanipulating fields of data on his laptop set at the bar – asthough he was the bartender – pouring out a mixture of quiveringand exalted sounds. But as the dinner party came together,I could not determine whether I was listening to him creatingmusic for the evening or in ‘exercise’ for the performance twodays away. I took a chair next to his at the table ...AG – First let me ask, am I listening to an exercise or a work?Take something like Queneau’s Exercices de Style, or Spoerri’sTopographie Anecdotée du Hasard, I consider these a kind ofexercise in narratology. Or like Cage’s 4’33” that seems toexist as an experiment – as a thing in itself.MP – Well, a relevant definition of ‘exercise’ from the OED wouldbe something like a task or activity to practice or test a skill,or a process or activity carried out for a specific purpose, orthe use or application of a faculty, right, or process. Whereas,the same dictionary would give the relevant definition of a‘work’ as a literary or musical composition or other piece offine art. But let’s ignore this definition of ‘work’ which seemsuseless! If we take the first definition of ‘exercise’, then I’dagree that Queneau’s piece is primarily an exercise. Since itdeclares itself as such, we can also leave it at that. Though, ifI had to defend its status as a ‘work’, then for me, its comicqualities suffice. But I don’t think it needs redemption. Cage’s4’33” seems to be an entirely different matter to me, andI’m approaching it with little knowledge of the commentary.It’s a conceptually well defined piece, albeit an experimental


one, since its outcome is not determined. And while it is anexercise by the second and third definitions, it is not by thefirst. While I might subject others to an incomplete work, Iwould hope that I never mistakenly present an exercise –first definition – as anything but that. We at ambientTV.NETare conducting a series of exercises called The Spy School,which turns surveillance technology against the operators:sous-veillance, which demonstrates what is possible withwidely-available devices, and provides a toolkit. But there isa work emerging from this, Manu Luksch’s film Faceless, which isconceptually whole, and which has a coherent aesthetic. Whileit deploys many of the techniques of the Spy School exercises,it is conceived and presented very differently.Across the table from us, the architect Jee Won Kim chimed inwith an import-export scheme, while the Danish artist, JakobBoeskov, responded with a doomsday weapon scheme. Such isthe tangential nature of a dinner party.AG – Earlier you mentioned that much of electronica does notseem concerned with a linear narrative structure.MP – What I meant precisely was that much contemporaryelectronic music does not seem to be interested in structure.Let’s avoid the term ‘electronica,’ which I think meanssomething very specific in the US. We could just talk aboutmusic. (How much music today is non-electronic? As soon asyou have an amplifier in the chain ... I think it was Björk whoonce gave a pithy description of ‘techno’ as ‘music made withelectricity’). There are two time scales over which structurecould be explored much more in electronic music: First, overintervals of seconds. Whether its in the dance club, lounge, orserious concert hall, too few composers and performers breakout of rhythmic cycles of 4s, 8s, 16s. So much of what I hear isrectilinear. Where is the triangular music, or the heptagonal?Is it the legacy of rock? Secondly, over the duration of the‘work’, and particularly in the forum of dance clubs, where DJsor bands typically play 1–4 hours, there is a lack of overarchingstructure. The DJ, or increasingly, iPodJ, has access to anunlimited catalogue. Sarasvati, the Indian goddess of music, islost in an ocean of sonic possibilities without her instrumentto help her navigate. In the club, the audience is similarly lostunless the DJ accepts the responsibility to steer a passage– beautiful, terrifying, efficient – but few DJs know wherethey’re starting from and where they’re going to. Or perhapsmore generously, few are willing to explore unusual routes in156/157


4/disturbing slownessin speedy timespublic. We could blame the commercial boom in electronic music,or – what could be thought of as a response to this – thefracturing of scenes into micronations of sound.AG - So there are a few artists exploring unusual routes ...MP - Yes. For instance, in a set in Montreal in the late 1990s,Kid Koala was turning records in 4/4 time round by hand,juggling the beats into waltz time, spinning a 30-minute storypunctuated by sly and self-deprecating jokes. On theirTsuginepu EP, Asa-Chang and Junray construct a song thatis superficially Japanese Modern – the sonic material is spokenword and sine tones – but structurally, classical Indian,in a time cycle of 12. And recently I heard an astonishingpiece by Jonathan Harvey, performed by the Arditti StringQuartet with electronic manipulation and spatialisation byGilbert Nouno.At the end of the table, three women clustered around artistChristoph Draeger – Heidrun, Ruth, and Nasanin. For a moment,at least, they listened to Christoph as though they might hearsomething of resonance.AG – The audience, the reader ... what are you providing? Whatvoid are you hoping to fill? What experience?MP - To be specific about this piece, and literal ... there is aspace – not quite a void – on the ground floor of 149 Ludlow. Itwill be occupied by the sounds of speech, and a light situationthat I will create, but also by various bodies doing thingsquite independently of my intention. I provide an environment,and some people play in it. Perhaps, during and after theinstallation people will describe a range of experiencesto me that I would not have imagined. The piece is a workin-progress:conceptually, it is not realised. I already knowthat I want to further develop the way that the piece is readthrough the recitations of Sanskrit and Japanese phonemes.And in general, I want to research more into phonetics and thepossible historical links between South Asian and South EastAsian languages. But in terms of pure sound and light in space,I expect to be satisfied – an aesthetic dimension that will,perhaps, draw people off the street.The artist Simone Huelser turned to me – her beautiful longneck extended - and asked, ‘What are you up to?’ I didn’t knowhow to answer and turned back to Mukul.


AG - So, what are you up to next?MP – I feel like I’ve only just started working with sound andlanguage. So, more of the same, only different. I aim for mywork to be true to its medium, to be internally consistent,to cohere with its environment, and to jolt. It’s difficult toachieve all those things at once, but if you do it, then there’sthe possibility of striking an illuminating impact with the user,audience. In Indian art music, authority is shared betweenthe audience and the improvising performer. In ‘Music as aGradual Process’, Steve Reich discusses a music that does notprivilege the composer, and that is forthright about its ownmaking. I have a definition of ambient works – those that makeeverything that is not them, appear as a performance. Theseare not themes in a manifesto, but I keep them in mind. Also, Iwant to trace histories. This is one way that a work can have apolitical dimension without becoming reactive.AG - To trace histories sounds like a wonderful journey.Unfortunately, it seems to me that once you begin to trace it,you will be compelled to resolve it.MP – Any resolution that happens is temporary and contingent.I’m committed to rigour, but I’m highly allergic to mostconceptions of purity, which deny the evolution and migrationof form. Ali Akbar Khan, for me the most significant Indianmusician of the 20th century, and one whose sensitivity toclassical form is exemplary, said in response to a questionabout Indian versus Western musics, ‘Music is music, likepotato is potato.’ In light of recent battles over patentsand ownership, rice would make for a richer metaphor, but thesimple, banal truth that long-term historical understandingbrings about identification with the other, remains.AG – It is totally unreasonable of me to monopolize so much ofyour time at a dinner party, but I am thinking of making thisinto an interview. I don’t know how it will be structured, thetempo, the rhythmic cycle, allegorical or abstract, but I dothink that it will be a kind of exercise.MP – I suppose you mean a conversation.AG – Yes.---phoneme, developed byMukul while in residence atTHE THING, New York Cityin 2005, is a generativesound/light installationthat explores the basicsounds of two or morelanguages. The greatlyretarded articulationof language soundsexaggerates the texturesof consonants, andstretches vowels intotones. The boundariesof a projected colourfield shift according tothe varying relationshipbetween the sounds ofthe languages.The first version usedSanskrit and Japanesespeech sounds, and wasinstalled at 149 LudlowStreet on the Lower EastSide in May 2005. Both ofthese languages organisetheir basic sounds in arational manner (Japanese:a i u e o ... ka ki ku ke ko ...ga gi gu ge go ...; and inmany Indian languages:k kh g gh ... t th d dh ...tt tth dd ddh ...).158/159

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