I will read the Hatten article. I appreciate these thoughtful
responses. It seems like we mostly agree and we are down to semantics?
In my article, I initially do define the glitch as a real-time event
and I define the resultant visuals as a trace/residue/archive of the
event. But then you are right, subsequently I am less concerned with
this semantic distinction. There are artists like lo-vid who build
their own hardware which directly creates signals that are sent to
audio speakers and to video projectors simultaneously. Are the
projected visuals a second-order "interpretation" of a source signal,
are they a "manifestation" of the signal, or are they the signal?
Virilio seems useful here. Light is a force in the world. It has a
speed limit. As everything in the world speeds up, the light that
precedes the arrival of an object (you can see the bomb coming) and
the arrival of the object itself are pushed increasingly toward
simultaneity. The less the lag, the more the source signal is
simultaneous to the received bodily affect. And puters do speed
things up a lot (although not as fast as nuclear reactors speed
Regarding noise, Cage is useful for me. He wouldn't listen to records
but would open his window in Manhattan and listen to the traffic. The
traffic wasn't loud or bothersome to him. It was enjoyable. He
enjoyed it because of its unexpected variety and unpredictability.
Perhaps these street sounds were cosmically "scored," but only by an
impossibly complex multitude of contingent historical, economic,
architectural, technological, and social forces.
Regarding the straw man of people uploading their souls, I don't know
anybody like this anymore, but The Well and Wired magazine were rife
with this stuff back in the day. Extropianism, transhumanism,
Deconstruction (as practiced by Derrida) has two steps. The first is
to invert a set of binaries (speech/text, light/dark, top/bottom,
man/woman) so that that the (presumed) lesser term is shown to be
just as preferable as the (presumed) greater term. But that is just
the first step. The second step involves a further undermining of the
(presumed) lesser term so that neither term winds up on top or on
bottom. His goal is not merely to invert the dichotomy, but to undo
I am trying to do something like this with the dichotomies I
delineate. I perceive that the (presumed) greater term is still
transcendence, and that the (presumed) lesser term is immanence. So I
begin by critiquing transcendence. But I don't meant to leave us with
mere bodily immanence, with some materialistic, animalistic
interpretation of human-ness. I mean to indicate that the two are
inextricably combined (which is where I differ from Derrida, who
would continue undermining this "inextricably combined" state until
there was nothing left).
I still think "uttered" human language is a radically different
"medium/force" than a-linguistic sound or a-typographic visuals.
Different critical rules apply, because humans process Meredith Monk
singing English words differently than they process her singing
Martian phonemes. An Italian opera is a qualitatively different
experience for someone who speaks Italian and someone who doesn't. I
don't believe these difference are reducible to behavioralist or
evolutionary models of human-beingness. Nor are these differences
discoverably merely by analyzing the isolated script of the opera
based on one set of semiotic criteria and analyzing the lighting,
acoustics, score, and costumes based on a separate set of affective
>On Oct 15, 2010, at 2:04 PM, Curt Cloninger wrote:
>> In the '80s,
>Yes, I was working with Nam June Paik and Amira Baraka in the early
>1980s, so I do have a memory of the time. ;-)
>Anyway, enough cattyness. I have to thank you for bothering to
>wrestle with this subject, which gets saddled with
>more-than-its-share of bad theory.
>> My interest in human language is that it is both affective and
>>semiotic (and several other things besides). Not all art is subject
>>to semiotic analysis. Not all art that incorporates human language
>>is subject solely to semiotic analysis. This is where Bakhtin
>>becomes so useful -- he is thinking about uttered human language as
>>the intersection of lived affect and transcendent signified.
>I don't want to give the impression that Bakhtin isn't worth your
>while, but there's really no shortage of very interesting work on
>the pre-linguistic aspects of the arts. Here's a link to a couple
>chapters of Robert S. Hatten's _Interpreting Musical Gestures,
>Topics and Tropes_ that I think you might find interesting:
>I also want to restate what I think is the difference between noise
>and glitch, and why I think it's important to be careful with the
>distinction. Starting with a common sense definition of Glitch from
>"A glitch is a short-lived fault in a system. It is often used to
>describe a transient fault that corrects itself, and is therefore
>difficult to troubleshoot."
>A fault is an event within the system.
>When we hear a sound, unless we already know, we instinctively look
>around for its cause, the object that made it. So a sound is its own
>event, likely caused by some event. We want to create an index
>between the two. Vision works differently in that visually we attend
>directly: there is no second thing to index.
>So a glitch can produce a sound, but the glitch is the (often
>absent) cause of the sound. You can also extend this to some of the
>visual artifacts you discuss: your "glitched book of Durrow" isn't
>the glitch itself, it's the residue of a glitch long gone. Does a
>glitch ever show itself except through an index?
>Noise can refer to the indeterminate interferences that Shannon
>theorized, but we should note that his use of "noise" is a slang
>appellation, just like "glitch." Common sense definitions of noise
>might refer to the loud jackhammers outside my window, or
>air-to-ground missiles coming across the Pakistani border. There's
>an aspect of "unwantedness" and in these cases, "unbearable
>loudness." But in neither case are they "accidental." Shannon's
>definition of noise doesn't encompass these meanings.
>As Hatten remarks: "We are evolutionarily designed, and
>developmentally conditioned, to interpret and synthesize complexes
>of sensations into the following emergent meanings:
>1) Object or event
>2) Plausible agency or cause
>4) Emotional valency
>5) Any necessary responses (e.g. survival, reflexes) as well as any
>desirable ones (e.g., socialization, aesthetic pleasure).
>So doesn't "noise" fit into meaning #1 and "glitch" into meaning #2, above?
>Finally, I'd warn you against creating a straw man argument with the
>"transcendental ideal of disembodied code": "The myth that humans
>can upload their souls is related to the myth of pure signal
>transference. Both of these myths are derived from residual Platonic
>dichotomies which need to be exploded."
>Do you really know anyone who thinks this? (Other than Karlheinz
>Stockhausen?) Any hacker writing in an imperative language knows
>they're chained to an abstraction of the underlying machine, and if
>they're writing in a functional language, they're dealing with it as
>an (ugly) interface. Computer musicians are constantly wrestling
>with latency issues. Real-time programers are constantly counting
>CPU cycles not because tasks have to happen fast, but because they
>must always take the same amount of time.
>I think the effect it has on your essay is to chase away the other
>side of your dichotomies. You're still stuck with a dualism, just on
>the other side. As you say "these extremes intersect and entangle in
>the ongoing, lived and present moment." As Hatten remarks: "Humans
>trade higher cognitive processing, including generalization,
>conceptualization, and language, for the vast categorical
>inventories that animals such as the bloodhound possess."
>I'd attempt to entangle the proprioceptive with the cognitive. To
>ignore these human faculties returns me to my original comment about
>glitch art being a kind of modern day Impressionism: Monet's "all
>eye" (and no brain).
>Best wishes, Charles