Architecture, Art, Astrology, Automata, Economy, Light, Society, Sound

Nicolas Schöffer and Luminodynamism

“Echoing El Lissistsky’s ‘prouns’ defined as the midway point between architecture and painting, Schöffer would extend the scale of his sculptures to monumental proportions. His 52m high Cybernetic Tower in Liège, created in 1961, senses its immediate environment using microphones, hygrometers and anemometers (wind measurement). The information collected from these sensors is used orchestrate the movement of mirrors and lights on the towers, and also to generate environmental sounds to be played back to the city. Viewed at night time the mirrors act more as colour switches giving an overall impression of network interactions and connections inferred via pulsing colours. With nodes of interconnected light existing in a lattice perhaps Schöffer was attempting to mimic the invisible communication infrastructures that were developed during the 50′s and 60′s and who’s influence had grown to create the science of Cybernetics.”


Algorithm, Animals, Automata, Bio hacking, Biology, Biometrics, DNA, Man/Machine, Medicine, Nature, Neural Networks, PDF, phenomenology, Science

The Algorithmic Origins Of Life

“To avoid an infinite regress, in which the blueprint of a self-replicating UC contains the blueprint which contains the blueprint . . . ad infinitum, Von Neumann proposed that in the biological case the blueprint must play a dual role: it should contain instructions – an algorithm – to make a certain kind of machine (e.g. UC – Universal Constructor) but should also be blindly copied as a mere physical structure, without reference to the instructions its contains, and thus reference itself only indirectly. This dual hardware/software role mirrors precisely that played by DNA, where genes act both passively as physical structures to be copied, and are actively read-out as a source of algorithmic instructions. To implement this dualistic role, von Neumann appended a “supervisory unit” to his automata whose task is to supervise which of these two roles the blueprint must play at a given time, thereby ensuring that the blueprint is treated both as an algorithm to be read–out and as a structure to be copied, depending on the context. In this manner, the organization of a von Neumann automaton ensures that instructions remain logically differentiated from their physical representation. To be functional over successive generations, a complete self-replicating automaton must therefore consist of three components: a UC, an (instructional) blueprint, and a supervisory unit.”

Art, Automata, Biology, Biometrics, Film, History, Interface, Man/Machine, Music, Nature, Neural Networks, PDF, Robots, Science, Society, Sound, Tactical Media

Sholpo, Russian sound Art Histories and Generation Z

“Graphical (Drawn) Sound is a technology of synthesizing sound from light that was developed in Soviet Russia in 1929 as a consequence of the newly invented sound-on-film technology, which made possible access to the sound as a trace in a form that could be studied and manipulated. It also opened up the way for a systematic analysis of these traces such that they could be used to produce any sound at will. The laboratories that were soon created became the first-ever prototypes of the future centres for computer music. While most inventors of electronic musical instruments were developing tools for performers, the majority of methods and instruments based on Graphical Sound techniques were created for composers. Similar to modern computer music techniques, the composer could produce the final synthesized soundtrack without need for any performers or intermediates. At exactly the same time similar efforts were being undertaken in Germany by Rudolf Pfenninger in Munich and, somewhat later, by Oscar Fischinger in Berlin. Among the researchers working with Graphical Sound after World War II were the famous filmmaker Norman McLaren (Canada) and the composer and inventor Daphne Oram (UK)”


Algorithm, Art, Automata, Biometrics, Brain, History, Interface, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Music, Neural Networks, PDF, Robots, Science, Society, Sound

When Machines Play Chopin

“However, as the eighteenth-century androids show, machines and or­ ganic nature, including human cognition, were not always polar opposites. Philipp Sarasin writes in his book on machines and the body that the machine and the organic were interchangeable in pre-Romantic thought (75). In another study on machines in human history, Herbert Heckman explains that the relationship between the body and the machine starts with the stone-age necessity to build tools as extensions of the body in order to survive (11). The nineteenth-century desire to separate the mechanical from the organic was a reaction to Enlightenment philosophy and an attempt to break away from this thinking in favour of an emphasis of expression and spirit over form.”