the graph first…elaborations later, with caveats and questions…

a gloss on I_L from Towards Indisposition, a text I wrote for a soon to be published collection entitled The Idea of the Avant-Garde (ed. Marc James Léger):

infra-legible procedures: the recasting and repurposing of materials intended for consumption (or to stimulate the same) into unstable entities that perform slow, structural, semiotic guerrilla warfare, seeking to undo – from within the logic of commodity flows – the finely woven twine of ideology and technics, the compact between surface and sediment, making it more difficult for propaganda to operate without being more readily foregrounded in the future. An infra-legible approach provisionally assembles a set of mechanisms into a parasitic response to a specific, singular context, dismantled when the job is done. Like noise, it is purely contingent – not theorizable “in-itself,” assuming a new guise at each occasion, undetectable as such – yet it does not flag itself as oppositional from the get-go. It splits things from each other over time (content from form, content from other content, sound from image), coaxing (through a kind of fractalization) the targeted material to destratify, distend, digress, slip around and haunt itself, engineering a surface duplicity that gradually makes conscious the subject’s cognitive and perceptual role in validating the effects of predatory media (the dark underside of Duchamp’s co-creative viewer). It suspends capture by actively courting it – like an antidote that contains a modicum of the offending poison – refusing to settle into a unitary (legible) contestation, proliferating contradictory modalities while taking place as if conventions were still operative. Rather than coming to the sudden (yet comforting) realization that only a wholesale rejection can offer deliverance – a heart-on-the-sleeve righteousness proper to much experimental work – the listener-viewer of an infra-legible situation is short-circuited into performing a temporary de-reification, a separation requiring a finely tuned ear to the ground. The pitfalls of the Trojan horse principle are well known; the ease with which its subversive tactics might be served up as innovative methods to even further cement compliance makes imperative a constant state of delirium in uncovering blindspots, coupled with a lack of attachment to any particular mode of intervention (which does not exclude recovering some of the excess use-value occulted in historical artworks by the contingent frameworks prevailing at the time of their enactment).


Chart correlating economic data from 1947 to the present. The median point is 1980.

Apologies for the low quality of the reproduction. Click to enlarge, such as it is.

From bottom to top:

BLACK: US prices

RED: Stock Market: Dow Jones Industrial

PURPLE: Dow Jones again, enlarged until 1980.

JADE GREEN: GDP fluctuations in percentage.

DARK GREEN: Federal Funds Rate (Interest Rate set by the Fed) (data prior to 1971 still needs to be filled in)

ORANGE: Inflation

LIGHT BLUE: Unemployment


Yesterday, EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) researcher Michael Esposito and his assistant in things “metaphysical” Heidi Harman, made the trip from Indiana to investigate reports of spirit presence at 119 N. Peoria, specifically in the space now occupied by threewalls (though not for much longer), where we have been residing for the past month.

I was interested in Michael’s work for a number of reasons. One, the marriage of art, science, technology and mystical valences overlaps with my interest in magickal conjuring and hyperstition via the technologies of the moment. Also, a recent interest in long waves and the possibility of auditory documentation / creation / analogizing such extra-human phenomena (out of actionable range, seemingly autonomous)—here I refer back to Douglas Kahn’s gloss on Charles Babbage’s Ninth Bridgewater Treatise which deals in part with non-dissipative sound; the proper math and attendant technology could (theoretically, eventually) retrieve all past utterances. (“Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.” – Sol LeWitt). The conflict between EVP and Joe Banks (of Disinformation), whose Rorschach Audio plainly lays out the case for pareidolia (or projective listening – hearing a signal through noise) (interview with Banks with response by Esposito in comments) rather than actual retrieval of spirit voices, is another point of intersection.

During the EVP session at threewalls, we managed to capture what sounded like whispers of a young child, prompted by various questions we each took turns asking. Further clarification / amplification will be required. For the moment, we’re grateful that Michael and Heidi took an afternoon off to spend with us in this admittedly acoustically anomalous space (of which more soon).

Recordings will be posted soon.

This residency has turned out (so far), in my case, and for whatever reason, to be concerned with the possibility of transversal movements between long waves (economic, cultural, political) and micro, infra-legible territories of potential action. How can a long wave be accessed through sonic practice—processes of accumulation, punctually accessible through visual representations (charts), yet elusive in the time-bound nature of sound. How can sound’s irreducible indebtedness to time be temporarily short-circuited in order to give evidence to historical processes, as if hearing through a deep incision? Is a fictional, hyperreal, hyperstitional construct the only manner of ingress into such accumulation? (slow density, episode 2 (see below), proposes the incorporation of synthetic, speculative elements, in the form of predictive sine-wave motions, as an anachronistic noise which deviates continuity (in which no radical break is truly possible as continuity is always assured—a Bergsonian aporia addressed by Bachelard in the Dialectic of Duration) from its steady path, forcing various collapses of the field recording’s pretenses to objectivity). It’s not so much about the sonification of this or that wave, but more of a zone of resonance, where amplified traces mutually condition each other, and where feedbacks are foregrounded. Moreover and more importantly, how does the consciousness of what appear to be periodic waves (such as depicted by Kondratiev, illustrating the autonomous nature of the market and its imperviousness to state measures (Keynesian or other), much to the chagrin of Stalin, who promptly interned him in a gulag where he died in 1938), beyond the control of any one individual, apparently only shaped by the actions of massive, molar movements, inflect the capacity for molecular disruption, erupting the future in the present? Looking at the K-Waves one is immediately aware of being caught in a particular season, which seems to invalidate the very possibility of repatterning the system in an instant, or ejecting from it altogether. One’s life trajectory appears isomorphic with, inextricably correlated to 50-60 year cycles; born in Summer means something very different than born in Winter.  “Eric A.” has made a valuable contribution in his two-part series “A Brief History of Cycles and Time“, which suggests that economic rhythms set their own pace, and the worst hasn’t yet happened because “it isn’t time.” If the K-Waves allow for a certain type of long-term prediction, then how can the ground be primed in the meantime, while awaiting the next collapse?

A diagram of time scales at the beginning of Curtis Roads’ Microsound awaits deeper analysis, and possible correlation with some of the above-mentioned ideas.