BY WARREN NEIDICH
Essential to my theories of the power of artistic production is the idea of variation and diversity. I am referring to all forms of diversity or heterogeneity be it in the form of objects, things, relations, human beings or cultural conditions. Art is a generator of diversity and it is this quality that it finds its power as a modifier of the brain potential. The brains degree of neuronal, synaptic, and dendritic variability at birth, what Edelman calls the Primary Repertoire, is only matched by the diversity of that of the world’s. Today that world is predominated by institutionally contrived cultural production, for instance, planned urban space, as it becomes a platform for neoliberalism and artworks exhibited in art fairs, as they become pure commodity. As such arts power is being usurped. Why is this important and what are its political-social-psychic manifestations? Every brain and mind samples the world differently and is called out by differing concretions of meaning no matter how sovereignty attempts to restrict and control this process. The coupling of contingencies of differences in the world and the brain through a process called epigenesis interacts with the diversity of the primary repertoire to produce the next level of diversity, called the secondary repertoire. Of interest to us here is that this resulting sculpted neural architecture constructs the contemporary world in its image. According to the logics of the new architectures that, as we have just seen, produced the secondary repertoires. Diverse brains produce diverse worlds. As a result no two brains are alike and they use different neural network assemblages to produce different worlds. The history of these relations is called dialectic materialism. Dialectic materialism is not just the condition of the material world but the brain as well. I would speculate that the 19th century brain differs in its architectural form from a late 20th century brain. We know that, for instance, different forms of psychopathologies are emblematic of different epochs. Hysteria and Neurasthenia dominated the 19th century as Attention Deficit Disorder and autism do today. Together this coupling of diverse relations produces, through their unique entanglement, the complexity of the world and its analogue, the possibility of complex thought.
For the past three years I have been working on a group of sound and improvisational performance works entitled The Sound of Cats Meowing. This phrase was used by witnesses of the first performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony who when exiting the theatre described what they had just heard as the sound of cats meowing at night. How something which we think of today as so traditional could have produced such a reaction was interesting to me. Was this phenomena the same kind of reaction that people had to John Cage’s work 4 minutes and 33 seconds the first time they encountered it? Can we find analogues in the visual arts as well like Duchamp’s Fountain of 1917 that caused a scandal at the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, or in the early forms of Pop art and Minimalism in the radical 1960s? Two works, The Infinite Sound of One’s Own Self-destruction and NSA-USA: Sound as Prophecy, look into this matter. The Diagram of Duende to be exhibited in this exhibition is a mental cartography or diagram that attempts to map out the relationship of noise and improvisation to the mutating conditions of cultural plasticity and neural plasticity in the context of the contemporary conditions of Cognitive Capitalism. Noise as a political instrument of emancipation creates conditions of anarchy in the sound environment thus reconstituting it. As such it is sampled by the brain’s variation and coupled to those anarchic patterns of difference that emerge between the manifold of cultural memory that was and the new contingencies which the deregulated noise forms have created. This constitutes the power of noise as a neuromodulator of the brain’s potential as other. The factory of brain which is ontogenetically determined by the synchronicities of neo-liberalism through what I referred to as the epigenetically constrained developmental process, can not make sense out of this noise and anarchic experience. It is outside its capacities of control and capitalist domination. On the other hand the brain’s variability creates a platform condition which enables other, as yet underdeveloped and unfulfilled, neural network configurations to be stimulated and produced, thus forming the conditions of other possibilities for sense to be made from non-sense. This is the emancipatory capacity of Noise and Improvisation.
This contribution is an excerpt from the interview Breaking the Noise Barrier published at the MQ Blog.