Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Image, The Film-Maker, His Cow, And Her Cheese [INLAND EMPIRE]

"Without cheese there wouldn't be an INLAND EMPIRE." [Short Video]

[The two guys who made/accidentally-captured this 2-minute video - of Lynch in a suitably bizarre "performance art" promotion of his latest film on a Hollywood sidewalk - sound like the two guys from the Black-Book office scene/massacre in Lynch's Mulholland Dr ...].

Since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival last September, this DV-shot, 3-hour oneiric epic has been rhizomatically percolating ever so slowly but surely.

"EVEN by David Lynch’s weird standards his latest thriller is an exasperating stretch. For three chilly hours we shadow a small cast of artists and prostitutes as their identities are deliberately blurred in one of the most impenetrable films ever made ... The character played by Jeremy Irons is trying to shoot a psychological drama about love and terror in some sort of crazy labyrinth but there’s something deeply wrong with his script. "

"David Lynch's latest opus is a Russian doll of a film with stories inside stories inside stories. But coming in at three hours long, made in Poland and Hollywood, the digitally-shot film is inspired and incomprehensible by turns ... Laura Dern (who also co-produced) stars as an actress who has just landed a part in a new film. What the producers have neglected to tell her is that the movie is a remake and that the two original leads were murdered. Now, history looks set to repeat itself. "

"There is a very clean divide in Mulholland Drive between a woman's dreams and waking life, but the walls between the two are completely dissolved in the more fragmentary Inland Empire, Lynch's most self-reflexive creation to date. The director has vowed never to work on film again, and for this, his first feature shot on digital video, he lobs a cherry bomb at his entire canon, recording the jagged remnants that resonate from the blast as they slide and dissipate into the swirl of his projector beam. Some may call it a toilet, but I like to think of it as a splendiferous whirlpool of wonders. "

"You may ask what the film's stream of non sequiturs, anecdotes, clues, doublings, folktales, and psychotic episodes mean. We could say nothing and declare that Inland Empire doesn't so much fall into the abyss as it resides in it, telegraphing dizzying sounds and visions from its drowned world toward the outside, which should suffice as an explanation if you've learned to respect the fact that Lynch carves his films much closer to where our id resides than anyone has ever dared. Lynch, more honestly than Godard, embraces the dark and dingy contours of the DV format ..."

Can't wait ...

See also this excellent review over at American Stranger.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Gramophone's Technological Uncanny


" The time is out of joint. Time is out of joint, time is unhinged. The hinges are the axis around which the door turns. Cardo [hinge of the door, the semantic root of "cardinal" numbers], in Latin, designates the subordination of time to the cardinal points through which the periodical movements that it measures pass. As long as time remains on its hinges, it is subordinate to movement: it is the measure of movement, interval or number. This was the view of ancient philosophy. But time out of joint signifies the reversal of the movement-time relationship. It is now movement which is subordinate to time. [ . . .] Time is no longer related to the movement which it measures, but movement is related to the time which conditions it." (Deleuze, Kant's Critical Philosophy, vii, 1963).


Further to Mark K-Punk's continuing investigation of sonic hauntology, phonograph blues and the technological uncanny:


Starting From Scratch: Remembering the Gramophone in Literature, Music, and Film

Remembering White Noise: R. M. Rilke’s Gramatophonocentrism

Bram Ieven

This paper introduces the general topic of the session, memories of the gramophone in other media and in the arts. To do so, I first introduce a theoretical apparatus that might help to circumscribe the phenomenon at hand. I argue that the grammatology Derrida developed in the sixties shows traces of the gramophone and that this theory itself can be mobilized again to conceptualize the gramophone as a medium for storing information (technical memory). Derrida, I argue, was himself influenced by the paradigm of material inscription that was set out by the gramophone, which clearly shows in his definition of the grammè as the material inscription that destroys the possibility of direct experience but at the same time makes sensation possible. (Derrida 1967: 19-20) Derrida’s critique of phonocentrism, which is based on his theory of the grammè and the trace, is redefined by Friedrich Kittler as an ascendant of the gramophone: “The trace of all writing, this trace of pure difference, is simply the needle of a gramophone.” (Kittler 1986: 55)

Having introduced the theoretical apparatus, I turn to a concrete example of the remediation of the gramophone: the remediation of white noise in Rainer Maria Rilke’s work. Reflecting on the classes in anatomy he attended in Paris, Rilke describes how he was struck by the meandering seam that crosses the crown of the scull. To him this seam looked as if it was drawn by the needle of a gramophone, and a primal noise (Ur-Gerausch) could perhaps be heard if a needle would scratch over the seam. (Rilke, in Kittler 1986: 66) Rilke’s reflection is emblematic for how the gramophone found its way into the arts in general, and into literature in specific. I will trace the influence of white noise in Rilke’s work, with specific attention for his short text on primal noise and Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge.

"You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet": The Voice as Object in Early Sound Cinema

Yasco Horsman

This paper discusses the intrusion of the voice in the two ‘first’ commercially released sound films: The Jazz Singer (1927), a musical starring singer Al Jolson, and a Mickey Mouse short, Steamboat Willy (1928), which was marketed as the first animated cartoon with sound. Both films are highly self-conscious in the way they employ the new technology of sound cinema. The story-lines of both Steamboat Willy and the Jazz Singer revolve around the voice. In both cases, the voice is not so much an organ of speech but is first and foremost used for singing, an activity which is presented as slightly obscene and invested with an enjoyment that is rather anti-social. My paper points to the fact that the preoccupation with this singing voice leads both films to make a similar visual pun in which the voice is depicted visually as an object that has a certain autonomy with regard to the singing subject. This object becomes a puncture that threatens to unravel the texture of the cinematic text (in The Jazz Singer) or a blur that distorts the film anamorphotically (in Steamboat Willy). I argue that these crucial scenes in both films point to the ‘scandal’ of the gramophone, an uncanniness that is at the heart of this technology, and –perhaps surprisingly- suggest that cinema had relied on the very ‘dumbness’ of its silent phase for its coherence. The ‘remediation’ of the gramophone in early sound film, then, is revealing with regard to both media.

The Original Scratch: Hip Hop Scratch Techniques in Between Art and Medium

Jan Hein Hoogstad

Although Thomas Edison primarily developed the gramophone as a medium to store and transmit human speech, it was also used to record music from the start. Nonetheless, this technical device first acquired its real musical potential with subsequent inventions. The first of these shifts was the introduction of multi-track recording technology. The recording now no longer necessarily maintained a mimetic relation to the recording session, but is changed into a complex sonic landscape of voices, sounds and other noises. The same argument can also be applied to the concept of time. Multi-track recording should be conceived as an event that breaks the mimetic relation between the temporal structure of the original and the copy. As a result, a gramophone record is not marked by a unidirectional temporal motion, but forms a temporal patchwork of different time tracks.

The technique of scratching – as developed by New York hip-hop DJs at the end of the 1970’s – marks a second shift in the history of the gramophone. The scratch changes the record player from a recording device into a musical instrument with its own distinctive sound. Because this sound is unique, it quickly became a source of recording itself. In other words, with the invention of the scratch the gramophone simultaneously completed the circle and made a new beginning.

When we look closer at what a scratch exactly is, we will notice that it is marked by the same paradoxical movement as its invention as such. The scratch is at the same time a jump back in time and a new beginning. Although this temporal movement is a disposition of the gramophone as such, it cannot be conceived from an intermedial perspective. The scratch can only be initiated by an external – rather than a transcendent – actor. In my presentation I want to develop scratching with Heidegger’s concept of Ursprung (origin, but literally primordial jump). As opposed to Ursprung, however, the scratch does not go back to a single origin. Because the vinyl has become a temporal patchwork, the scratch can go back to multiple beginnings. For that reason, the scratch not only transforms a technical device into a musical instrument, it is also a cultural technique that manipulates the course of time.


Intellipedia: Gov't unveils a Wikipedia for spies

Analysts can add and edit content on government's classified Web site

Updated: 6:53 p.m. ET Oct. 31, 2006

WASHINGTON - The U.S. intelligence community Tuesday unveiled its own secretive version of Wikipedia, saying the popular online encyclopedia format known for its openness is key to the future of American espionage.

The office of U.S. intelligence czar John Negroponte announced Intellipedia, which allows intelligence analysts and other officials to collaboratively add and edit content on the government's classified Intelink Web much like its more famous namesake on the World Wide Web.

A "top secret" Intellipedia system, currently available to the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, has grown to more than 28,000 pages and 3,600 registered users since its introduction on April 17. Less restrictive versions exist for "secret" and "sensitive but unclassified" material.

The system is also available to the Transportation Security Administration and national laboratories.

Intellipedia is currently being used to assemble a major intelligence report, known as a national intelligence estimate, on Nigeria as well as the State Department's annual country reports on terrorism, officials said.

Some day it may also be the path intelligence officials take to produce the president's daily intelligence briefing.

But the system, which makes data available to thousands of users who would not see it otherwise, has also stirred qualms about potential security lapses following the recent media leak of a national intelligence estimate that caused a political uproar by identifying Iraq as a contributor to the growth of global terrorism.

"We're taking a risk," acknowledged Michael Wertheimer, the intelligence community's chief technical officer. "There's a risk it's going to show up in the media, that it'll be leaked."

Intelligence officials say the format is perfect for sharing information between agencies, a centerpiece of the reform legislation that established Negroponte's office as national intelligence director after the Sept. 11 attacks.

They also said it could lead to more accurate intelligence reports because the system allows a wider range of officials to scrutinize material and keeps a complete, permanent record of individual contributions including dissenting points of view.

That might help avoid errors of the kind that led to the widely criticized 2002 national intelligence estimate that said Saddam Hussein possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Intelligence officials are so enthusiastic about Intellipedia that they plan to provide access to Britain, Canada and Australia.

Even China could be granted access to help produce an unclassified intelligence estimate on the worldwide threat posed by infectious diseases.

"We'd hope to get down to the doctor in Shanghai who may have a useful contribution on avian flu," senior intelligence analyst Fred Hassani said.


Wikipedia's entry for Intellipedia: Intellipedia is a project of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence ...

More detailed, in-depth information and analysis about Intellipedia is accessible from this dedicated Intellipedia Blog.

"A gift from the CIA. These shovels are the equivalent of Meatball / Wikipedia BarnStars, except they award both virtual and real shovels (for gardening Intellipedia, the intelligence community's Wiki)."---Eekin, who claims to be the first person outside of the intelligence community to receive one of these shovels 

"The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community." --------Original proposal for Intellipedia presented by D. Calvin Andrus, Chief Technology Officer, CIA Center For Mission Information, April, 2006.

• At CIA, we have created nearly 500 internal blogs in
CIA’s Office of Iraqi Analysis are devoting time to assembling what they know into a collection of wiki pages, collectively know as the Intellipedia. ...