Nature of AudioVisual Things and the Leviathan Algorithm

8 Febbraio 2023
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Why should people get passionate about things they don’t know?

György Ligeti

Giuseppe Viviani, Il Vespasiano, Acquaforte su rame 1956

Nature of Audiovisual Things and the Leviathan Algorithm [here’s the italian version]

<<Nature of audio and visual things. A sincere daily wine, made up of sounds, noises, visions, silences. A multimedia constellation in the cosmos of Knowledge.>>

This is the tag-line where I share the same humanistic spirit of Bachelard when he prayed: “Give us today our daily book.”

Pars destruens (destroy)

You don’t necessarily have to be a communication scientist to realize that we are not using the Facebook algorithm, rather the algorithm is abusing us. It is a Leviathan who cannibalizes us. A demon that feeds on our virtual identity with each passing day, exacerbating the worst in us to the max: narcissism, malevolence, frustration, resentment, hostility, ignorance, megalomania, self-praise, intolerance, exhibitionism

Yet all of us, both the knowledgeable and the naïve, we are nothing but pathetic avatars. Insignificant numbers thrown into the Big Data mousetrap. Now we all laugh en masse at the same memes. We all want to express our comments on the same facts of the day even if we have not formed any in-depth opinion on those events, always contrasted between pros and cons. Many of us share the same anger, joy, or grief over the day’s obituaries. We seem to be scandalized and selfless on command. Too many of us we love and hate indifferently abusing of flames, likes, selfies with our ostrich-ass lips through the mirror of my worst wishes, the looking glass of our spectral Facebook walls.

Giuseppe Viviani, Bicicletta

Impossible fuck the algorithm because it was created on purpose to fuck us. Perhaps, without being too paranoid or pompous, we can figure out a slightly less toxic use of Facebook and social media in general.

Self-pity, bitterness, complaining… does little or nothing if not even poisons us, leaving us even more powerless than before. We need to find a real solution, an escape route at least for our good, however improbable or ineffective it may seem to us in the short term, but who knows that won’t be a decisive solution if envisaged in the long term? Gathering what is lost in the mud of the Internet to restore educational respectability and benefit of culture. Taking for granted the collective failure of the scholastic institution, the inadequacy of official teaching, however we want to see it – from kindergartens to universities -, remodeling a radical form of monastic concentration and propensity for self-learning seems to me the only method to refine one’s own critical judgment ability. A daily martial practice of inner research. A kind of smart working applied to oneself and one’s personal growth.

Educating yourself to know something new every day, perhaps is the only way to avoid having the senses narcotized by the GCD (general collective distraction) emanating and perpetrated by the System.

Emilio Villa, Labyrinth

Pars construens (build up)

Everything has been done, and nothing has been done; whereby everything must be done, and there is nothing that cannot be done.Emilio Villa

The Net can be both a weapon of mass distraction and a collector of sensory stimuli, an aggregator of cognitive propulsions (gnoseological development).

The Web is a fluid atlas of vast and incessant knowledge which, however, must be learned to read just as one reads geographical maps. If we fail to actively orient ourselves, the Internet can turn into an abyss of dispersive information, ineffective for our personal growth, it turns into a tangle of sterile-multiform drives to which we passively submit. In other words, it risks becoming a boundless mobile desert of grains swept by the wind. A spiral of overlapping dots that we must always be able to join together to give them a design sense, to try not to lose our bearings. That’s why it is so important to stay oriented, awake and focused precisely to prevent our complex thought pattern from being subjugated and polarized by the binary pattern of the Machine which tends to polarize/trivialize everything it encounters along its path..

Giuseppe Viviani, Il Ciclista, Litografia 1963

Training the sense of sight and hearing every day is Yoga for the mind. It is a genuine food and wine, natural yeast and nutritious sourdough, essential seeds to regenerate our soul. This perennial short-circuit of information collected online or from books, visual arts bibliographies, discographies and filmographies, becomes like a craft practice that shakes and awakens our conscience. It’s athletics for the intellect, focusing us even more on understanding ourselves, opening us to empathy towards other people.

The more we learn to read, clarify, criticize, throw light on and hear the world, the less we allow ourselves to be deceived by the ugly, the false, by the cultural void in which we sink. Less owerpowered by Artificial Intelligence. The more we’re focused on the inner growth of ourselves, on our intellectual development, the better we are able to counteract the forced torpor of the brain artfully manipulated on the drawing board by algorithms and Big Data.

It is essential to oppose with all our strength against the homologation of our aesthetic sense perpetrated by the Machine. It is more than right to fight bloodily contra the brutalization and stupefaction conveyed by our subjectivity both virtual and real which, if left to itself, overdone by the flows of the Algorithm, becomes more and more a passive/elaborate identity shaped on the measure of a laboratory rat.

With the concentrated, slow but stubborn exercise of discovery on the Internet, we “force” the Web to transform itself, to slowly open up into a magnificent adventure of human knowledge where, beyond the usual research sites and encyclopaedic-universal platforms (Google, Wikipedia , YouTube… especially if you speak also other languages ​​than English), you discover extremely refined blogs, treasures of incredibly competent specialized in-depth sites emerge on cinema, music, art, literature, free jazz, yoga, chess, avant-garde cuisine, viticulture, elementary particle physics and any other topic or discipline around which we wish to devote our observations, documentation and detailed analyses.

Tom Phillips, [no title p. 33], 1970

Be careful, this is not erudition as an end in itself, but a furious desire for knowledge. Learning to decipher the visual signs and the hieroglyphs of sounds by which we are literally overloaded means learning to be in this world. At the end of the day it is about satisfying the desire to know all the things that we will never necessarily acquire. We must transform this anxiety of knowledge into a spiritual exercise to fill our emotional voids, a sacred gesture of personal respect, love and self-care.

«Losers, like autodidacts, always have more vast knowledge than winners, if you want to win you must know only one thing and not waste time learning them all, the pleasure of erudition is reserved for losers. The more things one knows, the more things didn’t go his way.

-Umberto Eco-

Losers perhaps losers in the eyes of the masses accustomed to superficial judgments and prejudices, but winners for sure in the respect we have for Knowledge, readers and for ourselves.

Man Pulling Face, detail of Satirical Diptych by an anonymous Flemish artist, circa 1520

Finding your way around the encyclopaedic chaos of the Web isn’t a joke, it’s an exhausting undertaking. Also because it is an ethereal, “liquid” essence. It is its nature of computer interconnection. The contents, the data that interest us are all already there, layered on top of each other in an infinite flow of codes, numbers, inputs, outputs. As explorers of audio-and-visual learning we must absolutely be able to distinguish and recognize useful information from superfluous ones since the latter are certainly more. It is a priority to continually sift through this insidious puddle of words-sounds-images, spelling out and learning well to separate the gold from the mud.

The skills, the refinements – both theoretical and practical – are acquired over time due to curiosity, study, research, insights, comparisons, tenacity.

Disegno originale di Emilio Villa, s.d. (anni ’70)

It is vitally important to defend yourself hands and feet since the risk is to end up swallowed by the System, stripped of our soul while the shell of the body is spat away onto a gigantic heap accumulated by millions of other spitted shells. Yes, because we all run the risk of being slowly mutated into many flat entities. Robotic users sterilized of their own energy to know, therefore to think for themselves and to act with their own will, a will that identifies our species, characterizes our own human dignity as thinking beings and in some way free beings.

Above all, it is indispensable to be hungry, to be hungry for an omnivorous curiosity in the wake of the essayist Calvino, the Calvino collector of sand and researcher of written and unwritten worlds. By squeezing information and connections from the Net and from books, I try to shape a palimpsest of linked cultural contents. I will insist on spreading psychic short circuits. I conceive this palimpsest as a multimedia constellation of creative expressions linked to artistic research. From the microcosm of the image (painting, photography, cinema), to experiments in the universe of sound, up to the extreme margins of aphasia, the incommunicable, primordial chaos, disharmony and philosophical stuttering. I imagine it as a fluid mapping of the most disparate experiences of musical/visual languages ​​that have arisen and proliferated in the last hundred years, let’s say more or less starting from the historical avant-gardes in the first decades of the 1900s.

It is a notebook in the making where I ask for continuous stimulation of our organs of sight and hearing. It is a logbook where every day I am the first to learn something together with those who have desire and curiosity to read the correlation of creative geniuses who have sensed other potentials in the sphere of language, who have glimpsed other possible worlds.

The aim I set for myself is obviously not exhaustive and does not pretend to be a sterile compilation, but is a sketch of associations of living ideas, congregations of thoughts resulting from books, articles, internet sites, concerts, museums, films, compositions. I draw a route among thousands of other potential routes. I pretend to instill my sparks of curiosity and objective correlatives as exposed by T.S. Elliot in The Sacred Wood. Essays on Poetry and Criticism.

A set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion.”

I distill my passions, beliefs and knowledge in the interconnected cauldron of the Net, with the certainly somewhat naive trust of lighting the fire of knowledge – analogue and digital – also in other individuals who search, read, write both on paper and online.

Learning by doing is the old motto that has resonated for centuries in artisan workshops where both manual or technical knowledge and theoretical and practical skills have been handed down for generations from masters to students. It is a warning that I always find valid and which I make my own, despite the extinction of so much of the craft world, also induced above all by information technology which has forever distorted the face of our planet but which nevertheless allows me and millions of others to publish and communicate one’s own things, interesting or boring, stimulating or insignificant, is up to the reader to decide

Sure to some, such a clumsy attempt to connect artistic worlds, collect and rearrange worldviews through the Net to stimulate readers’ research may seem like a sure waste of time and money. It may actually seem like an illusory endeavor, like counting grains of sand in the desert, but I would approach it as a Zen meditative exercise, useful for focusing and clarifying our mind.

In fact, I’m almost certain that this continuous practice of communicating positive cultural contents could be a healthy athletic training in itself, effective in toning the brain of both: writers and readers.

A I strongly hope, it will be an adventurous exploration beyond the “limits” of what we believe to be our “language” and our “world“, not surprisingly recalling the first Wittgenstein of the Tractatus, published in 1921 when the austrian philosopher was just 30 years old, in those the first decades of the last century which heralded frightening global catastrophes, scientific discoveries unthinkable for humanity, poetic inventions and artistic experiments risky on summits where the intelligence of our species is confused with its own bestial self-destructive idiocy.

Why should people be passionate about things they don’t know?” György Ligeti asked himself embittered in the book-conversation with Eckhard Roelcke, Träumen Sie in Farbe? (Do you dream in colour?) about people’s lack of interest in contemporary music. Here, all my lucubration up to here, attempts to give an articulated answer to Ligeti’s sharp and essential question.

In short, my proposal is to post and refresh interrelation every day linking sound-visions-visual arts visionaries, as a constant learning exercise – my idea of networking – or as a simple “apotropaic rite” to stem the wave of false news and conspiracies of the day, to exorcise the avalanche of toxic shit both on digital and paper that everyday overwhelms everything and everyone.

Concerning the “apotropaic gesture”, compare J.N. Adams, Apotropaic and ritual obscenity, in The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, JHU Press, 1990.

Visions, sounds, noises, silences... with the desperate purpose of avoiding our daily death from mental dryness and functional illiteracy. Above all to excite and revitalize ourselves and then perhaps others as well, excite them about so many things we don’t know yet.
Because knowledge is infinite while we are finite little beings but in that juncture of time and space that is granted to us we can actively delude ourselves, be grateful to be a small part of this exciting infinite.

Emilio Villa, Museo della Carale Accattino per la Poesia Sperimentale Visiva

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