5kHz to Infinity

In 2002, producer Gerald Donald, known from his production on efforts such as Dreyxcia and Dopplereffekt, released Wireless Internet under the pseudonym ‘ARPANET’. The album begins with an essay delivered by a speech synth titled The Analyst. The disembodied voice questions whether the ‘Beast’ in Belgium (a fictional supercomputer that contains comprehensive information about every person on Earth) could one day become a reality. Within the track, the voice muses on the potential effects of distributed networks, mobile computing and internet:

One day we will all be wireless and this is a fact. One day we will be able to do almost everything by remote control with a multiple array of digital handheld devices. What will the implications be for humanity? Who will benefit and who will suffer? [4]

Techno uses the rhythm of the assembly line to designate a set of instructions to be embodied and enacted in leisure. In opposition to the utopian goals of cybernetic innovation within Silicon Valley, Donald, like many techno musicians, inhabits the aesthetic qualities of technological progress, as a framework to question it.

Stewart Brand’s now infamous call for a photograph of the whole Earth, ultimately fulfilled by NASA’s ATS-3 satellite, is a milestone within the cybernetic fantasy. The primary implication posited by this call is that a complete perspective of Earth would allow humans to collectively realize the fragility of our existence and, abstractly, work towards its preservation and advancement. This implication of this is undergirded by the trend towards an informational account for Everything, a predictive network that may be influenced and monitored through it’s manipulation. The cybernetic fantasy is a Whole Earth, one who’s outcomes can be predicted and influenced accordingly.

As remote imaging and networked systems become increasingly commonplace, Brand’s ideas allow us question the role of the technical image in our vision of the potential configurations of society. In contrast, an approach to the development of systems and images that aligns with Eshun’s vision may align itself with the concerns of mini-FM, dub, and techno. An image that embodies technological processes to articulate a condition, wields fragmentation against holism, local against global, and works towards inversing the relationship between the human and machine.

[1] Parrish, Theo (2012). Electronic Beats TV. Telekon. 9:30. youtube.com/5USZQ97l9s.

[2] Norton, Andrew (2000). Dynamic Fields and Waves. CRC Press. p. 83. ISBN 0750307196.

[3] Veale, Michael (2007). Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae. Wesleyan University Press. p. 64. ISBN 0819565725.

[4] ARPANET - The Analyst (2002). Wireless Internet. Record Makers. REC-05.