[This is the text my wording was based on, there was some ad-libbing due to the nature of the performance.]
Ok so, I have here a little Huzzah featherboard with an accelerometer attached and it’s hooked up to a MaxMsp file that has a whole bunch of news media audio programmed into it so that when I pitch or roll this depending on where it is in the it plays the appropriate news media so an example of I’ll show you right now and pay attention to what happens to my voice as I’m still trying to talk to you…. right so you end up losing my voice and only the news media voice takes over. It’s also programmed so that once the program is running, it gets harder and harder to control my voice. So straight up is my voice and I begin to lose that control and the other voices begin to take over. I can try to adjust this accelerometer in order to try to maintain my voice, and that’s what I’m going to try to do, but I will necessarily eventually lose it.
This was largely written and programmed at a time when I had just read Habermas and was currently reading Walter Lippmann’s 1922 book, Public Opinion, one of the seminal works on popular news media and journalism. The book popularised the word “stereotype” and the phrase “the manufacture of consent” and it largely deals with the author’s ideas of a public that is too busy to understand complex world issues and the author’s belief in the need for a small group of people to filter those ideas for the public and make the complex decisions for them. The book had a profound effect on popular western news media and journalism and has been heavily criticised for its lack of faith in popular democracy. Together with readings on Habermas, McLuhan, Adorno, and many others I wondered how I could best replicate the loss of our own identities and voices to those of a mass and manufactured media deliberately employed to silence and stupefy. I just thought of simple spectacle of one still speaking but being drown out by the ever-encroaching voice of news media and events that strongly pull our emotions.
But by now I’ve lost my voice completely to the dominating media audio. Have we all? Can we still speak without a media filter and without public relations encroachment? But now it doesn’t matter what I say, because you can only hear them. You can only react to what they are saying and not what I am saying and that is their goal. Thanks for listening to me while you could, I’m doing the only other thing I can do now and turning this off. Bye.
The arduino code and other specs for the Huzzah Feather and accelerometer can be found here:
An example of the type of environment I envision this of work being performed in is show below. This was from the performance of a former student in the Hatch Labs on campus. I can imagine video corresponding to the audio files showing on each of the back walls with things becoming more convoluted as the performance continues.
Inspiration for this work can be found among these artists:
Adorno, Theodor W. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Verso Classics. London: Blackwell Verso, 1997.
Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Translated by Thomas Burger. Reprinted. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008.
Haraway, Donna Jeanne. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Reprinted. London: Free Association Books, 1998.
Lippmann, Walter. Public Opinion. New Brunswick, N.J., U.S.A: Transaction Publishers, 1997.
McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. The Medium Is the Massage. London: Penguin, 2008.