The Science Fiction
Civilisation Paranoia in Technical Space
In the early 1970’s I suffered a culture shock. I was alienated by ‘progress’. As a child, I called what was suddenly spreading around me a ‘science fiction’ because it reminded me of the marvel cartoons I was reading at the time: supermarkets, skyscrapers, motorways, space rockets, plastic clothes, television; a brand new world seemed to spring out of a science fiction novel or cartoon. I didn’t like it at all; all I wanted was going home to my grandfather’s farm. I regretted that he sold his horses to buy machines. Back then, I was angry at the adults who built the science fiction, bulldozing away at farmsteads and forests.
I am still trying to understand how this could happen, how the science fiction could take over the world, and I am refusing to accept a future of artificial intelligence, robotics, bio-robotics and bio-security in a smart new normality.
The concept of ‘technical space’ or ‘the flow of technical space’ by Elisabeth Heidenreich helps to grasp the paradigm behind the science fiction: technical space consists of strategic points and straight lines or ‘corridors’ between them. Energy flows through technical space with increasing speed and risk propensity, in the form of traffic, electricity or information. Modern man entered the technical space in the 18th century, mapping the landscape to conduct military survey (Heidenreich, 2014). Strategic points in a landscape were connected by straight lines in two dimensions.
“(…) we effortlessly internalize and accept a complex cartographic language that assumes an unproblematic relationship between the signification of location and space and the physical territories that it claims to refer to (…)” (Cameron, 2011, p. 423).
“A ‘coastline’, for example, is not a line, but an indeterminate dynamic zone (…).” (Cameron, 2011, p. 420). The coastline paradox describes the impossibility to measure the length of a coastline correctly, because it is not a line, but a fractal (Haran, 2014). Technical space thus employs two-dimensional, linear thinking, where the space outside of the linear corridors is not included in technical space (Heidenreich, 2014). Sound, emitted by technical systems, has no conception in or around the corridors of technical space, as if it did not exist, resulting in an ‘urban pandemonium’, where noise is what we refuse to listen to (Schafer, 1977). The sound of traffic is neither designed nor intended. Technical space is inherently ignorant of the surrounding natural space. Its linear paradigm is caught in a dual loop between cause and effect, unable to conceive of the fractal properties of natural space where (musical) time folds into a fractal: a state of harmony and resonance..
Time travel in a heartbeat
Bergson makes a difference between time and duration. Duration is a bit of time between two points. “…succession can only be thought when comparing the present with the past.” (Bergson, 2002)
Between flux and duration, time is present. Time is not always present. A stone falls to the ground, bounces and comes to rest. The sound of this bounce shall represent a heartbeat. Within the technical space of my digital audio workstation, the bouncing heart made of stone resonates, falling and bouncing in repetition. The regularity of its original impulse lies deep down in the realm of rhythm. It cannot speed up to the vibration of a motor, for example. It may bounce at the wrong time, resonating in frequency-mismatch like a slash of water in a moving bucket. It may seem to be irregular, waiting for the right impulse response, forever falling with the aspect of resting, then bouncing off a surface, defining presence between the flow of time and duration. The bouncing heart of stone resonates with key signatures. A fundamental presence is anchored in both, the real and the imaginary space. Presence is also imaginary. The temporarily beating heart creates a gap in the flux of time, a fantastic loop of bouncing resonance in the imaginary duration of time.
When looking for pitches and keys as acoustic signals in a soundscape, I noticed how much I am focussed on sounds from animals and people. They also carry a heart and emit signal sounds. Amidst wind or water or stones, or the motor of a boat or a bus, the acoustic signals of animals and people pierce through the background-sound. Especially young voices carry a strong signal, often in high pitch. As a mother, I am instinctively conditioned to listen for signals of distress or happiness of young ones.
The Rocking Stone
The rocking stone is a secret. I promised not to tell where it is. It is a large, rather flat grey rock in a field, resting on other rocks in a way that you can rock it. You need to stand on it and find a certain spot, where it is rockable. First, you need to jump, but once in motion, the rocking is easier. However, my friend put a wedge underneath the rocking stone, so that a bypassing visitor who, by chance happened to step upon the rocking stone at the right and rockable spot, would not discover its secret. Only my friend and I go rocking sometimes. We recorded the sound it makes from a hollow underneath. Different from a stone falling to the ground, the rocking sound can also serve as a heartbeat for my composition. It shall be an atavistic symbol for natural space and the grey bedrock of this land.