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Noise as Form

No matter how life is, it is never consistent with the way that thought would have it. When philosophy turns away from palpable social chaos toward another world, it glosses over that difficulty. Fundamental ontology withdraws toward the depths of existence, and positivism relies on logic to reconstruct a well-ordered façade that can be dealt with by papers and seminars.

The world is too diverse to be conceived by thought. More provocatively, we might say “that which is whole is untrue.” But such an assertion is not postmodern by any means, although we can thereby conclude that every truth is local and that we each proceed from our own perspective — differences, diversity and synchronicity are all that exist. That attitude embodies a kind of ingenuous optimism, regardless of whether the topic is postmodernism, post-colonialism, queer theory, gender theory or cultural studies. Often neglected when it comes to these areas is that not even the humblest approach to thought can reduce the world’s diversity. No matter how locally defensive our claims may be, thought remains an illegitimate generalisation beyond the local sphere that was our goal. In other words, the problem is not the world, but thought — which is inherently the worst enemy of diversity.

Aesthetic experience provides the only opportunity for escape from the ontology of that false condition. Art and music can bridge the gap between subject and object, identical and non-identical, that is the foundation of the original sin of thought. The dialectical modus operandi of art is mimesis, i.e., pre-conceptual representation. Art possesses a naiveté, vulnerability and intimacy that thought lacks. Thus, art (music in this case) is inevitably affected by the reality that thought conceives. As a result, art becomes a wordless commentary on the dialectic of thought, an opportunity for instantaneous illumination of unredeemed reality. At the same time, art is rational — a domain of thought entangled in itself. Art and philosophy are equally rational discourses — only their tools distinguish them from each other. The tension between rationality and mimesis allows art to succeed where thought falls short. But the vulnerability of thought is accompanied by powerlessness — without the thought that philosophy contributes, art is disenfranchised and only a distraction for the privileged. If art bears a truth that philosophy lacks, philosophy can liberate the truth that art is incapable of expressing. Art and philosophy depend on each other. The unredeemed world in which we live has a particular need of that encounter. The redemption that reality withholds can emerge only there. Freedom and utopia survive by grace in the realm of art.

Are these ideas still valid as they once were (among Schoenberg, Xenakis, Kafka, Beckett, etc.), or has art left them behind? Can they be applied to video art, rap music, electronic music, dogma films and the like?

Such questions cannot be evaded. We must ask ourselves whether artistic expression of the 21st century leaves room for freedom, utopia or the promise of reconciliation. Or has art stopped being art?

Most of my music is constructed according to a uniform principle of form. It is a kind of tapestry woven from contradictory, calculated clouds of sound in which each individual expression reflects the absent whole. The music is never unequivocally defined, but fluctuates constantly among the various levels of the composition. As a result, the listener floats in a billowy sea of sound without a compass. My music draws strength from its own imperfections, its inevitable approximateness, opaqueness and contradictions. Instead of a futile attempt to pin down a kind of clarity with precise structures and composition, the music relies on its own æsthetic nature to pin down its essence.

My intention is for chaotic, incomplete form to serve as a counterpoint to positivistic, well-groomed and complete form. The goal is not to advocate a kind of formlessness, but to accept the inevitable consequences of the aporetic situation in which composition finds itself. The problem is how to strike a balance between the futility and necessity of striving after clarity and solidity in composition. The result is noise as a form that is free of preconceived notions about either itself or its antithesis.

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