Wednesday, January 5, 2011

the split

The sound ecologists' term "schizophonic" soundscape refers to a landscape where music/voice are electro-acoustically imposed onto the acoustic environment (which we somehow take for granted), and we experience the two splits: between the environment the listener is in and the world that is projected by the transmitted sound; between what the ears hear and what the rest of the senses perceive. The technologies have been changing our reality. But, perhaps we should be careful because we tend to say, "The technologies have been changing our perception."

Susan Sontag (I respect her very much, though) could say "perception." When she mentions "photographic way of seeing," she implies that the technologies of photography changed our way of seeing the world. When she criticizes someone's artworks, she tends to criticize someone's way of seeing, for example, Diane Arbus's Surrealist (almost equivalent of photographic) way of seeing, Antonioni's photographic way of seeing, Riefenstahl's Fascist way of seeing.

Photography changed what we see, but I'm not so sure if it changed how we see.

But, the split of space interests me, so today I have been thinking about the split of the air. Peter Sloterdijk's Terror from the Air (originally as Luftbeben, trans. Amy Patton and Steve Corcoran) cites a funny anecdote of Salvador Dalí's lecture performance on July 1, 1936, at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London's New Burlington Galleries. According to Sloterdijk, he presented himself as "a radical representative of 'Elsewhere' and in the name of the 'Other,'" and "deliver his address in a deep-sea diving suit." A "car radiator was mounted above the helmet, the artist was carrying a billiard queue in his hand, and was accompanied by two large dogs." Sloterdijk quotes from How One Becomes Dalí:

"I had decided to make a speech at this exhibit, but from inside a deep-sea diver's suit, to symbolize the subconscious. I was put into the outfit, even including the leaden shoes that nailed me to the spot. I had to be carried up to the stage. Then the helmet was screwed and bolted on. I started my speech behind the glass facepiece in front of a microphone which of picked up nothing. But my facial expressions fascinated the audience. Soon they saw me open-mouthed, apoplectic, then turning blue, my eyes revulsed. No one had thought of connecting me to an air supply and I was yelling out that I was asphyxiating. The specialist who had out the suit on me was nowhere to be found. I gesticulated in such a way as to make friends understand that the situation was becoming critical. One of them grabbed a pair of scissors and tried in vain to cut a vent in the fabric, another tried to unscrew the helmet and, when that did not work, started banging at the bolts with hammer. My head pounded like a ringing bell and my eyes teared with pain. I was being pulled and pushed every which way. Two men were trying to force the mask off, while a third kept striking blows that knocked me out. The stage had turned into a frenzied melee from which I emerged as a disjointed puppet in my copper helmet that resounded like a gong. At this, the crowd went wild with applause before the total success of the Dalinian mimodrama which in its eyes was representation of the conscious trying to apprehend the subconscious. I almost died of this triumph. When finally they got the helmet off I was as pale as Jesus coming out of the desert after the forty-day fast."

Maldives ministers in 2009 were better prepared.


Did they preach to the "fishes" as a (not so) radical representative of "Elsewhere." From the point of the fishes' view, we are the "Other," definitely.

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