Sarah Angliss: Tech and the uncanny

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Sarah Angliss (@Therematrix) was talking about tech and the uncanny at dConstruct these are my notes from her talk.

I make automata and software to create music.  I do this to free up my hands.  Can't I just become a laptop performer and ditch my machines?  But I always come back to my machines.

The uncanny valley: as things get too human like we feel disgust.  Exists between science and folklore.  It certainly points to something.  Uncannyness has been with musicians for centuries.  Audiophiles are rational agents - they're obsessed with realism, a perfect copy of something.  This musical nirvana is an intoxicating thing and is a very common feeling.  This has been recorded through history: technique + daring do can produce grace that connects everyone in the room.

The girraffe piano litterly had bells and whilstles.

Infrasound is fascinating.  We've been making infrasound organs since at least the C17th.  You don't hear it but you feel it.  Messians (sp?) apocalyptic organ music:  hammers on the anvil of the apocalypse.

The sublime - awe inspiring yet alone.  Very aware of your imminent obliteration.

Strange things happen with infrasound - paper rattles, hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  It's uncanny - unholy.  Familiar but also unfamiliar.  Farinelli (sp?) the greatest castrati - they would mature with very high voices, thin frames with large rib cages.  Traded like premiership footballers - early post humans.  Modern musician called Vitas, the man with the dolphin voice, is a modern catrasti (without being castrated).  More than androgyny, the voice is something other.

Ventriloquism is also uncanny.  Used by spiritualists to create spirit voices.  The orb was the home of the invisible girl - was she invisible or had she been shrunk into the orb.  Actually like a tin can and a piece of string, start of telecommunications.

C18th a small organ called a serronette was used to tech birds fashionable melodies.  The birds would then sing the songs back.  Music reimbdoed.

1877 the phonograph came along.  It loosened the coupling between where the music was made and were it was heard.  We've become inured to this.  Sound is a compelling copy of the original, like a zombie that can live on beyond the speaker.

Sound technology has offloaded the strangeness from castrati to machines.

I don't want the web to feel quotidian, I want it to feel uncanny.