University of Limerick
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Noise, phenomena and the digital psychosis

conference contribution
posted on 2021-10-19, 11:43 authored by GIUSEPPE TORREGIUSEPPE TORRE
With respect to digital technologies, noise is something that is at once both fought and sought. We may wish to minimise noise in communications but require it for encrypting the very con- tent communicated. We may wish to minimise noise when recording sound but also want to use it to improve the fidelity of the recording process. The catch is that noise is both an abstract idea and a concrete thing that does not sit comfortably in relation to systems that are deterministic/probabilistic, such as digital technologies. This is a fact that computer scientists know well but that is systematically overlooked in order to safeguard and improve the functioning of digital technologies, such as digital instruments. Indeed beyond the plethora of different kinds of noises, the comparison between analogue and digital technologies highlights the existence of just two types of noise: one that is naturally occurring (noise) and one that is humanly constructed (pseudo-noise). Digital technologies operate by moving from noise to pseudo noise, in order to then 1) crystallise reality into mathematical constructs and 2) create realities from mathematical constructs. This makes the digital realm a type of technology different from any other, namely, one in which noise is fiercely fought and used for the digitisation process but then relentlessly sought, and always denied, within the digital realm. This observation points to at least two further implications: one is that noise may point to essential differences between analogue and digital technologies; the second is that the presence or absence of noise may lead to either crippled or diverse phenomenologies. To this extent, digital technology, rather than revealing by challenging (Heidegger), has more to do with enabling a psychotic stance towards reality - one in which reality has been made to conform to our mathematically constructed idea of it . . . and one which might be too much even for a phenomenologist to overcome. These arguments will be developed from the perspective of a digital art practitioner.



Paper presented at the British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference 2020 (3-5 September);





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