WEEK 5: Midterm Blog by Eric Bollens

Three cultures surround us, the two described by C.P. Snow of art and science theory, and then a third of practice. In DESMA 9 so far, we’ve explored this third culture, the culture melding of art and science. Innovations in science have fueled changes in art. Perspective, cubism, relativism, and changes in philosophy have been borne from scientific advances in the study of space and time, most notably from Einstein’s fourth dimension, and, moving forth into the twenty first century, it seems certain that mathematical constructs will continue to influence art. Similarly, biology and anatomy have had a giant impact on art, all the way back to Da Vinci’s human body diagrams. Some would say that plastic surgery is as much an art as a science. Sometimes, heartless science has also fueled a countermovement in art, as seen in all the objections towards electroshock therapy, overuse of drugs, and more.

For my project, I looked to meld the topics of perception, reproduction, the digital age, and the human mind that we’ve discussed so far in DESMA 9. As a DJ, I understand the power of music, as well as the way the industry has changed in the digital age. Davis’ writing on digital reproduction struck me very profoundly. It highlighted, to me, a duality in that the digital age has both depersonalized and individualized art, music included. For music, I see this in how no longer are the best orchestras available only to the elite, but instead to everyone in their own home through recordings. This is evident, as well, in how every possible genre of music now rests at the fingertips of anyone with an Internet connection. And of course, this is most evident in the upsurge of music that has only been possible because of the Internet, with the rise of electronic DJs and producers.

The “Lights and Sounds” exhibition I proposed for my midterm project could take this a step further. When standing on a stage, mixing and DJing for a crowd of hundreds or thousands, one can feel the collective consciousness of the crowd. This makes the experience completely individual for each event, even if the digital recordings used begin as exact replications. Why not tap into this consciousness even further? Science has revolutionized so many forms of art, and so too can it here. Why not let neurofeedback and biofeedback guide the entire experience? In 2003, a music performance was thrown that used brainwave readings collected through EEGs to influence the ambiance and tone of the performance. The technology is there to go even further. Hewlett-Packard released artificial intelligence DJ software that used EEGs to guide song selection, but this too could go even further. The very nature of the music played, how long songs loop and rise before they drop, all of this could be fueled by tapping into the collective consciousness of the audience. The experience would be unique each time, individuality fueled from the digital revolution that has supposedly depersonalized music.

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