Symposium : « Rhythm & Event » – King’s College London – 29 October 2011

Article publié le 8 janvier 2014
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Symposium : Rhythm & Event

King’s College London

29 October 2011

Audio recordings of the Symposium are available here.



How can we think of novelty without attributing ontological prominence and metaphysical distinction between discreteness and continuity, or between the actual and the virtual, the analog and the digital, or the spatial and the temporal ? Can a concept of ‘rhythm’ understood as a vibratory movement detached from substance, structure, metric property, and lived experience, become a method with which to account for how the new comes to be ? Certainly, on the one hand, Bergson and, following him, Deleuze allow room for the coexistence of these concepts away from opposition. On the other hand, Bachelard and, following him, Lefebvre, have attempted to construct a rhythmanalysis of newness, while Badiou’s theory of the event signals an interruption in the spatiotemporal order. But perhaps there are yet other connections to be made between (what is absent in) these thinkers and towards conceiving ‘a rhythmics of the event’. For example, for theorists such as Kodwo Eshun and Steve Goodman rhythm points to a complex ecology of speeds, inciting mutations across the human-machine network to allow for the construction of a sonic futurity : a virtual coexistence of past and future in the present.

The purpose of this symposium is to elaborate a philosophy of rhythm as an appropriate mode of analysis of the event. Whether aesthetic, cultural, strategic, or other, we understand the event to be an instance of rhythmic time, summoning, expressing and animated by the abstract yet real (virtual) movements of matter. A rhythmic ontogenetics of this kind necessarily departs from a binary split between, on the one hand, natural bodily rhythms (breath, heartbeat and so on) and, on the other, a mechanics of steady tempo or pulse presupposing the metric organisation of spacetime. Instead, this symposium seeks to explore rhythm as an interface between diverse elements (human, machine or other) and a somewhat non-sensory, irregular and amodal movement, lurking at the most potentially unknown or ‘unthought’ dimensions of the event.

 Plenary Abstracts

Matthew Fuller & Andrew Goffey : Sort, Work and Recurse : the stratagematic rhythmns of grey media events


Grey media events emerge from and disappear into the imperceptible rhythms of background noise. They are written into work systems, social networks,
and the failures and workarounds of such. A grey event is the indeterminate
switching from one kind of setting to another, a loop being initiated,
nothing noticable happening, a faint stirring amongst the pages of a manual
no-one ever reads, an cloudy unease generated by managerial brainstorms and
corporate overcompensation for collapses that are impending or imagined.
Grey media events are secreted by the rhythmatic throbs of experience
undergone by the abstract infrastructures of the present day.
The stratagematic approach of Evil Media is to draw out means to make these
formations of rhythm and event tractable and amenable to manipulation and we present stratagems for sorting, recursion and workflow.

Matthew Fuller is author of various books including ’Media Ecologies, materialist energies in art and technoculture’, (MIT) ’Behind the Blip, essays on the culture of software’ and ‘Elephant & Castle’. (both Autonomedia) With Usman Haque, he is co-author of ’Urban Versioning System v1.0’ (ALNY) and with Andrew Goffey, co-author of the forthcoming ‘Evil Media’. (MIT) Editor of ’Software Studies, a lexicon’, (MIT) and co-editor of the new Software Studies series from MIT Press and of the journal Computational Culture, he is involved in a number of projects in art, media and software and works at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Andrew Goffey is an academic, writer and translator. He is the author (with Matthew Fuller) of Evil Media (MIT), the editor (with Eric Alliez) of The Guattari Effect (Continuum) and the translator of Isabelle Stengers and Philippe Pignarre’s Capitalist Sorcery (Palgrave). He is currently working on a monograph on the micropolitics of software culture and is editing a collection of essays on Alfred North Whitehead and recent developments in metaphysics. His translation of Felix Guattari’s Schizoanalytic Cartographies will be published by Continuum next year. He is a co-editor of the journal Computational Culture and he works in the Media Department at Middlesex University, where, amongst other things, he runs a cross-disciplinary Masters programme in creative technology.

Angus Carlyle : Scales of Rhythm

The presentation emerges out of a research project that focuses on the experiences of the last farming family who still live at the end of the runway at Narita International Airport in Japan, erstwhile neighbours long since departed, their land transformed into steel and concrete. This organic farm, its fertility assured by the weathering of volcanic ash thrown out by Mount Fuji, provides a point at which to test the scales of rhythm : the heating and cooling of the seasons, the shifting topographies of flight, the cycles of sowing and harvest, the bending and stretching of the body at work. The presentation will draw out the ways in which different registers of sound can make these different scales of rhythm audible while acknowledging that there are other rhythms whose resonance resists any easy representation.

Angus Carlyle is interested in ‘landscape’. He edited the book ’Autumn Leaves : Sound and Environment in Artistic Practice’ and compiled the Qwartz Award-winning album to accompany it. With Irene Revell, he curated the ’Sound Escapes’ show at Space in London in 2009. He works with Cathy Lane at CRiSAP at the University of the Arts London.

Jussi Parikka : The Aesthetico-Technical Rhythm

Despite the insistence on the objective materiality as a grounding for technical media culture, a key realization that framed also technical media was that of rhythm – or more widely vibrations, waves, rhythms, and patterns. From the 19th century discoveries concerning Hertzian waves and Fourier transformations, Helmholtz and Nikola Tesla to mid 20th century research into brains and brain waves mapped and modulated through EEG (W.Grey Walter and the British Cybernetics), and onto contemporary digital culture of algo-rhythms (Miyazaki 2011), this talk maps a short genealogy of rhythmic technical media. The talk focuses especially on the epistemological mapping of sound words by the Institute for Algorhythmics (Berlin), and argues for an aesthetic-technical connection to think through the sonification of non-sensuous digital worlds. Referring to Wendy Chun’s (2011) ideas concerning the invisibility-visibility pairing in digital culture, the talk addresses not code, but rhythm as the constituting element for technical media.

Jussi Parikka is Reader in Media & Design at Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton) and Adjunct Professor in Digital Culture Theory (University of Turku, Finland). His writings have addressed accidents and the dark sides of network culture (Digital Contagions, 2007 and the co-edited volume The Spam Book, 2009), biopolitics of media culture (Insect Media, 2010, the co-edited special issue of Fibreculture “Unnatural Ecologies”, 2011 and the edited digital book Medianatures, 2011 ) and media archaeology (the co-edited volume Media Archaeology, 2011 and the forthcoming book What is Media Archaeology ?, 2012). Website and blog :


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