从噪音到信号:为何轻柔的信号可以洪亮

 English version below

尼古拉斯·布斯曼 (Nicholas Bussmann)

 

那还是童年时期的事,当时我在柏林,闲得无聊我就编了一个游戏,其实也是给自己设定了一个任务。这样的游戏几乎所有小孩子都非常熟悉:“你只能踏在石板上;如果踩到了石板缝,就输了,然后被鳄鱼吃掉。”

这可谓是个小算法,由一套指令组成,是为了解决一个问题。这个问题就是“我实在太无聊了”,而这个算法要判断正确还是错误、0还是1、是石板还是石板缝。这个算法通过规划未来,强化了人们对当下的体验。完成了这项详细任务后,我的问题也解决了:我不再感到无聊。

那种假想的惩罚让游戏变得非常刺激,远比假想的奖励让人过瘾,尤其因为我十分肯定自己绝不会被鳄鱼吃掉,也就是不会受到任何惩罚。毕竟这整个游戏是我自己凭空想象出来的。

这个算法为我铺开了一条规划清晰、通向未来的大道。走在这条大道上,我可以像数念珠一样,解决一个又一个迎面而来的问题。算法用清晰的信号将全世界都组织了起来。如果玩儿腻了,我就丢开游戏,放空自己,跳出自己创造的算法空间,去拥抱自由的时刻。

回想孩提时代的我,玩着天真幼稚的游戏,徜徉在自己一厢情愿的法规和“无法无天”的自由之中,然而这段经历成就了我今日坚定的独立意志。如今,这些算法早就独立成型,好似万能的神,成为了一切事实的基础,在互联网时代奠定着我们的未来。

这个不断兴起的算法世界依旧可被视作一个综合体,就像老旧电子游戏画面里的世界:各种地形突然出现在我们眼前,粗糙的边缘上各种多边形清晰可见,游戏玩家需要有高超的视觉联想力,才能把眼前的绿色三角形当作青葱山丘,以透视的眼光分出地形的远近大小。

如今的广告也还是广告,但有时,当我们恰好从中发现了我们正在寻求的东西时,就会觉得有似曾相识之感。未来,我们的体验能有多丰富,只取决于我们的渴望有多强烈。未来,无形的广告横幅将向我们伸出一只无形的手,就像在我们乐于接受一切时,向我们做出我们期望已久的承诺。

这个算法世界乃建立在有关“真实”的崭新理念之上:在这里,凭借统计数据和调和平均数,便足以确定什么是“真实”。而在与之平行的人类世界,个人体验是某种行为模式的唯一合理结果,而瞬间体验又会转变成某种可预见的行为。比如购买一张客厅沙发,通过这个行为,购买者最终圆满完成了自己根据需求定制和建构的任务:他只需要听从指令,而无需进行选择。正因如此,资本主义终将走到尽头。

音乐指挥必须事先综合计算好所有乐章的时间,才能带来一曲令人陶醉的和声。我们只要想一想这一点,就一定会认同,和声其实是不同天体之间发出的音乐。与释迦牟尼、老子和孔子生活在同一时代的古希腊哲人毕达哥拉斯,第一个采用数学分析的方法研究音乐。他使用“宇宙的音乐”一词形容宇宙间回荡但却不可闻听的音乐。天体在各自轨道上运行,撞荡出和谐的韵律,传递到生活在数字音乐世界的人类耳中。对于此般“宇宙音乐”的构建者——即统计学家、程序员和广告心理学家们而言,他们的字典里也充满了音乐词汇,如噪音、调和平均数、旋律、信号和动态,这些例子俯首即是。显然,他们和我们这些音乐家、作曲家都使用着相同的工具,即使我们的出发点截然不同。

就我自己而言,作为一个音乐创作人,不管我是否情愿,我做的音乐必然要与这个崭新的世界相互联系,因为音乐与这个世界存在根本的结构性联系。因此,如今的作曲家拥有基本的社会先决条件,这对于上个世纪的先锋作曲家来说都难以想象。打破了意识形态的禁锢,我们可以颠倒和变换数字,在算法上另辟蹊径,或是以一种玩味的破坏性意识,肆意挥霍我们的青春,把统计学家计算出来的、噪音和信号之间的那种“神秘互渗”比例弄得模棱两可。我们音乐家就像这崭新世界之中的“黑天鹅”。我们手上握着王牌——我们可以保持低调,但不是默默无闻

Noise to Signal 
or why a soft signal can be loud

As a child, it must have been in Berlin, I made up a game in a moment of boredom. A game with a self imposed task that nearly every child is familiar with: “You can only tread on the paving stones, if you tread on one of the cracks between the slabs then you have lost and will be eaten up by a crocodile.” It is a little algorithm, a set of instructions for solving a problem. The problem is boredom, the algorithm recognises right and wrong, zero and one, paving stone or crack. The algorithm intensifies one’s experience of the present by organising the future. By completing the specified task I solve my problem: boredom. I relished the threat of the imagined punishment more than an imaginary reward, especially as I was certain that I would never be eaten by a crocodile, i.e. not receive a reward – after all I had thought it up myself. The algorithm extends a clearly delineated path into the future before me, which I only need to follow, laying out problems in front of me like the beads of a rosary. It organises the world of play in clear signals. If I become sick of the game I only need to jettison the structure, leap in the air and enjoy the moment of liberation from my self-created structure. – Recalling this childish, naive oscillation between self-imposed law and lawless freedom helps me to assert my autonomy, today, at a time when these algorithms have long since gained their independence and, seemingly godlike, establish facts and organise our future in the Internet.

It is still possible to recognise this emerging world as synthetic, resembling as it does the graphics in old computer games where the landscape rears up in front of us outlined in rough polygons, demanding considerable fantasy to transform the green triangles into hills and view them perspectively. – Today it is still possible to recognise advertising as advertising, but sometimes we have a feeling of déjà vu when we find precisely what we believe we are looking for. In the future we will only experience what we believe we desire. In the future an invisible hand will be extended to us from the invisible advertising banner, an eagerly awaited sign of promise in a moment of extreme receptivity.

 

This world is based on a new idea of truth, for which the statistical, harmonic mean suffices – a sufficient truth. In a parallel process personal experience becomes the logical result of a behavioural pattern, momentary experience becomes a predictable action, for example the purchase of a TV sofa, which ultimately serves the fulfilment of a personalised, constructed task: following orders rather than choosing. Capitalism will also come to an end as a result.

If one considers how comprehensively our movements are calculated in advance in order to organise them into an exploitable harmony then one is confronted with the idea that what is being composed here is a music of the spheres. Pythagoras, a European contemporary of Buddha, Lao-tse and Confucius and the founder of the mathematical analysis of music, used this term to describe an inaudible music of the cosmos. The accord of the heavenly bodies resonating in their orbits, revealed to us humans in the numerical world of music. Even the vocabulary of the constructors of this modern music of the spheres, the statisticians, programmers and advertising psychologists, is rich in musical terms. Noise, the harmonic mean, rhythm, signal and dynamic for example. Clearly they are using the same tools as those we employ as musicians and composers, albeit with a completely different motive.

For myself as a music maker this means that my music is bound to interact with this new world, whether I want it to or not, due to the fundamental structural affinities. As a consequence, composers now enjoy basic social prerequisites which the avant-garde of the last century could only dream of. Free of ideological ballast we can transpose and permute the numbers, design alternative algorithms, or with a joyful sense of destruction, noisily waste our youth, muddling the signal-to-noise ratio of the statisticians in participation mysthique. We musicians are the black swans of this new world, we hold the trump card – we can be very quiet, and still be heard.

Nicholas Bussmann

 

The News Blues at Shanghai Biennale 2014

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The News Blues a composition for seven singers by Nicholas Bussmann will be performed at Power Station of Arts always 14:30 an 17:30 on the following dates 2014/15:

November: 23.//25./26./27./28./29./30

December: 2./3./4./5./6./7.//9./10./11./12./13./14

January: 2./3./4.//6./7./8./9./10./11.

February: 17./18./19./20./21./22.   and: 26./27./28.

March: 1.//   and: 24./25./26./27./28./29.