mute column

Event: Signal:Noise II

By Mute, 13 January 2012
Image: Ricardo Basbaum, 'Superpronoun: 9 Me-You Choreographies', diagram, 2003

Signal:Noise II

Friday 20 – Saturday 21 January 2012

The Showroom Gallery, 63 Penfold Street, London NW8



Building on the success of Signal:Noise I in January 2011, the second iteration of Signal:Noise is produced in collaboration with Mute and Queen Mary School of Business and Management. 
Signal:Noise II will look into feedback as a form of agency.
Feedback can be seen as an operational mode that overrides distinctions between form and content. Cybernetic ideas of self-regulation – whether in the workplace or within processes of government – have often involved harnessing the means of autonomy in order to increase control. This has proceeded by and large through techniques of participation and feedback. 
But these same techniques and forms are also key to certain progressive social and aesthetic projects – from anti-psychiatry and radical pedagogy, to post-humanist philosophy and aesthetics. Troubling issues of agency, intention and consciousness, they have been used to produce new relations of power, truth and aesthetics.
From the schematising of these processes in art, design and urban planning, to the constant relay between emancipation and control in the social logic of participation, feedback will act as a prism for reading history and our present through presentations, screenings, performances and workshops in distributed and militant pedagogy.
More information, including speaker abstracts and biographies, will be available here and on The Showroom Gallery’s website ( in early January 2012.
Signal:Noise II is supported by LCACE, Queen Mary School of Business and Management, Arts Council England and members of The Showroom’s Supporters Scheme. 

Admission free, no bookings taken - places allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. 



Friday 20 January, 7-9pm
Aesthetics, Feedback and the Agency of Things
Presentations by Luciana Parisi and Florian Cramer
Moderator: Robert Jackson
Saturday 21 January, 11-7pm
Participation and Feedback
11.00 Presentation by Suzanne Treister
11.45 Presentation by Axel John Wieder
Responses from Marina Vishmidt and Emily Pethick
13.00 Break
13.30 Reading by Ricardo Basbaum
14.30 A selection of Jef Cornelis' Ijsbrekers introduced by Koen Brams
15.30 Break
16.00 Discussion on feedback and self-organisation with Marina Vishmidt, Stefano Harney and Ultra-red.
17.00 Break
17.15 Screening of Anja Kirschner and David Panos's Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances 
18.00 Performance by Mattin. 
NB: Mattin will also take part in a public lecture at Goldsmiths on Friday 20 January 2012, 2pm. Read more.
Programme times act as a guide, and may be subject to change. Admission free, no bookings taken - places allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. 

About Signal:Noise

Signal:Noise is an experimental cross-disciplinary research project that aims to explore the influence of cybernetics and information theory on contemporary cultural life by testing out its central idiom, ‘feedback’, through debates, performances, and events. 
Through the application of mechanical and scientific models for the understanding of social and political life, cybernetic theory – in particular notions of feedback – informed the development of many early conceptual and participatory artistic practices in the 1960s/70s, yet its influence is still under-recognized. Signal:Noise aims to bring together people who are working with these ideas in the fields of art, design, architecture and theory in order to re-open discussion around this discourse, looking at how it has informed cultural, social and political life, in the past and present.

Programme Notes

Luciana Parisi’s talk on ‘The speculative reason of algorithmic objects’ will discuss how algorithms have become actual objects that prehend external data and in doing so, determine computational spatio-temporality. Algorithms therefore are not simply executors of programs, but are prehensive agencies that evaluate data and create space-time. Algorithms use feedback systems of control to change over time. These prehensive agencies have come to subtend a neoliberal order of aesthetics corresponding to the topological surfaces at the core of digital architecture. Luciana Parisi is the Convenor of the MA Interactive Media: Critical Theory and Practice, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research draws on information theories and the life sciences (from cybernetics to computation, from evolutionary to complexity theories) to examine the significance of digital technologies and biotechnologies for a cybernetic understanding of culture. In 2004 she published Abstract Sex. Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (Continuum Press). Most recently, she has completed a monograph Contagious Architecture with MIT Press (forthcoming).

Florian Cramer is a researcher and theorist based in the Netherlands
Robert Jackson is an MPhil/PhD student at Plymouth University, an artist and software developer based in the UK. Currently entitled 'Algorithm and Contingency', his thesis entangles Computational Algorithmic Artworks and Art Formalism together with Speculative Realist Philosophy, to identify an occluded history of computational art that privileges recursive configurable units of necessity rather than networked systems of contingency. Robert is an editor of the independent journal Speculations: a graduate student-run, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to speculative realist philosophy and an associate editor of the O-Zone Journal (both supported by Punctum Books). He blogs regularly at 
Suzanne Treister is a London based artist and will present five diagrams from her project 'HEXEN 2.0'. These diagrams chart, within a framework of post-WWII U.S. governmental and military imperatives, the coming together of diverse scientific and social sciences through the development of cybernetics, the history of the internet, the rise of Web 2.0 and mass intelligence gathering, and the implications for the future of new systems of societal manipulation towards a control society. 'HEXEN 2.0' specifically investigates the participants of the seminal Macy Conferences (1946-1953), whose primary goal was to set the foundations for a general science of the workings of the human mind. The project simultaneously looks at critics of technological society such as Theodore Kaczynski/The Unabomber, the claims of Anarcho-Primitivism and Post Leftism, Technogaianism and Transhumanism and traces precursory ideas of Thoreau, Heidegger, Adorno and others in relation to visions of utopic/dystopic futures from science-fiction literature and film. 
Ricardo Basbaum is an artist and writer based in Rio de Janeiro
Axel J. Wieder’s presentation on Social Diagrams will focus on the late 1960s when architects and planners made increasing efforts to develop methodologies for a scientifically improved design process. Informed by early cybernetics and information theory, the role of the designer and the future user of buildings and cities became the subject of critical self-reflection. The talk will discuss a series of projects, such as an early example of interactive television and different planning games, in relation to their potential for broader participation, but also new forms of social control.
Axel J. Wieder, born 1971 in Stuttgart, is a curator and writer living in Berlin. 2007-2010 he was the artistic director of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart and 2010 a visiting curator at Ludlow 38, Goethe-Institut New York. In 1999, he co-founded together with Katja Reichard and Jesko Fezer the bookshop Pro qm, which also serves as an experimental platform for events and presentations in art and urbanism. For the 3rd Berlin Biennale 2004, he organized a thematic section about the urban development in Berlin after the fall of the wall (together with Jesko Fezer). 2004-2005 he was project manager for the exhibition project "Now and ten years ago" for KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin and 2004 a research fellow at the Peabody-Essex-Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. He is lecturing and publishing widely. Most recent publication: Casco Issues XII: Generous Structures (eds, together with Binna Choi), Berlin 2011.
Marina Vishmidt is a writer based in London.
Jef Cornelis (1941) worked as executor, director and scriptwriter for the VRT, the Dutch-language Belgian public broadcasting corporation, from 1963 until 1998. Over those 35 years Cornelis accomplished an impressive body of work. It comprises over 200 titles and is generally considered as groundbreaking, artistically and cultural-historically.
In 1983 and 1984 Cornelis and his colleagues of the newly erected Art Issues Service of the then BRT realised the monthly TV programme IJsbreker, of which a total of 22 episodes were produced. Each episode of IJsbreker featured a cultural topic, in the widest sense of the word, ranging from 'culture in the papers' to 'computer art, from 'fashion' to 'tattoos'. IJsbreker was a live programme, with speakers on different locations. Various locations were connected with each other and the studio. Communication – or the lack of it – could only be accomplished using countless cameras and TV monitors.
Ultra-red is a sound art collective that includes artists, researchers and organisers from a range of social movements.
Stefano Harney joined Queen Mary, University of London, in September 2006. He is an expert on business ethics, corporate governance, and responsible management education, and a frequent commentator in the media on banking regulation and ethics.He is founder of Finance Watch, a research NGO dedicated to banking reform, and he is current Chair of the European Business Ethics Network (UK). Stefano Harney's new book, Business World (Routledge, forthcoming) focuses on the borderless business school and the rise of extreme neo-liberalism. His last book, State Work: Public Administration and Mass Intellectuality (Duke, 2002) was a phenomenology of labour in the state aiming to rethink the contemporary state-form. He is part of the editorial collectives at the journals Social Text and Lateral. His first book was a study of postcolonial Trinidad. He is also co-founder of the NGO Clinic, a pro bono organisational development and change service for not-for-profits.
Anja Kirschner and David Panos’ living truthfully under imaginary circumstances is a two-channel video that explores the acting exercises developed by Sanford Meisner. Meisner's techniques paradoxically deploy an unnatural training routine of intense repetition and observational feedback to stimulate 'authentic' emotion and spontaneity in performance. Analytic yet hypnotic it interrogates the meaning of 'emotional truthfulness' in post-modern naturalism and dominant assumptions about the nature of human behavior.
Mattin is an artist who works with noise and improvisation, often in collaboration with others. His work seeks to address the social and economic structures of experimental music production through live performance, recordings and writing. Using a conceptual approach, he aims to question the nature and parameters of improvisation, specifically the relationship between the idea of ''freedom'' and the constant innovation that it traditionally implies, and the established conventions of improvisation as a genre. Mattin considers improvisation not only as an interaction between musicians and instruments, but as a situation involving all the elements that constitute a concert, including the audience and the social and architectural space. He tries to expose the stereotypical relation between active performer and passive audience, producing a sense of strangeness and alienation that disturbs this relationship.He has produced records, performs internationally and runs two labels: w.m.o/r and Free Software Series and the chaotic net-label desetxea. Together with Anthony Iles, Mattin was editor of the book Noise & Capitalism (2009). Taumaturgia and CAC Brétigny are about to publish Unconstituted Praxis, a book collecting most of Mattin's writings plus reviews by other people of performances and concerts that he has been involved in.
For Signal:Noise II Mattin will produce: A collective evacuation of the voice in an assembly line of liberation while
addressing the sound of indifference.
Mattin will also take part in a public lecture at Goldsmiths on Friday 20 January 2012, 2pm. Read more.
Signal:Noise was originated by Steve Rushton, Dexter Sinister (David Reinfurt and Stuart Bailey), Marina Vishmidt, Rod Dickinson and Emily Pethick, and the first event at The Showroom took place in January 2011.