Life post-apocalypse is mysterious, but somehow comforting – a digitally generated, AI-assisted woven blanket of sounds. There is calm in uncertainty – once you adapt.
At least that’s the feeling I get personally, listening to the glitching electro-acoustic ambiance of Microohm, Infinita Incertidumbre. There are yawning caverns, gently shuffling rhythms, persistent electronic rattles and beeps and interruptions. But through it, as all this uncertainty grows, there’s some feeling of center.
There’s a process in that feeling. This is organized and structured work, but connected to probability as a way to removing control – a fitting tack for this moment:
When we wake up everything will be memories… 4 melancholic tracks to explore the depths of simulation and memory in times of rupture. Now that the streets are empty, that the whole world has stopped and we can see how the past strives and resists in not giving way to the present, that uncertain slips between the hours. Time dislocated presents us with the possibility of a new beginning, a collective one to restore reality. What does it mean to be human after the pandemic? We can only hear the echo of all things, of all that we were and can be. But we only have this infinite uncertainty as we look at the world through the phone and the computer screen.
Ambient EP with 4 sound pieces, composed in early 2020 as a premonition of what would come during the spring. It uses samples from Hornet’s MXTX sound library, belonging to Mabe Fratti, Gibrana Cervantes and Concepcion Huerta. For the composition Markov chains were used to calculate algorithmic probabilities in terms of melody and rhythms, the first track only has a 10% probability, gradually increasing 30% in the following pieces until the final piece is 100% algorithm of probability or machinist interpretation.
The release is out now on LOWMUTE, a young imprint from Guadalajara. (Leslie has released variously on Tijuana’s Static Discos and Voragine in Mexico City.)
This one feels particularly personal, but a series is coming – talking in apocalyptic terms of Fire Rituals and The Ruins to Come. Think of it as a scientifically informed, techno-pagan book of revelations from Mexico. There’s also a live act with Milena Pafundi, as VJ.
For visual stimulation for now, there is this stunning video by Gabriel Carrera, which translates those fragmented timbres and patterns into corresponding visual textures. “Eco de todas las cosas” – echo of all things.
Plus a murky, melancholy video by Milena Pafundi:
The one time I was fortunate enough to make it to Mexico City – thanks to the persistence of Leslie and Interspecifics collective – we worked in an arts center adjacent to the bloody events of the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico. Indigenous supposed heretics were burned at the stake in this urban park in the 16th century, largely bucolic today. (Well, mostly bucolic and not Inquistion-y. No one accused us of witchcraft, to be sure. There were some exciting large scale movements of armed military-looking police, because Mexico.)
I got the sense in the work of the participants in our hacklab there – as elsewhere – of a new chapter of musical ritual and culture. This group was intentionally distant from the colonial and Catholic hierarchical narrative, but also comfortable rooting itself in mathematics and science. And of course these were also projects that worked to be free of patriarchal control and violence. (Which, you know, I think if we’re talking the history attached to the Spanish Inquisition, is a notion anyone ought to be able to get behind pretty easily.) That is to say, in some decentralized fashion, artists in Mexico and around the world are starting to craft their own rituals – incorporating science-based, expanded perception of the world around us. I recall there were some conversations about this feeling even at the time.
Artist HEXORCISMOS aka Moisés Horta Valenzuela is also working with reevaluating and decolonializing pre-Colombian culture through his work, and even at times through AI – though that’s a talk for another time. Not coincidentally, Moisés both hails from Mexico, as well, and has come in and out of communication with Leslie, so there’s a scene for this stuff still emerging. (He and I spoke via online chat for the virtual instance of GAMMA Festival, Russia – more on that soon.)
Leslie has over the years given her pretty selflessly to projects of education, organization, and collective action. It’s great to hear her solo voice, too.
Here’s a brilliant and evocative performance as Microhm gives “a reflective sonic offering to the people of and places of Paquimé / Casas Grandes. All sounds are a mixture of field recordings of Raramuri communities and a variety of analog and digital synthesis.”
Interspecifics and their speculative projects
There is also this organic quality to the music – the feeling that these sounds might have grown like mycetozoa.
So it’s also worth looking back at the installation and residency Leslie presented with Paloma López at the end of last year, as Interspecifics, thanks to DAAD Berlin. “Ontological Machines” included two works – Speculative Communications and Micro-Rhythms. This followed a 2018 EP and AV project and residencies in Mexico, also under the title Speculative Communications.
These are my photos of the installation – we were fortunate enough to be part of a crash residency on artificial intelligence and art with a lovely group of invited artists, talking at length in the DAAD space above the gallery.
It’s wild in action – “bacterial consortiums, plants, slime molds and humans using DIY and custom-made sets of hardware” are bound together in a machine-biological dialog, as machine learning traces the activities of slime mold, and the whole installation blinks and glows as it learns. As DAAD music chief Dahlia Borsche so succinctly put it, “two extensive trans-species sound and light installations produce real-time compositions for the post-Anthropocene.”
Ontological Machines is a framework for the experimental artist, philosopher, scientist, human, organism or force to explore the entanglement of material experiences that conform as unity the complex expressions of reality, therefore a prototype and unfinished interface whose existence is a temporary possibility of agency. As a performer the framework can serve as transparent container for the subjective materialism of forces and organism and their becoming to patterns and thus the meaning of those patterns. Technological implementation on the one hand, philosophical search on the other, the system aims at serving as an expansive prosthesis of the sensorial human experience. Its electromagnetic nature enables a direct communication with the elastic brain and its ability to develop new sensorial relations with the world. The dialectical nature of this system stands for a compressive approach to the pedagogy of knowledge, where the self is the one that leads the exploration to fulfill the need to learn, and where learning is a network of experiences on a multilevel axis of time. Ontological Machines are designed to create some of those experiences and thus to create collective questions, turning individual search into collective subjects. An extension of the self, but in the first place a tool that enables the self to be aware of the need to be extended to the other, to consider the visions, the senses and presence of the others.
Here’s the live version of that piece:
You’ll find a treasure trove of open information on that project – even material to start your own experiments and investigations:
Lastly, here’s a DJ mix from Microhm:
Here’s Leslie in 2014 talking about co-hosting the MusicMakers Hacklab with me in Berlin. Leslie has led three such events (once inviting me over to Mexico) in Mexico, both in Tijuana and Mexico City. And yes, she was hosting a group of artists in an intensive project and got us all integrating analog circuitry, computers, and plants.
Enjoy the new EP – do buy it. It’s uh not expensive once you convert Mexican pesos to anything else.
Is it weird that I’m looking forward to the ruin and fires?