Based on Deleuze’s encounter with Bergson in Bergsonism, I investigate their conceptualization of duration and memory. Necessarily, this involves discussion of the related concepts of perception, sensation, and action; and the objects and subjects around which they are oriented. I situate my analysis in and around a few different sites — the oeuvre of Laurie Anderson, the musical genre of hypnagogic pop, and the film Man with a Movie Camera of Dziga Vertov.
What is repeated in this series of sites is the way in which it is produced. Namely, they rely on databases of artistic information. I claim that these databases work less like traditional archives and more like the cache of computer engineering, exhibiting an openness to a more aleatory and less teleologically determined functioning. While the cache does name a storage of information, it is one in which, unlike the archive, the organization of materials is not static, but dynamic. This does not mean that it is disorganized, but that it is actively performing its own organization, which is a constant switching between the way in which things are ordered and the way in which they are not. I align memory, as conceptualized by Deleuze via Bergson, with the cache in order to point to the similarity in memory (and/or the brain) between humans and computers, both relying on an asymptotical maximization of the gap between sensory input and perceptual output. Memory as such might be called prosthetic — indeterminable until called upon to return, downloaded from and uploaded to a coexistent present.
STRETCHING IT WIDER
An anxiety that is, by now, well rehearsed surrounds the proliferation and increasing ubiquity of the Internet and digital culture (by which I mean representation that relies on the expression of discrete information). This anxiety is seated in and residue of older ones about the effects of increase in kinds and reproductions and distributions of media. In short, we tell and are told, inundation by media deadens or somehow tricks our senses in such a way that we are inured to representations of violence, deceived into acquiescing to increasingly more ideological (in the Marxian sense) situations, and, more generally, no longer able to make and pass judgment. More recently, it has been suggested that the Internet is changing the orientation of our consciousnesses to culture — it shortens our attention spans and depletes our motor and language skills (for example, how many tabs does one have open in her Internet browser at any given time). This anxiety probably has been most popularly and polemically performed in Nicholas Carr’s 2008 essay for The Atlantic, ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.’
Of most interest to me and of concern in the present paper, are related and subsequent sentiments to those expressed in Carr’s essay, such as that ‘the web has become, in a way, a global prosthesis for our collective memory.’ Will Straw has described something like such a prosthesis as embedded memory, the features of which are twofold, on the one hand packaging historical objects into bundles and, on the other, shaping and managing the circulation of affective relations unleashed by these bundles. More generally, these are features of stockpiling and transportation.
One remarked upon result of these features of what Straw calls embedded memory is that accumulation is accompanied by stagnation. That is, ‘it is not simply that, in their durability, new media artefacts pile up and, in so doing, increase the dense overlaying of all the artefacts available at any one time. It is also that [ . . . ] the circuits of reference that bind one artefact to another reverse chronologies or cross sequences of development in a way that muddies any sense of historical time.’ This muddying of history by circuits of reference is one that goes both ways, not only confounding lineage, but also disrupting the possibility for novelty, for the piling up of the past produces a block, a delay, a gap in the way of the progression of the present. This seems to be precisely the technocultural effect mourned by Simon Reynolds in his recent book Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past, in which he remarks, ‘Visible above all on the Internet [ . . . ] the archive degenerates into the anarchive: a barely navigable disorder of data-debris and memory-trash. For the archive to maintain any kind of integrity, it must sift and reject, consign some memories to oblivion. History must have a dustbin, or history will be a dustbin, a gigantic, sprawling garbage heap.’
While reserving judgment, I want to consider a form of production that an embedded memory or an anarchive might afford artists. Building on these concepts, I call this form of collection and production the cache. What I want to get away from with the cache that occurs with the archive, as Reynolds makes evident, is that the archive fundamentally represents an ordering of documents and an official whom oversees them. Historically (although we might contest what, if anything, that means), the archive might itself be archived under that regime of thought, which, however unbeknownst, continues to shape much theory today and is readily attributed to the Enlightenment (as, for example, with the creation of the French National Archive). In general, I am referring to the processes, perhaps first so prominently opposed by Nietzsche, of science and history and the exhibitionism associated with them that attempt to capture, take apart, explain, and present fragments (perceived as such when foregrounded against more totalizing worldviews). These processes, the scientific method for example, create systems of knowledge based on progenitors not only of information, but also of those whom record, present, and re-present information. My aesthetic examples of the concept of the cache throughout will be several selected works of artist Laurie Anderson and a song and video by the so-called hypnagogic pop band Emeralds. I consider this form of collection and production as exemplified by these works through recourse to temporality as it is conceived in the work of Gilles Deleuze and his engagement with the work of Henri Bergson.
Before addressing some of the specificities of Deleuze’s Bergsonisms, because this paper deals in the aesthetic, I want to provide some consideration of the unique work of the aesthetic, as well as its relationship to time. Aesthetic representation is typically divisible into two camps, for which there are myriad names and historical configurations, such as modernism and postmodernism. Either art is mimetic (of nature, human behaviour, etc.) and gains its currency from its distinct but direct relationship to life, or the signifier has been forever severed form the signified, and the most that may be expected of art is to shimmer in an infinitely cascading house of metaphorical mirrors. In his book, The Emancipated Spectator (though also as part of his greater project), Jacques Rancière suggests that both camps are complicit parts in the same signifying, logical machine, ‘There is no theoretical transition from modernist critique to postmodern nihilism. It is simply a question of reading the same equation of reality and the image, wealth and poverty, in a different direction.’
In discussing the political — oft understood as critical or interventionist — capacities of art, Rancière suggests that there is no cause and effect relationship generated between a work of art and a political action, whether it be art that directly depicts and suggests political action or art that mourns that our desires are always already recuperated within systems of capital. Rather, the relationship between art and politics is that they are both so-called partitions of the sensible, that is, ways of structuring our perceptions of the world. I introduce Rancière here not only for the effect his thought has had in the recent past on the art world, but also because his aesthetic theory is based around the concept of the image, a concept that appears under a different but not unrelated guise in Bergson. The distance between the aesthetic and the political in Rancière, or between pure perception and action in Bergson, is illustrative of the Deleuzian force of art to frame a bit of chaos through composition.
Neurobiologically, a similar distance, similar in its non-traversability, can be located and has precisely to do with partitions of the sensible more generally. Namely, as Yuji Sone has described, ‘sensory information about an environment in which we live does not equate with the environment itself,’ as the brain selectively (discretely, digitally) processes the information it receives. Further, ‘for the self to be total [. . .] it needs to hide the sphere of the unintelligible in the perceptional system.’ This is why I employ the terminology of the cache, as it names the concealed storage of data. This is not unlike how Deleuze describes, beyond the limit of the sensory, sensation as ‘presupposed and withdrawn’ and in the preservation of which ‘what comes before has not yet disappeared when what follows appears.’ So the significance of the Internet and digital culture is not that it changes the way we perceive, but that it expands the unintelligible on which we can draw, and it does so in a specific way (that is, at least not right now, the Internet is not a repository for smell, taste, and touch). By an expansion of the unintelligible, I mean something like an asymptotical maximization of the gaps between pure perception of an environment and the way in which this perception is contracted according to our limited sensory inputs.
To say this with Bergson, though, requires a shift from science to philosophy, the two of which, for Bergson, are sometimes complementary, sometimes contradictory, but irreducible to each other. To begin from the title of his book Matter and Memory, Bergson replaces the mind/body dualism with a typology of the two multiplicities of space and time, ‘One is represented by space [ . . . ]: It is a multiplicity of exteriority, of simultaneity, of juxtaposition, of order, of quantitative differentiation, of difference in degree; it is a numerical multiplicity, discontinuous and actual. The other type of multiplicity appears in pure duration: It is an internal multiplicity of succession, of fusion, of organization, of heterogeneity, of qualitative discrimination, or of difference in kind; it is a virtual and continuous multiplicity that cannot be reduced to numbers.’ Science, with its pragmatic orientation, is primarily concerned with the former, while philosophy is unmoored from practical application and can thus speculate on the more ontological nature of duration. Another way in which to think the two multiplicities to which apply science and philosophy is through consideration of Zeno’s paradoxes, which Bergson resolves by bringing philosophy to science, movement to trajectory, duration to space, for ‘Zeno’s error, in all his reasoning, is due just to this fact, that he leaves real duration on one side and considers only it objective track in space.’ Whether the paradox of the Dichotomy, the Achilles, the Arrow, or the Stadium, a path traversed in extension, matter, space is infinitely divisible by degree and can never provide full account of movement, which is indivisible, durational, and of a different kind of movement than trajectory. Consideration of real duration might not only be the place of philosophy, but also of art.
For Deleuze, art intervenes in the regular framing of the trajectory of the sensory by framing instead the movement of sensation, or the chaos of pure perception, thereby constituting affect in the work of art. This affect of the work of art might be one of two modalities of affect that Maurizio Lazzarato points out, ‘The affect is time under two different modes. The first corresponds to the contraction of the matter-image on (and by) our body, as Bergson demonstrated. The second is the affection produced by the splitting of time.’ I return to the latter subsequent to my discussion of the former.
As Lazzarato suggests, affections occupy a particular place in Bergson’s genealogy of consciousness. Matter, for Bergson, is composed of images, ‘and by “image” we mean a certain existence which is more than that which the idealist calls a representation, but less than that which the realist calls a thing — an existence placed halfway between the “thing” and the “representation.”’ He employs the image in order to navigate between two philosophical conceptions of the objects of perception that are unsatisfactory, one (idealist), which would contain objects in the mind of the beholder, and another (realist), which would make objects independent of perception. What constitutes perception for Bergson, rather, is the referral of an image/all images to the centripetal force of an image of a center. This image is that of the body. The image that is the body is unique in that it intervenes between the matter-images, or movement-images, of other bodies with images of itself, affections. As such, affections are images that subjectivize pure perception. The unique intervention of the body is one with both spatial and temporal aspects. The spatial aspect is one of distance and describes the interval of movements that go into and come out of a body. The temporal aspect is one of delay, or the amount of time between any such two movements. What happens in distance and delay, dually denoted by the French term écart, is the contracted selection of images based on their utility to the body, ‘What primarily defines consciousness for Bergson is not anything added onto inert matter but the diminution of the pure image of the whole. [ . . . ] What happens in the écart between pure presence and conscious representation, between the images’ being and their being consciously perceived, is the elimination of that which does not interest us.’
Now, I think, incorporating Bergon’s conception of the brain, we can reconsider the above neurobiological conception of sense perception. It is not that the brain creates images, or even stores them, but that it is the center in which perceptual inputs and behavioral outputs are connected, suggesting a number of possible actions. This contributes to Bergson’s understanding of the brain as a kind of call center, ‘The brain is no more than a kind of central telephonic exchange: its office is to allow communication or delay it. It adds nothing to what it receives.’ Or, the brain is not the cause, but the occasion of perception, the image, the screen on and through which, by chance, the chaos of pure perception/sensation passes and, by necessity (that which profits my body), actual perception is selected, ‘It could be said that the object itself merges with a pure virtual perception, at the same time as our real perception merges with the object from which it has abstracted only that which did not interest us.’ But how is selection made if not by recourse to the past, or that which has profited my body? And if the brain is an interval during which perception is diminished, but not stored, then how are past images accessed? While affection subjectivized the pure perception of matter of external movement-images with an internal image of the body, memory subjectivizes the pure perception of matter of external movement-images with virtual memory-images. Memory, as an intermediary, allows for an elucidatory unification of the two multiplicities of Bergson with which I began the present discussion.
While in terms of perception, the image of the brain and/or the body was a center of sorts in the movement from the virtual to the actual, in terms of memory, the body is backgrounded, or more precisely, only speaks to one aspect of memory, that of habit. The other aspect of memory is representation-memory. Each, as well, has an attendant form of recognition, automatic and attentive respectively. An extended example distinguishing between the two provided by Bergson considers overhearing a conversation between two people in a foreign language I do not understand. I hear something automatically as a function of sensory motor-habit, as a function of the repeated exercise of hearing; that is, I ‘coordinate the motor tendencies of the muscular apparatus of the voice to the impressions of the ear.’ The two people, hearing the same vibrations as I, however, also listen to something different, the attentive recognition of syllables and words and their senses etc. And they do so, not through recourse to internal, individually stored, successive verbal units (associationism), but by placing themselves at once in a shared and continuous temporal relation. In practice, in full recognition, these two movements are both necessarily simultaneously engaged, but with ontological priority given to the pure memory of the latter. So to the centripetal force of the image of perception above is added a countermovement:
Does this not amount to saying that distinct perception is brought about by two opposite currents, of which the one, centripetal, comes from the external object, and the other, centrifugal, has for its point of departure that which we term “pure memory?” The first current, alone, would only give a passive perception with the mechanical reactions which accompany it. The second, left to itself, tends to give a recollection that is actualized — more and more actual as the current becomes more marked. Together, these two currents make up, at their point of confluence, the perception that is distinct and recognized.
These two currents of perception and memory are illustrated visually by Bergson in a diagram of an inverted cone, the point (S) of which meets the plane (P). Centripetal would be that movement of the cone which works toward an insertion of S into P, or which moves automatically from the external image of an object toward the center image of the body. Centrifugal would be that movement tending toward the base of the cone as it dilates, or which moves attentively from pure memory. These two currents, movements, or repetitions appear in the chapter ‘Repetition for Itself’ of Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition as the first two passive syntheses of time. The first synthesis being the contraction (centripetal current) of habit and the second synthesis being the expansion (centrifugal current) of memory in which the first synthesis occurs.
Before, however, I proffer further discussion of these, I want to show some of what I have described above at work in the work of Laurie Anderson. In a discussion of mythopoiesis and fabulation, Simon O’Sullivan remarks, ‘Story-telling allows us to unplug and to enter a different duration. It functions as a catalyst for that idleness, which, as Nietzsche remarked, is the progenitor of any truly creative thought (Nietzsche 2001: 183-4).’ Storytelling might be one word used to describe Laurie Anderson’s aesthetic method. More, her storytelling is oriented toward the past in the present of memory and away from the plugged-in productivity of the automatic and habitual, ‘John Howell points out that “[m]uch of [Anderson's] work and casual conversation begins with ‘I remember,’” indicating, according to him, a recurrent theme of memory in Anderson’s work (1992: 17). The artist also claims that she is “trying to understand how memory worked” (Howell 1992: 44). Howell has concluded further that “Anderson constantly recycles her own past to create a fluid, dynamic sense of past and present” (1992: 17).’ I locate the cofunctiong of Bergson’s and Anderson’s preoccupations with memory in the artist’s work both in narrative content and mode of production. For instance, in the performance of ‘The Language of the Future,’ we have Anderson in her modus operandi as storyteller. Dressed all in silver, standing in front of a synthesizer, and performing self-described audio drag, she relays a story of sitting on a plane next to a girl who says, ‘“Oh, man, it’s so digital.” And she just meant the relationship was on-again/off-again, always two things switching. Current runs through bodies, and then it doesn’t. It was a language of sounds, of noise, of switching, of signals [. . .] a language of the past. Current runs through bodies, and then it doesn’t. On-again/off-again, always two things switching, one thing instantly replacing another. It was the language of the future.’
Current running through bodies is precisely how Bergson conceives of attentive perception and differentiates himself from optical models that rely on certain sequences of recording and relaying, models in which memory would be located in the brain, ‘Reflective perception is a circuit, in which all the elements, including the perceived object itself, are held in a state of mutual tension as in an electrical circuit, so that no disturbance starting from the object can stop on its way and remain in the depths of the mind: it must always find its way back to the object from where it proceeds.’ In the absence of current running through bodies, or in the absence of the establishment of a circuit between the actual object and the virtual image, when things are off-again, would arise habit. Again, this on-again/off-again is like the interplay of habit and memory between two people who are conversing in a foreign language and a third who overhears but does not understand. But Anderson not only tells stories about time that allow us to enter a different duration, she also generates stories by employing technology as a sort of anarchive or embedded memory, a prosthetic memory. As such, these memories, existing in extension, do not directly coincide with the virtuality of Bergsonian memory, but are mnemonic tools for its actualization. In this respect, they more directly resemble what appears as brain in Bergson. Maurizio Lazzarato has written on the ways in which televisual, video, and digital technologies — what he calls technologies of time, or machines to crystallize time — do not mark a farther distance from reality, but a closer proximity to it, closer even than human perception. They do so by mirroring the functioning of matter and memory as they appear in Bergson:
In their functioning and their products, the technologies of time imitate the various syntheses (conservation, passage and splitting-arising [dédoublement-surgissement]) of time, and [ . . . ] through these functions of contraction–relaxation they work on the conditions of production of affective force. As in Bergson, the “matter” contracted by these technologies consists of the various temporal stratifications of memory. I use the term “imitation” to indicate that electronic and digital technologies operate like the material and spiritual syntheses in Bergson: they crystallize time. Video and digital technologies can thus be grasped as technologies that imitate perception, memory and intellectual work.
Lazzarato follows the framework of Deleuze’s three syntheses as established thus far. In another piece on the same topic, these technologies’ relationship to the first two syntheses is made evident in the two sections under which the piece proceeds — I. The shot (or: ‘habit’) and II. Montage — ‘processing’ (or memory). In this model, the function of the machine is akin to the motor-sensory habit of the brain as a call center interacting between external images and the image of the body. In this, though, all images are treated equally in the way in which their duration is made amenable to human duration. In the lexicon of electrical engineering and computer science, this process would be called imaging and what constitutes memory would be something like the processing an image is subject to as a signal. That is, how a set of virtual attributes might be applied to an actual object. Lazzarato is helpful in elucidating the ways in which technological apparatuses may be used aesthetically to intervene in and supplement sense perception through the framing of chaos, ‘According to Deleuze, there are countless filters or sieves placed on top of each other, with our senses as the top-most layer and leading down to the “last filters beyond which would be pure perception (chaos).” The electromagnetic sieve working in video is much closer to pure perception [than] the filter which is our senses.’ This is because video does not deal in indexes of light (photography/film) but in light waves and their modulation themselves.
Laurie Anderson’s most recent studio recoding is called Homeland. One track from the record, ‘Another Day in America,’ has the following lyric: ‘And, by the way, here's my theory of punctuation: Instead of a period at the end of each sentence, there should be a tiny clock that shows you how long it took you to write that sentence.’ While this lyric, like the one quoted above, serves as a poetic argument against associationism (that is, what is characteristic of a sentence is not a successive chain of discrete units so much as a series of differing durations, albeit measured by a clock in terms of a quantifiable space); it, too, speaks to why Anderson has described Homeland as ‘a totally mental record.’ Anderson relays that the studio setup basically consisted of her alone seated in front of a database of files of an indefinite number of years’ worth of live performances. Overwhelmed with choosing amongst the files, this setup made the production of the record an unusually daunting and time-intensive process. What makes it a totally mental record, then, is that the process of its making was not one of radical invention, or even intervention, but one of distillation. Distillation not in the sense of revealing one, true essence, but just one possible essence that could result from the sensual material gathered. To return to Lazzarato’s imitations, then, the recording of the live concerts into sound files would correspond to the first synthesis, and the ‘totally mental’ time it took Anderson to choose which files in which musical sentences would correspond to the second synthesis.
What, then, though, constitutes the third, active synthesis of the splitting-arising of time? With the third synthesis, we move from the affect of the body to the affection of the splitting of time that is constitutive of art. The third, active synthesis of time is indicative of the simultaneity of the two currents (one centripetal, one centrifugal), of their indecipherability, of the concomittance of the present and the past, of the differential splitting of time; that is, repetition of the present comprises habit, repetition of the past comprises memory, and repetition of the future comprises difference, or the eternal return. Gesturing even more explicitly toward the mode of aesthetic production I call the cache, though, are the ways in which the three syntheses of time might be aligned with three images Deleuze offers in his consideration of cinema — the movement-image, the time-image, and the crystal-image.
For Bergson, who considers it primarily from the perspective of how it operates when it is viewed, cinema only gives the illusion of duration while still being composed of discrete images of perception. Deleuze, however, considering the frame, the shot, and the montage, argues that cinema moves beyond the limits of human perception and allows for the increased mobility of duration. This is what he calls the movement-image and from which he moves toward the time-image and its characteristic crystal-image. Rancière distinguishes between these three images thusly:
The movement-image, the image organized according to the logic of the sensory-motor schema, is conceived of as being but one element in a natural arrangement with other images within a logic of the set [ensemble] analogous to that of the finalized coordination of our perceptions and actions. The time-image is characterized by a rupture with this logic, by the appearance [ . . . ] of pure optical and sound situations that are no longer transformed into incidents. From these pure optical and sound situations eventually emerges [ . . . ] the crystal-image, the image that no longer links up to another actual image, but only to its own virtual image.
While the movement-image and the time-image correspond to automatic and attentive recognition respectively, the crystal-image corresponds to the way in which the automatic present and the attentive past must exist and unfold simultaneously, splitting the present. The image that only links up to its own virtual image and attests to the splitting of time, which for Deleuze is the genesis of thought, can be evidenced not in successful attentive recognition, but in the case of its misfires, ‘When we cannot remember, sensory-motor extension remains suspended, and the actual image, the present optical perception, does not link up with either a motor image or a recollection-image which would re-establish contact. It rather enters into relation with genuinely virtual elements, feelings of déjà vu or past “in general” (I must have seen that man somewhere . . . ), dream-images (I have the feeling that I saw him in a dream . . . ), fantasies or theatre scenes (he seems to play a role that I am familiar with . . . ).
Anderson is not only telling stories of the past, but stories of the past that relay how memory works, and she is constructing them in ways analogous to how memory works. Moreover, at least in the examples I have highlighted, she is doing so successfully, she is not forgetting, even as an audience might be lulled into such a state. Hypnagogic pop, being a music that is not lyrically-driven, deals more elusively and exclusively with something less like the attentive recollection of memory and more like the dream of the crystal-image. That is, it operates less like the expanding circuits between memory and reality and more like the most contracted circuit between an object and the immediate image that it is.
Hypnagogia etymologically refers to the onset of sleep and, as such, is opposed to hypnapompia, the onset of wakefulness. In the August 2009 issue of The Wire, David Keenan used the word to describe a nascent genre of music. In it, he writ, ‘Hypnagogic pop is pop music refracted through the memory of a memory, [ . . . ] a music that dreams of the future by dreaming of the past.’ While the sonic substance of bands named under the genre might be broad, the name might be considered more significantly specific if we consider it to name a form of production, and more, one that draws on a particular era. Hypnagogic pop refashions chart pop-rock of the 1980s. And it does so not primarily though direct sampling of songs of that era, but through the employment of equipment popular to that era (both musical and otherwise, such as VHS and Xerox). Moreover, it combines its elements in a way that tends more to blend them than to make them distinct. This is not to relegate these forms to a particular decade and thereby to re-inscribe history, but to suggest that these technologies have been associated with a certain cultural imagination. Hypnagogic pop downloads that imagination and then re-uploads it with new associations and assignations. As one figurehead of the genre, James Ferraro, comments, ‘I think aspects of human culture that some people regard as unimportant actually operate within a really deep system of ancient symbolism and human archetypes. Hard Rock Cafes, strip clubs, gyms, celebrities, etc. are all great examples of this, of roadside temples. My albums are like downloads from that body of information.’ I interpret this literally — what Ferraro points to here is less a neo-primitivist incorporation or postmodern flattening of cultural artifacts, but the notion that the whole of the past might be conserved in something like Bergson’s cone. Hypnagogic pop, then, would be an artistic practice united around a similar contraction of this cone, the circuit between the actual and virtual images of the eighties decade.
The genre has been contested both for its substance and longevity, for being nostalgic and politically apathetic. Challengers of the genre pose these detractions by way of the genre’s digital manifestation. In terms of its substance, they suggest that the name groups together bands so disparate that were they physically located in one place, they would have little to no relation. That is, the labeling of the genre names less stylistic similarities and more the tastes of any one critic who can draw her through line based almost entirely on her encounters with different bands on the Internet. In terms of its longevity, detractors have suggested that, as a genre of the Internet, it follows the pace of the Internet, which is fast, and, as a result, hypnagogic pop was declared to be dead three months after it appeared.
These reactions mirror those anxieties with which I began the present paper. However, I think there is another way of listening to this music. What is described by Keenan in the memory of a memory that dreams of the future by dreaming of the past is the simultaneity and splitting of the present into past and future, memory and perception. This is the crystal-image that Lazzarato ascribes to the real time of technology, that is, its ability to both transmit and record at the same time. Practitioners of hypnagogic pop music, in their employment of an interface between current technologies and outdated technologies whose past present they never lived through or only barely grew up with, are thus able to create music that performs a kind of nostalgia for a time yet to be lived. In this sense, in being an image of an image, it is a simulacral music.
Take, for example, the aptly-named Emeralds. Making use of extended guitar lines, keyboard arpeggiations, layered loops, oscillating analog synthesizer patterns, polyrhythms, and waveform generators, Emeralds’ sound is kaleidoscopic. While Laurie Anderson’s stories induce memory through literal description that draws on a cache of personal recordings that directly correspond to live performances, Emeralds make a music to zone out to by referring to the nebulous sense of a decade as it exists in digital form on the Internet, which is subsequently performed on analog equipment. The cover of their most recent record Does It Look Like I’m Here? depicts a vase of artificial flowers growing by the light of a television screen, an image of the contraction of the movement of light into matter. In an ‘unofficial’ YouTube video, the first song on the record, Candy Shoppe, is paired with an excerpt from the movement-image par excellence, Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera. On the one hand, this video is of a piece with hypnagogic pop’s nostalgic aesthetic preference for so-called outmoded technologies. However, the specific video referent here is remarkable. In a very similar way that we are inclined to conceptualize of the Internet and digital culture as both shocking to and subsequently revolutionizing of our sensual apparatus — by being different from other media and faster — so too were the contemporaneous audiences of early experimental film, as typified by Vertov. This comparable shock, though, is not only the result of the increasing visibility of a hitherto unpopular medium, but also of the way that medium was employed for the making of an aesthetic experience — like Anderson’s trans-disciplinary work or the recent genre of hypnagogic pop — that is, the way that it was constructed from recorded, de-contextualized bits from the past, reconfigured at random (in relation to the original sequence of their capture) so as to make time anew.
† † †
To conceptualize technology as always new and overwhelming phenomena is, in part, to conspire with teleological, progressive, associationist views of historical time. Experimental film has been conceptualized this way, as the Internet and digital culture are now. Bergsonian duration, especially as it has been further conceptualized by Deleuze, provides an alternative to this vision of reality. I argue that it is one we can become self-conscious of through art-making practices that make use of what I call the cache, which might be homologous to something like embedded memory or the anarchive. While the cache does name a storage of information, it is one in which, unlike the archive, the organization of materials is not static. This does not mean that it is disorganized, but that it is actively performing its own organization, which is a constant switching between the way in which things are ordered and the way in which they are not. Employing Bergsonian and neurobiological terminology, the cache would be comprised of images unintelligible (virtual) in the perceptional system (unintelligible, at least, until actualized, until brought to bear on a specific behavioral action/movement-image).
For Rancière, what he calls the pensiveness of the image results from the transition from a representational to an aesthetic regime of images. By this he means one in which, neither is there a direct relation between the world of the image and the real world (modern realist narrative sequence), nor is the real world rejected in favour of the play of the world of the image (postmodern idealist infinite metaphorization), but the two exist simultaneously and indeterminably. Though Rancière’s politico-aesthetic socio-historical image has a different valence than Bergson’s metaphysical ontological image, both images point to something similar. What is evidenced is the intervention of one image into a world of images that allows for the simultaneous perception and memory of some images. Within this interval is also the determination of affection and action. What I have attempted to show, with Lazzarato, is that these are processes undertaken by machines (the human brain being one of them). Lazzarato, along with the commentators I began with, warns of the ways in which machines might be used to control and exploit such an interval. In what Rancière calls the pensive image, and in what I think Laurie Anderson and Emeralds enact, however, is the opportunity to linger in the interval, to contemplate the affect engaged when chaos is framed differently than it is in habitual sense perception. These artists are successful not to the extent that they likewise but oppositionally control and exploit the interval, but to the extent that they reveal the interval as such, delaying the gap, framing some chaos, stretching it wider.
Anderson, Laurie. ‘Another Day in America.’ On Homeland. New York: Nonesuch, 2010.
‘The Language of the Future.’ On United States Live. Burbank: Warner Bros Records, 1984.
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Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. What Is Philosophy? Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
Keenan, David. ‘Childhood’s End.’ The Wire 306 (2009): 26-31.
Lazzarato, Maurizio. ‘Machines to Crystallize Time: Bergson.’ Translated by Matthew Hyland. Theory, Culture & Society 24.6 (2007): 93-122.
‘Video, Flows and Real Time.’ Translated by Stephan Gregory, Angela Melitopoulos, Erik Stein, Stephan Geene, and Rosanne Altstatt. In Art and the Moving Image: A Critical Reader, edited by Tanya Leighton, 283-91. London: Tate Pub. 2008.
Moulard-Leonard, Valentine. Bergson-Deleuze Encounters: Transcendental Experience and the Thought of the Virtual. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008.
O’Sullivan, Simon. ‘From Aesthetics to the Abstract Machine: Deleuze, Guattari and Contemporary Art Practice.’ In Deleuze and Contemporary Art, edited by Stephen Zepke and Simon O’Sullivan. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010.
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Sone, Yuji. ‘Sensory Otherness in Laurie Anderson’s Work.’ BST (Body, Space & Technology) Journal 5 (2005). http://people.brunel.ac.uk/bst/vol05/index.html.
Straw, Will. ‘Embedded Memories.’ In Residual Media, edited by Charles R Acland, 3-15. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
 John Naughton, ‘The Internet: Is It Changing the Way We Think?’ The Guardian, 14 August 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/15/Internet-brain-neuroscience-debate.
 Will Straw, ‘Embedded Memories,’ in Residual Media, ed. Charles R Acland (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), 11.
 Simon Reynolds, Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past (New York: Faber and Faber, Inc. 2011), 27.
 Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator, trans. Gregory Elliott (New York: Verso, 2009), 45.
 Yuji Sone, ‘Sensory Otherness in Laurie Anderson’s Work,’ BST (Body, Space & Technology) Journal 5 (2005), http://people.brunel.ac.uk/bst/vol05/index.html.
 Gilles Deleuze et al. What Is Philosophy? trans. Hugh Tomlinson et al. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 211.
 Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson et al. (New York: Zone Books, 1991), 38.
 Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul et al. (New York: Zone Books, 1988), 258n2.
 Maurizio Lazzarato, ‘Machines to Crystallize Time: Bergson,’ trans. Matthew Hyland, Theory, Culture & Society 24.6 (2007): 110.
 Bergson, Matter and Memory, 9.
 Valentine Moulard-Leonard, Bergson-Deleuze Encounters: Transcendental Experience and the Thought of the Virtual (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008), 26.
 Bergson, Matter and Memory, 30.
 Deleuze, Bergsonism, 25.
 Bergson, Matter and Memory, 111.
 Ibid. 127-8.
 Simon O’Sullivan, ‘From Aesthetics to the Abstract Machine: Deleuze, Guattari and Contemporary Art Practice,’ in Deleuze and Contemporary Art, ed. Stephen Zepke et al. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 204.
 Sone, ‘Sensory Otherness in Laurie Anderson’s Work.’
 Laurie Anderson, ‘The Language of the Future,’ on United States Live (Burbank: Warner Bros Records, 1984).
 Bergson, Matter and Memory, 104.
 Lazzarato, ‘Machines to Crystallize Time,’ 110.
 Maurizio Lazzarato, ‘Video, Flows and Real Time,’ trans. Stephan Gregory et al. in Art and the Moving Image: A Critical Reader, ed. Tanya Leighton (London: Tate Pub. 2008), 287.
 Laurie Anderson, ‘Another Day in America,’ on Homeland (New York: Nonesuch, 2010)
 Jacques Rancière, Film Fables, trans. Emiliano Battista (New York: Berg, 2006), 107.
 Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson et al. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), 54-5.
 David Keenan, ‘Childhood’s End,’ The Wire 306 (2009): 26-31.
 Ibid. 28.