Rhythm Science by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky

March 01st, 2004 | Category: Reviews

If you believe that your thoughts originate inside your brain — do you also believe that television shows are made inside your television set? — Warren Ellis

We’re all connected. Our saturated selves are each a part of a collective, socially constructed mix of language games and habits without names. “All minds quote,” once quoth Ralph Waldo Emerson, but let’s forget about the mind, the brain, and the head that holds them. It’s not about nouns; it’s about verbs. It’s not about the dots, it’s about the connections between them. Networks, not nodes. The journey, not the destination. It’s a trigger, not a gun. Software is the paradigm of the now. It’s where nouns become verbs and all are subject to “the changing same.”

Rhythm ScienceThis is where Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid comes in: the DJ as artist, the artist as software. The DJ cultivates and manages singularities: the bifurcation points on the edge of chaos, where dynamical systems manifest their emergent properties and transcend the sum of their elements. Rhythm Science (MIT Press) is about the phase transition where nouns become verbs. Digging in the crates, the DJ is an archeologist of vinyl plates. Thanks to technology, the entire history of recorded sound is available for datamining, providing the DJ with an ever-shifting musical identity that gives way to unrelenting multiplicity: “the changing same.” Close the loop. Insert the results and iterate. Disconnect the dots and mind the gaps. Your head is supposed to be spinning.

Cryptic language games aside, Paul once told me in an interview, “I’m more concerned with praxis — how to foster a milieu where dialog about culture becomes a way to move into the pictures we describe with words, text, sounds — you name it. Like I always enjoy saying it’s a method that becomes ‘actionary’ rather than ‘re-actionary’ — you end up with a culture that is healthier and more dynamic.” That said, Rhythm Science is a small book that makes a huge leap for the culture of the now. It’s software for your head. Upgrade your grey matter.

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