This is my contribution to The Book of Guilty Pleasures (2011): a collection of 100 contributions from different artists, curators, musicians, and writers on their aural guilty pleasures, initiated by Song-Ming ANG and co-edited with Kim Cascone.
A guilty pleasure for me, guilty because I have rejected minimalist formalism, is Datamatics [ver 2.0], the electronic audio/visual creation of Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda where he mines data mania for both the material and the theme of his work. IkedaÕs rapid techno music is created from slight electronic hums and pops that build into gargantuan sonic textures, sometimes reaching the noise intensity of Merzbow. The intention is a meditation on the feral relationship between the sound of data and the data of sound today. The effect is a furious formalism that effectively entices, but flattens and thins out the longer it goes on. That said, the macabre grandeur of Datamatics2, with its repetitive super-coded/anti-coded rigor, is stunningly beautiful on dˇbut. A furious rhythm of inscrutable data discord is established from the beginning, necessarily entailing a process of attraction/repulsion that intimidated me while spawning some sublime ideas.
IkedaÕs evocation of data time is riding high on speed, and tempo here took on the implication of a dark temporal pop-cultural product pit into which my accurate perceptions were poured - even as I resisted fragmentation and remained fixed in the logocentric seat of Renaissance three-point-perspective. This principle of hyper speed coupled to visual overload makes inoperable the usefulness of the term ŌminimalÕ in association with Ikeda; as Datamatics2 animates a crumbling of the normal monuments to human difference we construct daily. IkedaÕs mixture of technical precision with perceptual overload presented a significant challenge to experiencing interior time. Perhaps it would have been possible had I been able to divorce the musical experience from the visual torrent.
Ryoji IkedaÕs Datamatics2 is a stuttering in a hygienic but deranged tongue within the vernacular of shattered techno signs and computer music clichˇs. In that way Datamatics2 is anti-automatismic. We are forced to think creatively and distinctively if we hope to un-pack and self-interpret itÕs quintessentially dancing chaotic vision par excellence. And when we do: we finally come - enigmatic-lithe jouissance. But the jolt as been sadly self-inflicted, lacking, as it does, the tragic/emphatic psychic dimensions of artificial life (I saw or felt no field of intensities invoking the inchoate and the savage) and the open multiple model of atmospheric free associations. Thus the event went a bit lacking, for me.
So are these subsequent revelations an abiding labyrinthian form of abject nothingness? Yes, Datamatics2 is a blustering, bursting, blatant banality, but even so I saw/heard in Datamatics2 the melancholy monstrous traces and dissimilative Dionysian mannerisms of Novalis, Chateaubriand, Nerval, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Aragon, Bataille, Lautrˇamont, and Roussel. That is hardly farcical nothing (albeit by way of negation folded upon negation / instrumentalization upon instrumentalization). In piercing clouds of cacophony I heard traces of Xenakis, La Monte Young, Boulez, and Aphex Twin.
The attraction to such an adjoining structure is strong, but it wanes quickly. I suppose it must be like doing business with a rather spectacular whore.