Moersland’s 8-l-∞-p-s — “No conspiracy required”
music and text by Andrea Taeggi
The Virtual Reality environment in which the audio installation can be experienced was devised by Frank Grieffenhagen (also known for his work with seminal German band Kraftwerk). I was commissioned to compose eight different loops and given pretty much ‘carte blanche’ as regards any parameter (length, tempo, sound sources, etc). When your avatar enters the church (within the virtual space), there will be eight speakers positioned in a surround-sound arrangement; they are motion-sensitive and would activate as soon as the avatar is in their proximity.
Architecture and Sound Sources
If, ad absurdum, you were able to listen to all the 8 loops at the same time, it would become clear they are intertwined as a big poly-rhythmic beat. Some tracks run in 4/4, some in 5/4 and 3/4. Because of this specific 8-speaker setup arrangement devised by Falk Grieffenhagen, you can never hear them as a whole, but rather as individual components of a larger underlying scheme. I thought I’d attach some significance to that and view it as a metaphor of mankind’s fundamental (big “I”) Ignorance — one’s impossibility of making sense of everything or to ‘own’ all the pieces of information. It is a reflection on the limitations of the knowabilty of the world (both inner and outer), whose perception is by default truncated, biased and partial, due to a combination biological and psychological evolutionary forces.
Nobody has access to all the bits of the puzzle at the same time and the only thought of it results in a contradiction or in a logical paradox. Consciousness has fragmented itself from a single seed into virtually endless multiples. It looks like a fundamental rule.
No conspiracy required is informed by musique-concrète, just intonation and experimental electronica. The sound sources come from heavily treated recordings of a re-tuned prepared piano, auxiliary percussion, gamelan bells and analog synthesizers.
Loops & Glitches
In the broader sense, my use of loops & glitches can be regarded as a symbolic representation of the inherent inefficiencies of our current economic model, which we have named — quite ironically, frankly — “free” market system. My reflections were inspired by film-maker & musician Peter Joseph, who is best known for his viral movie series “Zeitgeist”. His body of work — especially with regard to his structuralist , systemic & social psychology Weltanschauung — has had a profound influence on me.
So, let’s get into that.
While well-esteemed economists, sociologists and even some activists maintain that the current capitalist market system just needs to be better regulated by means of more stringent reforms and the like, with ad-hoc interventions by government to contain eg its natural gravitation toward monopoly, it is obvious that none of that has been a real remedy so far, especially when it comes to long-lasting global change. State government (which also seeks status quo and self-preservation, as any other institution) has rather offered temporary patches, at best, having itself become subservient to market dynamics and its capricious behavior.
Those who have not been paying enough attention have re-branded the current phase of our economic model ‘crony capitalism’, as if, for instance, wealth inequality (as I type, the richest 10% of the world population now owns 76% of all wealth) would be an abnormality, an aberration or a sick/crony deviation from the original “good” capitalist plan.
But, in effect, that is not an abnormality: once it’s been set in motion the System does what the System does (as enunciated in “Systems Theory” literature), which is to create feedback loops that reward greed, competition and dominance hierarchies, ultimately fostering bigotry, systemic violence and narcissistic individualism, among others.
The current economic model, with its built-in win or lose and in-group vs out-group mentality is in essence perpetuating prejudice and spawning intolerant behavior — being it intra-gender (ie men vs women), intra-class (ie poor vs rich), intra-ethnicity (ie white vs black) or toward minority groups (ie homo/biphobia, transphobia), conjuring up strict social stratification, which in turn means a culture with less opportunity to express empathy. Being able to express empathy, not only reviving it, should be everybody’s birthright. And the list could be much longer when touching upon other causally related issues such as environment and public health.
We live in a conspiracy culture, where people find solace in reductionist explanations of what happens in the world, because, in truth, there’s so much going on that things have become increasingly harder to grasp in their complexity. Social media “echo-bubbles” and isolated apartment life have aggravated or even radicalized this phenomenon. Many of us naively regard the glitches of our current socio-economic orientation as defects to be addressed and eventually tackled either by personal transformation (“be the change you wanna see in the world” or “vote with your euros”-type mottos), or by wishful martket self-regulation (Adam Smith’s poetic tale of the “invisible hand”) or state intervention — as if governments were abstract entities existing in a vacuum, independent of the dynamics of big business and its push-n-pull-agenda.
Some even resort to magical thinking — in the desperate attempt to make sense of multi-layered events or to explain the aforementioned flaws — putting forward ludicrous concoctions that we have pejoratively named “conspiracy theories”. But, in fact, no conspiracy is required. No illuminati, no new world order, no reptilians in disguise or Masons secretly pulling the strings…those system faults are at the very core of the economic model itself and its obsolete design. Take this system’s natural tendency toward power consolidation, for one: it is deeply rooted in the system’s DNA, in its building blocks. It is wishful or even “magical” to hope this or that reform will make a real, long-term difference all across the board.
The system as we know it has to go. Alternatives — that have at their core an economy of care and sustainable resource management on our finite planet — need to be explored. Moving beyond profit maximization, mutual exploitation, labor-for-income paradigms, competitive advantage and all the market-system mantras that have been polluting the way we relate to one another on the everyday level.
”Hey, hold on…but what does this have to do with your music piece?! I thought you were making funny sounds with your synths and stuff.“
So, all the glitches you can hear in my 8 loops, those which sound like cpu overload/engine stutter/internet issues are a musical representation of the several built-in flaws of the current socio-economic model.
While, all around, everything keeps repeating itself seamlessly.
…who wants change, after all?
“Is my internet failing…? Was the audio badly made…? Is someone hacking this website right now…?
Someone must be f…ooling with me!”
No…and no conspiracy is required. It was all designed in to start with. Just like in my piece.
Because, at the end of the day, the system does what the system does and it has taken a life of its own. It rewards the good players and punishes the bad ones. You just need to look closely in the corners of your neighborhoods to notice those people the system has deemed ‘losers’.
You and I are both an Active Agent and a Victim of this virtual shared space we call Reality. So pick your avatar, get a front seat and enjoy the game.