Deterritorializations – Field recordings, percepts, smooth spaces and bodies-without-organs // Stefan Paulus


»Find your body-without-organs. Find out how to make it.« (Deleuze/Guattari 1987: 151)

(i) Field recordings

When the first ethnologists travelled to non-European regions and investigated the sonic, cultural and social aspects of music and dance, the phonograph invented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1877 made it possible for the first time to make documentary field recordings, then to analyse sound structures and classify territorial ritornellos. Almost at the same time, with the possibility of recording and playing back ambient sounds, aesthetic and artistic works developed that marked new structures – ritornellos of confrontation and departure. In the futuristic manifesto »The Art of Noises (1916) Luigi Russolo described the idea of using noise from urban and industrial soundscapes in musical instrumentation and composition. At the same time he developed noise instruments (Intonarumori) and included ambient sounds in his performances. Pierre Schaeffer, who developed the conceptual and theoretical framework for the use of ambient sounds as »Musique Concrète« in the 1940s, not only used the raw material of the field recordings, but by manipulating them through the use of mixers, morphophones, cutting techniques, loops and sampling, Schaeffer developed a new musical language that was not based on routine listening and perception mechanisms. Schaeffer’s method is rather a reversal process of these habits: Instead of representing an entire sound spectrum, sound aspects are extracted and modulated out of field Recordings. Complex rhythms, tonal singularities or weird textures can be produced by looping, morphing, arranging or soundscaping the original material (Patrick 2016). In soundscaping, it is not the nature of the sound that determines perception, but the consistency of the sound that enables a reference to the material. Through this molecular processing of Field Recordings, it is possible to create de-territorializations of ritornellos and planes of consistency that do not organize and stratify the sound like scores, but rather cuts (cut-ups), foldings and superpositions cause the raw material to loose its function, its dominant and hierarchizing sound tendencies and the schemata of perception. This can lead to the production of several layers of reality and of illusion- and compensation-spaces. Sounds of micro- and macrocosm, past and present, man and machine, city and country etc. connect. A relativization of reality is created by unsettling the auditory system and the schemata of perception that are taken for granted (Deleuze/Guattari 1987). The classical composition, on the other hand, is dominated by the tonal mode of organization which is »comparable to a military organization« (Cox 2003: 167). This organization of sound leads to the musical unfolding of a symphony or pop song, developing a vast hierarchy of parts, levels and structures performed by authoritarian conductors and/or produced by commercial record companies. Not only tonality, but also the temporal organization of the classical or pop-cultural composition create identifiable sound selections and points of orientation. The predictable landmarks allow listeners to know where they are, where they are going, showing them a predictable path (Cox 2003: 174). Through the limitless possibilities of changing the sound spectrum by means of cuts, loops and modulations of field recordings, of extending it in time and of making the material indistinguishable from its origin, listeners are led astray, because the atonal sound fragments no longer function according to external principles and mass-cultural patterns of perception. These deterritorializations simultaneously create possibilities for de-chronicization, non-selective perception, de-subjectification, and exploration of these percepts. The deterritorialization of the raw material becomes part of a profound »dimension of creation in a nascent state, perpetually in advance of itself« and thereby develops a »power of emergence subsuming the contingency and hazards of activities that bring immaterial Universes into being« (Guattari 1995: 102). Hearing, recording and processing ambient noises is not only a composition practice. »When you look at the waves breaking out there, then your ear is focused on it, you hear particularly that. And when you look at the sea spray, your ear filters that out. But microphones do not make such distinctions« (Langer 2014: 14). The membranes of the microphone transmit the sound waves, but the idea of wiretapping reality, archiving and processing reality without subjective preferences and habits already reaches its limits in recording practice. Even the start and end point of a recording is a compositional decision. The collection of raw material serves an extraction process, is a memory aid to be able to draw on memories, feelings, atmospheres at the place of recording. Only when through the ear, through the perceptual membrane – »this lubricating membrane will continue to float in the air, this lubricating caustic membrane, this double-thick, many-leveled membrane of infinite crevices, this melancholy and vitreous membrane, but so sensitive, so pertinent itself, so capable of multiplying, dividing, turning with a flash of crevices, senses, drugs, penetrating and noxious irrigations« (Artaud 1988: 87) – the sound penetrates osmotically, the processes of territorialization and also openings and lines of flight emerge, because what is heard is not necessarily permeable for all information transmitted. Deterritorializations of this lead to a state that is still audible, but no longer presents itself as classically organized music, »but as a sound-event that, for Deleuze, still requires the consistency of a composition; this kind of music touches the mimicry of chaos and requires no representation whatsoever« (Szepanski 2018). Without points of orientation and assignable spatial sound sources, Soundscapes create an indistinguishable pack of noises, a smooth space, a chaos in which sound elements can be freely distributed and connected. It is an opening of what goes beyond the subject: »the true, non-organic life of sound that precedes every concrete composition, the virtual realm of pre-individual and pre-personal acoustic singularities and affects« (Cox 2003: 172).

(ii) Percepts

»To think is to create« as Gilles Deleuze writes in Difference and Repetition (Deleuze 2004: 147), but hearing creates thought. Hearing is not a purely cerebral process in which one can simply grasp linguistically what is heard and what it means, but hearing begins first and foremost with a fundamental encounter with the outside, which shocks, violently penetrates out of the world’s sheer contingency into the inside. Heard things are first and often a strangeness that makes you think. Klaus Holzkamp refers to the »contradiction-eliminating function of perception, the illusory nature of sensual evidence, the surface nature and superficially natural ’self-evidence‘ of the perceived« (Holzkamp 1973: 295f). For in the seemingly subjective origin of perception, social relations emerge as the basis of an individual-centered-psychologizing meaning of the environment, which strengthens the perversity of a selective thinking that is superficially oriented towards sensual experience and which, in relation to the perception of the environment as conscious knowledge, becomes conceptually reproducible. However, perception is not only an individual «deem-true-of-perception« (dt. «Für-wahr-nehmen«) of directly possible experiences, but also a »making true«. Accordingly, what is heard is subjectified and exists »only in the mind of the thinking person« (ibid.: 34). Accordingly, hearing lies in the in-between of mere perception and thinking. Thinking is removed from direct perception and sensual presence and functions through meanings of objects, representing and categorizing them. The auditory perception is already filtered by thinking, by prejudices, schemata, patterns of perception, by cultural codes. For example, the rules of seeing create a certain logic of perception. Things are perceived on a surface as separate units and these are joined together. In 1960 Kevin Lynch wrote in »The Image of the City« that people translate images of spaces, districts, or entire landscapes into map-like representations. According to Lynch, the human imagination tries to smooth out the space and create order. The eye sees and the brain tries to find what it is used to. »Who sees«, says Jürgen Ploog, »must pay attention to the forms that the things he sees take on in his head. Those who trust their eyes easily forget that their nervous system is designed to play tricks on them« (Ploog 2014). The partial controllability of the perceptual conditions and meanings is pre-structured by social meanings and individual experiences, but the partial controllability opens at the same time the recognition of the constructedness of the percepts and their social integration. For the process of meaning is inherent a chain of communication: from sensual experience to imagination, to memory, to thinking. What is communicated from one station to the next remains, so Deleuze, fragmented, distinct-dark and clearly-confused. Thus it is epistemologically possible to develop techniques and methods to deterritorialize the percepts, to destroy their fixed meaning, to break up the communication chain and to bring it into a »discordant accord« (Deleuze 2004: 193). As in the tectonic discordance, in which tectonic movements like folding, stretching, compression, uplifting, lowering or by singular volcanic events, sediment layers are tilted, in thought through sensation inner psychic communication chains, sensual distinctions or singular events to inconsistent insights, superimpositions of memories or defoundations and diffundations of the ego sphere can also be developed. Without following and feeling these processes, the interpretation of the perceived would be pure representation, a description of already known ways of thinking, which are violently inscribed, since what is recognized is explained only in relation to what is already perceived. If, however, one traces the incongruities, superimpositions, defundations and diffundations, one arrives at the unknown and one can create lines of flight to the »zone of indiscernibility« (Deleuze 1990: 21). Deleuze/Guattari and Szepanski give clues as to how this intervening is possible and how the detachment from the way in which our perception is limited and coded can take place: »By means of the material, (…) it is possible to wrest the percept from
perceptions of objects and states of a perceiving subject, to wrest the affect from the affections as the transition from one state to another: to extract a bloc of sensations, a pure being of sensations. A method is needed, and this varies with every artist and forms part of the work« (Deleuze/Guattari 1994: 167).
»A pure material beyond musical structures serves here to generate sound that is a-signifying in its becoming, that is, the sound belongs neither to language nor to meaning; it is not a song, although it may appear as such. Deterritorialization means to hear-think sound as undecidability (between audible and inaudible). From the outset, then, music would no longer even be organized sound, but the diagrammatic constitution of a counterfactual space-time, which in addition enables a transformation of hearing within the possibilities offered by such a sound-music« (Szepanski 2018). This means that a different way of listening and producing music is made possible by the use of the raw material in the processing. A method for depersonalizing and de-subjectifying the generation of sound is chance. Absence, emptiness, distance, asynchronicity, non-simultaneity and the moment of encounter with the material are included in the generation of sound through unplanned recordings, interruptions, shifts, superimpositions of spatial and temporal conditions. And every encounter could not have »taken place, although it did take place; but its possible non-existence sheds light on the meaning of its aleatory being. And every encounter is aleatory in its effects, in that nothing in the elements of the encounter prefigures, before the actual encounter, the contours and determinations of the being that will emerge from it« (Althusser 2010: 193).
The representation of chance creates levels of hearing that are connected and superimposed from different and diverse points. Noises from streets, houses, factories, everyday situations thus acquire a different reality. The elements of what is heard become ambiguous. Everyday meanings of function and order are suspended. In this way, deterritorialized ritornellos of cities emerge that contradict the usual pattern of perception. Solidified basic tones of the urban street space. Black frequencies that extend from residential buildings. Wafts of distorted sound molecules that condense into a dark roar to emerge in a smooth alterity as uncoupled, auto-nomous deterritorializations.

(iii) Smooth spaces

The crashing and cracking of ice surfaces, the indiscernable in the snowstorm, the howling of the winds in sand and stone deserts, even the amazement at the vastness and openness of the oceans with endless skies and clouds, »is more a tactile or rather »haptic« and more sonorous than a visual space« (Deleuze/Guattari 1987: 526). This smooth space – which is determined by openness and boundlessness – is opposed by a striated space, with the division and allocation of territories and the standardization of behaviour patterns. For Deleuze/Guattari, the »striated space« is a symbol of a space created by the state apparatus. This space creates milieus of confinement and the associated order-systematic spatial structures with walls, stockades, borders, administrations, the control of traffic routes, commodities and people. But it is not only the location, the traffic routes – which show people their place or bring them from one inclusion milieu to the next – or the regulations who is inside or outside that play an important role in the definition of territorial dominions, but also the signposts, in the form of language, writing and meanings, which are equipped with territorial transmission power. Just as the cuneiform script imposes meaning on the stone or the striating cut imposes meaning on the piece of wood, so do territorial invocations in the striated space: a melody that we hear on the radio, that we troll along as we move through our living space, wiping our furniture (Deleuze/Parnet 2009: 45) – everywhere soundalikes, hymns, songs of praise, speeches to recognize a certain symbolically structured and structuring order for the purpose of identity-stabilizing meaning production. »It is a matter of creating memory for man; (…) a memory of words (paroles) and no longer a memory of the things, a memory of signs and no longer of effects. This organization, which traces its sign directly on the body, constitutes a system of cruelty, a terrible alphabet« (Deleuze/Guattari 1983: 159). The ear, as a sense organ with its balance and hearing function, is responsible for recording and locating the paroles. These organs serve to locate themselves in space, to hear the invocations »Hey you!« (Althusser 1978), »Attention, attention. This is the police!« (Hamburg, Schulterblatt 7.-8.07.17), »Let us be grateful that we have a profession. Work hard, strengthen production, prevent accidents and be happy (THX 1138) and obey the instructions of the Territorial Machine. Just the interaction of the organs realises the organism. Thus the striated space becomes a closed, defined space, which is limited and limiting. The socius commands and expects obedience: »The primitive territorial machine codes flows, invests organs, and marks bodies. To such a degree that circulating -exchanging- is a secondary activity in comparison with the task that sums up all the others: marking bodies, which are the earth’s products« (Deleuze/Guattari 1983: 158). When Deleuze and Guattari ask how to make a body-without-organs, their instruction to set oneself up on a stratum, a layer of rocks, can also be understood literally. In heights, on contour lines, between debris, water, mudslides, on firn ridges and sedimentary rocks, not only can one escape the terrible alphabet, the cutting, incising and encircling, the scarification and mutilation of the socius, but it is also a physical experience. »To vagabond and to wander restlessly therefore also means« to track down the stream of matter and the aggregates of intensity where nobody suspects them and to take »also the abstruse ways« (Maresch 2003: 204). Outsiders, wanderers, vagrants, hobos, understanding »life as sabotage« (Hartmann 1981), interested in »the Subterraneans« (Kerouac 1979), »The Yage Letters« (Burroughs 1964), »icebergs, silver suns, mother-of-pearl floods« (Rimbaud 1962), trying to get to where »the mind touches matter« (Deleuze/Guattari 1983, 21), where currents become crystalline and cross sandy deserts or high mountains to intensify the experience of becoming molecular, eonic, a body-without-organs. Because »it is inorganic, yet alive, and all the more alive for being inorganic« (Deleuze/Guattari 1987: 498). The desire to endure the unknown, the dead, the silence, the shock of the senses shows that becoming a body-without-organs is not about understanding something, but about experiencing something. To make oneself a body-without-organs through hearing consists primarily in doing field research, recording auditory phenomena and phenographically determining them as subjective experiences (Holzkamp 1973: 21). To track down the sound of the inorganic, molecular, it takes a computer, a few VSTs, clicks and cuts to hear the intense droning sound of the cosmic chanting, the song of the earth, but one must also be ready to dive into the Pacific Ocean. That is, somewhere in the undergrowth, taking up a position on a stratum and remaining motionless; then things begin to come alive, and soon you will hear insects, drops of water, winds, folds, friction, the pulsation and roar of the interior that has been there all along. »Sit down and be quiet and don’t move, and the squirrels in your head start crawling out of their holes, start running around and singing, and if you just let that happen, you get in touch with it« (Snyder 1984: 34). The silence creates a plane of immanence, not through the absence of sound, but »through the absence of the intended sound, which opens our ears to the liberated sound molecules« (Cox 2003: 170). Acoustic field recordings produced outside the recording studios or virtual VST hosts can capture the sounds of wind, water, tectonic shifts, or original sounds that the first creatures heard. But also voices of animals or noises made by humans, controlled and organized sounds, speech, music or the incoherent civilizing noise of humans with their equipment and machines can be captured. Field Recordings tell in an audible way about forces that are not audible. They make the music of the earth audible, which by its nature is raw, strange, intense (Deleuze/Parnet 2009). Editing this material through soundscaping allows the creation of the unknown. If, according to Achim Szepanski, non-music is situated in the non-standardized phase space between periodic pulses and sine tones and non-periodic, complex modulations and transformations (Szepanski ), then field recording and soundscaping can be described as a compositional technique in which blocks of sensation and suggestions get their cohesion. In this respect, noises provide an idea of space and time that is non-euclidean. By the montage of noises those forces can be made perceptible which dissolve the statics of space and couple the simultaneity of the past and the present. What results from the oscillation of sounds is not identical with the environment, animals or humans. It becomes indistinguishable. Only through the »coupling of sensations« (Deleuze 1990: 65), in the resonance of re-listening again, does the in-between emerge »for which there is no name yet« (Meier 2013: 128). As the water fills the sea or the sand fills the desert, phenographic sounds fill zones of indiscernibilities. Here orientation points serve only as possibilities to define paths in the in-between. Open and boundless spaces can emerge again and again in these smooth spaces like in a fractal, in which the distances between landmarks can drift into unknown regions. In a smooth space, the inside is not simply brought to the outside or the outside to the inside, but when the outside reaches the inside, it remains empty because there is no despotic structure. There is only distance, absence and emptiness. A self-liberation arises as a frightening transgression of borders. The sound molecules, intensities, expansions, dissolutions produce in a certain sense the molecular, the chaos, the body-without-organs or even what remains, »when one has removed everything« (Deleuze/Guattari 1987).

(iv) Bodies-without-organs

»Dismantling the organism has never meant killing yourself, but rather opening the body to connections« (Deleuze/Guattari 1987: 177). If all kinds of becoming are already molecular and indeterminate, then becoming
does not mean to identify with it. To ‘become’ means, »starting from the forms one has, from the subject one is, from organs one has, or from functions one fulfills, to extract particles between which one establishes relationships of movement and rest, speed and slowness that are closest to what one is becoming, and through which one becomes« (Deleuze/Guattari 1987: 300). Opening connections, establishing relationships, mixing parts means, like Rudolf, Joke Lanz, GX Jupitter-Larsen and Mike Dando, wiring their brains to a sound system with a radio electroencephalograph (EEG), a brain wave transmitter. The electrical impulses of their brains generate signals that are transmitted in an electroacoustic frequency range. You can hear brain waves that change due to voltage fluctuations or the respective mental activity. The brain wave activities can show patterns which resemble rhythmic motifs. Noise, feedback, whistling, organic drone and oscillating click sounds in the low-frequency hearing range up to the high-frequency pain threshold allow a respective state of consciousness to sound. What is like a neurological examination in a psychiatric ward of a hospital is a live music performance on the »Extreme Rituale Schimpfluch Karneval«. The concert for brainwaves took place on the evening of 2.12.2012 in Bristol, UK. On this evening a memorable music recording is made – »Wellenfeld. Concert for Brainwaves« [Fragment Factory 31]. When the Schimpfluch group formed in Zurich over 25 years ago, they attempted to map the access to the unconscious spaces of human consciousness with psycho-physical practices, rituals, tests and methods. Sound installations with natural sounds and extreme acoustics, disturbing films and photographs about the dissolution of the boundaries of the human body, ecstatic and tantric performances bear witness to this. The artefacts of the group are also gates into the traumatic vastness and abysses of human existence. Also the peculiar mixture of the acoustic, numerical and intellectual conceptual art of Jupitter-Larsen, which explores the distance and separateness of entropies, empty spaces and interstices by means of a self-invented unit of measurement, or the works of Mike Dando, which deal with social conflicts and political control. Sources of the acoustically amplified and thus audible voltage fluctuations of the respective brain activities are physiological processes of individual brain cells, which can be deliberately potentiated on the basis of their specific spatial arrangement in the brain, so that potential changes can be abducted via the scalp. The deliberate manipulation of brain waves can be intensified by imagination, visual or acoustic stimulus floodings or stimulus deprivation. In the psychogeographic relief, which can be represented graphically by the EEG or which is drawn by »wave field«, the extent of the individual generation of a subjective current is difficult to determine. The sounds of the collective brain wave activities morph, mycorrhize, superimpose into common threads and currents until the acoustically amplified and thus perceptible vibrations create auditory surfaces that indicate certain symptoms of states of consciousness: In empirical research on states of consciousness, brain waves in the alpha range of 8 Hz-12 Hz indicate states of mild relaxation and in the range of 21-38 Hz indicate states of horror, stress or anxiety. The theta range of 3 Hz-8 Hz indicates meditative states. The lowest frequency in the delta state up to 0.4 Hz indicates hypnagous states in the form of trance or hypnosis. The gamma range, which ranges between 40 Hz and 80 Hz, has, however, been little researched due to its low amplitude and inadequate measuring instruments. States of concentrated and most intensive effort as well as the processing of perceptions, sensory perceptions, the type of perception and perceptual contents are assumed in this range. Psychedelic or transcendent experiences in the form of loss of ego feeling, change of form or merging experiences are associated with this area. The sound of »Wellenfeld« can be described as what Deleuze and Guattari call the molecular unconscious – the connection of desire and machine and the penetration of an body-without-organs into a smooth space that defuses individual personality. The protagonists form, so to speak, an identity fused with their own montage that segregates scattered and non-localizable fragments, which in turn proceed by breaks and flows, associated waves and particles, associative flows and partial objects, inducing-always at a distance-transverse connections, inclusive disjunctions, and polyvocal conjunctions, thereby producing selections, detachments, and remainders, with a transference of individuality, in a generalized schizogenesis whose elements are the schizzes-flows« (Deleuze/Guattari 1983: 287). The question which states and desired excitations actually cause the voltage fluctuations remains exciting. Images of deserts, wind-induced wave movements of water, snow and sand, ground plans of urban spaces, diffusions of organic materials…What is to be heard if chaosmic spasms, geometric hallucinations of crystalline entities or fractal visions of chrysanthemums triggered by LSD, DMT, psilocybin or mescaline are added to the deterritorialization of the ego, to the emergence of heterogeneous complexities. Would »they abolish their figural diversity and homogenise themselves within the same being-non-being«? (Guattari 1995: 111). But maybe, Lanz, Jupitter-Larsen and Dando just left the house with a little song in their minds that day, and left the course until they found themselves on stray lines with twists, knots and gestures, on oscillating lines and became . Perhaps this is also the reason for the disjunctive negentropy of »Wellenfeld«. What one imagines »does not lie in what one hears, what one hears, one searches in vain in the pictures« (Szepanski ). In this nameless in-between, the wave field is created. Whoever perceives noise or disturbing noises here is still integrated into a traditional context of music and territorial ideas of rhythm and order. The music that is created here does not use artifacts from instruments or samples. Here a radical cyborg-music emerges – a deterritorialization of what began with Johann Sebastian Bach – a non-music produced with artificial prostheses, an ultra dark sound. In moments of cloudiness, darkness is the greatest threat to the bonds that still bind us today to territorialized perceptions of the world. But by radically processing sound immanent to itself, it becomes political. Only such a sound is able to »meet in and with the outside« (Szepanski Moreover, the tactics, methods and techniques of becoming a body-without-organs are useful for the destruction of this territorialized world. They create multiplicities and a chaos in which many worlds have space. Such deterritorializations unleash movements that stop »being earthly to become cosmic: (…) when the song of the birds gives way to the combinations of wind, water, clouds and fog. Outside, the rain and the Wind´…The cosmos as a huge deterritorialized, or rather deterretorializing, ritornello« (Deleuze/Guattari 1987: 359).



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Original: Paulus, Stefan (2020): Deterritorializations – Field Recordings, Recipes, Smooth Spaces and Body-without-Organs. In: Achim Szepanski (Ed.); Ultrablack of Music. Frankfurt/Main: Mille Plateaux/NON, p. 171-181

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