This presentation took place at the University of Naples
in which Derrick De Kerckhove and the music band Planet Funk also took part.

 

THE TRANSIT IS THE MESSAGE
by
Domiziana Giordano

University of Naples - Department of Sociology
June 19th, 2002

Piet Mondrian’s work is a good example of how during the last century figurative arts went hand in hand with music. He was a fine connoisseur of the music of his time, and inspired by it to such an extent that his work represents the closest connection (or “contamination”) between visual arts and music.
This “musical language” can be found in those works he painted while living in the States in the thirties, works he appropriately called Boogie-Woogie. Here, the black lines are interrupted by a fine, transparent layer of white paint, almost as to say: «this is not an empty space, this is a pause».
He thus creates a representation of rythm, that is transformed into a language in code by the use of a personalized symbol of sign and color.
The empty space between the lines is none other than Silence, which in music is the pause that sets the rythm.
The repetition of a pause through time creates Silence. A silence that is conventionally known as Music. As a matter of fact, in one of his compositions, John Cage only used this “note”.
In these last years technology has entered our everyday life, and various formal aspects have converged together during the evolution of the different expression modes, creating a new language: the Internet. This discovery could be compared to the birth of a new color of the rainbow.
Its origins can be found in the invention of television’s remote control – which could be considered the hardware of what has followed.
Zapping from channel to channel has contributed to the birth of a hypertext (passive) language that has helped us to adapt to the Web’s specific modalities and timing.
This faster mental process makes it easier and quicker for us to digest information.
We’re not smarter, just faster, and the consequences from a neurological point of view are interesting. (topic that will not be analyzed here any further).
“Hopping from one thing to the other” has trained the mind to jump from one assumption to the next, and the brain is now capable of processing information faster and using a less elaborated synthesis.
This behavior has brought on a transformation on how information is understood, but it doesn’t mean that human intellectual powers have evolved.
This is an isomorphism at the heart of semiotic research that spills directly into a purely sociological subject.
What’s interesting about this linguistic evolution is that the sociological phenomenon is much more apparent now than in the past. The result is that the general level of culture has dropped, replaced by an ephemeral shallowness that does present interesting aspects because of its own formal linguistic evolution.
And which are these substantial changes? A good example representative of modern society, could be the language used in Internet’s chat rooms and in messages sent through mobile phones.
Here we’re faced with a grammatical and psychological synthesis. The word itself doesn’t loose its purpose because of its misspelling but is often transformed in a series of acronysm belonging to a language that is recognized and understood by a specific group of people.
A new concept of Tribe can thus be defined.
Music itself is also personalized. The DJ is he/she who creates a unique yet reconstructable moment during which different tribes confront each other: a place where a meeting of the minds takes place that is approximate intellectually but filled with eloquent sign of belonging to a specific tribe. This pertaining to is expressed through clothing and movement that establish a new culture as interesting as the more learned one. At least from an anthropological point of view.
There’s a direct link between language, art and music.
I personally think that music is the moving force behind this evolution.
DJs create live and in discotheques, new personalized compositions that render homage to different musicians through the use of samples of pre-composed music.
What’ interesting about this way of composing is not the homage, the citation, but its lexical structure.
The narrative mode, which can be applied to other forms of narration, can be found in the model of the Sonata.
Refined during the 17th century, it deals directly with the structure of a musical idea. The score is divided in three movements: introduction, conflict, solution.
In contemporary music, on the other hand, we have a musical excerpt that goes but doesn’t return.
The musical turn doesn’t have the possibility of taking off because the rythm is blocked in the repetition of its first notes, in what is better known as the loop. The loop never evolves, and other rythm are added to it but don’t contribute to the development of the song because it remains suspended, turning almost into a mantra.
The interest lies in the loop, in the repetition; to dance at the same music that offers nothing but innumerable similar versions of itself
The specificity of the loop is that it’s the example the most reliable for understanding the Western World. This society is so fragile and distressed that, just to avoid thinking the direction in which it’s headed, it repeats over and over again the same media output. A hypnotic repetition of clones.
In Psychoanalysis, this search for a sense of security is quite normal during the infant stage, but it’s clearly considered a regression if it takes place during adulthood.
Security lies in seeing and living the same sensation, sign, and sound, in their continuous repetition.
Everything moves fast but stays the same.
What’s missing is the isomorphism of the message. What’s more important is the passage, the fact of “being there”.
Mc Luhan stated that “the Medium is the Message”. Now it’s time to say; “the Transit is the Message”. This self-referring process brings us back to the terms of Gödel’s Theorem of Incompleteness.

THE END