Re: MUSIC: The Next 25 Years

Robert Owen (
Sat, 06 Nov 1999 13:16:17 -0500 wrote:

> Ultimately, I see a true multi-media human-machine collaboration in virtual
> environments where auditory (including musical) and visual phenomena (and
> eventually direct emotional phenomena) are part of a seamless human-machine
> artistic environment

Hello Greg,

Some spontaneous thoughts on your lovely post, and especially on this passage.

Huxlean "feelies"? Soylant-Green-Style autoeuthanasia? Can one distinguish the objet d'art and the artist? Why do I associate your expression with "onanism" when what initially caught my attention was the lucidity of your vision? Do you have in mind the projection of private fantasy into a synesthetic n-dimensional medium? "Where", "psychospatially", is the medium? What is it -- a sensorium of psychic aether, a hologram that exists only when it is perceived? How does this differ from the "virtual worlds" that emerge spontaneously during sensory deprivation, without the intervention of "computer-assisted perception"? Does this integration exclude a social audience? While one is absorbed in the evidently all-encompassing and engulfing aesthetique, is one technically undergoing a transient dissociative state? Is the "artistic environment" an "alternate universe" -- c.f. lucid dreaming?

One of my avocations is improvisational music -- jazz, more or less. Piano and horn. But piano is the best analogy -- like many, I play with eyes closed -- there is absolutely no spatial disorientation with respect to the keyboard. Your body knows where a particular key is, hands know the span of an augmented fifth, your fingers know when crossovers are needed during a run, you have an aural sensation similar to hearing with respect to the future -- you hear the future, you know what everyone is going to play and yet are surprised when you hear it in the conventional sense, in the present. Surprised you knew. That's why everyone is always saying "yes" to themselves. And sometimes, even, you are REALLY surprised -- someone's, maybe your, two bars [it doesn't matter] are from elsewhere... Anamnesis.

Remember, this is improvisation -- no head arrangements, no canned riffs, nothing except maybe a fake book. And yet without precognition of the somethings out of nothing, it can't happen. And all the instruments are playing you and conversely. Is this the exotic, "paresthetic" world you are predicting for everyone? But this is a GROUP scene!

Why the computer? Is it here a prosthetic device for the musically challenged or a nucleus for a qualitatively new form of aesthetic ___________?



Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA