Thomas Feuerstein

Sample Minds1

Sampling and assembling

Our culture is exemplary, it is standardized and it believes in standards: it is 08/15 (i.e. run-of-the-mill). Under this label the German World War One machine-gun found its way into everyday language and established new standards for a system of modular serial production.2 Whereas, up to the 19th century, machine parts had been fitted to each other, by way of filing and grinding, as singular units through trial and error, with 08/15 a functional standard was set up that made it possible to produce components in a dislocated manufacturing network and to assemble them, at any place, into machines. The segmentation of functional unities may be as old as the letterpress. But only with 08/15 an identity of parts was achieved which made these interchangeable, like floating chains of signs, between one machine and the other.

Identity, substitution and combinatorics issue from the spirit of military rationalism and the French enlightenment and they follow the logic of the 17th and 18th centuries which, according to Foucault, is knowledge of order. School, penitentiary, the army, and manufacturing - they all become institutions of bio-politics in order to measure bodies, discipline individuals, organize time, control actions, i.e. to normalize the world and to standardize it. Liberté, égalité, fraternité give way to uniformity, simplicity, interchangeability - whereby a game of structures is set in motion that produces, through permutation and variation of individual components, a closed system of combinations of all possible existing machines. Thus each intermediate product becomes merchandize and a comparatively small number of source products, thanks to new combinations, account for a vast multitude of finished products. And this is what marks the crucial difference between this and older economic systems and, at the same time, constitutes the beginnings of sampling culture.

This grammar of industrial manufacturing and of the modular machine, as the basis of sampling culture, today has seized all areas of production and society in which the fragmentation of the old - analog, natural, ontological - world has turned into a guarantee for the generation of new - digital, genetically modified, oncological - worlds. Analysis and segmentation transform reality into a spare part store from which to recombine and synthesize, at will, distinct parts and elements into modular structures. Cultural history becomes iterative genealogy steering toward an absolute and perfect machine in the universe of precision. This goal finally appears achievable tanks to the computer suspending the difference between medium and machine and pervading all spheres of life.

In this light the term sampling cannot be restricted to certain areas where it finds itself in very different functional contexts. It encompasses more than the digitalisation of analog signals and their transfer into, and storage in, numerical form. Principles of sampling presently are to be made out in nearly every discipline, from chemistry to computer science, from economy to biotechnology. They span from haute couture to tissue engineering (the breeding of skin tissue), and to molecular scissors in genetic engineering, from the assembling of standardized parts in Fordism to the temporary substitution of defective machines through human labor in Toyotism, from dubbing to Techno. Sampling has become the predominant technology and leading metaphor of Western culture. Sampling is the universal meta-code of a post-industrial society and economy.

Sampling as a paradigm

“If language is regarded as a medium of finite notation and limitable codes it can just as well be taken for a medium of sampling. Because finite codes always may be digitalised completely and everything that needs only a limitable store of encoding material can be depicted, by way of the universal Turing machine, in the sense of a homologous and isotopic figure.”3

Literate culture, in the shape of alpha-numeric codes, anticipates phenomena of sampling: signs mirror the world and the more abstract, respectively atomized, these world doubles are designed, the more “ideal” they become and the less they “mean” - for which reason, in turn, they will require more complex codes, in the form of programmes, for the structuring of statements. In the 19th century Wilhelm von Humboldt, reflecting on the development of literacy, came up with the formula: the more abstract the elements of a writing system the smaller their number.4 The precision of the figure increases with the sophistication of the structure; the smaller the elements the more flexible the system. To Humboldt the alphabet was the most abstract, the simplest and the most efficient writing system all in one. The economy of the inventory of signs turns into the yardstick for the quality of a writing system: the fewer figurative elements there are the more functional it will be. The human brain being better at combining than at storing, the alpha-numeric system of signs is designed to minimize the mnemo-technical and to maximize the combinatory effort. This rule applies, anyway, up to the point in time when machines take over the ars combinatoria with zeros and ones.

With 08/15 the development and the production of things and artefacts approaches the mode of scripture. All this is further enhanced by digitalization and computerized fabrication. According to Jacques Derrida the question after the meaning and origin of scripture correlates with the question after the meaning and origin of technology: “Today it is not only the signifiant we call writing but also the signifié, as well as all that which lends itself for in-scription in general, be it alphabetical or not […] With regard to the most elementary information processes within the living cell the biologist too nowadays speaks of scripture and programme. And finally the whole area taken up by the cybernetic programme […] will be an area of scripture.”5

In the age of programming and genetic scripture writing as a system of reference and communication gives way to a scripture as a system of production and generation. The construction of the most everyday article and equally of the remotest and most complicated object - be it ball-pen or airplane, bulk mail, TV production or real-time simulation - today emanates from electronic media and their programmes. From desktop-engineering to the programming of new pharmaceutical products and on to the realization of whole city quarters - environments are emerging out of virtual worlds and, consequently, also are subject to their criteria of production and manipulation.

In electronic language communities neo-cabalistic production methods are taking shape which do not use conventional linguistic representation in order to describe an object but which will bring the object itself to appear immediately.6 This new linguistic logic brings forth artefacts of all kinds that inscribe the signifié directly into the signifiant through 3D-printers like FDM machines or polymer printers. Even if, for the time being, these “scriptures” are primarily reserved, due to financial reasons, for military or medical purposes they announce a development that could be paraphrased as reality on demand. Beside the recoding of genetic scripture and nano-technology a new world literature is beginning to take shape whose characters immediately materialize in a scripture using objects and in which pixels are transformed into so-called “voxels” (three-dimensional pixels).

While media discourses often have committed themselves to immaterialization and simulation and, in the delirium of a virtual euphoria, have largely masked out aspects of media materialism the correspondence between the material and the socalled immaterial has exponentially become accelerated. Virtual texts and objects do not simulate or imitate realities but generate their own entities serving literally as metaphors for the interaction between virtual and real spaces. The hybridation of computing and production networks makes the binary code a polyvalent medium out of which the textures for a new world may be sampled on a universal scale.

Cultural and technological history is entering a new stage of 08/15 where analysis and segmentation have reached such refinement that the reconstruction, in the shape of recombination, promises an unlimited concatenation into new merchandise, products, values and organisms. And here sampling marks the caesura at which the particularisation of the world into discrete and distinct unities has attained a precision that, algorithmically speaking, makes everything compatible with everything else and translates the world into a new state of aggregation.

Starting with William of Ockham's razor, the philosophical razorblade that cut the world up into its particulars, the obsession of cutting and scanning has run through history up to present-day technologies of vizualization, mechanization and of transforming the world into bits of information. Cutting and scanning are metrical sciences delivering data corresponding, according to traditional interpretation, to rhythmical text sequences or music. The German word for to scan, “skandieren”, means to read verse in time with particular stress on the accented syllables but regardless of the overall meaning. In accordance with this very definition the sequencing of the human genome, by way of the shotgun method, was carried out where sequences of bases and genes were scanned independently of their functions and deciphered without “textual grammar.”7 With scanning the real scandal of the western world began and with sampling it has escalated. The natural sciences' rationalist passion for reality is subject to a double structure within which sampling forms an antagonism to the cut: One side aims for the dissection, fragmentation and even elimination of entities, while the other strives for imitation, doubling and artistic replication, thus again making possible a free combination of corpuscles into bodies, respectively manipulation and sampling in general. Western cultural and technological history resembles a double helix whose strands on the one hand are aiming for segmentation and on the other for doubling and reconstruction.

The demonic in sampling

Once humans do not merely recite what is written in the book of the sky, nature or history, but also add on to and rewrite it, they wound the myth and culture becomes auto-evolutionary. With sampling threatening to mix up the code the programmed destiny of the world stands up for consideration: “Rabbi Jehuda recounts how he went to see Rabbi Jishmael and how the latter asks him about his occupation. He answers that the is a Torah scribe. At which the other says to him: My son, be careful with your work for it is the work of God. If you leave out only one letter or write one letter too many you destroy the whole world.”8

In the Sefer Yetzirah, the book of creation mentioned in the Talmud, we are told how man can take part in creation provided he applies the correct code. Through the proper combination of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet life can be brought forth and taken away again. As the history of the Golem teaches us, though, this code sampling will always involve a certain risk. What the Torah scribe and the programmer have in common is that the smallest mistake in the code, one symbol too many or too few, decides on whether the system will crash or work. Myth and dogma in Judaism, Christianity and Islam strictly prohibit both phases of sampling: the depicting and cloning as well as the re-structuring of the depiction are taboo. Whoever alters the book of the sky or of nature is an heretic and wakens the demonic. Sampling processes disrupt and destroy old orders and create new ones that have something Faustian about them.

Up to the 16th century there had been a basic symmetry between the book of the words of God and the one containing the more earthly works. Only with Francis Bacon this homology was broken: though the words of God may continue to be inscribed unchanged in the Holy Bible the works of God will be done, from now on, by man himself. Bacon, who preached the dominance over nature through science and the shaping of culture through knowledge of nature, argued against the idea that human works could destroy the divine ones. He assumed an a priori “good” code which meant that all recodings had to be good too. This rhetoric legitimized the universal manipulability of nature and opened the door to all demonic and diabolical mixtures, hybridations and chimaeras of the modern age. So that, in the course of the Age of Reason, the decoding and recoding in the book of nature turned into a challenge for progress.

Sampling, for all its technical accuracy, and looked at from a dogmatic point of view, is a dirty technology. The cutting up of the world into particles and, above all, the subsequent re-configuration of the samples into new synthetic worlds threatens the system with disorder, chaos, and crash. The close relationship between the sample and the monster has not only been mythically preordained but also is ecologically, or biotechnologically, latent. Augustine warned: “Let go of yourselves - try and build yourselves and you will build ruins.” Sampling wounds the logos, takes fragments out of their context and torpedoes integral wholes. On that account sampling could be taken for a devilish project of a demiurge's game in which the world, as a holistic programme and ordered code, is up for grabs. Nature presents itself as a keyboard on which the song of life and death is played out.

This becomes most obvious when the transgenetic in biotechnology and the transhuman in medicine bring forth sampling-monsters. Philip Blaiberg, who survived Christiaan Barnard's first heart-transplant by 84 weeks, sensed this as early as 1967 and remarked in an interview: “I am a new Frankenstein.” Today organic bodies may be cut up, copied or newly assembled as only inanimate matter or information hitherto could be. Even though, more than 2000 years ago, skin grafts from the forehead and cheeks were used in India to reconstruct noses, soma-sampling has only been practised in western medicine since the 19th century. Organ transplants on humans have been carried out since the 1950ies and, from the 1970ies, molecular scissors cutting DNA in the desired spot with the help of restrictive enzymes have been utilized. The body becomes a 08/15 table into which parts of tissue may be mounted to form a standardized ideal the way the ancient Greek painter Zeuxis had demonstrated in his portrait of Helena for the Temple of Hera in Kroton: he took five of the most attractive girls and composed a new image using their most beautiful features. In these Hollywood days, when leg, hand or ass doubles are common practise, ideals of beauty are so far only possible through collaging. But soon, maybe, sonic body worlds will emerge in which genotypes overwrite and overlap each other and phenotypes appear polyvalent. While Basilisks, Gryphons, Harpies, Satyrs, Sirens, or Sphinxes were merely part of a fabulous mythology, plantimals (i.e. plants with animal or animals with plant genes), anomins (i.e. animals with human or humans with animal genes), as well as creatures producing artificial substances by now are a biological reality.

Only through biotechnology humans become aware of their ecclectic genetic architecture, comprising the most diverse sequences of evolutionary stages as well as those of viruses and bacteria. Looked at from this perspective man has always been a chimaera, an historically grown sampling construct. It is only the evolutionary mirror held up to him by his genetic map that shows him the zoo within. We have always been transgenetic, as it were, and why should we not carry self-chosen xeno-genes in us like mechanical and electronic implants? In the age of biotechnological sampling the human genome is no longer the archive restricting us. It is the starting point for a self-determined transgenetic future.

Sampling and art

The roots of sampling can be traced back a long way in cultural history. They reach from the Cento poems9 of antiquity to the quodlibet (Latin for “whatever pleases you”) in the literature and music from the 16th to the 18th centuries, from Arcimboldo's portraits and Bach's fugues to the myrioramas in the everyday culture and games of the 19th century with the help of which landscape motifs could be permutated horizontally into combinatory panoramas. Although sampling is not a standard or obligatory term it should not be confused with the different forms the quote, the copy, the replica, appropriation, or collage can take. In contrast to the quotation it is not about a purposeful transfer of meaning and context. It is, much rather, a method of fragmentation, de-contextualization and transformation. A piece consisting of foreign quotes or found footage is not yet a product of sampling. Only when the single parts, in their combinatory logic, are transformed, made rhythmic, and structured in a way so that the individual samples do not function as quotes anymore but as generative basic material for a logic going beyond the parts, we can speak of sampling. Sampling, as a techno-transformative, process-oriented, and generative method, consequently, does not quote but instead creates a new structure that breaks with the linearity of the transfer and operates with discontinuities. The structure of the sampling is diametrically opposed to the structure of the collage as the hijacked material is neither alienated metonymically nor is it stuck together. Not fragments are glued together here - the Greek word for glue forms the root of the later word collage - but atomic, distinct parts isolated and assembled discreetly.10 The term montage derives from the language of industry and the military and is the real precursor of sampling. As early as 1916, in the same year production of 08/15 got under way, Dadaists like John Heartfield, George Grosz or Raoul Hausmann called themselves fitters (German: Monteure): “This term was coined due to our aversion against playing at being artists. We regard ourselves as Myriorama, a combination of four maps, around 1810/20, etchings, coloured, each around 5.5 by 2.8 cm engineers (hence our predilection for working suits), we assert that we construct our work, assemble it.”11 One no longer painted, wrote poems, photographed, composed, or filmed. From now on one assembled (in German: “montieren”). Structures, instructions for action, manifests, programmes, and algorithms became more important than finished artworks. The recipient was called upon to change into a participant, whereby the idea of authorship was transformed completely and freed from the trio of concepts that is geniality, virtuosity, and originality. Low-tech experiments with analog media, in this context, may safely be considered early forms of sampling. In Zurich in 1916 Tristan Tzara, for instance, drew up a simple literature sampler:

“Take a newspaper.
Take scissors. Chose from this newspaper an article of the length
you intend to give your poem.
Cut out the article.
Then carefully cut out each word of this article and
Put them in a bag.
Shake lightly.
Then take out one scrap after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the sequence they have come out ot the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And thus you are an infinitely original writer with a charming
Sensibility that people, however, will not understand.”

The strategy of destroying handed-down values, prefabricated meanings, systems and codes and to de-contextualize them reflects the close relationship art has with a fragmented reality. From the Dadaists to the Lettrists the smashing of forms was a reaction to altered conditions of production and perception triggered by phenomena of simultaneity and parallelism in film, transport, communications, and war. Man began to comprehend his self as a medially triggered sampling construct which yet had to practise a heterogeneous, contradictory and highly complex life with a splintered aesthetics. Media techniques, including the changes in the conditions of production and perception they entail, may have been a constitutive element of social life from early modernity.13 But the splitting of the subject and a loss of identity only become the determining state of society and art around 1900. The subject is transformed into a laboratory in which Robert Musil wanted to “construct a human out of nothing but quotations” and where the transformation of the Man without Qualities into the machine without qualities, i.e. into the Turing machine, bagan.14 Simultaneously Walter Benjamin, fascinated with the possibilities of montage the technological media offered, obsessively collected quotations in order to de-familiarize them, beyond any possible authenticity and to let grow new insights from their soil: “In my work quotations are like robbers along the road who emerge armed and take away the idler's convictions.”15

All these procedures corresponded with the living conditions of an emerging techno-culture and, at the same time, fluctuated between material dissection and material expansion.16 Luigi Russolo, for example, in his manifesto on Futurist music L'Arte dei Rumori (1913), lamented the restricted-ness of the tone colours of musical sound and demanded sound machines, so-called Intonarumori, in order to put into practise his sonatas for planes, everyday and machine sounds.17 The machine was going to be glorified and idealized via its sounds - which, from a technical point of view, was a conceivably bad means of an ideological illustration as sounds are the benchmark of entropy, a stigma of imperfection in the machine. In contrast, the Russian factory siren concerts made use of authentic everyday sounds instead of artificially created ones. At the first performance, in Baku in 1922, the foghorns of the Caspian fleet, bomber squadrons and seaplanes were deployed and brought forth “art of noise” on a large scale. Thanks to the newly developed sound-on-film process Walther Ruttmann, in 1930, could store everyday sounds for his radio play Weekend and, in contrast to recordings on the phonograph (since 1877) or the gramophone (since 1888), also cut and assemble them - thus enabling him to create an acoustic counterpart to his film Berlin - Symphonie einer Großstadt. But records too were manipulated through variations in the speed they were played at, as John Cage demonstrated, in 1942, with the recording of dogs howling, or as Lászlo Moholy-Nagy and Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt, as scratching pioneers at the Bauhaus in Weimar, had shown as early as the 1920ies.18

This is a new way of handling media, storage devices and archives treating the recorded set pieces of reality as changeable and manipulable reminiscences (random access memory) and not simply as unalterable memories (read only memory). Artworks, in the process, mutated from products to processes, from works to mechanisms, gadgets, settings or programmes carrying within themselves, contingently, a potential oeuvre which the recipient was called upon to navigate or explore interactively. Nam June Paiks installation Random Access from 1963, where tapes are tacked to the wall and the user scans these on his or her own with the help of a playback head in his or her hand, is exemplary in this context. Technical devices were transferred into new artistic contexts and subjected to unforeseen applications: Karlheinz Stockhausen's “radiophonic music,” for instance, aimed for a music from and through radios instead of a music for radios. In the context of Telemusik from 1966, which he firmly set off from the collage and montage concepts of the first half of the century, Structural picture interfaces: Walther Ruttmann, Berlin. The Symphony of a Metropolis, 1927 Stockhausen speaks of “modulations.” “Intermodulations,” on the other hand, he calls the mixture of old, found objects and new, self-created objects - a means to achieve a “universality of past, present and future of countries and spaces remote from each other.” From this perspective the musician, as a networked subject with access rights to data and storage, anticipates the online and realtime era of the Internet.

From there it was only one step - albeit, culturally speaking, a big one - to the early HipHop DJs of the 1970ies who took short instrumental passages from Soul and Funk records for their breaks, mixing these, yet again, by turning two records back and forth. The breaks, serving the rapper or toaster, as his Jamaican equivalent was called, as a background for HipHop or Dub productions, were less indebted to artistic avant-gardes than, at first, to an attitude to life and later to a political expression. In the 1980ies, when the first AKAI or Fairlight samplers replaced the sterile sounding drum computers and sequencers, they got to the very heart of the technological development. From now on the keys of a keyboard could be programmed with all kinds of sounds - from percussion to a guitar riff or police sirens - and sequenced to be called up on demand.

With computers, finally, digital video and sound studios have found their way into artist households over recent years just as blenders and vacuum cleaners had done into the council flats of the 1950ies. The methods of sampling have spread rapidly, been multiplied and speeded up. In the context of contemporary art productions sampling describes a condition that reaches far beyond the merely technical and operates as a cultural model taking into consideration mental and social sensitivities on the most diverse levels. Sampling not only articulates itself on a formal, neo-constructivist level of visuals and sound patterns but equally subverts handed-down concepts of authorship or concepts of copyright and private ownership. The potential of sampling is contained less in formal gimmicks than in the attitude being taken up in view of political and economic restrictions. As an integral component of an open source movement sampling functions as a cultural term that stands up to attempts at privatizing intellectual values or public spaces.

Besides these political and economic aspects sampling opens up a trans-disciplinary horizon of a production of symbols by linking disciplines and helping reserves of action and knowledge to stimulate each other. Sampling emancipates itself from being a technical to being an artistic programme and it serves as a catalyst for hybridations. With sampling the desire, latent since the beginning of modernity, for the overcoming of barriers between artistic categories respectively Nam June Paik, Random Access, 1963 above: tape version below: record version for the hybridation of picture, writing, music, and word finds its adequate means of being realized. Artists, increasingly, work inter-medially by knitting together images, sounds and set pieces from real life to form new textures. Artistic texts operate between the media as they neither insist on a single work nor on a single medium and because the relationships and links between individual media are gaining in importance. Art, accordingly, emerges at interfaces and unfolds its surprising meanings in the structural, medial and semiotic gaps or blank spaces. Inter-mediality and sampling breach the law of the identity of medium and message by not extracting their meanings from the medium itself and its representations. Instead, it creates knots through new constellations, recombinations, recodings, and chiasmic links which first crack open the unity of form and content and then polymerize them into new complexities.

10 assumptions on sampling culture

1 This text “samples” already published texts as raw material for new reflections: Thomas Feuerstein, Plus ultra::Das Herkulesprojekt. In: Thomas Feuerstein (ed.), Biophily. Better Dead than Read, Vienna 2002: 70-223. Thomas Feuerstein, Sampleminds: Technokultur zwischen Aviatarik, Avataras und Atavismus. In: Stefan Bidner (ed.), LANding, Vienna 2000.

2 See Peter Berz, 08/15. Ein Standard des 20. Jahrhunderts, Munich 1998. From 1916 onwards the double-barrelled MG christened 08/15 was manufactured by more than 100 firms spread throughout Germany, from Berlin to Hamburg, and to Munich. For reasons of secrecy none of the firms received more than depictions of individual parts of the miracle weapon. So the manufacturing process had to be split up. Thus a new production method came into being that has been carrying the erstwhile product's name up to this day. Subsequently a new matrix of fabrication and standardization resulted as well as the standard commission of German industry (since 1975 simply DIN).

3 Hans Ulrich Reck, Das Hieroglyphische und das Enzyklopädische. Perspektiven auf zwei Kulturmodelle am Beispiel “Sampling” - Eine Problem- und Forschungsskizze. In: Hans Ulrich Reck and Mathias Fuchs (eds.), Sampling, Vienna 1995: 10.

4 Wilhelm von Humboldt, Über die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues und ihren Ein- fluß auf die geistige Entwicklung des Menschengeschlechts, Paderborn 1998: 180.

5 Translated from Jacques Derrida, Grammatologie, Frankfurt 1996: 21.

6 The cabalistic tradition is familiar with the most diverse forms of “software” in order to manipulate the alpha-numeric code so that objects or life can emerge. The 16th century programme of Abraham Galante, for example, prescribes that if you want to create a thing you have to combine its letters with all the letters of the alphabet; if you want to destroy the thing again you combine the letters in reverse order.

7 This complies with the so-called shotgun method used, for instance, by Craig Venter's company Celera Genomics for the “deciphering” of the human genome. Because of the hasty “scanning” critics fear a margin of error of up to 50%.

8 Quoted and translated from Hans Blumenberg, Die Lesbarkeit der Welt, Frankfurt 2000: 28.

9 In the Cento (i.e. patchwork) the Latin poets were set the task to form, out of quotations from one author, mainly from the verses of Vergil that may easily be cut at two to three caesurae, verses adding up to a completely new meaning.

10 In the early 1970ies, John Cage, among others, believed to have found a solvent against musical adhesive in order to isolate sounds and free them from their musical corset. See Mathias Fuchs, Total Recall - Erinnern und Vergessen in der Musik, in: Kunstforum Vol. 127, 1994: 170.

11 Raoul Hausmann, Am Anfang war Dada. (Eds. K. Riha/G. Kämpf ), Steinbach/Gießen 1980: 49.

12 Tristan Tzara, 7 Dada Manifeste, Hamburg 1976: 44.

13 In the 18th century English newspaper readers reacted to the newly introduced printing columns with the parlour game of cross-reading that, jumping from one column to the other, mixed politics with science and “avertissements.” Georg Christoph Lichtenberg satirically reported the following example: “On the 13th lightning struck the local Church of the Cross - And, the following day, continued on its journey.” Translated from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Nachahmung der englischen Cross-readings. In: G. C. Lichtenberg, Schriften und Briefe, Vol. 2, Munich 1971: 161.

14 Translated from Robert Musil, Tagebücher. Ed. Adolf Frisé. Vol. 1, Reinbek 1976: 356.

15 Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften. Eds. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhäuser (with the help of Theodor W. Adorno and Gershom Sholem), Frankfurt 1972-1989, Vol. IV.1: 138. Benjamin collected large numbers of quotations. For his intended professorial dissertation Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origins of the German Tragedy) there were more than 600 that he did not consider as peripheral notes but as central to the work. Adorno remarks: “The fact that Bejamin's work remained fragmentary, therefore, is not only due to an adverse fate but, from the very start, had its roots in the structure of his thinking, in his fundamental idea.” Translated from Theodor W. Adorno, Einleitung zu Benjamin's “Schriften.” In: T. W. Adorno: Noten zur Literatur, Frankfurt 1974, p. 570.

16 The best example is Kurt Schwitters. While he worked on his “Merz” picture and on the intermediary Gesamtkunstwerk he demanded an analysis of literature into its components: “Not the word originally is the source of poetry but the letter.” And he adds: “Consequential poetry is built out of letters. Letters have no idea.” Kurt Schwitters, Konsequente Dichtung (1924). In: Das literarische Werk. Ed. Friedhelm Lach, Vol. 5, Cologne 1981: 190f.

17 “Ancient life was all silence. In the nineteenth century, with the invention of the machine, Noise was born.” Luigi Russolo, Art of Noises (1913). Translated from: Umbro Apollonio (ed.), Der Futurismus. Manifeste und Dokumente einer künstlerischen Revolution 1908-1918, Cologne 1972: 86.

18 “In the record Moholy-Nagy perceived musical future. But he protested against it being used only as a means of reproducing performances. We experimented together, let it run backwards, thus achieving surprising effects, especially with piano recordings. We drilled them off-centre so that they didn't go round regularly but wobbled and produced grotesque glissando sounds. We even scratched into the grooves with thin needles and in this way accomplished rhythmic figures and sounds radically changing the meaning of the music (…)” Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt, Musik am Bauhaus. In: Karin Maur (ed.), Vom Klang der Bilder, Munich 1985: 410.

Translation: Daniel Ostermann

First published in: Stefan Bidner, Thomas Feuerstein (eds.), Sample Minds. Materials on Sampling Culture, Köln 2004, p. 264 - 275.

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