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    Ryan ⊥ Dunn

    Introduction to supraconductivity part one: from Ryan ⊥ Dunn

    The process of communication is rife with mistranslations. At the heart of this are the fragile systems both designed and evolved that create, with particular mechanisms, the moving of information from one state to another. The human nervous mechanism is our base starting point, but considering our bodies as such, glitches are found in the processes of receiving information, digesting it, and regurgitating it in various human developed forms of expression. The history of these developments doubtless comes from a series of biological glitches as experienced by our ancestors both human and within other life forms. We learn to speak, dance, write, and so forth by discovering accidental actions and learning to incorporate them. This is no less true when these actions are filtered through mechanical and electronic technology—methods that have developed through countless repetitions and innovations that arrive at specifically intended translations through mechanical means. Supraconductor proposes the acceptance and investigation into these developments as meaningful starting points for the creation of new communications, able to incorporate the unintended to create new meanings which can lead to further discoveries reaching back into the recesses of the nerve to brain to action model.

    As we develop and encounter new methods of translation from one context to another, specifically within the realm of telepresence communications we are confronted with new scales and manifestations of translational breaks. We are able to communicate with each other over great distances, but that comes with lost connections, degraded signals, crossed signals, misconnections and a multitude of other glitches that manifest distinct philosophical concerns. Each new break comes with its own contextual set of information—whether noise, semantic or semiotic charged changes in the intended information, temporal reordering, or unintended reception among others, these changes carry analogues in older techne as well as allowing for brand new manifestations of distorted translation. When we accept these breaks instead of discarding them we allow for the creation of new forms.

    How do we begin to create works which expand aleatoric action into the world of technological breakdown? As with language, these slangs have the potential to create new and useful ways to investigate our own attempts at communication and to develop meanings that we have yet to encounter. Supraconductor is an investigation into these acceptances and a conscious use of technologies that already exist with specific intended purposes and how they can lead us into these new languages, new meanings, and new ways of being.

    We invite you to bring to us your thoughts, works, and other manifestations in the realm of technological translations that expose the underbelly of the phone call you meant to make, the chats that registered in the wrong order, the video chat that went awry, dirty overlaps in data streams or reductions in bandwidth, compression that unbeknown to the sender influences your sight and sound through the accepted yet false immediacy of the telepresent communication.

    • This topic was modified 8 years, 3 months ago by  Ryan ⊥ Dunn.


    If superconductivity is the property of zero resistance between a current and a conductor that allows for perfect, smooth transmission and achieves verisimilitude to the point that it disappears the presence of said conductor, then telepresent connections–in all their DSL ring/ fiberoptic / WiMax / satellite finery–re far from superconductive. Delays. Pixelations. Screen freezes. Dropped calls. Asynchronic video and audio. The Can you hear me?s and I can’t see you.s and the I can hear you but it looks like you can’t hear me. I will call you backs and the What is that sound?s and You’re so clear, it’s weird.s and Is this better? Is this better? These are the glitches and in turn stuttered interactions of our contemporary videochatting condition–erratic, vaguely predictable in the knowledge that something will happen to the connection that denies us verisimilitude, vaguely unpredictable in that what, when, where or how that something or somethings will happen cannot be readily anticipated.

    But what if we were to privilege supraconductivity over superconductivity? What if rather than just striving for verisimilitude, we take on telepresent communication with all its glitches and explore its creative potential above and beyond the prescribed, singular purpose of channeling? What if instead of taking a pipe with holes in it and only complaining that it leaks, we take that pipe, examine its holes, play with them, blow on both ends, maybe make a song called Ceci n’est pas une pipe? How would calling attention to and recuperating the glitches of the connection itself alter our social interactions, relationships, and expectations?

    In 2002, Verizon Wireless launched the “Can you hear me now?” campaign, in which the Verizon Wireless Guy appears in various locations and asks “Can you hear me now?… Good” In the United States, it was ubiquitous; it hit a cultural nerve. Why? Among other things, if you had any experience with a cellphone at that time, you knew that phrase “Can you hear me now?” from your own experience of say, walking randomly through your house or place of work to catch a better cellphone signal until eventually you learn where you could “catch a signal” or where the “dead zones” were. Or even if you did not have a cellphone, you knew it from being on a landline phone with someone who was talking to you on a cellphone.

    Can you hear me now? Catching a signal. Dead zones. I presumptuously and not very rigorously but nonetheless confidently trust that if you are reading this say, within ten years of its writing and have been/are living in or exposed to cellphone culture, you know what I mean by these phrases without my having to explain them to you. So much so that I can use them metaphorically and the multiple permutations of the wordplay will register with you. For instance, in a pick-up line. For instance, I trust you know what Person 1 means when he/she says to Person 2 “Meeting you is like catching a signal in a dead zone.” And then when Person 2 ignores Person 1, Person 1 persists in talking to Person 2, and then Person 2 throws a drink in Person 1’s face and says “Can you hear me now?” I trust that you know how Person 2’s “Can you hear me now?” plays off of Person 1’s pick-up line in more than just a literal sense.

    These phrases have become part of our vernacular not from smooth communication, but from common experience of glitches in the machinery of communication. The idea that “imperfect” communication (as in “imperfect understanding”) is fundamental to the development of shared language and propels communication is certainly not new. Similarly, the notion that what is transmitted and what is received in communication are altered en route by the medium, the conduit, is also not a new idea. Furthermore, the notion that glitches in a technological conduit also alter transmission is not new idea (a game of “Telephone” anyone?).

    So then? So what? (First off, I think the concept of “new” is overrated and distracts from many interesting reasons for exploring. But okay, stepping off the soapbox…) What may not be new per se, but now an interesting moment to think on is how ubicom, or more specifically, the relative ubiquity of Max Headroom-like video interfaces from various locations globally without costing more or less than videochatting with the person next door, impacts not only linguistic vernacular but visual language. Not that the visual component was not always there before, but the multi-directional video interface, the visual trace, offers us a tangible way of thinking, discussing, and playing with concepts of common language beyond the uttered word. One that can furthermore be documented and disseminated readily whether intentionally or unintentionally propagate language incredibly quickly, aka as meme.

    So where does supraconductivity fit into this again? Supra–the beyond, the outside–is a look at the conductor’s role beyond its being a conduit for smooth transmission from Point A to Point B. Let me be clear that the notion of supraconductivity is not mutually exclusive of the pursuit of verisimilitude, nor does it criticize it. What it allows for is an articulation of the “social glitch”, to which it seems a playing with the material and aesthetics of telepresence would lend itself very well. And in fact, an exploration of supraconductivity is an exploration into the question of verisimilitude; in other words, does “verisimilitude” not change if a common language is not changed by glitches in common experience? Also, what impact(s) does ignoring the shift that glitches in the conduit make in social form? Likewise, what impact(s) does drawing attention and tinkering with the glitches in the conduit make in social form? Also, when I say “tinkering with the conduit” do I not really mean tinkering with the inputs and perceptible outputs of the conductor, unless I mess with my router or a satellite in space, or does not my tinkering with the conduit and then reporting or discussing it in a way that it gets back to those who are making and releasing updates to servers, satellites, ushering in 3G 4G 5G and so on, both as crowd-sourced information and otherwise count as a “tinkering with the conduit”?

    Also curious in thinking about and playing with the material language of distribution routes, whether spatially perceptible or not, bleeds into our everyday that concretize and almost personify the net, the information superhighway, and now, the supraconductor, to the point that they can be mythologized.

    Also curious about how we use supraconductivity socially e.g. “Sorry I wasn’t able to send that thing to you yesterday; my internet was down.”

    Also curious about how supraconductivity alters one’s trajectory. e.g. The drunk email sent too soon. The timely videochat that never happened because the internet was down. More subtly, the garbled word or visual cue missed because of a bad connection, a frozen screen.

    Also curious in the threshold of “bearability.” When, with a delayed connection or pixelated screen, we stay on a videochat because it’s “bearable” before finally giving up and saying “I’ll call you back” or suggest another method of communication.

    Also curious about how we can play with all of this.

    Also curious about what others thing on any/some/all of this.

    Curious about a lot more than this.

    Realize this may be a bit scattered and hardly scratches the surface, but thought better to share thoughts sooner rather than later (though still later than the Wednesday deadline Ryan, Edwina, and I agreed upon to post our thoughts… sorry) to get balls rolling. To actually tinker rather than just ponder on tinkering. And with that, to see how the tinkering might in fact do something to what tinkering/workshopping may be.

    Incidentally but appropriately, in coming up with the “supraconductivity” terminology (which at one point I was calling rather cumbersomely “thisisnotapiping”) did some sleuthing to see if the term had been used before and in what capacity, and it turns out that the term was indeed used by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes in “The imitation of an ampere molecular current or a permanent magnet by means of a supraconductor”. Comm. Leiden. 1914, but was soon replaced with superconductivity. So “supraconductivity”‘s etymology is an example of glitch in and of itself! Ha.



    i am a droopy eye on a double chin if i love you.

    two voices for me, one for you, two eyes for you, one for me.

    but i’d rather type.

    right now you look like a rainbow. a static rainbow. a rainbow does not last as long as you have being a rainbow.

    pee. and i never liked talking through a door anyway.

    you know? once i stopped talking while walking through a dead zone. i was sure my voice would drop. so i stopped the conversation. i even went as far as cautioning my conversation partner that the conversation was going to drop. she was there, walking next to me.

    funny, i don’t care that you smoke anymore.

    my roommate is laughing at my outfit. i have a scarf wrapped around my head holding the phone close to my ear and mouth.

    you would guide me through a maze of wires. connecting motors to micro-controllers that would receive the coordinates of our fish, the fish i tried to replicate here with light.

    my dad? i email him. i don’t want to see how old he looks, how small his still look at yourself more than you look at me.

    i am invisible.

    since i deleted you, i sometimes type your name on the search box to see if you appear in green.

    i know you are *somewhere*, the bubble is blue.

    why can’t you buy a lamp! i see dark holes where there should be eyes!

    you would have to sit on the end of the table, so that your mom would not be able to eves drop and see it was me you were talking to. you could not be tender in speech. so i would have to see you. you were tender in gesture. but i’d rather type.
    we would type in silence, i could see you smile while you typed something funny. you could see me smile as i read it.
    we would hear our laughter.
    that’s the part i miss the most.

    are you there?



    “i have a scarf wrapped around my head holding the phone close to my ear and mouth.”

    = hands free. ah, i know this image well. and also, there is something very interesting in this. can’t exactly locate the what. still processing.



    Is it fair to say that supraconductivity is the process by which glitch art is created?


    what?  j/k

    i like the part about the [edwina] dad ^



    note: What made you want to look up supraconductivity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

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