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Animatronic Amputees in Mock-Afghanistanian Mud: Military Simulation-Urbanism, Performance & the Future of Global Warfare.

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on April 17, 2011

Part 1 of 2

(Forming part of the Fauxist ‘Military Cryptogeographies’, ‘Anthropology of Telepresence’ and ‘Speculative  Architecture’ projects).

CONTENTS:

The Sim World

– The rise of Sim Villages: MOUT Facilities

– The Future is Slum Wars

– “Architectural ornament as target criteria”: The Arab City in Orientalist Imaginary

– Global War-Games: Meta-MOUT’s & Urban Inter-penetrations

The ‘Populations’

– Employing Diasporas in Diplomacy: Role Players & Avatars in Sim-War

– ‘Amputees in Action’: Playing death daily.

Digital War/Urbanisms

– “The PlayStation to beat all PlayStations”: Telepresence & Digi-cartography

 The City as Digital Impedence

The rise of Sim Villages: MOUT Facilities

In his New Left Review article “War and the City”Stephen Graham takes us on a tour of the surreal – and more often than not, all-too-real – hybrid geographies of the Pentagon’s warfare-simulation industrial-complex that is gearing up American soldiers for an indeterminate future-long battle in the world’s urban centers.  “A hidden archipelago of mini-cities is now being constructed across the U.S. sunbelt,” he writes, “presenting a jarring contrast to the surrounding stripmall suburbia” where entire urban replications of Third World cityscapes are also rising out of the deserts of Kuwait and Israel, the downs of Southern England, the plains of Germany and the islands of Singapore.

“Unmarked on maps, and largely unnoticed by urban-design, architecture and planning communities, these sites constitute a kind of shadow global-city system. They are capsules of space designed to mimic the strategic environment of the ‘feral city’, as one U.S. military theorist has called it—now seen as a critical arena for future wars.”

Such ‘Middle-Eastern cities’ have sprouted at military bases in the US over the last few years, although in the assessment of the 2006 RAND Report these remain inadequate; casualty rates in urban combat for untrained soldiers are around 25–30 per cent. To address future ‘Military Operations on Urban Terrain’ training needs, theRAND team recommendations include the construction of four new ‘cities’, with more than 300 structures each. By 2012, the Pentagon plans to have over seventy MOUT training zones around the world. While some will be little more than air-portable sets of containers, others will be extensive sites that mimic whole city districts, with ‘airports’ or surrounding ‘countryside’. (For work on enforcement and emergency sim architectures, see Our article ” Temporal Slip in Crystal Architectures: Meth Museums, Meth Labs in Space, & The Meth-Architecture-Organism“.)

The biggest U.S. urban-warfare complex thus far is the continually expanding Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. “Eighteen mock-Iraqi villages are being constructed in this 100,000-acre site.” Another is “Chicago”, the $14 million mock-Arab city constructed at Israel’s Tze’elim base in the Negev desert. The site was explicitly built to generalize the lessons of Israeli incursions into Palestinian cities and refugee camps. The ‘town’ is split into four quarters, with apartment buildings, a marketplace, shops, a mosque and a refugee camp. It is wired up with the latest surveillance equipment to monitor the trainee Israeli soldiers as they practise blasting their way into Palestinian homes.

In what follows, We trace some of the currents of this ‘hidden archipelago’ through architectural/urban theory, and draw out some recent typologies of performance, focusing on military urbanisms, telepresence and diaspora.

Before We backtrack a little to explore some of the military theorizing behind the rise of the sim-MOUT world, We leave you with the trailer for the popular 2008 documentary “Full battle rattle” (below) based in the National Training complex at Fort Irwin, outside LA, California, which consists of 13 villages in the simulation-complex, and 300 Iraqi American role players to populate these villages. Army Brigades (approximately 3000 soldiers) travel through the simulation nearly every month. And a military city of 15,000 – Fort Irwin itself- exists to support the operation of the simulation.

The Future is Slum Wars

“The future is not the son of Desert Storm, but the stepchild of Somalia and Chechnya.” General Charles Krulak – Commandant – USMC

“They are . . . the post-modern equivalent of jungles and mountains – citadels of the dispossessed and irreconcilable. A military unprepared for urban operations across a broad spectrum is unprepared for tomorrow.” LtCol. Ralph Peters

“Some people say to me that Iraqis are not the Vietnamese! They have no jungles of swamps to hide in. I reply, “Let our cities be our swamps and our buildings be our jungles”. Tariq Aziz, Iraqi Foreign Minister, Oct. 2002


Urban areas are to be the future battlefield, according to globalsecurity.org, and “combat in urban areas now cannot be avoided”. Historically, Western military strategy was long premised on the avoidance of urban combat, with air strikes the preferred method of subduing large conurbations, and cities were seen as targets, not battlefields. In other words, strategies of attacking urban life have become slightly more sophisticated than the mass, total annihilation that characterized the 20th century.

Today, the cityscapes of the global South have emerged as paradigmatic conflict zones. Since the end of the Cold War, America’s militarized thrust into the Middle East and Central Eurasia has focused Pentagon planners’ attention on the burgeoning Arab and Third World cities that are now deemed de-facto sites of current and future warfare for US forces, due largely to the increasing polarizing forces of Neoliberal globalization, restructuring, “structural adjustment” (IMO, WTF, World Bank), economic re-regulation, informatization, etc.

Whatever the causes, the military deigns to presume that high-tech military dominance directly influences the urbanization of resistance. As the long-term trend in ‘open-area combat’ is toward overhead dominance by US forces, in which battlefield awareness may prove so complete, and precision weapons so effective that “enemy ground-based combat systems will not be able to survive in the deserts, plains, and fields that have seen so many of history’s main battles” (Ralph Peters, US military commentator). As part of this misguided erasure of global economic and social shifts, the US military seems to see global urbanization as a dastardly plan to thwart the US military gaining the full benefit of the complex, expensive high-tech weapons the MI-complex has spent decades developing. (We return to this subject in the “Cities as Digital Impedence” section below)

Thus, while the ‘revolution in military affairs’ that had previously emphasized overhead dominance, the losing battle for the streets of Iraq has sharpened the Pentagon’s focus on battles within the micro-geographies of slums, favelas, industrial districts and casbahs, as well as on globe-spanning stealth and surveillance technologies. Indeed, as explored above, MOUT sites like NTC have superseded Los Alamos and the Nevada Test Site (nuclear weapons) to become the premier production set for the ‘next gen’ of US strategic superiority. (See for example: specialoperations.com’s extensive MOUT theory listings, with articles like “Urban Renewal: Military Style”)

MOUT, indeed, is “the future of warfare,” according to the United States Army War College. As part of the US military’s rhetorical framing of our combat-prone, global future, the battlefield of future hostilities, as stated by the War College’s own journal, “‘lies in the streets, sewers, high-rise buildings, and sprawl of houses that form the broken cities of the world.'” Broken cities: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Fallujah, Slough. (For a scary, in-depth exploration of the operational planning and rhetoric of these futures, see the Joint Operations 2009 Urban Warfare-Strategy Outline)

In fact, as Mike Davis writes, MOUT – or the military’s pursuit of urban design by other means – is indispensable to “Washington’s ability to dominate what Pentagon planners consider the ‘key battlespace of the future’ – the Third World city”. Third World city apparently offers only one true lesson: how to attack, and thus this is “the Pentagon as global slumlord”. The First World military, Davis continues, is “unprepared for protracted combat in the near impassable, maze-like streets of the poverty-stricken cities of the Third World. As a result, the four armed services, coordinated by the Joint Staff Urban Working Group, launched crash programs to master street-fighting under realistic third-world conditions.”

Producing so-called “realistic third-world conditions,” naturally requires constructing the decoy villages on rural U.S. military bases we have been discussing, and just what these realistic conditions are considered to be is made obvious with only the most shallow perusal of MOUT sites’ commissioned reviews. Evaluating existing MOUT sites for the features deemed most challenging in undertaking military operations within large, global-South cities, RAND researchers awarded the highest points to those with ‘clutter, debris, filth’, ‘slums, shanty towns, walled compounds’, ‘subterranean complexes’ and simulated ‘government, hospital, prison, asylum structures (such as the Marines’ Twentynine Palms facility in California).

Such urban-war simulations serve to demonstrate the shifts in US military doctrine in much more explicit form. Pentagon theorists no longer concentrate so exclusively on a planetary battlespace, over which the networked power of US air and space platforms rules supreme: instead, they have turned their attention to the spaces of the global South, on the street-level, the domestic and interpersonal. In addition, as Eyal Weizman has emphasized, both Israeli and Western military planners now stress the need not just to occupy, but physically to reorganizethe space of colonized cities, so that high-tech weapons and surveillance systems can work to their best advantage. Weizman calls this ‘design by destruction’. As he puts it: ‘contemporary urban warfare plays itself out within a constructed, real or imaginary architecture, and through the destruction, construction, reorganization and subversion of space’. Areas deemed to be too dense and complex to be penetrated by the gaze of drones, satellites and aerial targeting can be physically bulldozed, as was Jenin in 2002. (Again, see “Cities as Digital Impedence” below).

“Architectural ornament as target criteria”: The Arab City in Orientalist Imaginary

You can imagine the military wanting to practice blowing up a building full of insurgents in downtown Baghdad. That’s not something you can easily practice live.”  Perme

A generalized ontological insecurity now haunts and structures Western urbanity, and would seem to be part of a larger reversal of the historical association of cities with safety (from barbarism). Under the ‘insecurity state’, terror replaces the nuclear target criteria as marking urban space as threatened. The imaginary of the western city is penetrated by a multiplying array of invisible and boundary transgressing forces- bioterror, ‘dirty’ (radiation) bombs, terror- which form a continuum with to the car bombs, snipers, IED’s of the west’s war ‘theatres’, and constantly feed back into growing trends of architectural-social bunkering, capsularization- from gated communities, (those ‘Green Zones at home’) to SUV’s- weaponisation,  and architectural/urban ‘hardening’.

The infinitely plastic discourse of the “War on Terror” is often justified by recourse to indiscriminate Orientalist categorizations, and this language of the “new barbarism” works by separating the ‘civilized world’ from threat-exuding ‘dark forces’ such as ‘the axis of evil’, namely an undifferentiated, always potentially terroristic, Other. In this ascendant network of displaced urbanisms- the city conceived as target criteria, as surveillance capability, as ruins- an architectural-urban manifestation of such typologies is concretized.

In other words, as a form of urbanism that is at once speculative and reiterative, we can read a lot about the ‘Arab’ or ‘global south’ city, and indeed ‘Arab Urbanism’ as imagined (feared/desired) in the Western mind. The extent of the geopolitical and aesthetic power of the production of the military’s ‘realistic’ architectural ‘elsewheres’ currently proliferating around the world has led Geoff Manaugh to joke that we may call it the “new International Style, or perhaps Military Arabesque” (as evidenced in the photographs below).

Most obviously, We must ask what are the long term psycho-urban implications of training thousands of soldiers in certain mimic environments like these? Even though these places purportedly provide “immersive cultural training” and ways of interfacing with foreign places and people, how do these arenas for war-play also actually condition to some extent ‘our’ military’s racial perception of the ‘Other’? How do these spaces naturalize conflations of urbanism and ‘race’, geopolitical power, and certain urban forms/geographies as spaces of threat, chaos and destabilization of the Subject?

To pose such questions in another form, We ask what inherent racism exists in the fabricated architectures of mock Iraqi villages set out as mere objects of war across the innocuous flatness of the Mojave desert? Are these the disposable architectures of a new racialized landscape; the subliminal artifice of geopolitical brainwash; are they the ultimate spatial commodities of a new MOUT marketplace? Indeed, what is being sold, reinforced, advertised here?

One effect is to naturalize Arab and global-South cities as little but physical battlespace, populated, when peopled at all, by dehumanized and racialized ‘terrorists’ that must—necessity is one of the rules of the game—be erased by Western, or Israeli, military intervention. At the same time, the militaristic gloss and relentless sanitization serve to produce an ideological reinforcement and subliminal legitimation of US foreign-policy imperatives.

Urban-Architectural Destruction comes full circle

The essence of MOUT would appear to be that it prepares one for the conditions of an elsewhere; it is an active (and actively surreal) ghost town this way empowering its subjects to descend on cities the other side the world and enact their will wherever they see fit. It is another manifestation of this military urbanism’s contemporary elasticity; it is the capability of bringing the complexities of a foreign city home in order to practice the art of conquering it there first.

In the various sections of this work we focus on both reproduction and simulation. But, as we will explore further below, building a training base architecturally (or digitally) ‘in-specific’ enough to be used for numerous cities of the Global South (for the future of global warfare, see the subsequent section on slum wars), and creating an architectural and simulation ‘database’ of real cities to run games and endlessly rehearse their destruction and occupation, is another key element of MOUT development and use. For example, Strategic Operations mobile MOUT facilities (discussed further below) feature:

“lightweight composite structures (movable by four people or a forklift), interchangeable facades (Iraq today, Afghanistan next week, or any other place in the world the following week)”

This in-specificity shares geo-temporal complicity with the digital-cartographic realm, linking place to sim in an ever tightening loop. One example of such a linkage is the increasingly instantaneous incorporation of urban weaponry and concealment tactics from urban theatres into the sim MOUT realm. Thus descriptions of new bomb-making, operation and concealment tactics from Afghanistan- to keep apace with the constant evolutionary staccato of roadside bombs and “Improvised Explosive Devices’s” (IED’s)- are fed back from ‘theatres’ into training facilities and scenarios “in minutes”, according to army promotion.

Diaspora: Diplomacy & Role Play

Understanding Afghan culture is seen as more important than ever in keeping Afghan villagers onside… Because US military operations are increasingly about not just guns and gung-ho, but also building bridges and nations”    Kaplan

A new function of this future ‘urban warfare’ is that there are of course more citizens than ‘soldiers’ on the ‘battlefield’. In his strategic review of the war effort, leaked this summer, Gen. Stanley McChrystal sounded desperate for more nonmilitary help, writing: “ISAF cannot succeed without a corresponding cadre of civilian experts to support the change in strategy and capitalize on the expansion and acceleration of counterinsurgency efforts,” including “immediate and rapid expansion into newly secured areas.” To that end, the United States expects a surge of civilians in Afghanistan. In a traditionally human-resources take on colonization and control, it is expected that such civilians will have a “force multiplier” effect, both by improving military efforts in restive villages and by hiring and training Afghans. Moving from the private-security-military and media arena to all levels of the societal structure. “We’re focusing on a whole-of-government approach,” he said. “And the feedback loop is what we missed before”.

Thus the civilian-military ‘feedback loop’, like that of IED’s, has become an increasing focus of the MOUT. Since 2008, the military and State Department have also been sending  ‘civilians’ and non-military through MOUT training to interact with the spaces, aesthetics and custums/practices of the occupied zone, amounts to a multi-faceted HR force to be deployed & populate the society at all levels. (For more on this “partnering with the civilian surge” see for example “Joint Civilian-Military Training at MUTC makes The Army Better”)

"Vignettes are designed to realistically create events which they may find themselves a part of in Afghanistan"

As we have seen, much of the rhetoric behind the sim-war cities is one of diplomacy and experientially-based cultural sensitivity- these apparently new factors of urban warfare and contemporary colonialism/imperialism. And thus with an ostensibly older architectural/urban reproductive realism, comes an increasing focus on that of population/cultural/behavioural realism. While  PSYOPS/PSYWAR engaged with the ‘enemy mind’ and mass psychology, (leaflet drops and propaganda through to the structural torture psychologies and practices used in Iraq- See Our work on Music Torture for example), the range of PSY-technique has been expanded and brought to the level of the individual soldier, who is then psychologically responsible for representing the diplomatic intent of a gift-wrapped invasion/occupation.

In this regard, many of the sim-sites hire experienced role players who use action and behavioural scripts developed by returned soldiers, psychologists and theorists. At Fort Polk, Louisiana, for example, trainees also contend with ‘civilians’– up to 1,200 role-players who act as Iraqi mayors, imams, journalists, humanitarian aid workers, and ordinary citizens (necessarily with the “appropriate mix of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds”). More than 200 of the role-players are Arab Americans, many of them Iraqis, bussed in from around the US for ‘extra realism’. A three-week exercise can cost up to $9 million.

At Fort Polk, “al-Qaeda terrorists” are based in an off-limits bit of the wood called ‘Pakistan’, and Taliban insurgents living in 18 mock villages. Another 800 role-players live with them, acting as western aid workers, journalists, peacekeepers, Afghan mayors, mullahs, policemen, doctors and opium farmers, all with fake names, histories and characters. Some 200 Afghan-Americans are augmented by local Louisianans in Afghan garb. The ‘final element of realism’ in the training comes from a gaggle of role-playing media who roam the training area, cover life in the villages and write about the military operations. ‘In-game’ journalists produce three daily newspapers, a radio show, and a nightly reel of video highlights. These role-players, some Iraqi and the others local residents with journalism backgrounds, publish a daily newspaper called the Talatha Times as well as radio and television reports, which are broadcast in the villages. The soldiers in charge of the exercise track how many positive and how many negative stories the units in training generate. The coverage was all bad the day after insurgents “kidnapped” four soldiers and a role-playing journalist, who was permitted to witness the mock executions of the troops and then released in time to write a front-page story.

Although the Army’s use of mock villages populated by native speakers dates to Vietnam and included soldiers bound for Bosnia, it was not provided to the troops who most recently invaded Iraq. Ralph Peters, a retired Army intelligence officer, said the expectation that combat troops will conduct nation-building missions in Iraq makes Fort Polk’s training imperative. “You’re dealing with a foreign people, some of whom are truculent unemployed locals with access to guns,” Peters says. “The military’s training program became very sophisticated to do that.”

Der Derain traces a number of changes in the development, sourcing and relative sophistication of these role-playing populations. Beginning with the earlier “female marines wearing white bedsheets”, and the palm-cards given to marines which sought to remind them of ‘diplomatic skills’- based on a cartoon character mono-cultural version of the ‘other’ that closely resembled the essentialist portrayal of Ralph Petai’s “Arab Mind” (1983), one of the central texts of US ‘Middle Eastern’ policy/mythology, and reportedly still used to develop torture and interrogation techniques in U.S war-prisons like Abu Ghraib)- to hundreds-strong live-in role-players, participating in scenarios scripted by specialist theorists, investment.sometimes outsourcing internationally.

Increasingly, these role-played locals are temp. agency employees- from firms like the hydra-giant L3. Most are members of the diaspora, people who worked as interpreters for the United States in Afghanistan or Iraq and then immigrated, and nearly all of whom are seeking U.S. citizenship if they do not have it already. Unsurprisingly, in the sim-war world, Iraqi role-players often occupy the bottom of the pecking order on site, and generally receive no health or employment benefits. The opinions they can express to the media are tightly controlled by site media-relations managers, resulting in a generalized picture of hyperbolic, repetitive statements about the ‘nobility’, ‘national responsibility’ of their work, they ‘would do it for free to help US-Other relations’ (an interesting position in proving civic worth and citizenship in an anti-Arab U.S). Many role players have refused to be identified or photographed, citing fears of Taliban retribution against relatives in Afghanistan. Reports of role-player re-traumatization from violent scenarios- notably suicide bombing scenarios- are also played down.

The chronology of the rise of this form of diasporic performance culture is also interesting. Such a seemingly uncanny intermeshing of terror discourse and citizenship-performativity  appears yet stranger considering the post-9/11 rise of militarized discourses of domestic (as in ‘domestic front’) security policy enacting a overall policy of “cracking down on diaspora”- through state surveillance, racial/ethnic profiling, bordering processes, and not to mention massive state violence directed at the supposed ‘sources’ of diasporic threat.

It is unclear how long the MOUT’s will keep their lavish population resources. Since early 2003, every training rotation has been geared to preparing a brigade or battalion for a mission in Iraq or Afghanistan. As America withdraws its troops from Iraq—whenever that will be—non-mission-specific training will resume, and the training budget will be cut.

The military has been duly seeking cost-cutting cultural training methodologies, and after having briefly explored this strange diasporic performance genre, We now turn to a new area of cost-conscious diplomatic training- the U.S military’s recent adoption of avatar training. A prominent example is a training environment known as ELECT-BiLAT, in development and testing to soon be used by soldiers being deployed to Iraq. ELECT-BiLAT is a prototype game-based simulation for soldiers to practice ‘conducting bilateral engagements in a cultural context’- in army-speak: “a culturally sensitive negotiations simulator”.

In the development of ELECT-BiLAT, there has been a heavy focus on the avatar’s cultural-racial realism . The University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies (USC-ICT) in Playa Vista researchers are feeding a detailed analysis of such cultural behavioural differences– the nods and smiles, pauses, eye gazes, and gesticulations that would ostensibly serve to differentiate ‘Cultures’. The emotional believability of a Hollywood avatar, so the thinking goes, should help soldiers “become sensitive to cultural issues in the way they dress, behave and raise delicate subjects”.

While similar animations are increasingly used in popular movies, game designers and film animators still struggle with how to make ‘faces realistic’, considering the sheer amount  that is unknown about facial expressions, behavioural cues and so on. Kaplan details the depth of investment in this military-entertainment industry development and research on animation and behavioural-body modeling technologies to create sim-training avatars. In this area, even the mega-budgets of the big screen are being eclipsed by investment from the military. “Ninety-five per cent of our budget comes from the US Department of Defense,” says Randy Hill director of the USC-ICT, which specialises in avatar design. (USC’s Game Innovation Lab was involved in the game design as well as creating a compelling set of scenarios that would be appropriate for the training objectives identified. USC-ICT also makes PTSD, variously ‘wounded’ and traumatized soldier avatars to train military social workers and psychologists. Video HERE).

Avatar-based diplomatic role-playing has thus far garnered good reviews. “It seems to work. In three hours, the new environment allows soldiers to achieve the same proficiency in cultural interaction as they would achieve from six to eight hours of interaction using traditional methods. At the moment, however, learners must indicate their actions – “I’m taking off my helmet”, “I smile” – through keyboard or mouse inputs. True interactivity requires the avatar itself to recognise such actions and expressions without being told, and react accordingly.” (Kaplan)

And shouldn’t it succeed? Pixelated automatons (in white bedsheets) running trumped up palm-card scripts of programmed diplomacy further remove any association with diaspora, hybridity, and the ‘effects of war’ that the role-players re-present.

Meta-MOUT?

“We can shoot anything short of nuclear weapons here” (29 Palms)

There are multiple MOUT facilities all over the world, but in addition to two that already exist at Twentynine Palms, there is a brand new site cropping up along the fringes that’s being called CAMOUT, or Combined-Arms Military Operations in Urban Terrain. “K-MOUT” is expected to be the Mecca (*groan* ed.) of the entire MOUT program, spread over a 20-by-20 km area centered around an urban core of 280 acres.

The need for the Meta-MOUT comes arises from a project study determining that urban training facilities, which have been in use for many years by the Marine Corps at its various bases, were too small. Many contained 35 or fewer buildings, which Bryan Robertson (Assistant CAMOUT Project Manager) says is hardly enough to provide the level of training needed to prepare troops to conduct operations in big cities. “Trying to train for urban combat in 35 buildings is like trying to train for jungle warfare in a botanical garden” he said.

And so the idea of a mega-MOUT, one big enough to accommodate a full Marine Air-Ground Task Force — 7,000 troops — was born. In 2004, the Marines began developing the concept and design for CAMOUT. And indeed, what will a quarter of a billion dollars get you? Well, we learn that CAMOUT, if completed as planned, will include 1,560 buildings (some as high as five stories) in seven separate districts: the urban core (as previously described), east and west stadium districts, a hospital district, an ‘old town’ which will actually be modeled on Sadr City (a suburb of Baghdad), and finally an industrial district as well as a diplomatic district (see video below). “A city like no one has ever seen,” it will be “bisected by a river, already in place, that’s up to 80 feet wide in some spots,” even though in reality we are told it will contain absolutely no water. “Some areas will have buildings that have been reduced to rubble and there will be shanty towns around the city” that will almost certainly lend a theme park-like and surreal credence to Mike Davis’ claim, quoted above, that the Pentagon is the world’s largest slumlord.

Interestingly, the report also looks at garrisoning abandoned sites and structures throughout the US: abandoned factories, strip malls, schools, hospitals and entertainment complexes. There is an old copper-mining town in New Mexico that has apparently been used to perfect the art of the suburban raid, an outfit that even employs the few remaining residents there as actors. A network of ‘low-population’ towns in North Dakota is also being considered for such a role, and the RAND Report recommends further investigation into the use of abandoned factories, offices, strip malls, schools, hospitals and interestingly, entertainment complexes.

We wonder how reconfigurable these simulated cities may actually become in the future. The idea that CAMOUT could one week be fancied into a city based on the exact dimensions of Sadr Cty, and then the next week be converted into a startlingly real carbon copy of Port-au-Prince, or Darfur, smacks of both exciting and sinister potential. Imagine an entirely fake city that is the architectural combination of, say, Rio, Tijuana, and Johanasberg—toy cities, hybrid cities; imagine the Lego cities of anti-western extremism and other counter imperialist pirates coming to life. CAMOUT is a city waiting not only to be destroyed over and over again, but one eager to be remade in the alternating images of Third World cities all over.

Other questions arise. What if these military bases were the vanguard of architecture’s simultaneous progression and regression? What if CAMOUT became a new dismal suburban model of sorts for the future? What is the ultimate architectural trajectory of this program–bases the size of small countries? Will MOUT one day see its infusion somehow into our normal lives, into the fabric of our common society? In other words, will MOUT one day expand to a utilization of real-life western cities? Overseas US bases permeating the cities that surround them?

Hyper-Realism  & ‘Amputees in Action’

“We sit in a muddy puddle for hours on end, waiting to jump out and scream and shout, cold and miserable – but then you remember these guys are heading for something far worse. Every amputee is vetted and put through specialist training beforehand to see if they are up to the job. For some it is too close to the mark, too realistic. The last thing we want to do is traumatize someone, stymie their rehabilitation.”  John Pickup, of Amputees In Action.

In that Combat sims necessarily implicate ‘violence’ and ‘death’, We now tour another tier of the MOUT-LARP employment pool- the wounded and the wound-makers.

See: Amputees In Action

[bbc= http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10314540%5D

In training medics and soldiers for the realities of war, MOUT facilities employ private contractor and military medical-sim training groups that offer services and scenarios which “have been carefully designed under the guidance of a military and civilian medical advisory counsel, along with military medics on staff who have recently served on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan”, replete with sophisticated MOUT prop-making departments covering all areas of medical-bodily reproduction and simulation.

The blending with the entertainment-complex is present here too. Strategic Operations, the San-Diego based movie studio-cum-training facility (as discussed in the cinematic simulation section) offers a medical simulation capability that “goes well beyond moulage and typical make up techniques”, into an heady area Strategic Operations deigns to calls “Hyper-RealisticTM“, which employs a host of variously role-players and technician-artists to simulate battlefield wounds and victims. Indeed their literature is worth quoting at length here:

“In a typical scenario… Trainees encounter head wounds, penetrating chest wounds, burns, and shrapnel, and basic life support, including airway management… his very realistic wounds are actually sutured and his vitals stabilized. Hyper-RealisticTM life support challenges include pneumothorax management, uncontrolled bleeding, burns, blast injuries, and penetrating eye injuries, as well as lacerations and embedded glass… wounds complete with active bleeding that stops when a tourniquet is applied properly… large bags of special effects blood are delivered to the injury via hidden tubes, and air is delivered to a chest injury site, controlled by the role player so air bubbles appear at the chest wound site with each breath. Strategic Operations simulates the effects chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) events with amazing fidelity. Special effects make-up, engineering techniques, and role playing provide Hyper-RealisticTM simulations of anthrax (cutaneous), with “malignant pustules”; cyanides, with pink skin; nuclear radiation exposure, with epilation, erythema, dry desquamation, and wet desquamation;  plague, with purple skin lesions; smallpox, with macules, papules, vesicles, and pustules; vesicants, with blistering; and vomiting agents, with erythema and edema at the site of dermal contact – just to name a few effects”.[2]

If this level of simulation seems outlandish, consider that medics at the Fort Polk complex practice on a $70,000 mannequin that bleeds, blinks, breathes, and makes five different kinds of bowel sounds.

In the quest for visceral (hyper)realism, stunning equivalences- stunning in both their economics and metaphorics- are generated. Prevatt reminisces about a mass grave they created, a charnel pit of bound mannequins with simulated head wounds. “We put a bunch of bones and meat in there and buried it for a couple days so it would smell right,” he says. (Click HERE For more video examples of MOUT Hyper-realism).


“The PlayStation to beat all PlayStations”: Telepresence & Digi-Cartography

In our fear of the real, of anything that is too real, we have created a giant simulator.We prefer the virtual to the catastrophe of the real.” Baudrillard

Audiovisual speed will be for our interior domestic architecture what automotive speed was for the architecture of the city, for the whole layout of the region”. Virilio

Within a cavernous hanger in Wiltshire sit 140 giant metal containers, an installation named the “Combined Arms Tactical Trainer”. Each externally indistiguishable room of this demountable container city contains a different simulation of an urban space in an international theatre. Enter one and you are in the cockpit of an Apache helicopter above Sangin, another and you are driving a Warrior armoured vehicle through desert terrain, a third and you are manoeuvring an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over Kajaki.

A brigade preparing to take over in Helmand can use simulators that replicate the terrain they will face in Afghanistan. New computer graphics, rendering and digital image gathering on site in Afghanistan will allow “a soldier heading for Musa Qala to drive the very road she will need to negotiate in a few months, past the same mud compounds and mosques…” while officers “issue orders from a mock-up of the headquarters in Lashkar Gah in the next room”. Afterwards, the scenario is played back to observe mistakes made not only in terms of the battle but the consequences of such actions on locals.

According to Armed Forces minister Adam Ingram “It’s a case of Disney World – eat your heart out. But the serious side is that it prepares our people for the realities of combat.”

Increasingly, the military is linking up live training exercises with such virtual simulations and spaces. It also allows them to provide a wider variety of training situations,  and also gives them a chance to peek into the future by introducing weapons and tools that don’t yet exist into their battle scenarios, again exhibiting a deep interlinking with entertainment industry and technologies, as evidenced in the video below.

With such developments in computer sim, media dissimulation, global surveillance and networked warfare, wars are increasingly fought in the same way they are broadcast or represented- real-time surveillance and ‘live feeds’ and databases of target criteria. Like the cartographic tension implicit to such a ‘world’ (i.e territory is not map), these kinds of systems exhibits a combination of environmental (as moral value and as sheer space) erasure and summoning, borne out in another of Adam Ingram’s unwittingly revealing statements: “The army can train under any conditions almost anywhere in the world at the flick of a switch – without environmental impact or the cost of moving men and equipment over long distances.”

The City as Anti-Digital Impedence

A group which dreams of a miraculous correspondence of the real to their models, and therefore of an absolute manipulation“.  Baudrillard

“A map of Esmeralda should include, marked in different colored inks, all these routes, solid and liquid, evident and hidden. It is more difficult to fix on the map the routes of the swallows, who cut the air over the roofs, dropping long invisible parabolas with their still wings, darting to gulp a mosquito, spiraling upward, grazing a pinnacle, dominating from every point of their airy paths all the points of the city.”   Italo Calvino Invisible Cities


Thus we may ask, what is the ‘environment’ or terrain of such warfare? How is it constructed and maintained? What appears to lie beneath the surface of such a drive is the deployment of a myriad of digital-cartographer-machines, documenting urban environments to be exported/transcribed into computer spaces. In this, surveillance and mapping inextricably overlap. (Considering the U.S Biometric recording programs in Iraq and Afghanistan in this context forms the basis of an upcoming Fauxist publication.)

See, for instance, “Urban Resolve“: put together back in 2004 to create an unparalleled virtual model of almost the entirety of Iraq, with scaled cities and buildings that boast being within 1 metre of perfect accuracy. The $195,000 program is a combat simulation on a massive scale. In other words, it’s one part “Risk”, one part “The Sims” and one part raw supercomputing power. “[U]sing concepts borrowed from artificial intelligence research,” “Urban Resolve”functions somewhere between high-tech city planning assistant and future warfare prediction device, “helping military leaders determine which types of sensors – CIA agents, spy planes, listening devices and so on – are best for tracking enemy forces that are hiding in a modern city.” In the latest experiment- Urban Resolve 2015– the setting is Baghdad, but, according to its promotional literature, “can be tailored to resemble any major urban area from Iraq to Indonesia“.

Efforts at constantly refining and shortening the feedback loops between urban space, sims and planning have become increasingly central, and have entered the realm of a global panoptic fantasy. Put simply, it runs something like this: “Imagine if the first soldiers to enter an enemy city could map it street by street, recording every window and doorway of the urban battlefield in an accurate 3D model that could instantly be relayed to their comrades at base”. An article from New Scientist, “The speedy way to capture a city” describes exactly this:

“Virtualised reality scans the urban landscape using lasers and digital cameras mounted on a truck or plane. A laser measures distances to objects such as lamp posts and building facades, while the digital camera takes 2D photos. Another laser calculates the movement of the truck and checks its position against data collected from the aerial laser aboard the plane. These measurements and pictures are fed into a computer that combines them to create a photo-realistic virtual 3D model of the area.”

Annoyingly, in this context, cities, as physical objects, simply get in the way of the US military’s technophilic fantasies of trans-global, real-time omnipotence. And thus We witness the ‘design by destruction’ discussed above- the physical reorganization of colonized cities, to ensure that high-tech weapons and surveillance systems can work to their best advantage.

Such electronic mapping and satellite-image technologies provide digital urban renditions that can be experienced ‘immersively’, forming a database of the global south. Entirely lacking in even virtual people, these simulations render places like Iraq as pure digital battlespace. The threat of violence from a distance– backing the Drone/UAV warfare with a bringing of ‘there’ to ‘here’ in real-time and with near-versimilitude- means that virtuality has become the ‘fifth dimension’ of US global hegemony. In the MOUT context, such electronic simulation technologies thus blend seamlessly into physical constructions and ‘recreation’.

Cities, as they exist in First World military simulations, are virtualized yet further through inclusion in  Department of Defense video games. Such computer simulations are increasingly the norm “in a growing number of defense exercises. With ever-more-sophisticated simulation and modeling technology, the First World military meets the entertainment industry – the so-called “military-entertainment complex” – via urban design and building contractors.

Thus a cartographic ‘Cyber-deterrence’ becomes the holy grail of contemporary war-as-peace. As nuclear weaponry proliferates and begins to ostensibly level the playing field, digital dominance- here conceived of as a complete cartography- is a realm still only available to the few (richest) nation-states. Cyber-deterrence bears further similarities to nuclear deterrence, as it does not actually have to work to be effective, i.e the power lies in its symbolic exchange, here it is a knowledge-possession of territory, and a demonstrative/spectacular rehearsal of invasion and destruction. (We have your city on file).

In this sense, overhead surveillance from drones & space platforms, high-precision, high-lethality smart weapons, multi-spectral sensors, real time battle-data, networked commands, justi-in-time simulations and so on are all part of the dream of “full spectrum dominance”, where the battlefield has shifted from the geopolitical to the electromagnetic. The cartographic panopticon enacts at once a physically retracted, invisible colonialism (like that increasingly prevalent in Palestine, as provided by surveillance/teleoperation/UAV’s), and a virtualization of urban space (violence), both ensuring disappearance. (See http://diydrones.com/ for a glimpse of the possible omnipresence of such a normalized surveillant culture).

And despite the life-saving rhetoric and reality-dreams of the SIM-War realm, the traffic between map and place is fraught with slippage. The virtual urban models we are discussing have such an reality-impact on troops that CSC has to warn: “if you put a door on the side of the building, the soldier is trained for that. If he gets to the real environment and the door is on the wrong side of the building, he can get killed”. Another sinister take on the virtualization of urban control can be found in SEAS, participants in Urban Resolve 2015.

In concluding part 1, We acknowledge the Borgesian currents beneath Our interest in this topic by including a quote from Borges’ work “On Exactitude in Science”, in which an emperor sends out his royal cartographers to make the perfect map of his empire, only to have them return years later with a map that dwarfs the now-shrunken empire; the emperor naturally comes to prefer the model to reality:

“In that Empire, the Art of Cartography reached such Perfection that the map of one Province alone took up the whole of a City, and the map of the empire, the whole of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps did not satisfy and the Colleges of Cartographers set up a Map of the Empire which had the size of the Empire itself and coincided with it point by point. Less Addicted to the Study of Cartography, Succeeding Generations understood that this Widespread Map was Useless and not without Impiety they abandoned it to the Inclemencies of the Sun and of the Winters. In the deserts of the West some mangled Ruins of the Map lasted on, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in the whole Country there are no other relics of the Disciplines of Geography.”

Part 2

In Part 2 of “Animatronic Amputees in Mock-Afghanistanian Mud: Military Simulation-Urbanism, Performance & the Future of Global Warfare”:

– “All but war is simulation”: MIME-NET & Gaming

– Blurring the Base: A Typology of Military Performance in ‘civilian’ space


[1] Computer Science Corporation

[2] see also: SIMULAIDS, http://www.moulage.net/ http://www.moulage.net/IPPhoto.htm

Bibliography:

Caroline Wyatt “Tackling the ‘Taliban’ in Norfolk” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8094396.stm
“War Games” http://www.good.is/post/war_games
“Iraqi village recreated at new Bragg training site” http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/4659235/
Amit Asaravala  “When War Games Meet Video Games” http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2004/10/65403
“Mock Village Prepares U.S., NATO Forces for Deployment”  www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=51419
“Marines train at Calif. post’s Afghan ‘village’: Training equips troops with insight into terrain, Islamic culture and customs”  9/30/2008
“Troop Preparation – Mock Afghan War Village in Norfolk” http://www.hmforces.co.uk/news/articles/2303-troop-preparation—mock-afghan-war-village-in-norfolk
ANNIE LOWREY “My Trip to a Fake Afghan Village: How the U.S. military is preparing civilians for a surge of their own”.  DECEMBER 18, 2009
Heidi E Loredo “Hollywood magic prepares Marines for combat” 
“Combat Wound Medical Special Effects & Simulations” http://www.strategic-operations.com/zones/services/combattrauma/
Geoff Manaugh “A MINIATURE CITY WAITING FOR ATTACK
SUSAN WILLIS “EMPIRE’S SHADOW” New Left Review 22, July-August 2003
Dan Orzech “Cybertroops Keep War Games Real”  Wired Magazine 08.24.05 
BBC News “Soldiers train on giant simulator” Wednesday, 27 November, 2002 
Terri Judd “Welcome to Afghanistan? No, Norfolk” The Independent, UK, 11 March, 2010 
BRYAN FINOKI (Subtopia) “GoogleMapping War” JANUARY 22, 2006
BRYAN FINOKI (Subtopia) “MOUT Urbanism” FEBRUARY 23, 2008
BRYAN FINOKI (Subtopia) “Peering into the Arenas of War” APRIL 17, 2007
Vince Beiser “Baghdad, USA” WIRED magazine, Issue 14.06 – June
STEPHEN GRAHAM “WAR AND THE CITY” New Left Review 44, March-April 2007
Tim Lenoir “ALL BUT WAR IS SIMULATION: THE MILITARY-ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX” Configurations, Fall, 2000
Pasquinelli  “Warporn! Warpunk! Autonomous Videopoiesis in Wartime”, Sarai Reader 05: Bare Acts, Amsterdam-Delhi: Sarai, 2005.
Emily Singer “The speedy way to capture a city” New Scientist, 5 May 2005
“How to Do it Better” The Economist Magazine, Dec. 14 2005
James Der Derian, “Virtuous War: Mapping the Military–Industrial–Media–Entertainment Network”, Boulder, CO 2001.
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Posted in Fauxist Architecture, Fauxist Psywar | 5 Comments »

The Blobsquatch Against The Rational: The Abject Romance of Low-Res, Information-Mythologies & Divination in Cryptozoological Media

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on December 17, 2010

Bigfoot-as-blobsquatch forces the side-exit of the ruins of the (para)scientific method, opening new imaginative realms for the cryptid, new definitions of the screenal-field of a troubled Nature, and new tensions in photographic reality. This publication interrogates the problems that the blobsquatch poses for the Cryptozoological community, and looks at the blobsquatch as a form of delightful info-myth, a form of data-divination, which blurs signal-noise as figure-ground as science-myth in a postmodern take on the troubled constituents of the Medieval Bestiary.

Contents:

–       Blobsquatch: A History

–       Blobsquatch Theory: Cryptid Cliches &  “Unknowability” as “Unphotographability”:

–       From “Proto-Blobsquatchery” to “Blobsquatch in the Expanded Field”: The Work of Carl Diehl

–       Endnotes & video addenda.


Blobsquatch: A History

‘Blobsquatch’ is a term Bigfooters use to declare an alleged Bigfoot photo too blurry to determine anything- literally a blobby sasquatch. Thus the term “blobsquatch” refers to any vaguely Bigfoot-shaped mass seen (or not) in an otherwise unremarkable photograph of, for example, trees. In other words, “Blobsquatch” is specifically the object in a photograph of a supposed Bigfoot or Sasquatch that has a lack of definition and detail, whether an ostensible illusion created by a play of light within an often unfamiliar natural environment, or the result of camera movement, lack of focus, glitch, or more recently the effects of digital high-zoom and pixelation.

Thus these blobsquatch “photo-creatures” which may or may not be, but probably are not, a Sasquatch, are pareidolic[1] phenomena that assist people’s imaginations in “seeing” (finding/divining/projecting) a Bigfoot. Related photo-cryptid forms include “Blob Ness Monster” and “Blobcats”, and in physical terms, the Globster[2]

The Wooldridge Yeti

Due to its efficacy, the term blobsquatch has been retro-extended to past photographs that are not specifically about North American Sasquatch/Bigfoot. One such instance is the infamous Woolridge “Yeti Rock” image.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Leah4PRA2ZA

Blobsquatch Theory

Often a little flick is sufficient for a decision to be made. Heads or tails, a book opened at random…The bit of noise, the small random element, transforms one system or one order into another. —Michel Serres, The Parasite

 


While various sorts of cryptid evidence slowly accumulated as the twentieth century wound down, no one managed to capture images of a quality comparable to those obtained decades earlier. As in the case of Our investigation of the “Bigfoot Found on Mars” controversy, most blobsquatches refer back to earlier images and forms- and most often the 1967 Patterson-Gimiln film- Paterson-Gimlin film (arguably the most well-known cryptid photo in existence)- in a case of debatable images based on debatable images for their forms.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUAHJC9XgyA

With each advance/change in electro-visual technology, new forms of Blobsquatch come into being- new types of noise, resolution increases, and necessarily, the home software (photoshop) of the cryptozoologist leverages new spectra, deeper layering and control. (For more on this see Our work  “Here Be Dragons”: Armchair Exobiologists love Photoshop”). Perhaps most interestingly, the blobsquatch exists as a central figure of the ‘signal to noise’ ratio/relationship of the image- the figure-ground collapse, which in this case often interrogates varying affects of ‘Nature’, the boundaries body and media/technology constructs. The image below re-orders the signal-noise spectrum as the ‘blob-squatch’ continuum. We will return to this more fully below.

The viral nature of the blobsquatch- it suggests a possibly infinite expansion, inhabiting the fuzzy areas of all images, ‘treated’ or not- is curtailed only by credulity and definitional limitation. For example, one defunct CZ group defined “blobsquatch” as “anything in a picture or film which might be possibly mistaken for a Sasquatch”, which would suggest that the definition of the Cryptozoological ‘Field’ (in both senses of the word) could take on hallucinatory broadness. (See Our work “A History of NASA photograph PIA10214” for a treatment of alleged transparent cryptids). This process necessarily implicates tensions between constructions of ‘natural space’-the screenal reality of most experiences of natural space, the reality-status of the image, and the re-animating or re-wilding leverage of the cryptid. (For more on this, see Our work “The Bunyip as Mega-Faunal Oral Memory: Colonial Projections in Cryptozoology” and ‘Wild Hairy Men’: Cryptozoology, Class and Masculinity in Australia and the USA’)

The video below illustrates this- the delineating marks becomeing delightfully unstuck (especially from 0:51 onwards)- and thus implicates almost all of the space/nature/screen as blobsquatch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_jV2qmUs6k (ORIGINAL VIDEO REMOVED BY USER)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZFP7TutmrIframeborder=0

In “documentary” photographs of UFOs this elevated natural-referential status also threatens to come unstuck, to the point at which light- Photography’s basis- itself is imbued with negative and terrifying connotations.  For, despite eyewitness accounts that describe “flying saucers” as tangible technical apparatuses, they rarely have been photographed as such.  Of the innumerable photographs purporting to document flying saucers collected by the government agency Project Blue Book, very few reveal any recognizable form.  Often, these photos only show spots of light floating in the sky. It is not the fact that these photographs image what could be potentially dangerous technologies in the service of unknown beings that makes them terrifying, it is their impenetrable quality that does so.  These photographs “picture” that which cannot be seen – cannot be known.  They do so by employing the sign of the formless – the blob– and thus imply that the sky itself is an animate medium, that these atmospheric floccus- the flashes, thickenings, and quickenings- on the photographic field coalesce and disperse alternatively paranoiac and utopian intent.

While some measure their world with a very rigid yardstick in excluding all blobsquatch photos, of course, a misleading blobsquatch could be a really bad picture of an ill-defined Bigfoot in the woods[3]. But the cryptozoological field sorely- if not completely- lacks hard evidence, and that one person’s expunged blobsquatch could be another individual’s “initial” piece of potential evidence (blobsquatch motes in the eye of the beholder), forces a continuing engagement with the possibilities of the blobsquatch as evidence. Simultaneously, the discourses around the apparent, the alleged, the fake, the hoax widen to include ever stranger anomalous photographic phenomena which are increasingly divorced from the ‘traditional’ habitats, appearance and meaning of Bigfoot, making it function more obviously like a Rorschach splat than previously.[4]

The cryptozoological community is well aware that this slippage in definition, scope and field is a widespread credibility (credulity) problem in their circles, and indeed to the extent that the grainy/noisy blobsquatch photo could be said to be one of the key cryptozoological clichés. Indeed, one site contributor quips that “we might as well add blobsquatch to our list of Crypto-critters….” under the following description:

Blobsquatch. Height: ? Weight: ?

Description: dark blob

Habitat: possibility any or all photographic documents…

The CZ community evinces mixed reactions to this cliché- many bemoaning or criticizing this tendency as a final judgement on the field. Others, in a more positive move, offer sets of advice, instructions and technical information on how to create better quality, standardized images and documentation. It is on this second reaction that We now focus.

Often as part of these instructions, a list of the ‘Crypto Cliches’ is drawn up to show how obvious indeed things are. Many contain information relating specifically to the types and forms of cryptids (eg Loch Ness or BF clichés), but of interest to us here are the broader visual/media clichés, which in both their presence and nature bespeak both methodologies of hoaxing, and content related to the cultural politic of ‘encountering’, ‘photographing’, and the troubled structures of proof and veracity. Cryptozoological cliches which concern visual indeterminacy include:

– Fuzzy or out of focus pictures

– Only a glance or a few seconds of film

– Situations or conditions preventing pursuit or capture.

– Lost or corrupted ‘Evidence’

– High Zoom, pixelation.

– Arrows/circles used to demarcate a body or trace.

Thus the blobsquatch is situated in a specific spacetime- the photographer was most often unable to chase the cryptid and get more documentation- with the secondary implication being that often the photographic moment is an equally fearful encounter (importantly that is, for both hunter/hunted). The long history of interplay between the tale, the travellers report- from bigfoot as loggers tale, Paul Bunyan story, whitewashed indigeneous stories, to Pliny and the medieval Bestiaries- and scientific rationalization plays out here in the documentary narrative and indeterminancy of the creature. Thus the Blobsquatch could be said to pre-date (predate?) Bigfoot itself, being part of the long history of animal-monster speculation, now concomitant to electronic communication technologies. In this sense, to the empirical branches CZ community, the Blobsquatch has done more harm than good.

Conversely, We believe that the blobsquatch can be seen to have a productive, expansionist role in CZ, turning people’s awareness to the characteristics of these histories, the media, coincidence, forms of info-animisms and  etcetera. The blobsquatch destabilizes the authoritative role accorded empirical-scientific methods and photography, and indeed the role of the body in the sometimes-scientific field of cryptozoology. The blobsquatch summons many of the central tensions within the CZ field, recalling those around modern interpretations of the Medieval Bestiaries- those between animal/spirit (monster, demon), presence/absence, wild/described, rational/paranormal (hysteric, mythinformatic), allegorical/literal,…

Specifically, in that cryptozoology predominantly deploys an uneasy conjoining of the looping, schizoid truth claims and associative research of the anti/para-scientific, paranormal, Fortean and conspiratorial ‘genres’, with the quest for objective empirical evidence (aping scientific-zoological methodologies), by haunting the photographic realm of consumer screenal nature, and blurring the aforementioned categorical divides in ‘the document’ as field, the Blobsquatch gestures toward the side exit (like the P-G Squatch headed stage left…) of cryptozoology’s relationship to scientific method and veracity, fostering new imaginative habitats for the cryptid. (For more on this, see our recent publication “Out of Time, Place, Scale: Cryptozoology and Neo-Colonialism”.)

Remaining for a moment longer in the realm of ‘Blobsquatch Theory’, let Us pose a few interesting questions:

–       How does one bait the Blobsquatch? seed and collect glitch media?

–       What then is the Cryptozoological ‘Field’?

–       What is the ‘expedition’?

–       Will the ubiquitous ownership of portable photographic devices (i.e cell phone video/cameras) ostensibly make the search and capturing of Blobsquatches much easier?[5].

From “Proto-Blobsquatchery” to “Blobsquatch in the Expanded Field”: The Work of Carl Diehl


Hidden Animals Intro from carl diehl on Vimeo.

Critical work on the blobsquatch is rare, limited mainly to disparaging mentions on CZ forums, accusations leveled at new photos from time to time, and defensive responses from makers. The work of Carl Diehl stands out as one of the only Blobsquatch investigations worthy of mention. Taking a slightly different tack than We do here, Diehl’s Blobsquatch theory draws in Casio keyboard fetishes and circuit-bending noise, “Metaphortean Research” and phenomena of malfunction. We have included a number of Diehl’s excellent Blobsquatch video works here: “Blobsuatch in the Expanded Field”, “Proto-Blobsquatchery” and “Hidden Animals”. See Diehls site: http://www.electronicelsewhere.com/ for more. Warning: One must contend with the torpid, dead-pan echo-delay narration.

Carl Diehl “Proto-blobsquatchery”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNj0y7-kpp0

Carl Diehl “Blobsquatch in the Expanded Field” (Parts 1-3 of 3)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XXvqI8hFxk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUVGtKQSUEI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy1sLVOGLT8


Endnotes & Video Addenda

The Globster


Gimlin-GlobSquatch?

The following video presents an interesting circling of this- implying that a Blob-Gimilin can be seen in the background of the Patterson-Gimlin film…

CLICK HERE To VIEW

Gimlin-GlobSquatch

——————-

[1] Pareadolia- explanation and link to BF on mars.

[2] Globster: a conflation of monster and glob (‘Glob’ being a combination of Globe and Blob) describes an entertaining sub-genre of aquatic cryptids that form when agglomerations of weed, rubbish, and/or decaying bodies or biological materials wash ashore. The Globster would thus seem to be a physical or ‘body’ blobsquatch- an interpretative field involving physical matter and possible biological forms. The Globster neatly fits Our definition of an accidental instance of ‘Botched Taxidermy’ as discussed in “Out of Time, Place, Scale: Cryptozoology and Neocolonialism”  and promises interesting experimental forays. See video in endnotes below.

[3] See HERE for a deeper investigation on how to analyse a blobsquatch photo.

[4] We have undertaken a comparison of the blobsquatch to Rorschach images/tests elsewhere.

[5] This is indeed a current debate in crypto communities- adherents expressing a simultaneous mix of revulsion and desire around the increasing deployment of consumer imaging technologies- as to whether such devices offer more chances at documentation, more eyes in the field, or the further blurring of the scientific intent of CZ and the proliferation of bad Bluberry Blobsquatches. See HERE for documentation and debate on one of the first cases of an apparent cryptid (The Wiltshire Panther) caught with a cell phone camera:  , and as discussed on CryptoMundo.com

Posted in Fauxist Cryptozoology, Fauxist Psywar | 1 Comment »

Participatory SURVEILLANCE & Psychovideography: “Virtual Border Watch”, Pay-CCTV, & Military Ghost Webcams

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on November 10, 2010

Contents:

– Introduction: “The geo- is now in the video”

– Virtual Deputies on the Texas Border

– A participatory Panopticon on your street?: Citizens ‘Crime Control’ & “Internet Eyes”

– CCTV, Psychovideography & The Cinematic Dream of Surveillance City

– Ghost Webcams in military space


Introduction: “The geo- is now in the video”

As part of a larger Fauxist project on ‘An Anthropology of Telepresence’- investigating UAV’s and colonisation, the NeoConOpticon, Drone wars, Sim Arch-  this publication outlines 4 instances of recent Participatory Surveillance- Texas Border Watch, Asbo TV, Internet Eyes, and Ghost Webcams in military space- & looks at how these relate to the dreams of constant surveillance in Psychovideography (a take on the Situationists Psychogeography, updated for the virtualisation of space in which “The geo- is now in the video”).

This article focuses on participatory surveillance using webcams, and instances that exhibit a mix of public-private deployments, governments and councils teaming up with tech companies to outsource surveillance to the public eye. The use of public subscriber webcams and public access CCTV- citizen surveillance facilitated by government-corporate interests. Citizen patrol and report on borders, criminality (from organised crime, ‘anti-social behaviour’, to shoplifting), and look at the various incentives and motivations etc.

Key terms in this field include:

– Responsibilization,

– Vigilance

– The Securitisation and Criminalisation of immigration

– Sousveillance and Synopticism

The Rise of the “Participatory Panopticon”

Jamais Cascio has written and spoken numerous times about an emerging “Participatory Panopticon” and the cultural shift when consumers themselves assume the reins of societal surveillance through the ubiquity of cell phones, pocket-cams, municipal free wi-fi networks, and the proliferation of mobile communications networks across the urban grid.

Cascio focuses on consumer technologies- namely personal electronic devices- as providing the means for such a shift in scale and nature of surveillance: “In the world of the participatory panopticon, this constant surveillance is done by the citizens themselves, and is done by choice. It’s not imposed on us by a malevolent bureaucracy or faceless corporations. The participatory panopticon will be the emergent result of myriad independent rational decisions, a bottom-up version of the constantly watched society.”

This notion of individual citizens keeping a technological eye on the people in charge is referred to as “sousveillance,” a recent neologism meaning “watching from below”  (in comparison to “surveillance,” meaning “watching from above).” Proponents of the notion see it as an equalizer, making it possible for individual citizens to keep tabs on those in charge.

Whilst We find Cascio’s ideas intriguing- the Little Big Brother- We find structural melds and crossovers of government-corporate, military-industrial and citizen surveillance most interesting, due to its organizing powers, scope and moral compulsion. The following examples of participatory surveillance serve to demonstrate some elements of Our thinking in this area.

Virtual Deputies on the Texas Border

Witness the rise of trans-border videogeographic neighborhood-watch.

'Illegal Immigrants' on Border Watch Webcam

In 2008, the US launched a real-time interactive internet site, the Texas Virtual Border Watch Program, which shows real-time video from the US – Mexico border.

By using this site, anyone who wishes to participate in the US border control can have access to a network of webcams that feed 24/7 live streaming video showing the border. One just needs to sign up to the campaign’s website and the images from the cameras can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an online computer. From the website, it is possible to use a hot line in order to alert the authorities to any activity perceived as ‘suspicious’. An alert is sent to the Texas Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, who decide whether to take action.

The programme is governed as a public–private partnership with a company called BlueServo and a $2million donation from the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, in 2008 and another $2million in 2009.

At this point, there are 23 cameras placed at ‘strategic crossing points’. Since the site went live in November 2008, it has received more than 50 million hits, and more than 130,000 people have registered to become ” virtual deputies”. They are located as far afield as Australia, Mexico, Colombia, Israel, New Zealand and the UK.

Another facet of this program is the ability of the public to connect their own cameras to www.BlueServo.net to create local Virtual Neighborhood WatchesSM in order to protect their own homes, neighborhoods, and families from criminal acts. These Virtual Neighborhood WatchesSM can, in turn, be connected to form additional Virtual Community WatchesSM.

Leisure Time

Hence You, Our ever-vigilant reader, are invited to switch on your computer, eat some Val, sit comfortably in your easy chair and start watching. Before you start enjoying your exciting virtual journey, there are two warnings. First, it might not be as exciting as you expected. Most of the time, there is nothing to see on the long deserted borderline. The river is flowing, leaves are shivering in the wind and occasionally some birds are flying past the camera. Whenever you see cows walking on the river banks, it feels like witnessing action. The landscapes are very slow. But indeed, you can just open the window beside the latest episode of True Blood and keep half an eye out for the vampiric illegal aliens in Texas whilst the ‘other vampire drama’ unfolds…

[Phyllis] Waller, a border camera watcher in Oklahoma, said she

spends about an hour each evening after work during the week and a

little more time during the weekend patrolling the border online. Her

other Internet pastime, she said, is watching a site that tracks bald

eagles. “I watch eagles and illegals. That’s a fun thing to do,” she said.

[. . .] “I’m interested in decreasing the number of illegals,” she said. “I

don’t care if they come over as long as they do it legally. I don’t like

the drugs, I don’t like the crime”

(El Paso Times, 11 July 2009).

 

When Robert Havercamp, a truck driver from South Texas, sees them on

his computer screen, he says: “I don’t know what’s in those duffle bags

but it’s a good, strong possibility . . .” “It could be clothes. It could be mar-

ijuana. It could be cocaine. It could be methamphetamine. Or it could be a

bomb,” he said. “We were invaded in 2001; you want that again?” . . .

“Sometimes I’ll pull an all-nighter, because the bad guys gonna wait

’til late at night to do anything,” Havercamp said

(CBS News, 6 February 2009).

 

When her baby girl takes an afternoon nap, or on those nights when she

just can’t sleep, Sarah Andrews, 32, tosses off her identity as a suburban

stay-at-home mom and becomes something more exotic: a “virtual

deputy” patrolling the U.S. – Mexico border. From her house in a

suburb of Rochester, New York, Andrews spends at least four hours a

day watching BlueServo.net. . . . “Today, there’s a couple

vehicles that are parked side by side next to each other,” she said by

phone, her seven-month-old cooing in the background, “but I can’t tell

what’s going on, you know?”

(CNN, 12 March 2009).

 

“I don’t have to know right from wrong…Perhaps they’re just fishing…”: A BBC interview with Les Stout, Virtual deputy, who expounds many of the key tenets We explore below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/03/100316_webcam_border_wt_sl.shtml

Imperial Interactivity

It is generally the case that the authorities are as creative in harnessing the new technologies for their own purposes as anybody else. For all of the tawdry webcam art, CCTV work and hyperbolic ‘Interactivity’ rhetoric in the contemporary art world (like the field of Bioarts when compared to the innovations of biopiracy, biometrics etc), the practices and draw of BlueServo far outstrip most critical work in the field.

In fact, the description of technologies used on the border (weaponized UAV’s and cyborg vehicles etc), and the essentially static geographical/topographical relationship of the Virtual Border Watch makes the webcams look like a ‘natural’- or even technologically quite modest- new stage in a continuum of technological control. It also seems self-evident, that along with other techniques, the online community would also be harnessed to support borderwork. Even so, since the other forms of technology are strictly controlled by the authorities, in its interactivity the Texas Virtual Border Watch Program proves not to be part of a continuum, but rather a new stage in the politics of surveillance and borderwork.

The program is a perfect example of synopticism: many watching few instead of few watching many (as in the Panopticon, for example).  As Haggerty (2006, p. 33) argues, ‘it matters enormously who is actually conducting surveillance’. The hype about interactivity has been accompanied by critical notions. Andrejevic (2007, p. 213) accurately points out that ‘interactivity is becoming synonymous with asymmetrical forms of monitoring, information gathering, and surveillance’.

VR: Vigilance and Responsibilisation.

Two key terms regarding citizens and surveillance/security culture: Vigilance and Responsibilisation.

The rhetoric of vigilance has increased, and interestingly in this example, vigilance also highlights that citizens are not just mere objects of surveillance (although they very much still are also that), but can work as active agents of surveillance.

Scholars have argued that fear has lately become an omnipresent state of living which “takes root in our motives and purposes, settles in our actions and saturates our daily routines”. Fear is creating a moral pressure towards individuals asking “not only keeping ourselves safe but also in evaluating the conduct of others” (Mythen and Walklate, 2006, p. 136; emphasis added). Thus the BorderWatch programme plays a part in the social construction of suspicion. The programme makes evident that it is “the bordering process, rather than the borders per se” (Newman, 2006, p. 144) that is crucial. Furthermore, fear as a situated experience and fear as a transformation of visual culture are increasingly connected. To capture images (of almost anything/anybody) can easily be explained within the rhetoric of security.

Gradually, the movement of people has been increasingly posed as a risk. In this securitisation of immigration, immigration is perceived as a security problem (Bigo, 2002). This does not necessarily relate to concrete threat (of terrorism) but to perceived unease which is channelled against the Other. Again, this is outsourced to private companies, with profit motives and feeds a growing sector of private  ‘Immigration Prisons’ in the US. The NPR report below explores this further.

http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=130833741&m=130878467&t=audio
see also: http://tucsoncitizen.com/cell-out-arizona/tag/alec/

This brings up the issue of responsibilisation. Responsibilisation activities “rest implicitly upon an assumption that the state alone cannot guarantee security” (Herbert, 1999, p. 151). The authorities “actively enlist participation of non-state actors and agencies and thus share the burden of controlling unwanted social phenomena”.

The Texas Virtual Border Watch Program also applies well to the changing idea of the location of borders. As many scholars have argued, borders are currently understood as being spread all around societies rather than locating merely on the border areas. Visual images create interaction between virtual and material spaces, hence blurring different levels of reality. The transborder dimensions of border policing blur the boundaries between internal and external spheres of policing and security policies (Aas, 2005). This phenomenon shifts our attention from ‘the state’ and sovereignty narrowly conceived to more nebulous realms where the sensibilities, ideologies, desires, and numerous other forces that constitute ‘statecraft from below’ are played out’ (Doty, 2007, p. 118).

It is argued that the programme remains ‘cosmetic’ border control and that this echoes the dilemma between economic wellbeing and security issues. As the report above would indicate, such measures, however cosmetic, are part of a greater drive to leverage vigilantism and responsibilization for control and profit.

Finally, a brief look at possible hackings of the web-border. The U.S federal government has intelligence suggesting that drug smugglers themselves have logged on to BlueServo.net and used the cameras to make sure that Border Patrol agents are not at a certain location, and then quickly moved loads of drugs across the border at those points (The New York Times/The Lede, 26 March 2009). In the words of William Gibson, that grand-daddy of net-saturation: “The Street finds its own uses for things – uses the manufacturers never imagined”. Other reports find that a substantial number of logged ‘activity reports’ were ‘obviously hoaxes’. Our favourite instance being: “There are some men crossing the water. They have a bottle of tequila and a big hat”  (Homeland Security Newswire, 16 July 2009).

Participatory Panopticon on your street

“Enter the Prime Time television era of couch-potato crime-solving” Subtopia

A London bus-stop ad.

A number of programs involving citizens monitoring CCTV weblinks (& often paying to do so) to stop crime, anti-social activities, ‘terrorism’ and so on, have recently been initiated around the world. Serving to promote models of responsibilization and vigilance, and further to fill in the time before facial recognition and profiling technologies become sophisticated enough to allow supercomputers to do the work themselves?

According to Subtopia, as part of Tony Blair’s new “Respect” (pdf) program to try and legislate “proper social behavior” (a strategy even willing to evict people from their homes), residents of Shoreditch will become the first in Britain to receive “Asbo TV” — television beamed live to their homes from CCTV cameras on the surrounding streets.  In one of the poorest areas in the country, residents will have to pay £3.50 a week for the full package, after installing a little box offering 55 channels of “good old fashioned surveillatopia-surfing fun”.

Billed as a wonderfully oxymoronic “community TV security project”, viewers “will also be able to compare characters they see behaving suspiciously with an on-screen “rogues’ gallery” of local recipients of anti-social behavior orders (Asbos),” the Sunday Times reports. They will then be able to use “an anonymous e-mail tip-off system to report to the police anyone they see breaching an Asbo or committing a crime.”

A notably similar program was announced for the US only a few years ago in the New York Times. The difference is that in the US they plan to force people to watch the system either over their computer or cable system. Though, interestingly, watching it will be classified as ‘public service’ to pay for speeding tickets and eventually as a mandatory function of your civil defense Homeland Security draft duties.

One imagines whole prisons fitted out with CCTV rooms, captive populations… being watched themselves by CCTV… Starting at two hours a week and, if you wish to be paid, upwards of twenty hours a week, you will monitor the cameras for signs of terrorism and also, as admitted in the New York Times piece, for crime.

A third contemporary example is the poetically named ‘Internet Eyes’, this time designed to curb shoplifting (as we well know that no one watches shop cameras).

'Internet Eyes' screenshot.

Internet Eyes is an online “instant event notification system” allowing registered ‘Viewers’ at home to monitor live CCTV feed from ‘Business Customers’, and notify them ‘the instant a crime is observed’. Internet Eyes will apparently pay up to £1,000 to subscribers who regularly report suspicious activity such as shoplifting. (For a  debunking of the company).

7000 people signed up in the first week of operation in England alone, and the company believes that international viewers will further swell the ranks. For example, the different time zones made Australia the ideal location for detecting night-time crime in the UK (“I would love people in Australia to be looking at this,” managing director Tony Morgan says), and conversely, the scheme could also be switched so that UK residents monitored cameras in Australian cities and so on ad nauseaum.

Example of 'Internet Eyes' Interface

One subscriber, Paul from Hammersmith, cited both vigilance and responsibaliztion when he told the BBC News website he thought it was his civic duty to sign up:

“We’re in a time of austerity and there has been a reduction in the budgets of police and local authorities but by doing this, I feel I can help. It will help people feel safe and secure and it’s not like putting a camera in your house. These are in public places. I hate criminality and if I can help stop it, I will.”

Psychovideography

Dostoyevsky’s murderer would stand no chance here..

The Fauxists are also interested in the aesthetic/psychological histories and affect of such programs as those discussed above. We have long evinced an interest in psychogeography, which We’ve extended to encompass psychosisgeography, cryptogeography & military urbanism, drug architecture (1 & 2), dream architecture & near death experiences (& etc).

An article by Geoff M. of BLDG BLOG, develops the term ‘psychovideography’- regarding “the videographic psyche of the city”- the psychological effects of generalized and predominantly invisible surveillance- and in discussing the NYC CCTV system mentioned above, Manaugh frames such a project in terms of film/cinema and architecture. His work is worth quoting at length:

“And so now New York City may attempt to install the total cinematic dream that has consumed London’s private security firms for the past three decades, lost as they are in the Warholian ecstasy of filming every last centimeter of urban space, week after month after year, in what is surely the largest outright expenditure of cinematic ambition since… perhaps since film began… But to introduce a new term here, we would find ourselves discussing not *psychogeography* – that outdated fetish of a new crop of uninspired theses, from Princeton to the AA – but *psychovideography*, the videographic psyche of the city. If security firms are the new providers of our urban unconscious, a hundred thousand endless films recording twenty-fours a day, indefinitely, then we should perhaps find that the outdated methodologies of the psychogeographers have hit an impasse. The geo- is now in the video-, as it were, and the -graphy survives just the same. Throw in some 24-hour psycho-, and we begin to see the city through the lens of an unacknowledged avant-garde: a subset of the film industry whose advance front has taken on the guise of security… The response: psychovideography. Endless filming. Install the umbrella of a total cinema and move freely into the next phase of urbanism: fortress urbanism… ‘Security’ is a red herring; we are witnessing instead the triumphal rearing-up of an unconscious cinematic fantasy.”

Subtopia goes on to ask: “in the age of “panoptic urbanism”, with millions of CCTV cameras streaming an ongoing meta-history of all our lives together across an incomprehensibly fragmented screen of cinematic terrestrial optometry, I, too, wonder, would you rather be watched by computers, or people? Can we rely on future detection systems to make accurate judgments in all their algorithmic pattern-gazing automatonist wizardry?”. (See here for hilarious current US army work in the area). Interestingly, these forms of digital criminal anthropometry and biometrics are uncannily like the outdated phrenology and craniometry. with their associated criminological and racialist baggage, the only difference is that the database becomes animated and searches for itself. Possibilities suggest themselves for the performance of a criminal type, a posture, the suspicious tic, and working into the database of nervous behaviours would seem a goldmine for deconstructive dancers…

In literary terms, the experience and cultural/architectural significance of watching these forms of CCTV could be captured in a 1000 page novel called “The Possibility of A Crime” describing part of a floor of a parking garage in blurry grayscale… Or something from late Beckett meets Proust?

Subtopia goes on to discuss possible developments of participatory surveillance involving video-gaming and gamers to work in sim/real space to monitor crime and patrol space. By mixing elements of skill and endurance-based reward and narrative progression with monitoring and surveillance, a generation of tween tweakers could take up the reins of the particpatory surveillance self-state…

Ghost webcams in military space:

(Project Excerpt)

This project investigates the uses and intents of webcams installed on military spaces- former battlefields, installations etc- as part of a project on Cryptogeography, Military Urbanism, and an Anthropology of Telepresence. By interrogating webcams monitoring supposedly haunted military space or ‘equipment’ (like the USS Lexington’s aft engine room Ghost- the webcam showing the “Turbine and miscellaneous gauges of the aft engine room… where the spectre is most often sighted”) or for the ghosts/spirits of battlefiedls- particularly those of mythic-historic, nationalist importance, like the Gettysburg Battlefield Ghostcam (with timelapse compilations), We hope to explore the significance of military ghosts in contemporary politics in terms of belonging, memory, recreationism and monumentality.

Other notable instances of the many haunted battlefields include: Oriskany Battlefield, Shiloh National Military Park, and Stones River BattleField In Murfreesboro TN

_____

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Bibliography:

“WEbcam Border Patrol” http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/webcam-border-patrol/#ixzz11vU0GPKb

Koskela, Hille(2010) ‘Did You Spot an Alien? Voluntary Vigilance, Borderwork and the Texas Virtual Border Watch Program’, Space and Polity, 14: 2, 103 — 121

O’Donnell, S.;   Richard, M.;   Turning Municipal Video Surveillance Cameras Into Municipal Webcams Technology and Society, 2006. ISTAS 2006. IEEE International Symposium on 8-10 June 2006

Subtopia/ name “The Panoptic Arcade”  “THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2006

BLDG BLOG/Geoff M  “PSYCHOVIDEOGRAPHY / ‘FORTRESS URBANISM’

Schneier on Security: A blog covering security and security technology. “Now Everyone Gets to Watch the Cameras” January 11, 2006

Hille Koskela  ‘WATCH THE BORDER 24/7, ON YOUR COUCH’ : Texas Virtual Border Watch Program and the politics of informing

Dhruti Shah “CCTV site Internet Eyes hopes to help catch criminals” BBC News, 4 October 2010 Last updated at 03:36 GMT

BBC News “Public to monitor CCTV from home” Tuesday, 6 October 2009 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8293784.stm 

“Participatory Panopticon at the Border” http://subtopia.blogspot.com/2006/11/participatory-panopticon-at-border.html

NeoConOpticon: The EU Security Industrial Complex “internet-eyes-the-privatisation-of-the-surveillance-society”

http://neoconopticon.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/internet-eyes-the-privatisation-of-the-surveillance-society/

http://www.peoplesrepublicofsouthdevon.co.uk/2010/10/01/spot-a-crime-and-win-cash-prizes-internet-eyes-launches-in-newton-abbot/

JOHN MARKOFF and JOHN SCHWARTZ “Many Tools of Big Brother Are Up and Running” NY Times, December 23, 2002  http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/23/technology/23PEEK.html

Is the “Internet Eyes” CCTV web monitoring “game” merely incompetent, or an actual scam ? By wtwu on October 10, 2009  http://p10.hostingprod.com/@spyblog.org.uk/blog/2009/10/10/is-the-internet-eyes-cctv-game-merely-incompetent-or-an-actual-scam.html

Jamais Cascio “The Rise of the Participatory Panopticon” 4 MAY 05 http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/002651.html

Alex Jones & Paul Joseph Watson, The Panopticon: A Mass Surveillance Prison For Humanity, PrisonPlanet.com, January 11 2006

David Murray “Internet Eyes to pay Australians for spying on UK shoplifters” The Courier-Mail October 15, 2009 http://www.news.com.au/technology/internet-eyes-to-pay-australians-for-spying-on-uk-shoplifters/story-e6frfro0-1225786976734#ixzz14Aok6AR1

Posted in Fauxist Architecture, Fauxist Psywar | 1 Comment »

Fauxist Investigations in ‘Feminization Hypnosis’: Gender Dysphoria, Autogynephilia, Schizoanalysis, Postmodernism & “Becoming-Woman”…

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on October 22, 2010

This publication documents some of the theoretical, performance and film uses of “feminization hypnosis” and its associated fields undertaken by the Fauxist International betweenMay 2008 and June 2010.



Contents:

Project Outline & Aims

“Superfemalewhammy” (22:53): What is Feminization Hypnosis?

An Anthropology of Feminization Hypnosis

Subliminal Sissyfication and “HypnoFemme”

Feminization as a Technique of Torture

Pathology: Theorizing of Trans identities

Autogynephilic and Homosexual Trans: Dr. Ray Blanchard, Etc.

Transsexuality & Postmodernism: “The End of History”?

Regrette Etcetera. performs Femme Hypno @ Carnival of Electric Illusions, Sydney 2009

Associated publications:


– “Initial Fauxist Experiments in Feminization Hypnosis 2008-10”. (Upcoming)

– ““Thanks for helping me free the woman inside”: Selected Testimonials from Fauxist Feminization Hypnosis Users” (2010)

– “The Tasaday Berdache: Hypnotic 2-spirit sub-tribe” (2010)

Project Outline

An under-explored area, Feminization Hypnosis is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining popularity, mainly online. The number of dedicated femmehypno sites has risen from 8 in 2005 to 94 in 2010, the number of products available from 30 to over 2000 respectively, according to sitetrend.com. Some sites boast high numbers of visitors. Most of the products are sold through mail-order/websites, and the Femme hypnotic materials primarily take the form of audio tapes, Mp3’s, CD/DVD’s, but range to phone consultations, hypnotherapist outcalls, and ‘hexed’ hypnotic clothing and accessories.

Put most simply, and following the argot of the vendors, Feminization hypnosis is the process of inducing hypnotic states in ‘men’ which allow them to assume a ‘female’ identification, however ‘deep’ or with whatever longevity. Feminization hypnosis is primarily framed for use in three ways: by transgendered, transvestite and transsexual people; in the context of a dominant/submissive relationship (FemDom); and as sexual experimentation. In a typical ‘session’, the normal ‘male’ personality and perceptions of a ‘male’ body are set aside as a ‘female’/feminine personality, and/or an imagined/projected ‘female’/feminine ‘body’ and ‘sensations’ are created in/for the client. This may be accomplished by traditional hypnosis suggestions (in this case generally delivered by audio recordings and film), metaphorical stories, or intense visualization while under hypnosis. Feminization hypnosis is a controversial type of hypnosis, occasionally classified as a type of voluntary brainwashing, and is generally regarded as fraudulent by registered or professional hypnotists.

As of May 2008, the Fauxist International has initiated a number of investigation and projects around Feminization Hypnosis, as it lies within a number of our areas of interest, namely: Speculative literature, anti-science, trans-motifs, invocational literature/performance, abjection and pathologized identities, and suggests numerous possibilities for deployment in a didactic mode in productions and performance. By unpacking and experimenting with the existing products, and producing our own, we have managed to expand the field and it’s implicit political-cultural baggage.

This Project has sought to:

– Investigate the methodologies, forms and content of these products and their associated framing discourse, and look at the presumptions and assumptions of femininity, feminization- namely the metaphorics of femininity, feminine artifactuality, somatics, performance and simulacrum- through a political trans lens.

– Investigate the role of reaffirmation, reiteration and repetition in ‘performativity’ of gender and psychosomatics.

– Address the pathologization and medicalization of trans bodies and identities, the gatekeeper roles of psychologists and doctors, and the ways in which ‘self-organizing’ identities function and are upheld, specifically in relation to consumer products that purport to offer independent agency. Investigate theories of Autogynephilia(s) and paraphilic identities (see ‘Pathology’ section and video below), regarding how they are called upon and mobilized by Femme hypno.

– Deliberately invoke anti-scientific and anti-rational belief systems, motifs of conspiracy theory, the trappings of charlatanism, quackery, and so on. In the investigation of subliminal, hypnotic and channelling methodologies, and their linkages with received medico-scientific renderings of trans psychology and embodiment, we have endeavoured to unpack the truly conspiratorial nature of gender re/iteration and patrol by hegemonies and authorities throughout history.

– Explore feminization ‘Magick’ and hexing in relation to various uses of trance, invocation, spirit-possession, channeling, and parapsychological phenomena.

– Explore the large crossovers between these techniques- especially ‘sissification’ and ‘femme domme’ hypnosis- and the interrogation-torture technologies of the military-industrial complex globally, most notably in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the ‘Dark Prisons’ of the US. By looking at the various fetishizations of the torture-interrogative techniques, with their attendant nationalism(s), gender and sexual orders (following Coco Fusco’s “Field Guide for Female Interrogators” 2009) and the ways these feed back into one-another, We seek to combine theories of the ‘postmodern confessional’, the reiterative performativity of gender and nationalisms, and the roles of (hegemonic Western) femininity as a device of coercion.

– Look at popular media’s role as a vehicle of hypnosis and suggestion in the maintenance of femininity and artifactuality.

– Delineate the trans mind-body relationships most commonly found in the Feminization Hypnosis genre, compare and contrast these with the medical/psychological establishment, and with theories of performativity, dis/identifications etc.

– Explore the claims of numerous theorists- notably the work of Susan Stryker, Jean Baudrillard, Donna Haraway and Marjorie Garber- which state that ‘Trans’/’transsexuality’ epitomises postmoderism and/or postmodern identity. And. In doing so, interrogating the ways in which trans identities are ‘looked through’ and used to produce/offer ‘deconstructive possibilities’ for identity politics.

– As such, explore how the transgendered subject is seen as either an apocalyptic or redemptive metaphor.

– Critique the anthropological/ethnographic elements to trans studies. By looking at the deployment of the Berdache, 2-spirit identities (etc) by white &/or western trans academics/activists, and also the libertarian uses of trans as a destabilizaing or deterritorializing space or force. These currents can be found to echo throughout the Feminization Hypnosis materials in subtle yet nefarious ways.

Project Aims:

– Publish our investigations and solicit work of others.

– Create a range of critical/hallucinatory-baroque femme hypno materials and merchandise- scripts, recordings, videos- using a variety of means including subliminal and hypnosis software, binaural beats programs, found materials, detourned materials, plagiarism, and so on.

– Continue to expand Our use of femme hypno techniques and media in public performance settings- listening stations, for audiences etc.

– Create ‘environments’ and installations that work on feminization hypnosis principles and motifs, including deployments in architectural work.

What is Feminization Hypnosis?

“Why spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on potions, creams, surgery, etc., when you probably have the absolute best tool already at your disposal! YOUR MIND! Instead of having male and female atributes in conflict with each other, learn how to join the forces of your mind and body – and have them work together to achieve a gender balance and harmony. This CD or MP3 recording will even complement your existing feminization regime – so add it to your feminine box-of-tricks today!”

Richard MacKenzie (www.richardmackenzie.co.uk)

“The process of sorting out sexual identity is a difficult one for many men. For those who self-identify more strongly as a woman than a man, they may seek outlets for their female side including cross-dressing, gender reassignment surgery and, increasingly, hypnosis. Feminization hypnosis can play an important role in helping to prepare or complete gender reassignment surgery.”

Isabella Valentine (www.isabellavalentine.com)

“As you develop the look, the sound and the feel of a woman, you will be motivated on towards achieving more and more of you feminization goals – whether they be total feminization, partial feminization, un-forced feminization, temporary or permanent feminization…There are men who try surgery to become a woman. But surgical operations can only change the outside of your body, it can not make you feel like a real woman, because inside you are still a man. Instead, hypnosis breaks down the psychological barriers that prevent a man to become a truly woman. In other word, you can use feminization hypnosis to achieve the results that you will not get with surgery”.

http://www.hypnosisblacksecrets.com/hypnosis/feminization-hypnosis


An under-explored area, Feminization Hypnosis is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining popularity, mainly online. Sold through mailorder and websites, the hypnotic materials take the form of audio tapes, Mp3’s, films, and even phone consultations. The number of dedicated femmehypno sites has risen from 8 in 2005 to 94 in 2010, the number of products available from 30 to over 2000 respectively, according to sitetrend.com. Some sites boast high numbers of visitors.

Put most simply, and following the argot of the vendors, Feminization hypnosis is the process of inducing hypnotic states in ‘men’ which allow them to assume a ‘female’ identification, however ‘deep’ or with whatever longevity. Feminization hypnosis is primarily used in three ways: by transgendered, transvestite (cross-dresser) and transsexual men; in the context of a dominant/submissive relationship (FemDom); and as sexual experimentation. In a session, the normal male personality and perceptions of a ‘male’ body are set aside as a female personality, and/or an imagined/projected ‘female’ ‘body’ and ‘sensations’ are created in/for the client. This may be accomplished by traditional hypnosis suggestions (in this case generally delivered by audio recordings and film), metaphorical stories, or intense visualization while under hypnosis. Feminization hypnosis is a controversial type of hypnosis, occasionally classified as a type of voluntary brainwashing, and is generally regarded as fraudulent by registered or professional hypnotists. The producers go about establishing authority in the usual manner- Satisfied customer statements, repetitive assertions of their veracity, efficacy, vie expert testimonial etc.

Content: Most of the audio/Mp3 tracks last from 16 to 25 minutes, and consist of a central, customized hypnosis section bookended by a standardized hypnotic introduction/induction and conclusion which differ little from session to session. Narrated in the flat, monotonous tone commonly associated with hypnosis, and often with a pervasive boredom bordering on contempt. Many would appear to be made in home/PC environments by amateurs, and some are characteristically poorly executed, with glitch pops and background noise level changes at the transitions between standardised and session-unique content, and obvious re-edits of the narrations. The more professional works contain jingles, music and standardized branding motifs.

Efficacy/Veracity: The effectiveness or ‘reality’ of hypnotic techniques and subliminal materials are fully explored in our publications “Pop Music vs. Islam”, “It’s Hard to Even Think About…”, “Fauxist Subliminal Sleep Audio Tapes”, “One Second Theatre Competition”, “Fauxist Spirit Recording Project” (All available by clicking on the Category group ‘Fauxist Psywar’ at top left).

NOTE: The relative paucity of ‘Masculinization Hypnosis’ or equivalent materials, when compared to Feminization Hypnosis, is another significant facet of the field, and whilst in many ways  indicative of the motif of ‘feminine artifactuality’ discussed below, this is beyond the scope of the current publication, and We will leave it up to you to unpack the significance of this important fact.


“You will need to dedicate only 20 minutes a day to listen to the recording (repetition of the suggestions is very important) however the extra time spent on following the instructions, massages and exercises revealed on that recording, will pay huge dividends in hastening and compounding your feminization. Some results, such as the breast enhancement, are pretty much permanent, requiring only a little maintenance, but other results and effects will need more constant manicuring and attention, until they become “second nature”. (Or is that first nature?)”


LINKS: Creators of such products include:

http://www.goddessladylita.com/,

www.studiojezebel.com,

“Gender Hypnotherapy at it’s best” http://www.cheetu.com/

www.isabellavalentine.com,

www.monablu.com,

http://hypnosisdownloads.ws/self-feminization.php

http://sissytrance.com/main/

http://www.self-feminization-hypnosis.com/7steps/

http://www.hypnoticfeminization.com/index.php

http://feminizationsecrets.com/videos/free-feminization-hypnosis-video-mp3/

http://www.angelabaileyhypnosis.com/feminization-hypnosis.html

http://www.feminization-hypnosis.org/

An Anthropology of Feminization Hypnosis

Common tenets/content:

1. Femininity: Psycho-social-intellectual

– – Associated with submissive sexuality.

– – Femininity as, and as producing fetishization, artiface, constructedness.

– – Underwritten by desperation, & secret hysterias.

– – Psychic disjunction and dysphoric mind-body interplay.

– – Untroubled/Unproblematised assumptions of binary gender and psychology.

– – Changes in interests & conversational content, generally informed by veiled misogyny.

– – Heavy focus on quasi-mythic accessories- lingerie, heels, makeup

2. Trans: Specific Proclivities of Transfemme identities to Hypnosis according to associated literature:

Dysphoric states. Predominantly rendered as ‘Wrong Body’ syndrome.

Unique Neurochemical/hormonal configurations/conflagrations to be activiated/switched off.

– Exhibiting an adlib mix of ‘Autogynephilic’ and ‘Homosexual’ trans categories whenever necessary.

– A generalized hypersexualization of transfemininity

– A focus on the ‘shemale’ as abject, psychologically fraught/unstable, transgressive sexually.

– abjection of trans desire

3. Somatic:

– – Comportment: Mandatory Leg-crossing etc.

– – Higher, quieter voice

– – Nicer/softer hair

– – Spontaneous Breast Growth

– – Secondary sex characteristics changed

– – Relevant Genetic De/Activation through hypnosis

– – Rewriting of ancestral/genealogical heritage.

 

HypnoFeminatrixes, Sissyfication:

In the context of a domme-sub relationship, forced feminization is a relatively common form of sexual play. In the dominant ‘heterosexual’ context the vast majority of dommes are female (FemDom) (ed. as in the reverse case it’s just patriarchy?). This is generally termed forced feminization as the submissive is “forced” by the dominant to assume a feminine, read as humiliating and/or subservient, role, including the wearing of ‘women’s’ clothing and makeup, but is generally not transgendered in their normal life. Femdom and sissification are key areas in the production and reinforcement of gender stereotypes.

From Mona Blu.com: “PussyCock : Sissy prissy…it’s the only way to be. And you feel this deep hypnotic resonating being. Hues in various shades of pink and purples. So very very soft, so very hypnotically soft, satin and lace in perfect harmony, and you feel so very hypnotic.” PussyPants : An intensive femme-laced hypnosis trance session that will allow you to set yourself free, allowing for the inner girlie to merge out. Prolonged visual directives guide you towards a feeling of sexual fulfillment and gender identity. Focus is completely lost as you simply allow intensive post hypnotic triggers to embed themselves deep into your psyche.”

Hypnosis can enhance role-playing in these situations, and brainwashing techniques may be used by the dominant. Some providers employ significant “brainwashing” techniques, including disorientation through extreme volume, confusing voices and imagery, and belittling of the male personality and body while asserting female characteristics. The sessions may or may not include an experience of sex as a woman. In the case of a series of such recorded products by Isabella Valentine, a well known female dominant using hypnosis extensively, brainwashing includes high volume, tremolo binaural brainwave patterns played very rapidly, alternating beats in each ear, white noise, high frequencies, drones, whispers and static to achieve significant confusion for the listener while suggestions and subliminal suggestions are repeated for effect. Some providers offer feminization hypnosis sessions by phone.

Feminization as a Technique of Torture

As explored in our publications “Pop Music vs. Islam”, “It’s Hard to Even Think About…” and “FSAAT” and “Initiations of New Americans at Abu Ghraib”, many hypnotic and subliminal techniques were developed and tested in the 1950’s, adopted by the CIA and military-industrial complex(es), and are now deployed in war interrogation-torture settings globally. Specifically in relation to feminization hypnosis, such techniques are often used to feminize (and thus disempower) a captive, source, or population- replete with a deliberately invoked range of cultural phobias around gender, sexuality, menstruation etc. as seen in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib. This facet of femme hypno, extending the use in Sissification and FemDom settings, is a fertile area of investigation and experimentation for the Fauxists. See the aforementioned documents for more information.

Pathology: Theorizing of Trans identities

– Autogynephilic and Homosexual Trans: Dr. Ray Blanchard, Etc.

Video by Annie Danger (http://anniedanger.webs.com/)

More and more people are getting interested in feminization hypnosis. This is popular especially among those who want to let out the inner women within them… They are doing this in order to break away from what they see as a lifelong trap – being in the wrong body when they feel like they are more like women than men.”      Isabella Valentine

Unfortunately, discussions about, and research on, transsexuality often focus on “etiology” – that is, the cause(s) of transsexuality: Why do transsexuals exist? Why are we motivated to change our sex? Is it due to genetics? Hormones? Upbringing? Living in a plastic-surgery-obsessed culture? Or maybe it’s just a good old-fashioned mental disorder? Such questions represent the intellectualization of objectifying transsexuals.

There has been a recent resurrection of Ray Blanchard’s model of transsexuality, which postulates that all trans women are motivated to transition for sexual reasons. Blanchard’s concept of autogynephilia was an obsure theory only known to a relatively small number of gatekeepers and transsexuals. That is, until psychologist J. Michael Bailey published his 2003 pop-science book “The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism”, which is undoubtedly one of the most sexualizing and sexist books about trans women yet published. The premise of the book is that all transsexual women transition for purely sexual reasons – either to attract straight men or because they are sexually aroused by the idea of being or becoming female.

This sexualizing of trans women’s motives is of course nothing new. In what amounts to a hypersexualization of trans women in our culture, trans women are regularly depicted as either sex workers, sexual deceivers who prey on unsuspecting straight men, or as fetishists who get off on the idea of wearing women’s clothing. The media’s (as well as Bailey’s) assumption that MTF (but not FTM) transsexuals transition in order to fulfill some kind of sexual fantasy not only dismisses trans women’s deeply experienced female gender identities, but also insinuates that women as a whole have no worth beyond their ability to be sexualized. (See also: Anne Lawrence “’Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies’: An Introduction to the Concept of Autogynephilia”)

It’s important to note that, according to Bailey et al, “male” bisexuality does not exist, and “women” are inherently bisexual. Moreover, according to the two-type theory, trans women are men, and thus inherently “gay” or “straight”. Their contention is that ‘autogynephilic’ transsexuals will have sex/one night stands with men to confirm their identities as women, but not because they’re really attracted to them. Thus according to Blanchard there are two ‘legitimate’ sex drives: heterosexuality and homosexuality. A deviance in each causes gender dysphoria, and in extreme cases ultimately causes transsexuality. The deviant form of heterosexuality is called “autogynephilia.” Blanchard defines Autogynephilia as “a man’s [sic] paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself [sic] as a woman.” Bailey not only endorses Ray Blanchard’s theory, but he takes it to an extreme of simplicity.

Apparent types of Autogynephilia:

* Transvestic autogynephilia: arousal to the act or fantasy of wearing women’s clothing

* Behavioral autogynephilia: arousal to the act or fantasy of doing something regarded as feminine

* Physiologic autogynephilia: arousal to fantasies of female-specific body functions

* Anatomic autogynephilia: arousal to the fantasy of having a woman’s body, or parts of one.

Transsexuality, Postmodernism: “The End of History”?

“What does it mean exactly to talk about the death of history? To what extent does such a claim tacitly reinscribe the very logic of temporality that it seeks to negate? And to what extent does a perspective sensitive to gender issues either affirm or complicate the thesis of the end of history and the end of sex?

Epochal change or paradigm shift accompanied by worry, patrol and fascination with category-troubling. Post 9/11 US pop culture’s obsession with trans- on talk shows, reality shows, etc As has been explored elsewhere- in times of paradigmatic/epochal change and troubling, identities and ideas that are confusing/trans-ing to the hegemonic culture become a central, if disavowed, focus. This is often centered around gender or sexuality and its relation to Nature/naturalism. For example: Fin de siele homosexuality (Oscar Wilde), the New Woman and the Dada Cyborg of Weimar berlin (Hannah Hoch), and the transsexual figure of the noughties TV culture.

Many theorists note the pervasiveness of images of transsexuality within much postmodern and poststructuralist thought. For example, in “The Transparency of Evil”, Jean Baudrillard writes, “the sexual body has now been assigned an artificial fate. This fate is transsexuality. Transsexual not in any anatomical sense but rather in the more general sense of transvestism, of playing with the commutability of the signs of sex … we are all transsexuals.” Here transsexuality, or perhaps more accurately, transgenderism, serves as an overarching metaphor to describe the dissolution of once stable polarities of male and female, the transfiguration of sexual nature into the artifice of those who play with the sartorial, morphological, or gestural signs of sex. The media visibility of such celebrities as Madonna, Michael Jackson, and La Cicciolina becomes symptomatic for Baudrillard of a fascination with the exaggeration, parody, and inversion of signifiers of sexual difference which pervades the entirety of contemporary Western culture.

Contemporary critical theory itself both echoes and intensifies such practices of gender bending and blending in its sustained conceptual challenge to the ontological stability of the male/female divide. While male theorists like Derrida, Deleuze, and Baudrillard himself profess their desire to “become woman” by aligning themselves with a feminine principle of undecidability and masquerade, so feminists are in turn increasingly appealing to metaphors of transvestism to describe the mutability and plasticity of the sexed body. Two of the most influential feminist theorists of recent times, Donna Haraway and Judith Butler, have both sought in different ways to break out of the prisonhouse of gender by reconceptualizing masculinity and femininity as performative, unstable, and determined.

See for example:

Stryker, S. (1995) ‘Transsexuality: The Postmodern Body and/as Technology’, Exposure 30(1/2): 38–50.

Susan Stryker, “Christine Jorgensen’s Atom Bomb: Transsexuality and the Emergence of Postmodernity,” in E. Anne Kaplan and Susan Squier, eds., Playing Dolly: Technocultural Formations, Fantasies, and Fictions of Assisted Reproduction (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 157-171.

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Why We Won’t Publish The FSSAT Scripts

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on August 21, 2010

Why We Won’t Publish The FSSAT Scripts

Our Subliminal Sleep Audio Tapes & Your “Right to Know”.

Being a response to pesky Public Enquiries Regarding

The Fauxist International’s SUBLIMINAL SLEEP TAPES

Original cover art for FSSAT CD 2010 Release (Front Cover)

Original cover art for FSSAT CD release (Back cover)

It’s reasonable for anyone to speculate about the exact messages they are being programmed with subconsciously. After all, up until now all of your subliminal audio (and not to mention social) programming has been generalized, if not random input upwardly-mobile pap, and now that you’ve decided to take charge of your destiny and your mind, you realize that someone else is actually building the package to take you there. It’s a natural thing for the conscious mind to suspect a hidden agenda of some sort that benefits the programmer because that’s one of the duties of the conscious mind, to protect. It’s even ironic that in this case, the conscious mind is so over-protective that subliminal techniques must be used to reach this closed off area we call the subconscious. The FSSAT are, and will always be, free, so the profit motive you may suspect lurking in there whispering “Buy More FSSAT…Buy More FSSAT…You Inveterate Proletariat Stooge…” is a bogeyman.

The FSSAT Scripts

So, if we published the scripts – you would still have to invest a small amount of trust that these really were the scripts, in which case we run the risk of lowering the effect due to the potential conscious resistance discussed earlier, or starting an infinite cycle of truth-regress (pace Descartes) that the Fauxists, whilst wholeheartedly embracing, do not recommend for the layperson.

The concern for publishing the scripts has nothing to do with other groups using them, because:

a). to be as effective they would still have to master the production process which is undetectable once the product is finished, and

b). who else could establish a rationale for using Our Universally Unique work? Our motive in scripting a program is to achieve the end goal of the title, in all of the 4 FSSAT genres, or to provide entertainment, which means that someone (the recipient) gets what they want as far as ostensibly changing something.

What We Will Reveal

1. All messages are in first person because the subconscious is more closely aligned with other subconscious minds than in the case of what we consider our ‘aware’ conscious minds. This causes a different view between ones own self-conscious mind and others conscious minds and in a different way than is the case with the normal waking conscious mind. If the message says ‘you….’ the subconscious projects it onto everyone else other than themselves, because what the subconscious is programming is literally the ‘I’ part of the awareness conscious mind.

2. We don’t use multiple layers of hundreds of voices. Although this process was used in the 1980’s by several other groups, we stick with the single voice-at-a-time theory in delivering content. We DO use different pitch frequencies for the messages, meaning they are in ‘male’, ‘female’, and child- voice frequency ranges. In some cases additional speed variation has been used so that unique characteristics, such as equalization is ‘generalized’ to the point where your subconscious doesn’t look for a familiarity [i.e., the voices of your dead parents] but only for pitch and message. We use all of them on a rotating basis with the same script so that our tapes will be universal for anyone who speaks, for example, the Queen’s English.

The Fauxist International 2010

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Surviving Identification in the Postmodern Confessional

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on July 8, 2010

Surviving Identification in the Postmodern Confessional:

Television, Schizoanalysis, PSYWAR, Torture-Interrogation & the Pop-Spectacle

Regrette Etcetera, 2009

Though its privileged territory- its discovery and willful property- psychology’s unconscious is proving to be less and less of a wilderness, but rather a ‘dense void’ of simulacra and space junk. Where has the unconscious gone? Is there anything there but television jingles now? It is as if there are no more individual secrets: they seem to have all melted into one huge secret, now in the keeping of the military-industrial-entertainment complex, instead of the oedipal one. Torture- and specifically media/noise/music  torture seeks to bring this full-circle.

Psychology has been filling the gap left by the death of the Catholic confession, and military interrogation is the privileged testing and proving ground for contemporary theories of mind, identity, regression and potential access to the mythic psychic tabula rasa. Schizoanalysis, a theory first advocated by Deleuze and Guattari in the 70’s, has found its home there. The Interrogation- whether soft or hard- and its concomitant Confession, has become an increasingly central cultural focus, and the Foucauldian production of discourse now flowers in the ‘mainstream bizarre’ of reality and talk show television, as the underpinnings of identity, and pop-musings on the ever-weird unconscious are collaged and consumed.

Trends in such recent pop-cultural ‘theatre’ have as their main appeal the confessional or self-revelatory monologue. Unified by confessional performance as its central response to post-1980s American postmodern culture, this recent trend in confessional culture, primarily suggests a cultural condition in which identity or self-definition has become a problem of performance. Feminist performance art of the 1970s initiated the act of self-revelation as theatricalized protest, directing the tradition of the confessional toward overt survivalism. Combining dramatic confession, themed associations, pathology as spectacle, and solo theatricality, post-80’s confessional culture and spectacle purposely confuses conventional distinctions between dramatic fiction and theatrical event, between character and actor, but especially between “true self” and identity. The interviewee/subject as performer either transforms through confessions of multiple characters (life histories and ‘comings to terms’) and/or confesses through a manipulation of autobiographical personae that refer back to the liberal citizen. In so doing, the traditional focus in American cultural production on the isolated individual is simultaneously exaggerated and subverted in this contemporary pop-cultural meme.

In typically postmodern fashion, confessional documents, genres and performances are highly self-reflexive: confessing form as content. They are as much about the act and reception of identity performance (especially in television) as they are about contemporary issues or autobiographical revelation. They are about surviving identification. We need only mention the swathe of reality/talk television shows, with their vox pop in extremis, a kind of leveling of affect and abjection-trends self-reported…

Suffering for the largely optimistic mythology of American individualism which supports the act of confession-as-liberation, in the Mainstream bizarre identity consumer-Tourists act as the civilian inspectors (an electronic panopticon)- to ensure the proper passing of the symbolic-spectacular order through the confessional mode into artifact and category making, of ritual into entertainment, of experience and trauma into identity and affect. Similarly, the maintenance of the subterranean border confessional in the torture camps (from one subterranean realm to another, the Abu Ghraib images are reenacted in fetish sex websites) uses a torture regime of racialized gender violence to initiate New Citizens (those who can’t/won’t populate a Reality series) into the global-imperial image order. Thus the consumer-tourists do the metaphysical job, whilst, outside the spotlight, the armies do the physical job.

In PSY-torture scenarios, confession-as-liberation finds its apogee, and the products of the Western Mainstream Bizarre cannot be turned down or off. The burgeoning databases of phobic content and associational discourse, the tabulations of psychic tricks and jabs, the ever-finer calibrations of resistance levels and regression levers tailored by race, religion, age, sex etc. etc. using the latest theories and lenses left and right, are shamelessly mobilized to elicit the whimper of admission, letting raw ‘information’ stand in for the therapist, and expanding Freud’s reification of the sexual as backdrop to all trauma and friction by adding racialized gender.

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Fauxist Spirit Recording Project — Theory —

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on June 29, 2010

Back CD Cover & Tracklist: "Fauxist Spirit Mic Sessions" (2010)

“Fauxist Spirit Mic Sessions” (2010) CD available for download or purchase soon on NFTFI. A full investigations of its contents appears in the upcoming publication “The Fauxist Spirit Recording Sessions Habitat on 1475.0 kHz wave, Nie śpią tylko duchy: Transcripts & Descriptions of initial Fauxist experiments in EVP/ITS audio & Paranormal Politics”. (2010)

Contents:

1) Project Introduction

2) The Fauxist Spirit Microphone: History and theory.

– Hitler Heard Beneath Birdsong & The Ghost Orchid (EVP explained)

– White Noise Spirits & EVP

– Schizoanalysis, Degraded Voices & EVP Anthropology

– Burroughs & Backmasking: The Recorder’s Confessing Ghosts.

– The radiophonic Babel of war: Militant Listening in a Remorseless Sea of Noises

– Skeptics and Anti-Science

– Associated Fauxist Investigations- Subliminal Media, PSYWAR, Music Torture.

Associated Publications:

“Dialogues with A Dead Doctor: Two Conversations with Dr. Konstantin Raudive (1909–1974) In which he variously encourages the Fauxists in continuing their EVP investigations, speaks about what it’s like being dead, and the pop music of the afterlife”. (Transcripts From Spirit Mic Recording CD) (2009)

‘Out of Time, Place, Scale’: Cryptozoology & Neo-colonialism. Excerpts of Theory & Working Documents for “Hooray for Cryptozoology”: The Fauxist Cryptozoology Tapes” (2010)

UPCOMING: – “Hooray for Cryptozoology” The Fauxist Cryptozoology Tapes (2010)

– “The Fauxist Spirit Recording Sessions Habitat on 1475.0 kHz wave, Nie śpią tylko duchy: Transcripts & Descriptions of initial Fauxist experiments in EVP/ITS audio & Paranormal Politics”. (2010)

– “Exolanguages: SETI, Alien Literature, and voices of space…” (2009)

Project Introduction

“Naturalism has served as deceptively in the modern world as supernaturalism ever did in the past”

Kenneth Burke

“If we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something.”

Thomas Edison

“If there is a spirit world full of the flotsam and jetsam of our military and mercantile civilization. If a door has been opened between this world and the next, then the masses armed with the cheap transistor sets and £5 Hong Kong tape recorders, will participate in this new Hydesville.”

R.A Cass

“an intricate universe of mysterious messages, morse tickings, modulated hisses, deformed, mangled human voices which pronounced sentences in incomprehensible languages or in code . . . messages of death . . . the radiophonic Babel of war” .

Primo Levi

This project refers overtly to the tape experiments conducted by Jürgenson and, Dr. Constantin Raudive, and the subsequent developments of the field of Electronic Voice Phenomena- otherwise known as Spirit Voices or ITS- as discussed below.

In interrogating the historical, political, and aesthetic discussions that colour the reception of this EVP noise, We study how this evidence (and how it is attributed variously to voices of the dead, angels, UFO’s etc) has been turned into a complex, often entrenched belief system of genuine anthropological interest, not least because the process entails the use of electronic technology to help construct, rationalize and validate a fundamentally anti-scientific belief system.

By simultaneously undertaking a sequence of increasingly aesthetically, technically and politically complex experiments into the field, We aim to produce a grounded foray into the techno-spirital, engaging, when necessary, with the ritualistic systems of both science and anti-science to further Our aims.

This publication outline the theory and background of the Fauxist’s work in EVP and associated fields in 2009-10.

As every new media technology has new forms of ghosts associated with it, EVP chases the ghost in the noise-machine, calling on traditional spiritualist, occultist, anthroposophical, and theosophical chanelling capacities and proclivities to plumb these inaccessible layers of human existence in a movement from traditional spirit-mediums to the electronic-medium.

The Fauxist Spirit Microphone: History and theory.

Hitler Heard Beneath Birdsong: The Ghost Orchid -EVP explained

Electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) are voices and other utterances that appear on audiotape and digital media without the person/s being aware of it at the time the recording was taking place. In most examples of EVP, the voice or voices only speak a few words and some of the voices can be very distinct and yet others hardly coherent at all. (For online examples: [1])

EVP is a subcategory of Instrumental transcommunication or ITC which is the broader term used for investigative techniques of communication with the afterlife via ordinary common place electronic devices. This was originally done with magnetic tape recorders, but includes everything from telephones through to televisions, radios and even computers. EVP is also known as Electronic Disturbance Phenomena (EDP) and Trans-Dimensional Communication (TDC).

From the moment that human beings started communicating with electrical and electromagnetic signals, the ether has been a spooky place. Four years after Samuel Morse strung up his first telegraph wire in 1844, two young girls in upstate New York kick-started Spiritualism, a massively popular occult religion which attempted to fuse science and seance. One of the movement’s main newspapers was called “The Celestial Telegraph,” and many of the spirits contacted by mediums were electricity geeks. Totally legitimate scientists like Thomas Edison, the radiographer Sir Oliver Lodge, and Sir William Crookes (inventor of the cathode ray tube) all suspected that spirits were real and that the afterlife was electromagnetic in nature. Edison even built a device to communicate directly with the dead.

Electronic voice phenomena came to light in 1959 when the Swedish filmmaker Friedrich Juergenson unwittingly captured voices on audiotape. After recording birdsong in a forest, Juergenson discovered on playback that there were “voices” buried in the field recordings, notably a distinct male voice remarking about birdsong at night! Listening carefully, Juergenson also heard the voice of his deceased Mother. After his discovery, Juergenson went on to record hundreds of ‘spirit voices’ (his archive came to encompasses some eight hundred reels of tape) for the following four years and consequently published a book in Swedish in 1964 called “Rosterna Frdn Rymden” (“Voices From The Universe”) in 1964, “Sprechfunk mit Verstorbenen” (Radio-Link with the Dead) in 1967, and “Radio och Mikrofonkontakt med de Dda” (“Radio Contact With The Dead”) in 1968.

Jurgenson

Raudive

With the help of tape-recorder, microphone and radio he was able to hear voices on tape which he called “voices from space”; that these voices did not belong to any other “physical” world, but to a world in contrast to ours, a spiritual world; that the voices were those of the dead.

Later translated into German, Juergenson’s writings caught the attention of Dr Konstantin Raudive, a Latvian Psychologist. Dr Raudive was at first skeptical of Juergensons’ claims but after many successful experiments, he too recorded hundreds of voices-  allegedly making tens of thousands of recordings- including that of his own deceased Mother. As these experiments progressed, microphone recording was given up in favor of recording from radio receivers set to non-broadcast areas of white noise. Dr. Raudives experiments have influenced generations of experimental musicians and spiritualists alike, and his tapes still constitute one of the greatest noise archives in the world.

Jürgenson’s and Raudive’s tapes attracted the Fauxists even as a form of a-compositional music. The implication was that the signal being inscribed on the tape in Raudive’s experiments had nothing to do with the recording process; the voices were not audible in the room and thus must have found their way onto the tape in some manner other than through the microphone. If this is the case, “Why record at all?” is the obvious next question; why not simply amplify the natural “hiss” of blank magnetic audiotape?

Another researcher, Attila von Szalay, has made similar tapes with no signal entering the recorder at all. He simply held the end of a wire jacked into the recorder so that his body acted as a “microphone.” (Since the early Forties, von Szalay, an American, has been trying to record the mysterious voices that he hears, first on a record cutter, then on an early wire recorder.) These recordings sound, basically, like amplified white noise, and must be listened to very carefully to discover the “voices” buried within them. The voices on these tapes are said to consist of snippets of phrases, in various languages, and at different speeds. All of these particular researchers concluded that these voices were those of the dead.

Since the late 50’s, many people have recorded voices on audiotape and now digital media and the obtaining of EVP samples has become common practice in the activities of those investigating paranormal activity. The tape voice phenomenon came to wide public attention with the publication of Raudive’s book Breakthrough in 1971.

EVP is at heart a DIY affair, especially now that computers have given us studios-in-a-box (e.g. EVP maker software). The EVP industry now encompasses many amateur paranormal seekers, and has been the subject of renewed interest upon the rise of noise, glitch and electronic/ found sound work, which has reopened such recordings as valid in their own right (i.e as sound), though predominantly without investigating the claimed EVP-spirit content. In other words, the resurgence of interest in Raudive’s tape experiments has more to do with contemporary musical tastes than in their spiritualist content. With the rise of Electronica as a popular musical form, the history of electronic sound production is being scoured for source material.

In this environment, the tape hiss that is considered distortion in Raudive’s recordings ­ as that which hides their true content: the voices ­ is now the object of primary interest. The hiss is the content, and the search for voices within it is now considered a kind of charmingly naive sublimatory excuse to revel in the pleasures of electronic sound.

White Noise Spirits and EVP

“If we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something.”    Thomas Edison

The style of a typical EVP recording is as follows: a narrator introduces “contacts” that manifest as brief bursts of distorted voice accompanied by very high levels of radio interference and what appears to be machine noise picked up from the recording apparatus by a microphone. The examples are repeated several times, and the ambience of the recordings is menacing. A typical EVP process involves prompting the imagination by asking questions of deceased “entities” out loud- in the manner of a Spiritualist seance- and recording and then repeatedly analyzing any signals that have emerged. (See section on Burroughs below). Thus, despite focus on the characteristics of the voices themselves, one of the most important requirements for good EVP is the presence of noise: a distorted channel, interference, echo, superimposition.

Lyall Watson, the author of ‘Super Nature’, states that a tape recording always seems to pick up more background noise than there is in a real-life situation. This is true. We are programmed in such a way as to screen out as much extraneous information as possible, otherwise we would not be able to deal with the amount of external stimuli that bombards us constantly. A tape recorder does much the same thing that putting a seashell, or a simple tube, up to our ear does ­ it makes us aware of the amount of white noise that surrounds us continuously. Much of the technology of EVP-spiritualism is designed to re-introduce this white noise into our perceptual range. Indeed, many early spiritualist electronic devices took as their starting point the medium’s speaking trumpet, listening tube, or cabinet. These were all simple tools meant to amplify the paranormal voices supposedly channeled through the medium. Used as enclosures for electronic amplification or recording, these objects produced an effect similar to that of the seashell ­ they accentuated the white noise.

For example, in listening to a tape by Raudive, one is hyper-conscious of the fact that the distortion of the recording process is the primary experience. This distortion is much louder than the “voices” buried within it. This is so much the case that one is compelled to question whether there are voices there at all; they might only be projective audio hallucinations induced in the listener by the general uninflected nature of the white noise. The detection of voices in the tape hiss could be considered analogous to the recognition of imagery in Rorschach blots.

Historicizing the relationships between EVP and channeling, possession, mediums etc is important. The experiments of Jürgenson and Raudive are part of a long spiritualist history of attempts at communication with the dead. What differentiates the likes of Jürgenson and Raudive from their 19th Century spiritualist predecessors is that the human “medium,” the person who acts as conduit for the voice of the departed spirit, has been replaced with an electronic device. As soon as electronic communication devices were invented, the same technical principles were applied to spirit communication. Plans exist, attributed to Thomas Edison, for a “telephone” to communicate with the dead. He is known to have been working on such a device in the Twenties. Edison and Marconi both believed that radio technology might enable contact with the afterlife-an idea that fit well within the context of Victorian enthusiasm for various forms of Spiritualism. Both Guglielmo Marconi and Thomas Edison believed in the possibility of using new recording devices to contact the dead, or the “living impaired,” to use Edison’s uncanny twenty-first century term. Sir William Crooks, President of the Royal Society and inventor of the cathode ray tube, and Sir Oliver Lodge, one of the leading contributors to radio technology, believed the other world to be a wavelength into which we pass when we die.

The following section will take an anthropological view of EVP and theosophy-spiritualism, asking: “who or what is talking?”, “who is listening and for what?” and so on. Such questions help to draw out possibilities for the investigation and use of EVP media and techniques in Our context.

Schizoanalysis, Degraded Voices and EVP Anthropology

One issue that We hope to address through the use of EVP, trance channelers etc, is the so-called “schizophrenic” nature of much contemporary life, and indeed, art. Much of the rhetoric of this aesthetic is indebted to the writings Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Instead of describing schizophrenia as pathological, Deleuze and Guattari stress the positive aspects of the condition, praising the schizophrenic’s capacity to range across mental fields to transcend the bureaucratization of the mind. They dismiss the psychoanalytic desire to interpret unconscious production, which they describe as having no significance or meaning. Non-meaning, thus naturalized, becomes the basis for an abstract, and anti-critical, aesthetic ­ one that, on the surface, emulates the “schizophrenic” effect of fracture.

One aspect of the so-called voice phenomenon that is often commented upon is the meaningless and garbled nature of the recorded utterances. This has been explained as the result of faulty reception of spirit transmission, or ­ more interestingly ­ as representing the degraded mental state of the “spirits.” The scrambled babblings on the tapes have been interpreted as the tortured voices of those in Hell, as the taunts of demons, or as the by-products of some numbing mental process that occurs after death. They could be described as schizophrenic; however, relative to the voice phenomenon, this description could hardly be understood as a positive one. Writers for the supernaturalist periodical Fate magazine, in response to Jürgenson’s recordings, came to the conclusion that “intelligence seems to deteriorate rapidly after death.” And, alarmed by the disjointed nature of the voices, psychic researcher R.A. Cass warned against the possible dangers of Raudive’s experiments being performed by non-professionals:

“If there is a spirit world full of the flotsam and jetsam of our military and mercantile civilization. If a door has been opened between this world and the next, then the masses armed with the cheap transistor sets and £5 Hong Kong tape recorders, will participate in this new Hydesville.”

Cass’s statement is reminiscent of Theodor Adorno’s rants against mass culture’s frenzied infantilism, which are echoed in William Burroughs’ satiric depiction of a pop band whose “baby talk” lyrics send their listeners into ecstatic infantile abandon. In these examples, delirious response is not held up as something to emulate. An interesting parallel exists between the negative reading of the voice phenomenon as the pronouncements of base elemental beings, and as the equally dangerous by-products of a, purposely, regressive aesthetic.

Importantly, the imbecilic quality of the tape voices is not characteristic of the output of traditional mediumistic devices. Few examples of automatic writing, or even Ouija board pronouncements, are as garbled as the phrases in Raudive’s transcriptions. This kind of fractured language usage would be especially inappropriate if uttered by a human medium, whose portrayal of a specific persona is an important condition of their believability. In fact, mediums often tend to channel dead celebrities and famous historical figures, as if the same social hierarchies that exist in this world extend into the next/other. Compared to this cliched fixation with star system, unified psychology, and history as grand narrative, the confused and ambiguous nature of Raudive’s spirit voices comes off as positively contemporary- “Deleuzeian,” if you will. Ecstatic channelers who “speak in tongues”, may be the only comparable traditional medium.

The need to directly grapple with information is particularly strong today, given earth’s new skin of communications, the web of computers, data networks, satellites, modems, and monitors that some call the Net. The Net is as much our environment as the biosphere, and in itself will neither save us nor sentence us to doom. Information myths are already afoot, and many of them obscure as much as they illuminate.

Paranoid theorists undercover hidden networks of coded conspiracies which link every bit of data that has strayed into their path. UFO churches, the channelling fad (spiritualist TV) and Starseed transmissions all point to literalist cults of information, where the messages received are uncritically celebrated as revealed truth even as the “messages” themselves often consist of bad SF plots or a noisy haze of New Age jargon. Many evangelical Protestants believe that technology exists not only to spread the pure signal of God’s Word across the globe, but to help bring about the apocalypse itself. Citing Matthew 24:14 (“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”), some even hold that the angels in Revelation refer to global satellites.

This contrast of unified psychological portrayal with meaningless glossolalia might be made to echo the shift in meaning of white noise from deep meaning to surface meaning  from that which contains hidden mysteries (spirit voices), to that which is simply disposable popular product (Techno music).

For Michel Serres, the play of information involves three actors—the sender, the receiver, and noise, which he calls “the third man” or the “parasite” (in French, bruit parasite means background noise/static- bruit meaning noise/sound/rumour, parasite in a telecommunications context revealingly meaning interference- thus rumours/interference).  The sender and the receiver set up a system of communication to defeat the third man, the demon of noise. But Serres’ genius is to recognize that these three actors themselves form a total system, and that the demon parasite paradoxically forces the two other actors to integrate on a more holistic level. Its a matter of a change of perspective: what looks like noise (or a demon) from one level becomes an integral aspect of a dynamic system from a more integrated level.

Undoubtedly, a complex two-way relationship between the spiritual and the technological.

Burroughs & Backmasking: The Recorder’s Confessing Ghosts.

William Burroughs was interested in the tape voice phenomenon and wrote an essay, It Belongs to the Cucumbers, detailing his thoughts on the tape experiments of Raudive. The transcriptions of Raudive’s “voices” reminded Burroughs of schizophrenic speech or dream utterances, and he proposed that the voices might be “a backplay of recordings stored in the memory banks of the experimenters,” instead of the voices of the dead. They were, perhaps, recordings of the unconscious. Perhaps, Burroughs was hoping to cut the pre-recorded time line of pre-sent time, and let the future leak through.
Burroughs famously used tape recorders to ‘write’, compositionally (cut-ups), and in investigating space and time, and their use/the technique appears in many of his novels (notably “Nova Express” 1964). In Nova Express, he described a series of elaborate, even hallucinatory, assemblages of tape recorders and microphones that could be carried from city to city. Borderless, these roving sound installations, with their capacity for instant playback, would blur the line between your own thought processes and the sounds of the city around you. Like Muzak, Burroughs’s legion of rogue microphonists could thus “bypass the resistance of the mind,” installing a soundtrack where there once had been thought. (For audio, see: http://www.ubu.com/sound/burroughs.html)

Burroughs would leave recorders running whilst he slept, and would randomly edit and re-order the resulting tapes… sometimes believing them to contain the voices of the dead. His recorder picked up Hitler, Goethe, Nietzsche and Hibiscus amongst the dead voices. He approached the voices like a detective, deducing from them secret messages, and acting upon their clues and exhortations. Furthermore, Burroughs demonstrated that one cannot simply pick up the little voices but should provoke them into being, in a sports-like manner, to see how many can be scared up in one day, in one hour, in one minute.

In Burroughs’ methodology, ambient audio recordings are made, then counter-edited: chopped up and slowed down, etc., in order to expose what he describes as the “control machine” ­ a prerecorded “grey veil” that separates you from true experience. These recordings could be compared to the tape collages of John Cage that are produced through random game-like strategies: the Williams Mix of 1952, for example. But the focus in Cage’s work is on pure aural experience; his works lack the critical intention at the root of Burroughs’ efforts. When Cage chops together tapes recorded at different locations, the changes in background hiss are experienced as tonal shifts ­ as music, and not as documents of specific places. The abstract qualities of his work are foregrounded since he denies any investment in his source materials. Burroughs’ focus on the political ramifications of the recording and editing process is much more compelling to Us.

Burroughs thus exhibits a politicized, active/assertive technique- which We hope to emulate and extend. His open treatment of linearity, narrative and authority are of key interest in this project.

The radiophonic Babel of war: Militant Listening in a Remorseless Sea of Noises

The documentary “Assigned to Listen” describes the “ether war” fought by BBC foreign-language radio monitors, who scanned the Second World War’s “remorseless sea of noises” for the broken voices, coded messages, news, propaganda, disinformation and entertainment broadcasts that fought for bandwidth with the incessant vagaries of ionospheric propagation and the turbulence of electrical and magnetic storms. BBC radio monitors recorded (often-weak) impulses onto primitive Ediphone wax-cylinder “transcribers” (magnetic tape recorders were not introduced until the end of World War II), further degrading the quality of discernible ‘intelligence’- military or otherwise.

As outlined in the reports of the trials below, Our theorizing of ‘Militant Listening’- the dedication and lateral-thinking necessary to truly engage with EVP and spirit phenomena, owes much to the situations and experiences of the radio monitors. Indeed our use of the term Monitor to describe an active, militant listener is a hopeful tribute to these workers. The monitor’s dedication, sitting for months a tiny workstation aurally adrift in the remorseless seas of noise, and the organizational capacity to fill offices with headphon’d devotees…

One of the most poetic of the WWII monitors was Primo Levi. Among the wartime experiences related in his autobiographical novel “The Periodic Table”, Levi recalled a laboratory test apparatus called a heterodyne, which, under certain conditions, functioned as a radio receiver. He described an “intricate universe of mysterious messages, morse tickings, modulated hisses, deformed, mangled human voices which pronounced sentences in incomprehensible languages or in code . . . messages of death . . . the radiophonic Babel of war” .

Much can be learnt from the military-industrial engagements with EVP/noise spirits, and especially now that the production of EVP/aural-spiritual phenomena is a part of the arsenal of the military.

How the voices voice

EVP’s or the so-called “voices from beyond”, are easily distinguishable from terrestial, human voices. They speak in an unmistakable rhythm and usually employ several languages in a single sentence; the sentence construction obeys rules that differ radically from those of ordinary speech and, although the voices seem to speak in the same way as we do, the anatomy of their “speech-apparatus” must be different from our own. Some have been alleged to sing, others just bark garbled or surrealistic phrases like “dead machines” and “We can see Edith by radio,” some of which apparently refer directly to the experimenter.

See this Standardized  EVP log sheet for examples of the categorization of voices, questioning and so on.

To summarise briefly:

1. The voice-entities speak very rapidly, in a mixture of languages, sometimes as many as five or six in one sentence. EVP’s tend to be very short sentences or single words.

2. They speak in a definite rhythm, which seems to be forced upon them by the means of communication they employ.

3. The rhythmic mode of speech imposes a shortened, telegram-style phrase or sentence.

4. Presumably arising from these restrictions, grammatical rules are frequently abandoned and neologisms abound.

5. The EVP is more often than not very specific to the person doing the recording or present in the same vicinity.

Furthermore, the microphone voices fall into three classes of audibility:

Class “A” voices can be heard and identified by anyone with normal hearing and knowledge of the language spoken; no special training of the ear is needed to detect them.

Class “B” voices speak more rapidly and more softly, but are still quite plainly audible to a trained and attentive ear. The ability to differentiate increases with practice, but this is a slow and wearisome process. For this reason it is difficult to use non-regular participants for experimental purposes with class “B” voices.

Class “C” consists of the most interesting voices; voices that give us a great deal of information and much paranormal data. Unfortunately, these can be heard only in fragments, even by a trained ear, but with improved technical aids, it may eventually become possible to hear and demonstrate these voices, which lie beyond our range of hearing, without trouble.

Class D, E and F-h voices: These extended classes are of particular interest, and are being…

Skeptics and Anti-Science

It certainly sounds fantastic to assert that we have made contact with spirit-beings, i.e. the dead, through tape recordings. Today, however, when more or less adequate technical devices are at our disposal, it is possible to test the facts by experiment and to lift them out of the realm of the fantastic. Tape-recorder, radio and microphone give us facts in an entirely impersonal way and their objectivity cannot be challenged.           Dr. Raudive

Science has long ignored or deplored the EVP/Spirit recording phenomenon/field. The scientific community’s ignorance of EVP would seem to indirectly support the spreading of this cult, as potential followers are confronted with convincing demonstrations that are only ‘explained’ by the quasi-religious musings of the convinced cultists.

Considering the low quality of almost all EVP recordings, and the unverifiable source conditions, outright forgery of such material would be absolute child’s play. The most primitive tape-recording and overdubbing techniques could easily produce phenomena of this nature- not least because the more basic the technology used, and the lower the signal-to-noise ratio, the more the finished product would resonate with an aura of menacing low-fidelity mystique, which could even help impart a subjective impression of authenticity to such material. Put simply, if the voices recorded had been of a quality comparable to conventional studio recordings of speech, then nobody would have believed such rubbish for a minute-the fog of noise that degrades these signals still seduces some people into suspending disbelief.

Some of the ‘voices’ are most likely people creating meaning out of random noise, a kind of auditory pareidolia (the illusion that something obscure is real) or apophenia (mentally connecting unrelated phenomena). These critiques essentially state: Humans are exceptionally wonderful at finding patterns in noise, the hardware in our sensory system is designed to see changes in things. So when we hear repeated sounds, our brain picks out and pieces together what sounds to us like spoken words. Therefore, if you listen to thousands of pieces of audio, you’ll eventually find one that sounds like a voice. “It’s the monkey on the typewriter issue.” EVPs are also sometimes referred to as “Rorschach audio,” after the psychological test in which subjects read their own interpretation of inkblot images.

Professor Chris French, who heads the anomalistic psychology research unit at Goldsmith’s College, London, agrees on the ambiguity of the phenomena: “According to modern experimental psychology, and not just with the paranormal, you’ve got two different sources [of stimulus] coming in. You’ve got the raw sensory input, referred to as ‘bottom-up’ processing, but because that comes in at a hell of a rate and a lot of it is very ambiguous and hard to make sense of, you are also influenced by what are known as ‘top-down’ processes – your general knowledge and beliefs and expectations.  “The ‘top-down’ processing tends to have much greater influence if you’ve got degraded or ambiguous stimuli. In those situations, your own beliefs and expectations will tend to determine how you perceive them.”

EVP researchers counter that the highly interactive communication they have engaged in would be impossible to discount as interference or brain tricks. Asking: “How can an interactive EVP, where the spirit is responding to my questions or commenting on my words, ever be considered interference?”

Professor Bender tries to interpret Spiritualistic phenomena as aspects of pathology in his “Mediumistische Psychosen” (Mediumistic Psychoses; Parapsychology, 1966, Pages 574 to 604). He describes Spiritualistic practices as “psycho-mechanic automatism” and explains them by means of what he calls “overflow pipes of the unconscious”: the belief that Spiritualists are in touch with the “world beyond” is erroneous, he asserts, for the Spiritualistic supposition that other-worldly intelligences, “spirits”, appear before us stems from the personification-tendency of the unconscious and these phenomena are encouraged by paranormally gifted automatists; alleged contact with the dead therefore has to be classified as a pathological phenomenon. “Many find solace and hope in the conviction that contact with the dead is possible, and they can defend their conviction by pointing to documents of some literary value containing such ‘messages from the beyond’ ” (page 576). In a nutshell: Professor Bender’s own observations, as well as existing literature on psychiatry, have prompted him to regard Spiritualistic practices as “mediumistic psychoses”.

Professor Bender’s term for functions provoked by such subconscious reactions is “psychic automatism”, and he distinguishes between a mechanical and a sensory form. The mechanical function manifests through subconscious processes of movement such as automatic writing, table-tilting, knocking, etc.; the sensory form through visions, voices, or haptic illusory experiences. His classic example is the shell, which acts as stimulus for acoustic pseudo-hallucinations. He regards acoustic hallucinations as rare occurrences in Spiritualistic practices. Acoustic voices, heard by Spiritualists or mystics alike, he describes as illusory acoustic perception. He explains it all as a “clever deception of the unconscious, which uses the normally incorruptible senses the moment the critical ratio of the patient is no longer convinced by former procedures–a sign of the strange split in the personalities of such Spiritualistic adepts” (page 584).

Professor Bender thus dismisses the Spiritualist’s hypothesis as pathological and so precludes any possibility of discussion. Spiritualists are, in his opinion, pathological cases in need of psychiatric treatment. He illustrates this belief with examples of his own observations from which he concludes: “Once more the affective shock becomes evident, induced by the misunderstood experience of the beyond and the functional dependence of the voices on the progressive development of complexes made autonomous through night-long experimenting with the pendulum” (page 599).

Clearly his view is that the Spiritualist hypothesis is a kind of psychic sickness which he tries to explain by what he calls “psychic automatism”, and he regrets that most psychologists dismiss the idea. His treatise ends with the following statement: ”The superstitious attitudes built on misunderstood communication with ‘spirit-beings’ are widespread and carry, as case histories show, the seeds of mental illness.”

With so many hobbyists at work, globally, so much sophisticated electronic equipment available, and so many advances in the field of electronics — it seems to Us that we can only look forward to an increasing accumulation of higher quality evidence. And, I’m not sure that the same could be said for any other area of paranormal inquiry these days.

EVP in Fiction

To illustrate the general acceptance of EVP in modern times, the subject has been immortalised in many works of fiction.

“Of Unknown Origin” by Edwin Rostron is inspired by the tape recordings of Raymond Cass, a hearing-aid specialist from Hull and one of the UK’s foremost researchers into EVP.   Through a series of fragmentary scenes rendered in pencil and watercolour animation we enter into an unsettling territory somewhere between the real and the abstract. We hear the strange sounds of the EVP, and Cass himself talking about his work. But the film is not ‘about’ Cass, instead it takes the details of his life and work, and the recordings themselves, as a route to explore the hidden realms of the unconscious mind. The film mirrors the uncanny, inexplicable nature of the EVP, the mystery and poetry of the recordings, and challenges rational explanations.

A few other examples:

– “Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson         – “Ubik” by Philip K. Dick

– “The Electronic Ghosts”                                          – “Ghost in the Machine” (Movie)

– “Pulse”  (Movie)

– “Poltergeist” (Movie)

– “Supernatural” (TV series)


[1] The American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AAEVP) has information about EVPs and samples of EVPs on their website. Shadlowlands Ghostly Sounds has a number of EVP recordings you can listen to.   Voices in the Wind has several EVP recordings you can hear.  GhostStudy.com has EVPs captured in a number of locations that are reported to be haunted.   YouTube has a large number of EVPs. To locate them, search either the terms EVP or electronic voice phenomenon. What’s great about EVP recordings on YouTube is that you can listen to EVP recordings from all types of EVP collection devices including Frank’s Box, the Telephone to the Dead, a Ghost Box and various other devices.  Sound Board has several EVPs you can listen to on their site.  Other online EVP samples: http://www.paratexas.com/ghostpg7.htm , http://www.ghostsrus.com/evp.htm,  http://theshadowlands.net/ghostwav.htm   http://www.evpvoices.com/evps1.htm,  http://www.talkboy.com/haunted/group01.htm

Posted in Fauxist Architecture, Fauxist Psywar, Fauxist Speculative Literature | 3 Comments »

“Speaking Skulls” (“2010, A Cyborg Manifesto”)

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on June 29, 2010

“Speaking Skulls” (35 min, digital video, 2010)

Presented at The First Working Retrospective of The Fauxist International.

Topics include:

– Digital Diaspora, Vision & Gender in the Abu Ghraib Scandal

– The New Museum of Abu Ghraib & Sacrificial Monuments in Postmodern Televisual War

– ‘Green Zones’ & Iconoclasm in the city of the Other.

– “The performativity of Torture Images” & the work of Josh Azzarella

– Schizoanalysis in the Postmodern Confessional: Recent Torture & interrogation developments

– Border Surveillance & patrol cyborgs & cyborgian weapons

– The NeoConOpticon & the Privatization of the Security State

Available on The Fauxist Interntional’s Youtube Channel soon.

Posted in Fauxist Events, Fauxist Psywar | Leave a Comment »

Fauxists Create First Ever Simultaneously Magic Eye and Subliminal Film: On Show In First Collected Exhibition of Fauxist Subliminal Films

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on November 6, 2009

Fauxists Create First Ever Simultaneously Magic Eye and Subliminal Film: On Show In The First Collected Exhibition of Fauxist Subliminal Films: Positive Sparkel Enunciation

Layered beneath the Magic Eye Animation is  subliminal content.

These films have been made as part of the greater Fauxist PSYWAR Division investigations into the deployment of subliminal media as  “Fauxist One Second Theatre competition” and associated with the much anticipated Fauxist publication “The Magic Eye Conspiracy” . See “POP MUSIC VS. ISLAM“, and “Fauxist Subliminal Sleep Tapes” for deeper investigations.

The Fauxist Psywar division has been detourning the methodologies of the military-industrial complex and advertising industry. These works of subliminal film investigate various uses of subliminal messaging, etc, and have been exhibited and inserted in public space, the internet, in both ‘overt’ and ‘clandestine’ forms.

“Contains No Original Material”

Films Exhibited in Positive Sparkel Enunciation Exhibition (see flyer below):

Subliminal Fanon– Homage to Frantz Fanon’s “Black Skin, White Masks” (2009)

A critique of Fanon’s blame of colonised women for complicity with the coloniser, and his generalised misogyny, this film also treats the linkages of Postcolonialism and subliminal (nurture/performance) implanting. ‘Contains no original material’

Xenophilic test (2009). ‘Contains no original material’

Magic Eye Subliminal Film #2. (2008)- One of the first ever (simultaneously) Magic Eye and Subliminal films, a genre invented by the Fauxists. These hybrid works are an experiment in further the use of subliminal media. Piggybacking the deliberate viewing needed for Magic Eye, they study the effect of heightened concentration on subliminal reception. Subliminal content herein directed at ‘Rape Culture’ as viewed through a biopolitics-necropolitics (Foucault/Petit) lens.

Magic Eye Subliminal Film #3. (2009)- Another film containing subliminal content rendered ‘beneath’ animated stereograms. This film has been made especially for the Sparkel Enunciation exhibition, and has stayed as close to the curator/audience’s related aesthetics as possible to further ‘embed’ it.

Feminization Hypnosis Composition” (2009)- A multilayered composition formed entirely of Feminization Hypnosis materials (widely available on the net), in this case mixing Feminization Hypnosis, Subliminal content, and experimenting in multiple text layers. Part of project in condensing gender schooling into hypersaturated bursts.. ‘Contains no original material’

Feminization Hypnosis Composition #2 (2009)- Bacteriological/viral identity and synthetic life’s effects on future gender configurations/deployments. All material taken from Net. Vivian Namaste and Myra Hird. ‘Contains no original material’

(Note: Some of these works are available for viewing on Youtube)

positive sparkel enunciati..-2

The Fauxist’s One Second Theatre Competition

The Subliminal + Magic Eye GIF work below is only for viewing here, & will not be included in the exhibition. Made by a Fauxist member, it is an example of a submission to the Fauxist One Second Theatre Competition. According to the author, the subliminal content is themed around the recent events of the . the magic eye component of this film works with the results of our study of the use of animal symbolism in subliminal advertising “The Subliminal Symbolic Faunal Taxonomies and Bestiaries of Late Capitalism: An Introduction and Project Overview

Note: Introductory text/titles  have been removed for looped viewing.

Shark

Click HERE or HERE for viewing instructions.

 

Posted in Fauxist Psywar | 3 Comments »

The Fauxist One Second Theatre Competition: Call for submissions

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on July 21, 2009

The Fauxists announce the opening of their “One Second Theatre Competition”, and invite you to contribute easy-to-make subliminal media and take part in the ongoing campaign of the subliminal dissolute. Read on!

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS:  SEPTEMBER 30, 2009.

The current omnipresence of consumer friendly computers and associated media technologies (digitisation etc.) has both facilitated the production and analysis of the subliminal in film, audio and public space. Further than ‘democratising’ the creation of subliminal messaging and lending it to art-terror uses, technologies of portable digital editing and filmmaking, ubiquitous computers and the internet, have opened up many new sites/spaces for placing and encountering subliminals, which naturally, the Fauxists have capitalised upon!

Fauxist Experiments

Using Flash, GIF format, and strobing programs usually used to treat/analyse dyslexia, the Fauxists have created a swathe of experiments and works in rapid subliminal animation. GIF files are remarkably successful, as they are small in size, can be easily inserted into blogs, emails, messages, postings etc on the sites of others, (and are hence easily spreadable) and are expected to have a jumpy, flickering appearance- all of which makes subliminal usage perfect. Try it yourself! We are yet to find a single GIF with subliminal content! We have so far disseminated 56 Subliminal GIF’s, and 24 Flash animations, (all made remarkably cute and catchy, in hopes they will be spread) throughout the World Wide Web. Deliciously Deleterious!

The Fauxist ”One Second Theatre” competition

The Fauxist One Second Theatre Competition challenges you to create one-second long subliminal works in any format, which will then be evaluated and published. Standout workers will earn a mentorship in the Fauxist Psywar department ., and will be invited to participate in international collaborative cyber-terror projects. As you know, the Fauxists collect themselves in sachets of viral subversion, and so, apocalyptic, apocryphal, subversive, pan-historic, and over-emotional (etcetera) content and themes are wildly encouraged.

Where We will take your work:
1. Each submission will be exhibited here on News From the Fauxist International, each contributor will receive a copy of EACH and ALL One Second Theatre pieces, and exhibiting their work to the long list of luminaries who follow the NftFI..
2. Dispersed throughout the WWW
3. Archived in the Museum of The Apocalypse. (See associated literature).
4. Shown in the next Fauxist One Second Theatre screening, to which you will receive invitations.
5. Later developments are to include: Further possibilities of worldwide collaboration and networking. (Stay tuned to this site for details)

Acceptable formats: GIF, Flash (& other) animation, video, written description/storyboarding, diagrammatics, performance documents, equation/text-based generators etcetera. We also solicit ideas, manifestoes, rants, questions etcetera. All other formats can be arranged by contacting the address below.

Stay tuned for uploads of examples of Fauxist one-second theatre pieces.

All works must be viewable/executable/receivable in one hot second.

To Submit your work(s): Simply send your work as an attachment to The Fauxist International PSYWAR division at:

fauxist_monthly_handful@feelings.com

With the subject: “One Second Visual Irritant” (one attachment per email). Again, to arrange collection/transmission of non-electronic submissions, and for queries and clarifications, write to this address also.

For more information on subliminal media, see the Fauxists Psywar Department’s publications elsewhere on this site: “Fauxist Psywar and the Subliminal City Unbound”,  Fauxist Subliminal film theory and productions,  The future of subliminals, The Magic Eye Conspiracy (including The first Fauxist Magic Eye Films!).

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS:  SEPTEMBER 30, 2009.

Posted in Competitions and Callouts, Fauxist Psywar | 2 Comments »

 
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