the upward spiral

by lucky dragons

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Optical illusions have a healthy life in the world - as puzzles, cognitive experiments, quiz tricks, and platforms for mind-bending artworks - but auditory illusions (tricks of the ear) are less well documented, less well understood. Two examples of auditory illusions that were discovered relatively long ago - Risset rhythms and Shepard tones - deal with tones or looping cycles that appear to constantly accelerate, or rise in pitch - the sonic equivalent of a barber pole stripe, moving always upwards as it rotates (the opposite effect, a pitch continuously descending or a rhythm forever slowing down, also qualify). Examples of these illusions privilege the smooth, consistent rise: seamless and eternal. But what about the lumpy, striped or stepped rise, hopscotching or leapfrogging forward? Isn't there something salient and familiar about a clumsy version of vertigo?

Accelerationism proposes an end-game scenario for capitalism that either transcends the currently visible horizon, entering some unforeseen landscape (free from constraint), or results in technological singularity - in either case, eternal acceleration suggests an azimuth, a state of motion so extreme that it provokes an ontological shift. These sounds play with the auditory illusion of continuous acceleration with a particular focus on the clumsy, spontaneous, and sporadic leaps that reflect our own engagement with progress - two steps forward one step back - we digest the shapes of boundaries, constraints, and borders attempting to guide us into smooth channels, as we blindly expand forever in wild directions.


released February 2, 2010




lucky dragons Los Angeles, California

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