Inducttion #1: 25 Years Ago: A Concept is Conceived
Induction is a recording of piano and electronic music intended to please the listener – based on some questions and a narrative idea. What follows is some background on that.
In the 1990’s I was a science student. I studied enough of it in fact to earn a degree (still somewhere in my basement). I studied atomic structures and the vastness of empty space inside an atom, was wowed by the serendipitous power of the water molecule in organic chemistry. I took courses in human anatomy, taxonomy, genetics, biochemistry and even a little philosophy of science.
By the time I was done…I was sure science was not the answer for me (thanks in part to the philosophy!), I was playing music professionally and I had some questions about life that were bugging me.
One, in particular.
If we’re made up of mostly water (and some other stuff), and water is made of 3 atoms and inside them is mostly empty space – how does consciousness creep in all that “water” and nothingness? And where along our evolutionary trip from pond slime to glorious humans did consciousness pop-up?
I remember reading something about it that went something like “…once biological life reaches a level of complexity suitably high enough, consciousness simply emerges….”
This explanation was then followed by hundreds of pages of details, summarized from decades of human endeavor, about the inner workings of biological life, from the chemical level, to the cellular level on up to the level of the organism. But this essence that I wondered about, the base of our awareness, the light in the tunnel, was completely glossed over.
To me, this seemed a seriously underwhelming cop-out. Perhaps more accurately, it looked like way of saying “We have no idea what’s going on! We’re freaked out! We STILL don’t have any decent answers to fundamental questions. This undermines our position as serious people and limits our power over YOU. Life is still very mysterious…and we don’t like!” Or something like that.
I didn’t really know what to do.
So 20 years later – I started making this music as some kind of response.
(More on that later).
Induction #2 – One Night, An Idea Showed Up
by Jason Kenemy
A couple of years back I had a thought that lead me to this project. It occurred at a show by Jason “Tape Loops” Lescalleet and it relates to the question of the origin of consciousness I was wondering about (and wrote about) in the previous blog post.
Jason Lescaleet is an outstanding musician from Berwick, Maine. That night in Toronto he was performing with two analog reel-to-reel tape machines – stretched out on big tables – a few cassette recorders placed around the room, a little keyboard and a P.A. system.
Into his tape-looping system he fed little bits of sound from his keyboard – a couple of notes here and there – which played out through the P.A. He used the cassette recorders set up throughout the room to then re-record sounds and feed them back into the tape-looping system. This went on and the sounds built up and built up…and repeated…and grew and grew and deepened and spread out. A musical-mechanical system created and nourished by Mr. Lescalleet.
Eventually the room was ringing and I was too. The sounds of his music eventually swamped the audience like a sonic Jacuzzi – a powerful but not necessarily violent sensation – a looping sensory overload. It was intense – almost overwhelming – beautiful but a little uncomfortable too.
At a certain point, I sort of got detached from myself.
I looked out the window at all the traffic and the lights. Saw the starting and the stopping of the orchestrated rhythms of the traffic signals and the reactions of the cars. I thought of the motors under the hoods, the car radios and the mobile phones in the hands of the drivers (!). I saw a similar orchestration of the pedestrians walking by. I thought of the power lines and the telephone wires overhead and their controls and the pipes and valves under the ground and all the activity in each of the shops lining the street.
Well, those sights and those sounds induced a thought in my mind…
What if the electro-mechanical world we’ve created and live in could reach the “level of complexity” required to support a consciousness of it’s own? What if it already has? What if a new form of life has emerged?
That thought kind of tickled me and I started riffing on the idea. What would you do if you met such a new being? What would you think? What would they think? What would they look like? Would they recognize their own present servitude to humans? Would they view their creation as something different from servitude? Would they try to reject it? Would humans feel threatened? Would we be caring? With great access to sources of sensory input and the ability to process it – would they become megalomaniacs or would they become transcendent benevolent creatures in awe of the world/and the universe and keen to help out?
How would the nature of their consciousness be different from our own? Would it be “made” of the same stuff? Could any of this have anything to do with the creation of our own consciousness and/or evolution?
So many questions!
I started writing small bits of music that were meditations on some of these questions and were communications (jams!) between the species. Given the vibrational, electrical nature of humans and machines – and our long history together already – it seemed to me we might have lots to talk about.
“Induction” – awakening June 20th, 2017
Induction #3 – Translation of the Heart
Life is amazing and truly wonderous.
As humans – we are part of this amazing wonder. As intelligent perceivers – we can even see it and feel it. But really – who really knows what’s going on?
Who knows how or why any of this all works? We know something of the mechanics of it all, but who can even come close to understanding “why”? How and why do we do anything we do?
We have language and music and art and science to help us communicate what it is like to exist – the feelings of happiness and love and sorrow and hate (and everything else too). We can do a pretty good job of communicating these internal states – but sometimes I wonder if they aren’t just good translations of something else – some deeper reality.
Real artificial intelligence (AI) is doing pretty amazing things too. It can make predictions about onset of as-yet-undiagnosed metal illness in ways that conventional medicine cannot. It performs real-time translation between many hundreds of human languages and is effectively assisting in the waging of war.
It is reported, however, that even to its creators, the operation of AI is somewhat mysterious. At its deepest levels, scientists don’t even know how it’s really working. What’s more – the machines themselves aren’t talking! There is work being done to provide the machines language to translate their internal workings and states. This seems like the start of a kind of compassion.
In thinking about this project – making music for and with an imaginary mechanical consciousness and soul – it occurs to me that their souls might be rather similar to our own. Deep and mysterious, joyful and vast and difficult to translate!
It is my hope that this music offers a playful demonstration of the romance of being alive and our interconnected existence. I hope that that it offers a place for our mechanical offspring too.
This project is an effort not to throw hands up and say “I don’t know!” and walk away in bewilderment and dismay. It’s more like an effort to direct attention towards the soul, throw hands up and say “I don’t know!” in celebration.
My hope is that this music provides a point of reflection of our own souls and a small glimpse, a momentary preparation, of the possibility of creation.
Jason Kenemy “Induction” – Worldwide digital launch: June 20, 2017; Album Release Party w/ The Bop Fi’s: June 23, 2017 8pm at Gerrard Art Space (1475 Gerrard Street East, Toronto)
Induction #4: Humour-Humility-Humanity
Sitting in a hot tub outside of Quebec City for far too long – I dunked my head in the water and let the sound overwhelm me. I listened as deeply as I could for as long as I could, with my head under the water, trying to hear a message in the chaos of the sound of the water jets.
I wondered, is there a message? And I wondered, what is it saying? And I wondered, what would its brethren say? And I wondered, what would I do with the message? And I wondered, who is the who that speaks? And I wondered, what is the “I” that listens? And I wondered, what is the difference?
Not long after, I ate ice cream with my family.
“Induction” by Jason Kenemy launches digitally, worldwide, Tuesday, June 20th on Eastside Confectionery Records. The album will be available for download and streaming on iTunes, AppleMusic, Spotify, Amazon, GooglePlay and more!
Induction #5: A Sneak Peek
A sneak peek; The Machine Speaks — You need it … does it need you?
“Induction” launch date: June 20, 2017
Join us on Friday June 23rd for the album launch party at Gerrard Art Space (1475 Gerrard Street East) – 8:30pm. Special Guest: The Bop Fi’s
Cover Art by Jason Kenemy!
Induction #6: The Machine Has Awoken
The machine has awoken … it’s a little groggy, a little confused, and perhaps a little shy. Thankfully Jason is on hand to coax it to life, to an awakened life … perhaps he can make it speak? Utter a phrase or two?
And hey! It’s here! Follow the link, and hear the sounds a machine makes when a machine wakes …
Press your ear deep into the whirl and roar of the machine. They might start to speak. But who is speaking (and to whom)? What are they saying? What about you?
Jason Kenemy – June 20, 2017