20200809

Someone called our Speaking Clock -service last evening. I stuttered and begun installing an atomic time clock app on my phone. While it was installing I whistled the Wind of Change, My Heart Will Go On and some improvised tunes. The posse on the other end of the phone kept giggling and a man explained my actions out loud for their group. It took a while but I did eventually announce the time correctly: 19:17:21.

The Instrumentalisation of Horses in Nineteenth-Century Paris (2011) Peter Soppelsa. The article recognizes horses as “urban infrastructure” (of nineteenth-century Europe) and acknowledges the animals importance for transportation of information and as a force for “driving urban economy”. Soppelsa explains that horse-activities saturated nineteenth-century Paris and formed the “primary site for negotiating human-animal relationships and the place of ‘nature’ in the city”. In 1900 the city was a home to 98,000 horses. The shift towards a mechanized urban landscape had started already in 1870 when campaigns on urban hygiene, mechanical power and animal welfare were actively re-evaluating the horses role.

… how were horses constructed as a technology? Horse use was supported by what I call ‘instrumentalisation’ the transformation of horses into tool. To ‘instrumentalise’ means to objectify and evaluate, to assign value and a normal or standard social use. Instrumentalisation constructs subjects and objects, calibrates means to ends, and scripts relationships between humans, technology and nature.

He links the theory of instrumentalisation to the Frankfurt School (leaning to Herbert Marcuse, Hannah Arendt and others).

Driving this dialogue [of instrumentalisation] is the familiar humanist critique of instrumental rationality as a reversal and perversion of means and ends. Contrary to Kantian ethics, which value humans as ends in themselves, industrial, capitalist and bureaucratic modernity makes humans a means to uphold a fundamentally inhuman system, in which workers are enslaved, by their machines, bureaucrats by their offices, and humanity enslaved by tools, institutions and the environments of our own creation.

Soppelsa claims that “The line between nature and society is irrelevant for horses born in captivity and bread for work”. I understand but don’t agree. Jason Hribal identifies that animals are constantly protesting against their treatment and escaping captivity to establish striving communities. But Soppelsas intents are good, he is aiming to “green” the urban history of the city and to show how dependent our understanding of modern cities is on horses. Similar to Hribals article (mentioned earlier), Soppelsa goes into detail explain the thoroughness which horses were utilized: Every segment and feature of their existence was used. They were used as labor-power and their corpses would be used as material resources (gelatine etc.).

The text focuses on horse-drawn omnibuses which made the foul treatment of horses a common site on the streets of ~1900 Paris. The French Society of the Protection of Animals (est. 1845) was active in campaigning for their well-being. Working for their rights was problematic because of long standing Cartesian views which deemed animals as non-sentient machines. Soppelsa argues that the sole reason the treatment of horses was pulled to a focus was because well treated horses would perform better. Machines and harnesses which caused less stress were developed to keep them in good working condition: “Cartesian animal mechanism was not always incompatible with animal welfare”. Their docility was maintained by organizing the animals into teams.

Omnibus horses […] were stabled in pairs, hitched to the same vehicles and driven by the same coachmen each day. The omnibus liked drivers, horses and vehicle in a consistent unity of human, animal and machine: the team. The team was technologically necessary, because ‘A horse, however willing cannot be used to work without being attached to another device’.

The divers were the center of the “team” Soppelsa continues. The animals could also be drugged to perform as desired: “‘A drunken horse is never meager’, Parisian slang called these drunken horses bohémes […]”.

The principal reasons for treating horses properly were upholding one’s own humanity and extracting the greatest possible value and work.

Early modern Parisians were advocating the well-being of urban horses because they didn’t want to be seen as savages. Not because they cared for the animals! Soppelsa offers interesting quotes by contemporary activist (who referred to horses as our “interior brothers”) who argued that good treatment of animals made their work more ‘profitable’. Visible animal cruelty made people look bad.

This process, combined with early bacteriology, which deemed close animal contacts “unhygienic”, lead to an new understanding that horses didn’t belong to the city. Interestingly horses were linked to the old European (fading) aristocracy, which lead the horse to be seen as a “chic novelty”. In short working with animals as machines was troublesome, their performance was difficult to manage. But working with actual machines, fitted Cartesian-worldviews (meaning a desire to see the world as a design) flawlessly and their performance could be optimized indefinitely. This process can be summarized by saying that the work of working animals was deemed inhumane, because working with actual machines was the endgame of modern humanity.

The horse’s incompatibility from the city shows how porous are the boundaries of the category of ‘urban’ […] horses were gradually constructed as non-urban after 1870. This narrative helps us historicise the relationships between humans, our tools and nature, thus greening urban history and the history of technology.

To preserve the city as a humanised space of artifice, and to soften the instrumentalisation of humans, Parisians estranged ‘nature’ and enlisted machines to replace animals.

Looking at the world as a design is an attempt to see the intent of a planner in a from. #ॐ

20200806

A short documentary Serge Tcherepnine 6 23 2020, where the inventor/composer recalls learning music from his father trough “osmosis”. Tcherepnine describes a music composition exercise where he broke a score into small segments (which he calls “patterns”) and rearranged the pieces as a new collage. I recognize this as a technique for poetry popularized by the surrealists and its really interesting that patching modular synths can be approached from this angle.

Acquired a Doepfer A-119 module in hopes of getting more detailed sounds from sparking waters. Assembled a 16n faderbank, everything seems to work well and the SMT assembly (0603 size) was fast.  It felt faster then working with trough-hole components and the ALPS potentiometers feel sturdy. Still waiting for slider caps. Opensource hardware is great! I’ll need to make a Made a TRS adapter thing to toggle Disting mk4 settings with it but selecting algorithms is still really unintuitive.

20200803

The world is a tea: The taste of water is the taste of the world. #ॐ

Digging Onyx Ashanti’s 2019 presentation for Eyeo festival. He wants to turn computerizing into a spatial and temporal activity. As an interface he focuses on hands, because “they do stuff before asking the brain”. He echoes a believe that humans can be programmed trough the hand-interface: The tools we use shape the way we think. I believe there is truth to this. I feel rejuvenated after working with crafts projects or construction. I think writing is a development of our desire to do thinking with our hands. Ashanti’s interest on hands has a solid connection to Tetsuo Kogawa/mini-FM transmitter stuff (mentioned earlier) as both artists are using gesture-based wireless systems.

LOW←TECH MAGAZINE is operated from a solar powered server. Access to the site is depended on weather! The design of site is perfect: Brutal and bandwidth efficient. The premise of the design is the same as with our Ore.e Ref. website (notes on the design here) but the LOW←TECH implementation of image dithering and coding optimization is way more advanced. Their design premise: “Default typeface / No logo” is elegant and they also offer “print-on-demand copies of the blog.”

The Internet is not an autonomous being. Its growing energy use is the consequence of actual decisions made by software developers, web designers, marketing departments, publishers and internet users. With a lightweight, off-the-grid solar-powered website, we want to show that other decisions can be made.

Installed an alternative firmware (Beta3) by Ralim to my ts80p soldering iron. Sending bug/testing notes to the [Long] TS80P Thread development channel. Soldering iron with an alternative firmware and a development community feels like the pinnacle of modernity.

Visited the Makamik squat for the Makamik-fest. The artist lineup was great and there were gigs and performances for three consecutive days. I heard a few gigs on Saturday and visited Salla Valle’s performance on Sunday. Valle worked outdoors and focused on smoke. She hid in the grass and send smoke signals by vaping, then she attempted to store smoke in jars (critique on live-art archivism?) and played a ringtone/mating call mixtape.

We had our final Achille Mbembe reading group session last week. The process was well organized and I enjoyed meeting new people. As a side quest, we met with the Helsinki based group, at the Malmi cemetery for a necro-touristic tour. I escorted folk to the pear-tree garden, a concrete-fence-stage and a relocated mass grave. The visit ended at the discarded gravestone disposal facility, where we saw old gravestones which had been grinded into rubble. Some fragments of letters and numbers could still be identified. The rubble pile felt like a monument and a very fitting summary for the Mbembe reading group sessions: Rubble mesh of identity signs which is used for construction and the underpayment of roads.

20200726

Ducking effect with what I have: TTLFO Clock -> Turing Machine Clock, Pulse Out -> Divider 1&2, 1 -> Rampage IN A, OUT A -> Inverter IN, OUT (This inverts the Ramp. positive env.) -> Sense (V)IN (preamp low & DC, set “ducking amount” by toggling OFFSET and preamp), CV OUT + (This lifts the volume to desired level in VCA, which inverted Ramp. signal pulls down) -> Skis VCA CV IN (Signal IN for the drum sound to be ducked). Divider 2 -> Skis TRIGGER IN (Signal IN for the sound which moves above ducking). Other: Ramp. RISING OUTs work great for vactrol LPG controlled hihats (White noise), TTLGO OUT (with square & Ramp. controlled SHAPE) -> Floating GATE to TRIGGER -> Multicassa Trig IN works great for dynamic percussion. Short experiment with the setup.

20200721

The Broända spring seems to be destroyed. We visited the site (60.22312, 25.12607) yesterday and after a careful inspection of the surroundings it seems that the landscaping of the creek and the construction of the Vartiokylänlahti floodwalls have resulted into the destruction of the natural spring. I found a well in the proximity but it was dry. A survey Helsingin kaupungin ympäristökeskuksen julkaisuja 17/2013 (which Emmi found online) offers a thorough listing of all of the springs in Helsinki. According to this source the Broända spring (also know as “Viking Well”) was the best source for natural water in the city. The destruction of the spring is also confirmed on this blog and by browsing the history of the site on Helsinki ilmakuvina 1932–2014 service. Marko Leppänen has published a comment on a blog (summer, 2015), which details that a concrete rim of the spring well had been damaged by landscaping equipment.

We continued our expedition to the nearby Kurkimoisio spring, which according to the available photos seemed to be in the same condition as during the 17/2013 survey. As mentioned in the survey there were old wooded ground structures (dams?) in its proximity and I think more them were visible then before. The concrete ring placed around the spring opening was poorly covered and it had collected organic material. I tasted the water, it was drinkable but the water was discolored and had an odor. This spring would be great for a restoration project! We also strolled in the Kurkimoisionpuiston creek-spring area but no surface springs could be spotted. Apparently Helsinki area underground waters are not used as supplies for drinking water but there are facilities around the city tapped to the underground reserves, in case something goes wrong with the Päijänne Water Tunnel or the Silvola artificial lake (these are the water supplies for a million people). We spotted an odd facility named Broändan pohjavesilaitos near to the springs.