BSP Podcast: Giuseppe Torre on ‘Noise, Phenomena and the Digital Psychosis’

podcast update

This episode of the BSP Podcast sees Giuseppe Torre presenting a paper from our 2020 annual conference, ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online.

Season 5 episode 122: 25 September 2021

This episode of Season 5 of the BSP Podcast features Giuseppe Torre, University of Limerick, Ireland. The presentation is taken from our 2020 annual conference: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online.

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Giuseppe Torre
‘Noise, Phenomena and the Digital Psychosis’

ABSTRACT: With respect to digital technologies, noise is something that is at once both fought and sought. We may wish to minimise noise in communications but require it for encrypting the very content communicated. We may wish to minimise noise when recording sound but also want to use it to improve the fidelity of the recording process. The catch is that noise is both an abstract idea and a concrete thing that does not sit comfortably in relation to systems that are deterministic/probabilistic, such as digital technologies. This is a fact that computer scientists know well but that is systematically overlooked in order to safeguard and improve the functioning of digital technologies, such as digital instruments. Indeed beyond the plethora of different kinds of noises, the comparison between analogue and digital technologies highlights the existence of just two types of noise: one that is naturally occurring (noise) and one that is humanly constructed (pseudo-noise). Digital technologies operate by moving from noise to pseudo noise, in order to then 1) crystallise reality into mathematical constructs and 2) create realities from mathematical constructs. This makes the digital realm a type of technology different from any other, namely, one in which noise is fiercely fought and used for the digitisation process but then relentlessly sought, and always denied, within the digital realm. This observation points to at least two further implications: one is that noise may point to essential differences between analogue and digital technologies; the second is that the presence or absence of noise may lead to either crippled or diverse phenomenologies. To this extent, digital technology, rather than revealing by challenging (Heidegger), has more to do with enabling a psychotic stance towards reality – one in which reality has been made to conform to our mathematically constructed idea of it … and one which might be too much even for a phenomenologist to overcome. These arguments will be developed from the perspective of a digital art practitioner.

BIO: Giuseppe Torre is a lecturer in Digital Arts at the University of Limerick (Ireland). His research interest lies at the crossroads between digital art practices, open source technology/culture and philosophy. These interests respond to a questioning of the relationships between art and technology and that has so far led Torre to question under what forms and forces truly creative efforts may, or may not, arise.

This recording is taken from the BSP Annual Conference 2020 Online: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’. Organised with the University of Exeter and sponsored by Egenis and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. BSP2020AC was held online this year due to global concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. For the conference our speakers recorded videos, our keynotes presented live over Zoom, and we also recorded some interviews. Podcast episodes from BSP2020AC are soundtracks of those videos where we and the presenters feel the audio works as a standalone.

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP?