What we like
€e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision – Rajmil Fischman
€e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision offers a critique of the neoliberal establishment and proposes viable alternatives that may help us overcome the faults and instabilities it generated. It is dedicated to all the people who make the world a better place, from essential workers to those who strive for equality and justice.
Part I – The Vision of €e.$i¥.Ah
1) Hear, O Heavens, O Earth. 2) The Test. 3) The Strong and the Weak. 4) They Shall Beat their Plunder into Shares. 5) EWM.
Part II – eCo.Helet Collective Dialogues
6) This is the Vision. 7) We Have Collective Power. 8) A Portal.
In the year 10.956, interstellar archaeologists arrived to a planet in a remote corner of a distant galaxy. Despite the planet’s unassuming appearance from outer space, the archaeologists became intrigued by the state of affairs they found when they landed, and decided to stay to investigate its history. Prompted by their initial enthusiasm, they spent months of fruitless effort to find any helpful evidence. But just as they were making their preparations to leave for another world, they suddenly came across an archaeological treasure in the form of two ancient digital media sources: “The Vision of €e.$i¥.Ah” and the “eCo.Helet Collective Dialogues”.
The first of these exposed and documented the cosmology of a small sect of believers who were able to acquire immense power over the planet many millennia before. While archaeologists encountered evidence that there were various versions of The Vision of €e.$i¥.Ah, the only source they found was the so called Free Market Version which, they later discovered, was used as the official source of dogma for the dominant group’s cosmology. Its name appears to have derived from its beginning invocation ‘Hear, O heavens, O earth: this is the vision of €e.$i¥.Ah’, and it is structured into five sections: Hear, O Heavens, O earth; The Test; The Strong and the Weak; They Shall Beat their Plunder into Shares; EWM (Electronic War Music).
The eCo.Helet Collective Dialogues, on the other hand, consist of three parts: a critique of €e.$i¥.Ah’s vision, the formulation of an alternative cosmology and a short epilogue of hope. Further investigations shed light on the origin of the Dialogues, traced to a global and diverse collective group, which encompassed a large cross-section of the population of the planet contemporary to the dominant minority group.
Together, The Vision of €e.$i¥.Ah and the eCo.Helet Collective Dialogues offered the archaeologists a picture of the planet’s state nearly nine millennia before their arrival and helped them understand its present.
- Voices from samples available in the public domain: Aja Barber, Grace Blakeley, Noam Chomsky, Christian Felber, David Graeber, Chris Hedges, Ann Pettifor, Kate Raworth, Asad Rehman, Arundahti Roy, Elif Shafak, Wole Soyinka, Guy Standing, Yanis Varoufakis, Richard Wolff.
- Special appearances from samples available in the public domain: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ronald Wilson Reagan, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Donald John Trump.
- Samples from www.freesound.org:
- Samples from De Wolfe XV Series Effects Collection (licensed to Keele University).
- Synthesised voices created with Balabolka, https://balabolka.en.lo4d.com/windows.
- The author’s own recordings.
- ‘Orchestral’ passages created by the author are inspired by chord progressions in What a Wonderful World by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss.
€e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision, pronounced /ɪ ‘zaɪ əs ‘vɪʒən/, is an electronic work for performance over eight speakers (octophonic) or stereo. It offers a critique of the current neoliberal establishment, which became the dominant economic, social and political force in the planet during the last fifty years. Correspondingly, the name €e.$i¥.Ah is a ‘monetised’ transformation of the name
In a contemporary world where information is overabundant, manufacturing of consent is unprecedently sophisticated, and authoritative messages often conceal lack of substance or
evidence, a critique articulated by means of an artwork must overcome new challenges if it is to avoid becoming mere unsubstantiated form. In this context, the conception in €e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision aims to articulate the affective power of music without sacrificing content and to present a coherent formulation of its critique through this affective power. It also aims to transcend such critique by introducing viable ideas for alternatives to the neoliberal order that may help us overcome the faults and instabilities generated by the latter and prevent further deterioration.
In order to encourage the listener to assume a detached view of the state of our present world, €e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision is set in the future, when interstellar archaeologists arrive to an unnamed
planet in a remote corner of a distant galaxy (see programme notes below). As they endeavour to discover the history of the planet, the archaeologists come across two ancient digital media
sources: The Vision of €e.$i¥.Ah and the eCo.Helet Collective Dialogues. Together, these findings offer the archaeologists a picture of the planet’s state nearly nine millennia before their arrival and help them understand its present.
The Vision of €e.$i¥.Ah exposed and documented the cosmology of a small sect of believers who were able to acquire immense power over the planet. Alluding to Isaiah, the Old testament
prophet, The Vision of €e.$i¥.Ah’s religious connotations relate to the neoliberal quasifundamentalist belief in a godlike market which is supposed to solve all our existential problems.
In this context, it is used as metaphor to articulate the music’s affective power in the first part of the musical piece: the texts used are assembled as parts of musical phrases; for example, as
words of an electronic dance of war (see EWM below) or as words of gospel preached by intelligent artificial beings in a sanitised utopic environment (see They Shall Beat their Plunder
into Shares below). The Vision of €e.$i¥.Ah consists of five sections:
- Hear, O Heavens, O earth – an invocation of the vision of €e.$i¥.Ah amidst a background of environmental destruction.
- The Test – nonsensical text that illustrates lack of content in a political leader’s speech.
- The Strong and the Weak – elaborates on the maxim ‘the strong do as they wish and the weak suffer as they must’ attributed to Thucydides (fourth-century BC).
- They Shall Beat their Plunder into Shares – intelligent artificial beings2 preach from the gospel of €e.$i¥.Ah in a sanitised utopic environment. The text consists of modifications
of the Old Testament book of Isaiah. For example, Isaiah’s ‘They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks’ becomes ‘They shall beat their
plunder into shares, and their loans into pruning hooks’. As this section develops, the artificial beings end up sounding more “human’ than actual samples of real people.
- EWM (Electronic War Music) – free market eulogists participate in an electronic dance piece made of war sounds.
The title of the second part of €e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision, eCo.Helet Collective Dialogues takes its name from a hybrid between ‘eco’ (ecologic, economic, ecosystems, etc.) and the Old testament book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet), and focuses on the explicit arguments of the critique. While affective power still plays a role throughout its sections, the words articulated by various contemporary thinkers take centre stage. Together, the many voices form a single narrative achieved by the collective contributions of each of the individuals. This contrasts the role of the uncoordinated voices that feature in EWM (Electronic War Music), countering neoliberal individualism with the synergy achieved by means of collective action. The eCo.Helet Collective Dialogues consist of three sections:
- This is the Vision – a textual critique of €e.$i¥.Ah’s neoliberal capitalist vision
- We Have Collective Power – the formulation of an alternative social, political, and
ecologic cosmology, achievable by means of collective action.
- A Portal – a short epilogue of hope.
€e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision is not intended to provide a prediction. It does not attempt to estimate the fate of neoliberalism and whether it will be replaced by the alternative vision it proposes or by
something completely different (e.g. extreme forms of neo-feudalist power based on the exclusive possession of data, or power by control over automation, etc.). It rather aims to
instigate discussion in wider public circles than those of social and political scientists, economists, philosophers and other intellectuals. It is intended to foment reflection on our
current pressing existential problems (inequality, environmental extinction, nuclear holocaust, etc.). For these reasons, it never reveals the state in which the archaeologists found the planet.
The latter’s fate is left unclear, in an effort to let the listeners decide on the nature of our actual planet’s present and infer its possible future … and if they deem it necessary, to take appropriate action!
Genre and Style
€e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision is an musical work for loudspeakers. Given its scope and content, it incorporates the articulation of materials from different genres. For instance, but not exclusively, it incorporates components from genres such as electroacoustic (e.g. The Strong and the Weak, etc.), radiophonic (e.g. We Have Collective Power), dance music (e.g. EDM) and postdigital (e.g. The Test). These are adapted to fit within a coherent musical narrative.
Performance using a circle of eight speakers enables the realisation of an immersive experience for the listeners. Ideally, multi-speaker sound systems assume a listener sitting at the sweet spot in the centre of a circle. However, this is not possible for every member of a large audience; especially in concert venues where the listeners are dispersed around the centre. Also, in the case of larger spaces where the speakers are relatively far from the centre of the circle, a ‘hole’ is perceived, with sounds appearing to come from the periphery.
In order to mitigate these issues, two strategies were used in the realisation of €e.$i¥.Ah’s Vision. Firstly, the material is composed purposefully to avoid the need to pinpoint accurate sound location. Rather, the spatial distribution of the sounds focuses on their relative positions and actual movement; their spatial counterpoint. Secondly, the effects of large venues with
dispersed audiences were also mitigated using panning algorithms developed by the composer. These forfeit the flexibility in speaker positioning of systems such as Vector Base Amplitude Panning (VBAP)3 and higher order ambisonics4 in favour of an approach that involves a wider cross-section of interlinked speakers. This means that the speakers should be positioned approximately within the current conventions used worldwide for octophonic sound projection. Also, the algorithms implement additional auditory cues for moving sound in the form Doppler Shift calculated with respect to the position of a listener relative to the speakers.