All posts by Melle Kromhout

Melle Jan Kromhout is PhD Fellow at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam. His research project entitled “Noise Identities” focuses on the revaluation of noise in recorded sound and music. More at

Online Siegert Lectures

The lecture “On Codes and Coding” that Siegert gave at NYU earlier this month and on which Peter already reported, can now be viewed and heard online. It is embedded below. As Peter wrote, this material was originally intended to be a chapter in Passage des Digitalen, but for reasons of time, it was left out.

Additionally, we thought it would be nice to include some other English-spoken lectures by Siegert that are currently online. You can find the four that we found below as well. They were held between 2011 and 2013 and some ended up as a chapter in Cultural Techniques: Grids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Reals.

Lastly, there is also a playlist comprised of eight video’s of an interview with Siegert by José Gomes Pinto and Maria Teresa Cruz in Lisbon in 2014.

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Moseley: Digital Analogies

As mentioned several times by both Peter and myself, it was at “From Bone Flute to Auto-Tune,” a conference on music and technology at the University of California, Berkeley in April 2014 that the idea of what was to become this blog was conceived. Besides my own paper at the conference, primarily Roger Moseley’s wonderful keynote called “Digital Analogies” got us talking about Kittler, Leibniz, and, most importantly Siegert’s Passage des Digitalen. This is why we are very pleased that last week, the Journal of the American Musicological Society published Roger’s extensive article “Digital Analogies: The Keyboard as Field of Musical Play” of which the Berkeley-talk was an early version. Given this history, the fact that Roger has been a silent, but faithful member of our group and of course its relevance to many of the things we have been discussing the past couple of months, we want to highly recommend his article to you all.

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Geoghegan: Draft Notes for an essay on Information in Formation (Session 10)

For our last session, Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan to attribute a draft version of an essay on the concept of information, which nicely ties into with some of the topics of Passage des Digitalen in general and its last chapter, “Signal Intelligence”, in particular. Please be aware that this is a draft version and Bernard kindly asks not to quote or cite without his explicit permission.

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Kromhout: Leibniz’s Noise (Session 6)

As Peter already hinted at in his contribution last week, it was at a conference on music and technology at Berkeley in May 2014 that the first stones were laid for what was to become this online reading group. There, I presented a paper on a process called ‘dithering,’ called “A Soft Landing into a Bed of Noise. Dithering: Hiding Noise with Noise in Digital Sound” (see the slides for that presentation here). In two paragraphs of that paper I talked about Leibniz, noise and Siegert’s ‘Riß’ (which I translated with “rupture,” but which could of course also be ‘crack,’ or ‘tear’ or something similar). Peter suggested I’d put these two paragraphs on the blog at some point and because of their connections to the issues at hand in the current and previous chapter, here they are…:

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Westzaan/Kromhout: Conversation – Subjects and Symbols (Session 4)

In order to try something different, instead of each writing a separate blogpost, Nina Westzaan and I conducted a written conversation about this week’s chapter. We could have gone on much longer, as we listed many more possible interesting points, but for now, this is what we discussed:

Melle: One of the topics that we both listed as compelling in this chapter is the fact that at several instances Siegert, almost in passing, mentions a new or changing subject. I think especially the passage about Brunelleschi and the Linear Perspective on page 149 is interesting and thought-provoking in that respect.

Nina: Yes. I keep wondering where this subject comes from (both with regard to the structure of the book and Siegert’s argumentation). Although Siegert mentions it in this chapter for the first time (I believe), in my opinion he actually describes the transcendence of the subject or its disappearance or negation through science.

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Kromhout: Translation – Order, locate → code, decode (Session 4)

As I think they are quite significant, I thought it might be nice to publish my tentative translation of the last two paragraphs of this chapter, page 155/156:

“Very generally, one could say that Spanish mathematics never combined the codification of addresses and the codification of signals into one science. The universal methods of Wilkins and Hooke, however, precisely originated from the combination of signal coding and address coding. Even more so: they are based on nothing but the identification of signal coding with address coding. The code through which a message is encrypted is at the same time the address at which the message is stored and can be found. Ars inveniendi – or Algebra – is at the same time Ars dechiffrendi

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Kromhout: An attempt to sketch the main themes and ideas (session 1)

The introduction to Passage des Digitalen gives, in only eleven pages, a good taste of the scope and complexity of the book. I quickly came to the conclusion that any honest attempt to adequately summarize shatters on the sheer density of the argument and the richness of the material. Nonetheless, I would like to kick off our blog with an attempt to outline what I think are the main themes and threads in the book as introduced in the Vorwort. I identified four:

  • Firstly, the “specific figure of a ‘beginning’ of electrical (electromagnetic, electronic) media.”
  • Secondly, a discourse analysis of “sign practices” [Zeichenpraktiken].
  • Thirdly, a history of (mathematical) analysis.
  • Fourthly, the identification of a rupture, rift, crack or break [ein Riβ] in the classical representational order of writing.

Continue reading Kromhout: An attempt to sketch the main themes and ideas (session 1)