Tuesday, November 1, 2011

emotional complexities and atomic cyborgs

"In the near future, nuclear energy [will] create a world 'in which…routine household tasks are just a molter of pushing a few buttons…where the air is everywhere as fresh as on a mountain top and the breeze from a factory as sweet as from a rose…Imagine the world of the future…the world that nuclear energy can create for us."

"technology was becoming out of control, that humans were becoming machines themselves, that people were losing their ties to nature."

In Lunar Rhapsody, from the album Music Out of the Moon, we start with a musical segment that mixes human voice with the technological theremin, capturing a mood that is full of both love and union as well as loss and sadness. In the era of this piece, society was indeed merging with technology, embodied here in the subtle mixture of theremin voice and human song. People were being taught to love the atom, and its utopian possibilities, as well as merging their homes and spaces with technological complexity. Yet at the same time people were learning to cope with the loss of a simpler world and a simpler time. The first atom bombs had been dropped only two years previous, and technological complexity had crossed a threshold where its implications (threatening and enlightening) pervaded everyday life.
In this piece, whenever the theremin comes in, we enter into these subtle emotional mixtures of both loss and love. The ambiguity of these emotional states captures the true emotional tones of the time, rather than a binary emotional tone that is either exotic and exciting or scary and dangerous.
Humans were merging their domestic spaces with these new elements; technological complexity and atomic and cold war fears. Musically, it becomes unclear where exactly the theremin plays and where the human voice plays, mirroring the difficulty in defining the borders of new technologies in the everyday life and homes spaces. This ambivalence is slightly haunting, and the musical tones of Lunar Rhapsody captures this feeling.
Towards the end, when the theremin pulls out completely, and we are left with humans singing and classical interments, we enter into and conclusion full of excitement and adventure. The merging of technos and human has become one, and the only way to escape the strangeness of these changes in the daily life spaces is to blast off into the cosmos. We end with adventure and suspense, as the unified cyborgian populous leaves the home for new frontiers of outer space, rocket ships, and alien colonies.

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