Sunday, 23 January 2011

Agata's Boy is a Computer

It's late evening on Sunday 23rd of January and I just realised I haven't met anyone within the past week, since my boyfriend left for his country. I mean, I was leaving the house, of course, I was seeing lots of people on the streets (living in a big city man is never fully alone, so to speak), I had many phone conversations (two of them of a longer & deeper nature), I attended one meeting about a late artist I greatly admire, where I've meet lots of friends and had a few chats with them, but mostly I've been staying at home, and my conversations or thoughts exchanges, although some of them very engaging, occured via internet. I was reading, doing research, translated 2 long texts into English, written 1 longer and couple of shorter articles, worked on my book. Seen three films. Listened to lots of music (also to write about it). Some of it was truly compelling esthetic experiences. But honestly, I can't say I had any form of deeper in-real-world interaction with other human beings (dismissed two invitations to go out in the evening because of the workload, which now I regret).

Something literally shrinked within when I thought about it, although there's nothing there that should be at any rate shocking for anyone. Lots of us live like this nowadays, especially if we're freelancers working at home (and don't have flat mates, as I do). Lots of us live online, lots of us move the working hours into the night and sleep until noon or later. Still, I'm utterly terrified that I managed to do that at all. Wasn't something in me craving for such contact? How did I manage to spend so many hours in this flat not even noticing it? Even if it's winter, it's cold, night falls at 4pm and there's not much to do in the January evenings. I suddenly dropped my work altogether, pondering when exactly did I accept, just like that, this kind of apalling solitude.

On the much praised album from the last year, "North" by Darkstar, one of the Hyperdub flag ensembles, there's a song, which was also a much youtube-played 2009single, Aidy's Girl's a Computer. Heard it many times, but must say that until today, when I played it sitting alone in my flat, it didn't struck me with equal power. (Am an ignorant as far as the technique aspects of the music are concerned, but) It starts with some torn, as if cut out pieces of a computer generated/manipulated voice. As if from the deepest, darkest of digital voids, this voice formulates first the word "I" and then "feeling", then recurring throughout the rest of the song, fragmented & layered. It at first sounds like some kind voice test, but of course in connection to the songs title emerges with a quite distrurbing meaning. There's no story or narrative in this song, and the better, because it would render it banal. as Sam Davies written in the November review in the Wire, North is an essentially synth pop album, but the song stands out, belonging to the former dubstep phase. The simple two step rhythm, plus xylophone, this song seems to me an incredibly touching rendering of the tired, solitary nights I spend in front of my computer, trying to connect with the person I love, waiting for the machine to be "on" and the heartbreaking silence that is opening whenever the connecting devices decide not to work. And towards the end of the song, the machine voice says "I'm on". Yet I cant quite describe what is so moving in this song, its autumnal atmosphere and soundscape looking so basic & flat.

Recently we stopped using skype, because my headphones were broken and my stolen internet was just not doing it, and when it was faintly working, he was saying he can hear me as a woman robot, which allegedly was sounding sexy. Now we have to be tight at phone calls because they cost fortune, but funny how one is always disappointed by a phonecall, no matter how long it lasts. In his review Sam is calling "Aidy" a "modern lament" and as effective as it sounds, it is a lament, and to avoid any pretentious metaphor at the end, it's sort of a hymn of the crap technology, of the heartbreaking unfulfilled relationship we have with it, of its broken, unhappy promises, as well.

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