An Experimodern Coda To Human Sexuality


Piotr Wozniak is a model of experimodern music applied to life itself. He has re-arranged his life according to an algorithm in order to be able to learn as much as is humanly possible (Wolf, 2008). Wozniak is the inventor of a program called SuperMemo, which is designed to help increase memory, yet he has increasingly applied the same principles to the organization of his entire life.

The reason the inventor of SuperMemo pursues extreme anonymity, asking me to conceal his exact location and shunning even casual recognition by users of his software, is not because he's paranoid or a misanthrope but because he wants to avoid random interruptions to a long-running experiment he's conducting on himself. Wozniak is a kind of algorithmic man. He's exploring what it's like to live in strict obedience to reason. On first encounter, he appears to be one of the happiest people I've ever met. (Wolf, 2008).

Yet imagine if this algorithmic living was combined with the random and stochastic procedures of experimodernism – life scatters like a computer-controlled-crowd from quantification by larger forces, our own algorithms confound those further downstream. The application to living of this controlled randomness of experimodern musical practice might be the only way in which the performance practice of experimodern and improvised music can keep to its original ethos, as humanity becomes more and more predictable. Only through the creation of a way of living which stands outside of predictability and manipulation, can the choice, in the moment of performance, between two notes, be a meaningful articulation of human agency.

Performance practice ceases to become a thing that you learn, applied unthinkingly, but the natural result of a particular way of living. Similarly, what Ferneyhough36 refers to as a “'Pavlovian' Semanticism”37 (Ferneyhough, 1995, p. 23) that may come from an purely “intuitive” style of compositional approach may gain a new efficacy if we are to take the very “Pavlovian” element of our intuitive aesthetic drives and give them new foundations through behavioural conditioning of the type used to condition a boot fetish, mentioned above. Similarly, improvisation, which Boulez refers to as “une sorte d'onanisme en public” (quoted in Ben Watson, 2014) gains new meaning and power in the wake of Pocknee and Baxenkraft's works – if your masturbatory activity has been regularly re-routed to such an extent, the (supposed) underlying onanistic tendencies of improvisation will themselves be re-modulated into a different space.


37 Thanks, JR!