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The Mechanical Nation (Something's Wrong, Société Réaliste!)

Bogdan Ghiu

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Something seems wrong with the automated "Universal Anthem", which can only be created mechanically and which has been recently been played on the 12th of December 2013, in the tranzit.ro space in Cluj. The motivation of the musical piece (in relation to the visual part and the general concept I will speak on a different occasion) which is the "Universal Anthem" project made by the well-known international art cooperative (i.e. counter-research) Société Réaliste (Gróf Ferenc and Jean-Baptiste Naudy) is as follows:
Société Réaliste, in cooperation with the computer engineer Frédéric Mauclère, has developed a software which computes the average musical notations of any audio or digital music files in the MIDI format. In the Universal Anthem project, the artists put together the national anthems of all the 193 UN members states and obtained the average tune thereof.
It is known that, although the UN is an organization born from the union of nations, as its name states, it does not have an anthem, a song which would go beyond the self-image and definition of its member states. But if we think about it, the pursuit of universality cannot really be sung as long as the individual states formulate their separation and dissimilarity from the other states and nations in their anthems. Therefore, writing a common anthem which would maintain specific national aspirations is doomed to be unsuccessful. The software, of course, executes a mechanical overcoming of such ideological differences by successively decomposing each of these anthems. The national anthem thus obtained contains all the anthems of the member states, being generated by mechanical algorithms without the possibility of being played by human hands on traditional instruments.
For verification purposes, the recording of this performance can be accessed here (http://tv.transindex.ro/?film=838).
And what I want to point out, what intrigues me, is the fact that this software used for the "mechanical" generation of the "Universal Anthem" instead of rendering particularizing dissonances, namely the very impossibility of creating a Universal Anthem in a way other than "mechanical" or "robotic", manages in fact to produce an unexpected melodious collage, to harmonize particularities, even if through juxtaposition, obtaining, by means of transposition, a map of sound territorializations. Personally I expected - I wished, I would have liked - the final result to be, at least at a conceptual level, a pure (!) Dada cacophony, a "simultaneous reciting", an uproar, given that democracy basically is (and must be) noise, and not the overlapping of partial messages: each one speaks his own language at the same time, in an irreducible fashion.
However, the social (ideal) "dadaism" of democracy seems already mechanically "harmonized", already melodically mechanized, in other words, the dissonances appear downsized and eliminated, "solved" even at a national level, as the nations, self-referenced by means of flags and anthems, must subsequently be represented as great devices and "magnetic fields" created to eliminate mechanically the noise of particularities, the democratic cacophony. The nation as a mechanical software.
In these conditions, or pursuant to this assumption, despite my expectations and my desire for a democratic dadaist cacophony, according to which the impossible "Universal Anthem" should be, for the good of humanity and for the good of diversity, an impossible noise and a fortunate uproar, and despite my surprise of finding it is otherwise, the "mechanical" might still be right when it reveals, like in the situation at hand, the very pre-established mechanical harmony, the mechanized harmonization, namely the forced infra-universalization which it already performs upstream, the national principle or rather the national method, the nationalizing technique, the national mechanics. The nation is already a mechanical-universalizing principle. Each nation does nothing but "universalizing" on its turf, believing in and creating the universal as a fratricidally monotheistic religion.
Therefore, a "Universal Anthem" seems impossible only on account of its actual futility, already existing, by means of the particularizing training programs of the universal national principle. Nations are already, inherently-mechanically, United.
You were right, in the end, Société Réaliste: nations already pertain to the Universal, which is mechanical and can only be conveyed by mechanical means. This reveals your counter-research, my friends.
(Translation from Romanian by Carmen Dobre)
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