Title: International Necronautical Society Second First Committee Hearings
Type: INS event report
Authorised: First Committee, INS
Authorisation Code: TMcC160404
On the sixteenth of November, 2002, the International Society held its Second First Committee Hearings into Transmission, Death and Technology. A range of practitioners and theorists with special knowledge and expertise in the fields of sound, wireless electronic communication, cryptography and broadcasting were summoned to the Cubitt Gallery, London, and cross-examined by a Delegation comprising INS General Secretary Tom McCarthy, INS Chief of Propaganda (Archiving and Epistemological Critique) Anthony Auerbach and novelist and BBC broadcaster Zinovy Zinik. Their testimony was transcribed and is currently being examined by the INS Coding and Communication Group as the INS begins configuring its own broadcasting unit, which will begin transmitting from London's Institute of Contemporary Art in September, 2003.
Transcripts and images of the entire proceedings can be accessed by clicking here [http://www.necronauts.org].
Interim report to Rhizomes by INS General Secretary Tom McCarthy
The Second First Committee Hearings passed off very well, due largely to the Hearings Chamber design specially commissioned by the INS from English National Opera set designer Laura Hopkins. After studying images of the House Un-American Activities Committee Hearings of the late 1940s and of the interrogation scenes in Jean Cocteau's Orphée (1950), Hopkins constructed a camera in which the Delegation were seated behind a table on a raised podium facing the witnesses, who in their turn were made visible to the public (from whom they faced away) by means of a simultaneous video projection onto the wall behind the Delegation. The press photography area was to the podium's right. No other photography or recording was permitted. So satisfied was the INS with Hopkins's work that she has since been offered a permanent position on the INS First Committee as Environmental Engineer, a post she has accepted.
Demand for seating in the Public Gallery was high. In addition to the twenty-plus members of the press for whom seats had been reserved, roughly one hundred people turned up to observe the proceedings. As a result, the chamber's aisles were packed. A roped-off area at the front was kept clear for the sound engineer John Lee of MJT Productions, who was recording the Hearings for the INS archive and for Resonance FM.
The witnesses had been selected both for the special knowledge they could furnish and for the range they represented. Where Manu Luksch and Mukul Patel of ambienttv.net were able to expound in great detail on the technological specifications of radio telescopes and broadband relay systems, artist Cerith Wynn Evans was more at home discussing the metaphorical and epistemological dimensions of the notion of encryption, overlayering Abraham and Torok's research of the figure of the crypt in Freud's case history 'The Wolf Man' with anecdotal accounts of his own work with encrypted semiotic systems: his spelling out of Marxist and Situationist slogans in fireworks in the White Cube Gallery, his projection, in Morse Code light pulses, of the work of William Blake in the Tate and so on. While cultural theorist John Cussans dealt directly with the technologisation, throughout the twentieth century, of spiritualism and researcher Jane Lewty elaborated on her thesis that Joyce's Finnegans Wake should be read as a direct radio communication with the dead, artist/activist Heath Bunting concentrated on the political aspects of communication networks. This last theme was taken up by the final witness, novelist Ken Hollings, who traced a line from the Marquis de Sade to William S. Burroughs of sound, broadcasting and détournement as forms of terrorism.
Given that the INS Coding and Communication Group is currently analysing transcripts of the testimonies, and bearing in mind the extra research they will undertake in order to process and frame the propositions these explicitly assert or implicitly contain, it would be premature to summarise the findings that will soon be published in the General Secretary's Report into the Hearings. (This Report, the Second, the first being Navigation Was Always a Difficult Art: General Secretary's Report to the International Necronautical Society on the interviews, discussions, screenings and performances conducted at the Office of Anti-Matter, Austrian Cultural Forum, 21st March-4th April 2001 (launched at the Royal Geographical Society on 8th March 2002 and available from http://www.amazon.com and selected art bookshops), will be launched, prior to the establishment of the broadcasting unit at the ICA, at Tate Modern. However, it can be revealed that the Group is currently closely analysing the socio-psycho-linguistic figure of the crypt in its relation to encryption, attempting to map this motif out of the Freud-Abraham-Torok triangle through the work of Nabokov, Hergé and Sartre onto the coding systems used by underground communication networks set up during World War Two. Of particular interest in this respect is the work of Leo Marx, code-setter and later scriptwriter of Peeping Tom, a horror film in which a camera-wielding killer murders women as he films them. Marx describes in his autobiographical memoir Between Silk and Cyanide how, as he taught the secret codes to agents who would soon be parachuted into France, many of them never to return, he felt that he was watching their young faces taking on the aspect of a death mask. The INS strongly suspects that from Marx's confession will emerge the forthcoming report's guiding premise: namely, that to dwell within the crypt -- the space of encryption -- is to be already dead.