Orbiting the Trans-Humanoid from Fanaa_Sounak Das_Master's Thesis

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Orbiting the Trans Humanoid from Fanaa

Orbiting the Trans-Humanoid from Fanaa

Speculating sound as a melting pot for Human-Technology-Nature co-habitation

Submitted to Master Institute of Visual Cultures, St. Joost School of Art & Design, Avans University of Applied Sciences, s’ Hertogenbosch The Netherlands

In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Art in Fine Art & Design

s’ Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Word count: 5981

May 2023


This thesis could not have been possible without the support of many special people

I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Eric Hagoort for overseeing the research. It would have been impossible without the guidance of Mariska Van Den Berg, Marnix de Nijs, Martine Stig, Thomas Bakker, Bas Van den Hurk, Marton Kabai, Aiwen Yin, Marijn Ottenhof and Marga Rotteveel.

Many thanks to Nabil Rahman, Richard Crooks and Ronni Ahmmed in particular for their immense support and the wisdom, courage, and confidence it gave me to pursue this journey.

My family, in particular Sikha Das, Souvik Das, Fahmida Mubin, and my late father Tapas Ranjan Das, deserve a special thank you for the tremendous love, support, understanding, patience, and openness toward me and my practice.


This thesis explores the integration of Eastern and Western ideologies, focusing on the relationship between science, spirituality and art. The paper is structured into chapters, firstly, incorporating the decolonial thought of science and spirituality, familiarizing Vedic Philosophy and Jungian Philosophy. In the second chapter, Ocular and Sonic approach to knowledge production is reconsidered, presenting the esoteric practices of chanting and mantras. It discusses how humanity has explored the agency of sound and its mystical phenomena by understanding the power of music and rhythm carried over historical practices. The third chapter, investigates technology’s impact on humanity. Art and technology are intertwined to project the current post-human era. Electricity and the idea of cybernetic organism are introduced to rationalize the human-technology-nature co-existence. Juxtaposing sound and electricity as a universal phenomenon, the paper suggests to understanding what is in motion and continuous feedback. Finally, through the metaphor of glitch and the notion of thinking through making, it highlights the methodology and the importance of triggering embodied ethics in a creative process. Overall, the study invites collaboration and further exploration to harvest new knowledge from the entanglement of human, technology and nature.

Table of Contents Introduction..............................................................................................................................1 Spirituality as a non-scientific approach to life ...................................................................3 Delving in Ocular & Sonic 7 Essence of technology as nothing technological .............................................................10 Cognitive Dissonance, an approach to trigger embodied ethic .....................................15 Nature of practice as a natural glitch..................................................................................19 Conclusion..............................................................................................................................28 Appendix A 30 Appendix B.............................................................................................................................38 Bibliography...........................................................................................................................41


The voice echoes, “Know Thyself”1 .

I delve into the depth of my being, guided by the wisdom of my father’s conscience; the voice within me. I strive to unveil the mysteries of existence and discover the intrinsic truth that influences my reality.

Human ideologies vary from geographies and their diaspora, but the linking factor is seeing, the dominant sense through which we understand the world. This is reflected in various aspects of Western culture, including art, literature, philosophy and science. However, the sonic understanding of humanity is prevalent in the Eastern world, which establishes the importance of sound and other non-visual senses in human perception. Forms like music, chanting2, breathing and humming are used to create a sense of connection between humans and the creation around them. What I want to convey is a non-scientific approach that stems from my Asian heritage, specifically Vedic3 spirituality. There is a relationship between nature and technology, as both share agency through knowing and influencing the mind.

The word Trans-humanoid addresses my idea that humans are enthralled by technological entanglement in order to enhance ability and cognition. In the age of electricity, information is dependent on electric and mechanical appliances (McLuhan, 1967, p.12). The world today is a cybernetic mechanism, with visible and invisible infrastructures shaping reality to a cyborglike appearance (Haraway, 2016, p.33). Fanaa, a term from Sufi ideology, emphasizes the worth of self and the cosmos as a whole. We are all part of the same nature and cosmos. Both assertions are true; the human-machine connection and the human-nature relationship are interdependent. I am incorporating Western and Eastern ideology to rearticulate art and technology in today’s digital expansion.

In this research, I embark on an artistic journey to explore alternative and new knowledge production; combining the intricate relationships between humans, technology and nature. I aim to uncover the potential of sound as a unifying force that could foster a more profound understanding of human-technology-nature entanglement. I will commence with my understanding of the holy science and spirituality, articulating my artistic expedition.

1 An Ancient Greek aphorism, meaning knowledge begins in self-discovery.

2 To make repeated sounds with voice, commonly used in spiritual practice.

3 A collection of scriptures, poems and hymns from archaic Sanskrit, the ancient and classical language of IndoAryan.

Figure 1. Sounak Das. (2014). Quale. [Digital Image]. Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Spirituality as a non-scientific approach to life

“A man can exist without a mind, provided he has discovered another mind behind this mind.”

My thoughts are like fractals, a never-ending maze that leads me to excavate further into each labyrinth. Within these labyrinths lies a spectrum of information, a complex cybernetic imagination fueled by the continuous and spontaneous feedback of neural activities. My aim is to comprehend these cybernetics and explore the world through my practice. I propose that the mind is omnipresent, everything all at once.

In Bengal4, this concept resonates with the teaching of Sri RamKrishna Paramhansu (18361886) a Sadhu5, revered mystic and spiritual leader, who advocated that various religions and ideologies represent myriad paths leading to the same destination. He affirmed the unity among different philosophies and beliefs, revitalizing the Vedic ideology through a nondualistic perspective, stating that “Knowledge leads to unity, but ignorance to diversity” (Yogananda, 1946, p.66). This profound realization was propagated and expounded upon by his disciple, Swami Vivekananda, through his transcription of 'The Vedanta Philosophy' , thereby introducing the Vedic ideology to the Western world for the first time in 1896. This exposure to esoteric practices and concepts facilitated the dissemination of spiritual knowledge as a non-dualistic noumena6

Rendering an Eastern viewpoint, the essence of life is to gather knowledge, and balance the entire marvel of nature. Only through introspection is such interconnected balance acknowledged. The essence of the entire marvel is to discover pure divinity. In Sanskrit it is referred to as Samadhi7 and in Arabic as Fanaa. Hence, pure divinity is to realize and believe that we are all part of the same manifestation. Such an act of emancipation, enlightenment and interconnectedness unifies self with the cosmos. It was believed that there is a technique to connect yourself with the cosmos, practiced as Sadhana8 (stillness). Sadhana, is an over accruinggeneral term for Bengalis regarded to be an ego transcendingspiritual exercise. Also, a meditative exercise, to detach from worldly attachments and seek for oneness. Furthermore, it is understood that both physical and non-physical attainments are under the direction of the mind.

4 A region is South East Asia.

5 A holy person within Vedic practice who has renounced all earthly attachments with the single mindset of connecting to the divine.

6 According to Kant – a thing as it is in itself, not perceived or interrupted, incapable of being known but only inferred from the nature of experience.

7 Freedom of the soul to enter into a state of divine bliss, liberating the cycle of rebirth and death.

8 Sadhana is a Vedic religious training or discipline practiced by a holy person or sadhu.


My maternal grandfather, Anil Mohan Kar who was a Sadhu, an astrologist, followers of Sri RamKrishna Paramhansu and founding members of the Ramkrishana Mission, a reformist ashram in Sitakunda, Chottagram, Bangladesh. His books on such esoteric practices such as mantras9 and Sadhana included 'poetry and spirituality, rhythm and metaphysics, for those seeking Enlightenment and knowledge,' in both Bengali and Sanskrit

I only understood my grandfather’s preaching, as he guided me through many deities and rituals, after the death of my father. Such insight and metaphysical belief enthralled my extensive knowledge about Carl Jung, who has mentioned the collective unconscious mind (Jung, 1964, p.107). He proposed that, part of the psyche is shared by all human beings, and it is comprised of archetypes10, universal symbols and patterns that are present across cultures and throughout history. It is such a state of mind that unravels the conscious and unconscious without our capabilities to maneuver it all the time. Such a state of mind can only be tamed by our own understanding of the world. Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious is identical to the Eastern concept of the subconscious mind and the cosmic mind (Motoyama, 2001, p.109). In Eastern philosophy and spirituality, the subconscious mind is seen as a source of wisdom and creativity, and believed to be connected to a universal consciousness or divine intelligence (Vivekananda, 1896, p.10).

Subsequently,spirituality and science can coexist ina person's worldview. Both concepts seek to comprehend the nature of reality and psychology, offering interconnectedness and unity of all things as a more comprehensive and integrated epistemic knowledge. So, we need to understand the mutually driven concepts of Swami Vivekananda and Carl Jung, both of which suggests that there are deeper invisible layers shared by all human beings. However, spirituality is not founded on empirical evidence or a scientific method; rather, it is a nonscientific approach to life based on personal experiences, intuition, and faith in a higher power or divine energy.

Being educated using the British curriculum, having an English-speaking upbringing, and residing and working in the Eastern Hemisphere, I am conjoined with philosophies and religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Sufism, Christianity and Brahmo Samaj11 . Such hybridity has always left me at a state of aporia12. I married under The Special Marriage Act, 1872, law of Brahmo Samaj (law of humanity), which is a reformist community under a monotheistic ideology. It believes everything is a form of one energy, and we are a part of this cosmic energy. It is an amalgamation of Judeo-Christian-Islam-Hindu faiths and practices. Such a non-dualistic approach was introduced in the East during the 18th Century, during the rise of the Indian and the Bengal Renaissance13 It caused a split in the spiritual Hinduism movement, which led to oriental ideas penetrating the West and reforming modern India and making spirituality omnipresent. My photographic series that dwell with esoteric cultures and spiritual practices are in Appendix A.

9 Mantra comes from Sanskrit word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation

10 In Jungian theory, a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest of human ancestors, and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious.

11 A monotheistic faith community of Hinduism, founded in 1828 by Indian historian Ram Mohan Roy.

12 The expression of doubt, as about where to begin or what to do or say.

13 It was a cultural, social, intellectual and artistic movement that took place in the Bengal region of the British Empire, from the late 18th century to the early 20th century.


The adventure of relocating from a non-linear visual landscape, to the monotonous flat cities in the Netherlands has struck me. The highly organized, strategic and composed infrastructure is mesmerizing for the eye. In fact, it feels almost arranged like a supermarket, playing with our psychology. It is not just visuals that influence us, though. The maze of music, which was once on the radio makes me wonder how it became popular and widespread in the commercial music scene and public areas, guiding us without our attention It's astonishing how we are influenced thorough vision and sound.

Across my experience, I embodied both the Western eye and the core of Eastern thought. Withdrawing from the conventional knowledge hierarchy and to portray a decolonial thought, I realized the need to reevaluate and analyze the assimilation of epistemic knowledge to comprehend the modern period.

Figure 2. Sounak Das. (2014). Quale. [Digital Image]. Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Delving in Ocular & Sonic

“Seeing is believing but feeling is the truth”

The human perception of reading and writing has shaped the world by various ideologies and cultural beliefs, which have influenced the way we understand and interpret the environment around us. The historical dominance of visual paradigms and Ocularcentrism has been the subject of much analysis in the premise of contemporary art, philosophy and science. In the Western worldview, the pursuit of knowledge and truth is inextricably linked with sight; we mustfirstsee,then believe. Additionally, in the Eastern world view, Vedic philosophy indicates, perception of the eye is an instrument in front of the optical nerve or vision, separate from what the mind can manifest. “Just a picture being composed of successive impulses of light, must be united on something stationary to form a whole”, resembling vision to extract knowledge from static properties (Vivekananda, 1896, p.10).

Modern Philosophers, historians and cultural theorist of science and technology, like Marshall McLuhan, Martin Heidegger and Miriam Rasch, have profoundly addressed the concern of Western knowledge to be subsumed by the visual properties, while otherperceptual properties and characteristics are ephemeral, yet perennial. The lecture ‘Living in the acoustic world’ suggested that we are constantly affected by acoustic patterns, and it is difficult for us to have a point of view in a world where everything is happening simultaneously (McLuhan, 1970). Miriam Rasch wrote about the art of listening, commenting on how we can revalue and reclaim the dominance of visual culture from Western epistemic discourse in the STRP festival 2023.

To revalue such decolonial thought,Ireflect on Swami Satchidananda, in the Vedic Scriptures. The universe was created with a hum (AUM or OM14), a sound of God, as all matter started to vibrate, rendering its entropic state. Sound is a concept combining all forms of energies available: felt, seen, unseen and entangled within the cosmos. A phenomenon consisting of vibrations that travel through the air to be perceived and measured by humans through intensity, frequency and duration. In the Eastern viewpoint, certain techniques and practices are believed to exist to connect oneself with the cosmos in the form of stillness (sadhana). As with soundingactions, we can only unsound, meaningthe un-manifested dynamo(silence) can only be manifested with sound (Satchidananda, 1974, p.333). Sound was presented as a phenomenon to unravel such conditions and they are exercised as mantra, chanting and breathing. Such practice elevates the state of mind and body, establishing an invisible link with nature and creation, considering sound or vibrations to be the fundamental essence to comprehend the universe. According to Vedic philosophy we can better rationalize the world around us by concentrating on the power to control the mind; while the mind is the cosmic agency to gain knowledge (Vivekanada, 1896, p.19).

14 A word in Vedic scripture, enchanted as the sound of creation. A mystic syllable, appears at the beginning and end of most Sanskrit recitation, prayers and texts profoundly in Hinduism and Buddhism.


In Cristina Rawls' essay, The Philosophy of Sound, 2021, profoundly addresses my thoughts and concerns regarding the sonic world. She is a philosophy professor who claims to always think through sound. In her situation, where imagery thinking is impossible, she believes to tune herselfinto the realms of sound and music, allowingher to trust her cognition/imagination. According to Rawls, imagination is the rationality to analyze and understand the world around us, which allows her to explore possibilities and create new ideas and concepts. By recognizing the role of imagination and creativity, she can better understand the ways language shapes our thinking and understanding of the world (Rawls, 2021)

Language, a tool for communication, is situated within our imaginative capacity because it allows us to express and share our thoughts with others. In her case, the medium of language is sound; she thinks sound can either act as an adhesive memory or simply trigger our state of mind., Rawls believes that sound must first be felt and then legitimized before it can be quantified.

'Sonic Sociology' is an investigation in Rémy Bocquillon’s dissertation. He defines sound as a sociological instrument with unique invisible and dynamic properties, facilitating relational processes and leading to knowledge production. He proposes 'thinking-with-sound' as a means of knowing, training our embodied epistemic practices for a more holistic approach as an act of legitimization (Bocquillon, 2022, p.107).

Ted Gioia, a music historian and critic explained such legitimization (act of measuring) is a form of distortion, offering an alternative view on the history of sound and music. He reclaims the history of the sonic paradigm as a global source of power, transformation and upheaval, shedding light on the unseen energies and fluxes in nature. According to him sound and music have been historically practiced as a technique of creativity and innovation and most importantly a point of unification. Before the human ear heard them, all phonemes must have existed in nature. Gioia notes the use of rhythm and sound as universal forces since the beginning of the human species, defining the aspect of sound to be in momentum (Gioia, 2019, p.15).

The musical composition ‘4’33”’ (1952), by John Cage, a renowned American composer, music theorist and writer known for his experimental approach to music stimulates my cognition. A piece in which, the performers does not play the instruments for the entire duration. The musical note consisted of silence and time, while only turning the pages. The purpose of the piece accentuates the sound of the environment around the audience and to encourage people to listen to the world in different way (Daniels, 2018)

The whole of nature is breathing; not only the living but all nature. Music, and especially rhythm, links to breathing and health, emphasizing modern biomedical science with ancient Eastern breathing practice, 5.5 seconds of inhalation and exhalation, working out to be 5.5 breaths per minute (Nestor, 2020, p.183). Acknowledging an alternative viewpoint of the universality of humanism and the human-centered knowledge production. It highlights the interdependence of all beings, including people, animals and nature. Such exercises of breathing and chanting in the esoteric culture were a technique, thinking the stillness of the mind can aid to travel around the entire cosmos, inwards and outwards, attaining the universal


interconnectedness. “To receive that divine transmission, you should tune your heart radio” (Satchidananda, 1974, p.333).

In South Asia, music is revered as a divine art, alongside painting and drama. The foundation of Hindu music lies in the ragas15, or fixed melodic scales, which is the basis of 6 ragas branch out into 126 derivatives. The ancient sadhus discovered these laws of sound and its alliance with nature lead into theuse of mantras or chants to control natural manifestation. Indian music divides the octave into 22 demi-semitones. It recognizes the human voice as the most perfect instrument of sound, and melody is stressed over harmony. Moreover, natural manifestation through the use of certain mantras or chants in historical documents convey such remarkable powers posed by Miyan Tansen, 16th Century court musician for Akbar the Great. He intoned a mantra, stressing by repetition of his subtle microtonal and rhythmic throat variations. It instantly caused the entire precincts to become encased in an enchantment. While Johanne Sebastian Bach, among Western composers, understood the charm and power of repetitious sound slightly differentiated in a hundred complex ways. For Bach, music had the agency to uplift the soul and connect us with the divine (Yogananda, 1946, p.126).

I presume, in Eurocentric ideology of Occularcentrism, the meaning of humanism was central to non-theistic belief which rejected myth, tradition and supernatural view of reality as humans were thought to be the only agency to rationalize. Whereas, in my experience of the Eastern world view, everything is part of the same (fanaa), accepting myth, tradition, ethno-culture, ecosphere and cosmology to justify reality. To speculate the post human era, my intension is to question humans having and pretending to have exclusive agency over technology and nature. What I want to introduce is an approach that comes partly from my Asian background, thorough Vedic philosophy. In which there is a certaininteraction where the agency is provided to nature and also given back to the idea of technology. So, with the aim to better understand how humans, technology, and environment are intertwined, I seek to explore the agency that is currently in motion in the post-human era through art.

A friend of mine once told me, I guess the ancient people were not able to express the idea of quantum mechanics so thought of religion to be the justifying antonym of such phenomenology.I think this is legitimate and it justifies the satire in today’s technocentric world of seeing is believing, rather than feeling is the truth.

15 Is a collection of pitches, like a scale or mode in Western music.

Essence of technology as nothing technological

“Without electricity, there could be no art”

Paik reflects that technology and art are intertwined. The statement can be analyzed in conjunction with McLuhan’s theory of media. In our modern world, where electricity is pure information, we cannot be sustained without the use of it (McLuhan, 1967, p.12). Both McLuhan and Paik, mentioned the television as an instrument in a global communication network. ‘The Medium is the Massage’ addresses theeffects of mass media onhuman thought and behavior, as McLuhan anticipated the introduction of new media technologies would fundamentally alter the way we perceive and understand the world (McLuhan, 1964, p.58). They both were compelled by the idea of technology as a driving force towards the cultural shift. While art today is trying to investigate the messages using different mediums and technology, together Paik and McLuhan believed that technology and media are essential to the creation of communication and art.

Figure 3 Nam June Paik lying with televisions (1991) Zürich, Switzerland. @ Timm Rautert

Reflecting on our ancestors who believed vocal chanting to be a technique to communicate self with the cosmos, thereby attaining mind and body entanglement. Such exercise was a form of technology to them. However, I would like to define technology as a byproduct of the thinking ability to manifest something with immediacy. The human brain is capable of complex thoughts and processes while technology has the potential to enhance and augment those processes. The phenomena of technology itself is bridging the gap between thinking and doing. As technology has become an integral part of our lives and has expanded our capabilities, it is essential to realize that such technique is not a replacement for human thought and creativity but rather a tool to aid and enhance it.

Throughout my childhood, I observed my grandparents using mantras as a daily practice. I was unaware ofsuch practicesuntil I witnessed the performanceof chantingduringmy father's death ritual, which intrigued me with metaphysical understandings. While repeating prayers and mantras, which were difficult to pronounce, I realized that every sound has a hidden code or state that requires an alignment of correlation to nature. Meaning, while performing the rituals, I had tuned myself within a realm which never existed to me before. It was manifested within my mind and was projected to me during the act of it. I had been performing such rituals every year since 2012 until I came to pursue my artistic research in 2021.

Since my displacementhere to the Netherlands,Ihad to survive with a micro-oven and a water heater for the first 7 months. While contemplating on the morning tea and preparing food on the reverberating mechanical noises, I wonder if the noises that accompany the primary fundamental vibration, known as overtones16, can be referred to as mechanical chanting? Overtones, produced during the chanting of ‘OM’ or a ‘hum’ resonates overtones much similar to the electric appliances around us. I conceded that the mechanical noises have an influence on my brain in contrast to vocal chanting and mean to explore it through my artistic practice.

‘Art and Cosmotechnics’ concerns that the history of Eastern and Western technological thought expanded the very concept of technology itself. Yuk Hui put forth the WesternEuropean universal view of technology forgetting the techno diversity grounded in the cultural practices that make any technical system possible in the first instance. For example, I think when the ancient civilizations needed to determine the time of the day, they developed a cognitive calculation method based on the position ofthe sun and its shadow, while navigating around their geo-position. We now live in a plethora of mechanical objects referred to as technology, regardless of the natural and forgotten aspects of this bodily technology. As Hui suggests that art should be rearticulated through the use of technology in A.I. and robotics discourses (Hui, 2021, p.33).

Consequently, I recommend artificially intelligent species or energy-driven gadgets to be nothing but a byproduct of our thought process. Manifested from dualism to bridge the gap between thinking and doing. The ideal form of any sort of communication, behavior and function is now replaced by mechanical devices. They fill the liminality of physical and nonphysical friction and its invisible entanglement. The world we think of or design as a digital world questions what if A.I. becomes conscious and acts against us? In my opinion, this is a

16 A musical tone which is a part of the harmonic series above a fundamental note.

misleadingproposition.Iconsider A.I. as an extension of the brain, the human-machine-nature relation to be in a conjoined/metaphysical state.

According to Donna Haraway, “Modern machinery is an irreverent upstart god, mocking the Father’s ubiquity and spirituality”. She mentioned that since the industrial revolution, all aspects of human life became mechanized and that machines have become inseparable part of what is human, extending human capability. The idea proposed by Haraway is that, in order to understand human life, the border has been crossed throughout human history by contrasting the interaction between machines and organisms (whether they are human or animal). It has served the ideas of human value intertwined with simple tools and complex technologies to accomplish certain goals. She finds the space of this technological determination (human-tech-nature entanglement) a playground for writing and reading the world. She criticizes Western society,where science and politics have a history of usingnature as a resource to create culture. Addressing the alienation or lack of alliances between humans as a result of techno-centrism has caused separation (dualism) rather than unification (oneness). While inspecting the relationship of machines and humans she proposed the idea of a cyborg, where cybernetic organisms can be seen as an appropriate example for my idea, as I consider the human-tech-nature entanglement to be an extension of the brain (Haraway, 2016, p.11)

Figure 4. Sounak Das. (2022). In The Simulacrum. [Mixed Media Installation]. Den Bosch, Netherlands

In Alvin Lucier’s ‘Music for solo Performer’ (1965), he amplified his own brain waves to produce an orchestra of percussion instruments. This piece has become a key figure in the experimental use of technology and music, and is frequently referred to as a ‘brain wave piece’. He used an Electroencephalogram monitor as a means to produce sound while capturing the electrical activity in the brain. Concerning with simplification, purity and ritualistic attitude, which became the core principle of his artistic practice discovered through the performance. Lucier’s meditative approach was capable of producing new possibilities and experiences incorporating the focus on harmony that exist in nature through sound and technology.

I imagine the world today as a cybernetic mechanism, visible and invisible infrastructures shaping our reality. As humanity is surrounded by electric appliances which create a reverberating techno-culture, I wonder if the unconditional truth is that we are on the verge of profound changes through technology and tradition, which is altering the concept of space and time. For unifying and enhancing the side of bodily entanglement (human-tech-nature symbiosis), electricity can be considered as a continuous mechanism in nature. Our brain produces electric pulses counteracting the relationship between material and organism, i.e. real and sensorial aspects which are in intrinsic feedback. We now live in the age of cybernetic logic and electric sustainability which I address as the post human era. So, I realized the true ‘essence of modern technology which is itself nothing technological” but a human-machinenature symbiosis, a natural embodiment/entanglement (Heidegger, 1977, p.20).

Figure 5 Alvin Lucier. (1965) Music for Solo Performer [Experimental Music]. Massachusetts, USA

Cognitive Dissonance, an approach to trigger embodied ethic

“A glitch is the most puzzling, difficult to define and enchanting noise artifact.”

‘The Glitch Moment(um)’ (2011) and ‘Glitch Studies Manifesto’ (2010) is captivating and mystifying, as the artist/author, Rosa Menkman questions the uncertainty yet to happen or is happening in today’s digital expansion. It entrances my creativity, as she has a very keen eye on the phenomenology of glitches and her practice vibrates around real vs virtual, digital vs analog. Addressing ‘glitch art’ to move like weather, it gradually evolves and at times may have a strike of lightning, which can be disturbing, provoking, and horrifying; beautifully dangerous as it can simultaneously take away or induce all the tension. Such movement generates upheaval to previously sealed conventions, norms and beliefs enquiring our embodied knowledge. A glitch, in her words, is a possibility for a new opportunity, and with new knowledge, something new is produced and experienced in the ground between two oppositions. According to Rosa, such a state is an art of the momentum, between the system of production and the system of reception (Menkman, 2010, p.5).

Figure 6 Rosa Menkman. (2009). A Vernacular of File Formats. [Photo]. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands

“The glitch is a wonderful experience of an interruption that shifts an object away from its ordinary form and discourse. For a moment I am shocked, lost and in awe, asking myself what this other utterance is, how was it created. Is it perhaps ...a glitch?

“I do not feel locked into one medium or between contradictions like real vs. virtual or digital vs. analog. I surf the waves of technology, the art of artifacts. As an artist, I find catharsis in disintegration, ruptures and cracks. I manipulate, bend and break any medium towards the point where it becomes something new. This is what I call glitch art.”

“The glitch has no solid form or state through time; it is often perceived as an unexpected and abnormal mode of operandi, a break from (one of) the many flows (of expectations) within a technological system. But as the understanding of a glitch changes when it is being named, so does the equilibrium of the (former) glitch itself: the original experience of a rupture moved passed its momentum and vanished into a realm of new conditions. The glitch has become something new and has become an ephemeral, personal experience.”

“The procedural essence of glitch art is opposed to conservation; the shocking experience, perception and understanding of what a glitch is at one point in time, cannot be preserved to a future time. The beautiful creation of a glitch is uncanny and sublime; the artist tries to catch something that is the result of an uncertain balance, a shifting, uncatchable, unrealized utopia connected to randomness and idyllic disintegrations.”

Rosa Menkman Figure 7 Recollection of Quotes (2022). The Glitch Momentum. [Poster]. Den Bosch, Netherlands

To add to this artistic framework, ‘Digital Tv Dinner’ (1979) which is a classic frontline work by Raul Zaritsky, Jamie Fenton and Dick Ainsworth under the genre of video glitch art. Feedback, radio signal and telecasting was a prior mechanism using the Bally Astrocade17. It was designed from the early cartridge game control, which allowed the user to play a game by changing the cartridge and setting up patterns and generative forms for completing levels of the game. While the sound was designed as 8-bit music, a style of synthesized electronic music made for early vintage arcade machines, computers and video game consoles. Agreeing with Menkman, those who want to describe old and new culture as a continuum of discrete practices gravitate toward the genre of glitch, and this is where the art of artifacts occurs (Menkman, 2011, p.28).

Here, I point to another artistic framework, in ‘Notes on Glitch’ , Hugh Manon and Daniel Temkin writes that, “one triggers a glitch; one does not create a glitch” As a trained photographer and programmer, Temkin signifies the idea of optical illusion on his data moshing jpeg’s(photographs) and its effects, visually a mere reflection of sublime surrealism to the beholder. When the algorithm is being designed to represent the possible error and manifest something out of bad data, the condition is a mishap and this is a form of hacking that we are not trained to actively perform. When we are aware of such hacking, it becomes a trend, which is certainly globalized as filters & presets (Manon & Temkin, 2011, p.3).

As a trained photographer myself, I have been using the techniques of analog and digital manipulation and juxtaposing images to extend the resulting image as a glitch effect. Thus, being a multimedia artist, I began to experiment with video and sound installations to see how a shift in momentum could be made experiential. I have been welding the dialogue between analogue vs digital, real vs sensorial, visible vs invisibility and organic vs synthetic. I originally made mistakes with layers of static images using photoshop. As my focus was drawn to the movement of the motion, I recognized the process as ‘Thinking through making’. Tim Ingold describes this as a process during which creativity emerges within continuous, spontaneous process between creators, materials, and other non-human things such as tools and the physical environment, where non-human plays an active role in stimulating the thought

17 A second-generation video game console and simple computer system. Figure 8. & Figure 9. Raul Zaritsky, Jamie Fenton and Dick Ainsworth. (1979). Digital Tv Dinner [Game Console]. Electronic Visualization Festival Chicago, USA

process of the creator and vice-versa. His lecture suggests, thinking comes before making and is a naturally mindful activity in which the forms of things develop from the correspondence of sensory awareness and material flows in a life process (Ingold, 2013).

In new media art, glitch is often recognized as a different mode of representation or a new language, demonstrating how deconstruction can transform into the creation of something fresh. I frequently seek out the uncertain equilibrium; looking for the moment when a new form emerges while bending the medium. It helps me to think how to trigger our intrinsic embodied ethics while experiencing a glitch-like condition. I believe it can be viewed as a point of reference that is sensed as cognitive dissonance; understanding what influences the mind is beyond our control but can be harmonized


Nature of practice as a natural glitch

“What you seek is seeking you”

My art career started with a very abrupt realization. On a gloomy winter morning, my mother and I received a phone call, that my father was in critical condition. Only to find out upon arrival, that he has drawn his last breath. I could not shed a tear during the whole day, but I kept on observing my mother. It made me numb and shattered, thinking of what I have to do now. Since that day 11 years ago, the memory of that moment reaffirms my determination to live as an artist. It feels like life started when I lost my father. I could never bring him back, nor talk to him or neither look for advice - a state of aporia. The word ‘Quale’18 took over my head, making me question the quality of my own experiences. I started to make a photo series by collaging, manipulating, overlapping and juxtaposing images that had seemingly inexplicable attachments. I was using my eyes as a mechanical system to find the loop in the perplexing errors.

18 A quality or property as perceived or experienced
by a person.
Figure 10. & Figure 11. Sounak Das. (2014). Quale. [Digital Image]. Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Over the years as I alienated myself and hibernated into my thoughts, I was seeking how I could contribute as a photographer, and what I should photograph to archive my reality. It compelled me to think of the first time I heard the noise of a modem, when my father connected the telephone cables to our computer, to connect it with a worldwide network. I have been growing up in the middle of technological advancement, and decided to look outside at the relation among nature, civilization, and technology, simultaneously conjoined with the convoluted assemblage of cables, transformers and pylons that remain largely unassimilated in our visual periphery. As a flaneur, I meandered along with 4 light sources to confront the obsequious structures as direct and straight in the dark. Adjusting between 150-200mm focal length I attain my perspective with different distances, where the forms and shapes are only to be recognized as ‘Wire Formation’, merging the analogue and digital aspects.

Figure 12. Sounak Das. (2017-2018). Wire Formation Collage. [Photography]. Dhaka, Bangladesh.

My practice developed, not only to create images but I later also started to make them experiential through installations. I wanted to recreate such a space that can reflect the information, being conscious and fabricating a flaw in the human experience. Reminiscing my father’s voice which I cannot hear, the sound became an important aspect and medium.

The project ‘Wire Formation’ was transformed into a real-life sculpture when I thought of recreating a transformer pole into a modern technological object. The installation consisted of inorganic and nonfunctional noises (overtone) that do not mind and matter but are continuously competing against each other to gain attention from people nearby. Tones between 100hz to 800hz, synthetic digital noises were reverberating: a sample of the soundscape in which the average city dweller is immersed unconsciously in Dhaka city, titled ‘Faraday’s After-Effect’

Figure 13. Sounak Das. (2021). Faraday’s After-Effect. [Mixed Media Installation]. Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Figure 14. Sounak Das. (2021). Faraday’s After-Effect. [Mixed Media Installation]. Dhaka, Bangladesh.

During my master’s this was further developed in an online interactive installation that inquiries - do we tend to browse whatever attracts us with their forms and movements? Are we aware of the display we are glued into? And how does it reciprocate our gaze? The screens that make the work ‘Perturbed Monitor’ a combination of virtual-sonic information floating in an online platform. The platform itself is a hub of networking logic, invented to facilitate human interaction. Once these interactions happen, human behavior contradicts its own odds. As users, we end up in doubt, trying to understand a mechanical ideology. Through this screenbased installation made of moving images and techno-centric noises, the work intends to generate a cognitive dissonance that all users encounter while being subsumed in the technological age.

Figure 15 Figure 16. & Figure 17. Sounak Das. (2021). Perturbed Monitor. [Online Interactive Installation]. France Figure 15 Figure 16 Figure 17

My installation, ‘In the Simulacrum’ was an extension of ‘Perturbed Monitor’, creating a physical space, like a visible data-cloud environment. It explores my experience of snow for the first time, while it is a technological error as there was no such previous information(data) about ‘White Horizon’ to my cognition. Incorporating a film, holographic animation of data transmission and 3D world speculation. It questions the integrity in the Eyes of the beholder equaling the mechanical error. The soundscape designed for the space is composed of 8-bit mechanical noises(overtone), which represents mechanical chanting to my experience. Provoking the concept, I asked are we in a simulation or we are simulating the future?

To develop my research, I have conducted some experiments with peers and tutors to exchange and have detailed feedback about the experience of being subsumed in pitch dark vault with variable noises of mechanical and vocal. The feedbacks are in Appendix B.

In addition to the feedbacks, in my recent installation, ‘How Thoughts Chant’, I am using Electro Encephalogram (EEG), a neuro-biological device designed to collect and measure brainwaves and its activity for the diagnosis of mental health condition. I use the EEG technique to collect electric pulses of the brain and translate it to interact with sound waves projected from another computational composition. Each composition is a sample of fundamental mechanical noises recorded using a Geofon19 I am exploring how vibrations that are invisible yet audible can superimpose with electric brain waves inventing an electroacoustic orchestra (Figure 23). Depending on the mental state of the participant, and

19 An acoustic detector that responds to ground vibrations generated by seismic waves. Figure 18. Sounak Das. (2022). In The Simulacrum. [Mixed Media Installation]. Den Bosch, Netherlands

how the noises in the space influence the brain; the brain changes the noises, its frequency, harmony and pitch, immersing into an experience without control. Generating a metaphysical state which is arbitrary and uncertain. Contemplating on such invisible electric mechanisms of our brain, and how it tunes our acoustic environment; I speculate on how to engender new and current knowledge from our sonic paradigm in the contemporary human-tech-nature coexistence

I am captivated in exploring the experimental use of media and technology in Art. Curiosity in science and philosophy and a desire to investigate meta-physics, my intention is to examine the causality of my lived experiences with machines and bridge them in the subsumed reality of human-technology-nature age. Reality becomes a rhythmic paradigm, where I intend to seek spirituality, the art of non-science.

Figure 19. Sounak Das. (2023). How Thoughts Chant [Interactive Immersive Performative Installation]. Den Bosch, Netherlands
Figure 20. Sounak Das. (2023). How Thoughts Chant. [Interactive Immersive Performative Installation]. Den Bosch, Netherlands Figure 21. Sounak Das. (2023). How Thoughts Chant. [Interactive Immersive Performative Installation]. Den Bosch, Netherlands @ Cynthia
Figure 22. Sounak Das. (2015). Phool gaach inside mogoj. [Pencil on Paper]. Dhaka, Bangladesh.


‘If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibrations.’

Through my research, I investigated the critical issue of science and spirituality, combining Western and Eastern epistemology to incorporate my thought process. I explored ocular and sonic perception of knowledge production, proposingto consider a decolonial attitude towards art and technology in today’s digital arena.

To promote the innovation in art and science, I suggest to rethink of technology as a bodily mechanism which I believe is an extension of the brain. We are like organic antenna, which synchronizes to what it perceives. Exploring the relationship between humans, technology, and nature by focusing on the idea of universal agency; I suggest that sound and electricity can be considered as a universal phenomenon guiding us to envision a future, a melting pot for humans, technology, and nature co-habitation.

In my artistic practice, I cogitate medium and material which leads to a conversation between thinking and making The metaphor of glitch entails my creative process of bending and twisting the medium. I believe that the entanglement of humans, technology, and nature can affect our consciousness, influencing our mind which can lead to new knowledge production.

In conclusion, I have used the idea of decolonization to articulate the idea that there is no significant difference between Eastern and Western philosophical teachings, much less any true conflict. This study sheds light on the importance of understanding how to harvest new knowledge and encourages us to rethink the intersection of art and science through sound and listening. Entailing an approach to become a citizen scientist.

Figure 23. Scan the QR code or click to experience sound samples composed through brain feedback.

Appendix A

“Spirituality is the science of the soul”

Spirituality is a vast and multifaceted notion that can be interpreted differently depending on cultural, religious, and personal viewpoints. Spirituality, at its heart, refers to the inner experiences and beliefs that offer meaning and purpose to life and enable people connect with something higher than themselves. A sense of connection to a higher power or divine force, whether it be God, the universe, nature, or anything else, is a common component of oneness

A better understanding of oneself and one's place in the universe can be attained through rituals and practices like yoga, meditation, and prayer (Vivekananda, 1896, p.17).

Although it is sometimes linked to religion, it can also be a distinct and separate idea. Some people may describe themselves as spiritual but not religious, which means they do not follow any particular religious belief but yet try to find a deeper meaning or purpose in life. Generally, spirituality is a highly individualized and subjective term that can take many different forms based on a person's beliefs, experiences, and cultural environment.

After the death of my father, I was obliged to take part in some religious rituals for the peace of his soul. I observed things about Hinduism, which was previously mysterious, including the ways in which castes in Hindu religion vary; when it comes to specific occasions. My first body of work, a photographic series titled, ‘The Classified Cast’ captured the portraits of Brahmins and Purohit, religious practitioners of Hindu community.

Figure 24. Sounak Das. (2013). The Classified Cast. [Photography]. Dhaka, Bangladesh
Figure 25. Sounak Das. (2013). The Classified Cast. [Photography]. Dhaka, Bangladesh
Figure 26. Sounak Das. (2013). The Classified Cast. [Photography]. Dhaka, Bangladesh

The second project dealt with the Indian crematory known as ‘The Shamshan Ghat’. I was wandering to different places to learn about the cultures and faiths that are practiced in the Bengal region. I got to know about Aghoris20 , devotes of Lord Kali21, practicing tantric22 mostly kapalika23 exercises. I discovered such esoteric culture, philosophy, and outlook on life and the dualisms of non-puranic24 scriptures

20 A monastic order of ascetic Shaivite sadhus based in Uttar Pradesh India. The only serving sect derived from the Kapalika traditions a Tantric, non-Puranic form of Saivism which originated in Medieval India between the 7th and 8th century CE.

21 Hindu Goddess.

22 Refers to esoteric exercise of meditation, mantra, yoga and rituals relating to the principles of Hindu and Buddhist practices

23 A form of tantric practice customized and familiarized within the Aghoris.

24 An esoteric minority, sub-traditions wherein devotes initiate specific cult they prefer, seeking for Mukti (oneness) through devotion.

Figure 27. Sounak Das. (2014). The Shamshan Ghat. [Photography]. Tarapith, India
Figure 28. Sounak Das. (2014). The Shamshan Ghat. [Photography]. Tarapith, India Figure 29. Sounak Das. (2014). The Shamshan Ghat. [Photography]. Tarapith, India

'Puran in Dhaka' is the project I believe is unfinished and has never been published. It is about the people who lived in the historic Hindu colony in Bangladesh, Old Dhaka. They all lead anonymous lives while searching for spirituality.

Figure 30. Figure 31 Figure 32. & Figure 33. Sounak Das. (2016). Puran In Dhaka. [Photography]. Dhaka, Bangladesh Figure 33 Figure 30 Figure 31 Figure 32
Figure 34. Sounak Das. (2016). Puran In Dhaka. [Photography]. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Appendix B

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I am frightened of old ones”

In semester 2, I experimented how sounds that were produced by mechanical noises and vocal chanting affected me in everyday settings. Wearing in ear headphones and following my daily routine and randomly drawing, writing, performing, smoking, cooking and washing dishes. I was in a different void, a rhythmic paradigm of the mind and body.

I wanted to recreate a collective atmosphere exemplifying my experiences. I built up a dark room with various sessions where peers and teachers may interact with sound and think with it. The sounds were throat chanting, Gregorian hymns, and mantras as opposed to electronic noises between 100 and 500 hertz. Between sessions, I solicited input and requested written feedback from participants- discussing ideas about the body, mind, spirit, and material world. The conversations and the performative sessions made me think of the exchange of verbal communication as an emotional justification. What about the arbitrary reaction of the brain? In order to learn more about how our brains respond involuntarily to such stimuli, I considered extending the sessions into more meditative and embodied experiences through EEG

Below are few notes and discussions collected during the experimentation.

Figure 35. Sounak Das. (2022). Feedback notes. [Pen and Paper]. Den Bosch, Netherlands
Figure 36. Sounak Das. (2022). Feedback notes. [Pen and Paper]. Den Bosch, Netherlands


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List of Relevant Sources


Das, S. (2013). The Classified Cast. [Photography]. Dhaka, Bangladesh. https://sounakdas.com/the-classified-cast/

Das, S. (2014). The Shansham Ghat. [Photography]. Kolkata, India. https://sounakdas.com/the-shamshan-ghat/

Das, S. (2014). Quale. [Digital image]. Dhaka, Bangladesh https://sounakdas.com/

Das, S. (2016). Puran In Dhaka. [Photography]. Dhaka Bangladesh. https://sounakdas.com/puran-in-dhaka/

Das, S. (2017-2018). Wire Formation. [Photography]. Dhaka, Bangladesh. https://sounakdas.com/wire-formation/

Das, S. (2021). Faraday’s After-Effect. [Mixed Media Installation]. Chobi Mela International Photography Festival. Dhaka, Bangladesh. https://sounakdas.com/faradays-after-effect-2/

Das, S. (2021). Perturbed Monitor. [Online Interactive Installation]. Den Bosch, Netherlands. https://www.deconfine.org/online-exhibition/sounak-das.html

Das, S. (2022). In The Simulacrum. [Mixed Media Installation]. Den Bosch, Netherlands. https://sounakdas.com/in-the-simulacrum/

Das, S. (2023). How Thoughts Chant. [Interactive Immersive Performative Installation]. Den Bosch, Netherlands https://youtu.be/SKPcpdUgQcQ


Fenton, J., Zaritsky, R., & Ainsworth, D. (1979). Digital Tv Dinner. [Game Console]. Electronic Visualization Festival. Chicago, USA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad9zdlaRvdM

Lucier. A. (1965) Music for Solo Performer. [Experimental Music]. The Rose Art Museum. Massachusetts, USA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIPU2ynqy2Y

Menkman, R. (2009). A Vernacular of File Formats. [Photo]. Stedelijk Museum. Amsterdam, Netherlands. https://beyondresolution.info/A-Vernacular-of-File-Formats


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Exhibitions & Artist

Copper, M. (2018). Aether [Installation]. Lumiere Festival, London, UK. Retrieved from Design Museum Den Bosch. (2021, June 5). Radical Austria: Everything is Architecture [Advertisement]. Den Bosch, Netherlands. Retrieved from https://designmuseum.nl/en/tentoonstelling/radicalaustria/

Eliasson, O. (2020). Symbiotic Seeing [Mixed media Installation]. Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland. Retrieved from https://olafureliasson.net/archive/exhibition/EXH102541/symbiotic-seeing

Henke, R. (2020). CBM 8032 [AV show]. CTM Festival, Berlin, Germany. Retrieved from https://maxcooper.net/aether-at-lumiere-london https://roberthenke.com/concerts/cbm8032av.html

Ikeda, R. (2011). The Transfinite [Installation]. Park Avenue Armory, New York, USA. Retrieved from https://forma.org.uk/projects/the-transfinite

Ramage, N. (2022). The Art of Noise [Mixed Media]. Deliaphonic, Coventry, UK. Retrieved from https://nikramage.com/work/the-art-of-noise/

Stedelijk Museum. (2020, August 30). The Future is Now [Advertisement]. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Retrieved from https://www.stedelijk.nl/en/exhibitions/nam-june-paik

Turrell, J. (1992). Space That Sees [Installation]. The Isarel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. Retrieved from https://www.imj.org.il/en/collections/199801#:~:text=Space%20That%20Sees%20belongs% 20to,and%20atmospheric%20fluctuations%20over%20time

Zimoun. (2020). Zimoun : 1944 prepared dc-motors, mdf panels 72x72 cm, metal discs Ø 8 cm [Installation]. Warehouse Jaeger-LeCoultre, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from https://www.zimoun.net/

Zaritsky, R., Fenton, J., & Ainsworth, D. (1979). Digital Tv Dinner [Video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad9zdlaRvdM&ab_channel=JamieFayeFenton



Lama, D. (2007) May be knowledge is as fundamental, or even more fundamental than reality. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U43pXuGhEg8&t=2013s

McLuhan, M. (1974). Living in an Acoustic World [Video File]. Retrieved from https://marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/lecture/1970-living-in-an-acoustic-world/

McLuhan, M. (1965). The Future of the Man in the Electric Age [Video File]. Retrieved from https://marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/interview/1965-the-future-of-man-in-the-electric-age/


Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and Simulation. University of Michigan Press.

Bloch, W, G. (2008). The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges’ Library of Babel Oxford University Press.

Borger, J, L. (1941). The Library of Babel. (Hurley, A trans). Retrieved from https://sites.evergreen.edu/politicalshakespeares/wpcontent/uploads/sites/226/2015/12/Borges-The-Library-of-Babel.pdf

Cassidy, D, C. (2009). Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb New York Bellevue Literary Press.

Descartes, R (1641). Meditations on First Philosophy. (Cottingham, J. (1996) trans.) Cambridge University Press.

Harman, G. (2017). Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything. Pelican Books. Oxford University Press.

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