What Would “Cyborg” Mean If The Word Were Invented Today?

1185180_527139014028053_959555043_nI hope this first posting finds you healthy and motivated.  I needed time to find my words and construct with them. so…

2014 is going to be insane (sans “!”, as this is the new-normal state from now on).  the world is grooving along quite speedily.  the rate of change and the access to information has transformed our society and everyday is a new flashpoint of explosive growth in all aspects of human existence-for better or for worse, simultaneously.  it can not be stopped.  it can not be reversed, BUT, it can be interacted with, studied, guided, internalized, stored, and expressed.  the key to this is the pursuit of patterns, and their interacting fields.  perceptual patterns, virtual futures, social patterns, patterns of life, the cosmos, music, word, idea, concept…the study, creation and interaction with these meta-multi-dimensional pattern fields, IS “a” new science and will probably end up becoming “THE” sciences and arts.  as well as the ability to examine existing patterns/ideas and make them useful in the “now”, so as to make them useful in the future.
I start with this premise because I want to play a game.  I’ve not blogged since sept 2013 because I had somethings I wanted to say/express that I didn’t have words for yet.  I didn’t want to do another long cerebral post about my innerspace, even though that is very relevant.  instead, I want to ask a question that I intend to answer in as many words or posts as are necessary .

Angry Cyborg

that I would ask this question, probably comes as no surprise.  I, as well as most of this generation, have been programmed with visions of man-machine hybrids, whose technologically bestowed enhancements, made them, “super-human”.  they could, for instance, lift heavy things, survive being shot because their machine systems could take over if the biological systems were injured, access endless netowrks of information, and all manner or golly gee wiz abilities.  they were, we were fed, better than “us” with their part metal/artificial, part human flesh/bone bodies, which were, it would seem, always made by some corporation with a kill switch and nefarious motivations, so if you didn’t shoot into the (movie-esque-hypothetical)crowd of unarmed civilians, said cyborg could be turned off like any other machine (but of course, the human element overrides its programming, because human spirit conquers all, blah, blah, blah…)

but if we really look at this construct, we will see that there are aspects of the imaginary expressions of it that are inefficient, capitalistic and dangerous as well as already existing and  integrated into human society right now.

first issue is that most of the cyborgs I have been programmed with by way of hollywood and anime, were created by megacorporations as their trusted eyes and ears in all places where humans were far away from corporate influence.  I think the Terminator is a perfect and the most recognized cyborg although he was really an android with human skin to make him look human.  Darth vader was more of a pure cyborg.  as was the Six million dollar man, all the sex crazed cylons from the Battlestar galactica reboot a few years ago, “the others” from Fringe, iron man, and of course, the borg.

Cyborg Pickard

what all of these have in common is that they were created outside of the influence of/inflicted onto the hybrid entity in question.  they were usually created with a purpose that the hybrid may or may not have known and for all the abilities they gained, they always lost something crucial to human-ness.  their machine-ness somehow restricts their human-ness.  to what end?  manipulation.  manipulation OF the hybrid entity and the hybrids ability to manipulate situations directly, manifested as being super-efficient mercenaries for their “fathers”, the corporate entities that gave them life in this form.  in this way, for all of their amazing abilities, fictional cyborgs are sad slaves, whose souls have been grafted into artificial constructs for the purpose of fulfilling the mandates of large corporate interests.

what is the purpose of enhanced human abilities if not to enhance the human? or rather….how can we pre-suppose that these ideas “fix” humans, when we barely know what we are? pre-existing visions of CYbernetic-ORGanisms are sad, powerful robots with just enough sentience left, to question their existence as a subroutine.  just enough to create a “hell”-app for their externally imposed, corporate profit mediated, immortality.

These myths have, spurred on by the ability to exchange information in ways never before imagined, inspired new generations to investigate the idea of the man machine hybrid.  some have internalized these myths so fully that they desire nothing more than to have some technology.any technology, surgically placed into their body, with no knowledge of what it is, is made of, the intent of the inventors that created it, what to do if it fails, how to fix it, how to upgrade the hardware, etc.


in my opinion, these people, although free to sew a cellphone into their arm if they please,  are dangerous to themselves and to people investigating such hybridization perhaps because they watched too many movies and didn’t take to time to decipher the true meaning.  terminator was not all powerful.  he was a robot with a limited scope of reality, whose whole being was programmed to kill John Connor, and failed, on three separate attempts, despite being “super” (a real unpacking of the terminator mythos is beyond the scope of this article).  I posit that he was created out of fear and as such, could never see the whole picture, by design.

cyborg2corporate cyborgs are created for profit, period.  even if the initial (hypothetical) corporate cyborg is all about humanitarian or artistic expression and investigation, at some point the shareholders want to make money off of it, and this is were it will be transformed into something akin to mix between lady gaga, darth vader and number 5 from the movie “short Circuit”;  welcome to the future.




in the “real”world, whatever that means anymore, we are all cyborgs.  here is a talk on the subject, that I liked when I saw it the first time.


1460089_688244491194911_1724590596_nsince september, I have been obsessed with iteration of the project.  at the time I had created a viable printed construct for the investigation of sonic fractals.  I realized that I could begin the next stages of the project, namely sound design, light (synesthetic) design and the perceptual construct for propagating these patterns as musically relevant structures (formerly called “music”).  what this means is ordering all of the information I absorb, into mathematical structures which can then be abstracted as music, or 3d models or movement metaphors (dance), or robotic instructions, etc.  to percieve the math as patterns beyond simple interval relationship querying.  to do this, I must first, understand the math…a math…any math.  systems of interaction with interval relationships.  luckily music is already the interaction and investigation of interval relationships, so to understand music as math is a good start (note: I am equal parts (re)beginner math student and math groupie; the more I learn the more in awe I become of what it is).  but then there is the math of biomechanics and the math of bioelectric fields, and of economics and of diet, social interaction, time management…there are many different maths and they all interact.

I tend to spend an exorbitant amount of time interacting with this construct.  I did an unscientific guesstimate a while back; in the last 3 years I have, based on my scheduling of time, spent approximately 70% of this time, in my flat and 60-70% of that time, inside my own head.  so I have spent more time in my virtual futures than in the now, in the last 3 years.  this is not a bad thing.  it is an opportunity looking for expression.  it occurred to me that my project was never really about building the greatest musical system, but rather, using the mathematical structure of music to design a better “onyx ashanti construct”

In october, I was in Taipei Taiwan for the Onsite Festival.  Taipei is a beatutiful city that bustles with life and culture.  the festival iteself was a buffet of international artistic expression, with a focus of digital expression.  I was far from the only digital bio-mechanical hybrid form there.  every single participant shared their “math” or patterns or art or whatever you want to call it.  where some see “art” I see math.  both are the investigation of pattern metaphors.

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while there, I stayed at an artist village called treasure hill, which had been a slum for war vets many years ago, had been refurbished into an artist village with studios, cafes, a makerspace and a temple, overlooking a river and a network of highway overpasses. it was beautiful and serene. I was given a room there for the entirety of my 10 day stay. I brought most of my most important tools, namely my exo-voice and backup parts, my computers, and my 3d printer, and set them all up on the desk that was already there. throughout the week I was able to continue my project iteration unabated;20131001_002912 these tools WERE my lab. they were part of me as I exist now. to not have my reprap with me, or at very least, access to one, was to have no means of moving forward (i finished my boogie-bot 3 hours before my show, in my room).  to not have my prosthesis with me is tantamount to leaving my arm or leg at home.  as if someone were to ask you a question on the condition that you don’t use your native language to answer it.  yeah, sure, you can do it, but it takes longer and isnt as efficient and nowhere near an nuanced.

it was during this time I began to think about what “this” is;

  1. am I a musician, or rather, is that “all” I am?
  2. if music is the math of sound, then…?  (this is the beginning of a whole range of evolving questions so I leave it as this)
  3. if I can carry an entire lab, cheaply, easily and easily replaceable and upgradeable, then why must I be so stationary in my iterative process?
  4. who says that this is or was ever a purely “music as entertainment”system?
  5. will my campaign contributors be able to gain benefit from my design evolution?
  6. journal.pone.0003465.g005

once i started seeing that entire sciences use the exact same digital signal processing concepts to interpret and iterate wildly different aspects of the world -from fractals in movie computer animation to cycles and modulations and other musical concepts in electronics and thermodynamics- then the idea of what “music” really is and what it can be with a perceptual shift, induces an excitement that fuels every single waking moment…every single waking moment…

the most interesting way to metabolize everything that is necessary to feed this construct is to make research, developmental iteration and expression, equal parts of an evolving construct that is integrated into daily life.

music as entertainment ceases to be a goal, although entertainment value is vital as a means of communicating.  I now see music as a process and an algorithm for self-investigation.  it is the programming language for the construct.  I am the construct.

1441474_688244401194920_1107866933_nat first, as a means of not having to sit in my flat to iterate it, but eventually adding perceptual overlays that allow me to interact with the world in ways that benefit me directly then, by sharing what I discover, contribute back into the growing open source ecology that has given me so much support.

the design changes to the system, inspired by the hypothetical differences between a wearable prosthesis for stage and a wearable prosthesis for, say, going to the grocery store, or through immigration at an airport, have already provided much needed design insight for my campaign contributors system.  a design focused on daily wear and comfort, will allow those that download and practice with the system, to do so for hours at a time in comfort.

the first version will be useable but suboptimal-it is currently a stage prosthesis designed for playablility and and visual dynamism, with up to 5 hours of battery life.  i’ve worked up the nerve to wear the mask publicly, first with my busking excursions, BUT, when I would normall take it off after finishing, I leave it on and set to bright white light, to use when riding my bike.  this reveals so much information that can be acquired through no other means (mostly, people smile when they see me ride by). this provides valuable empathetic data about how the system “feels” in public and the perceptions directed at you.  for instance, on stage, exposed wires and bright lights express a sort of hacker aesthetic combined with a raver aesthetic, which works well.  but in real life, exposed wires can be a source of anxiety if they are percieved as part of something nefarious.  bright synchronized lights would be wildly distracting in a cafe as well.  the only way to become this is to be this.

here in 2014, why would any person choose to mesh themselves so fully with an external construct?  well, I hate to be the one to show you the matrix, but that ship sailed a loooooong time ago.  the moment a baby gets fed with a bottle instead of a breast, it is part of a system of technology that either substitutes itself where, in the past, maybe a human was, mediates interaction with reality, as cars and television do or creates new reality topologies like the internet.  technology is human created and therefore an intrinsic part of what it is to be human.  technology and “digital”technology are not different-they’re merely branches of the same tree.

so, if, according to this premise, everyone is already a cyborg in some fashion, then the entity that these socio-coroprate cyborgs are a sort of willing base level construct.  the gain benefit from social networks, paypal, amazon, facebook, mobile phones, etc.  where it falls down is in interface design.

staring at something the size of the palm of your hand, to interact with the entire compendium of human knowledge as we currently perceive it to be, has the effect of making said cyborg stare at their interface.  now, I don’t believe that moving the interface from the hand to the head, ala google glass, will remedy the situation, because these information streams are not meant as a reality overlay and the overlays ive seen, are corporate; things like how to find the nearest starbucks, what time do the trains run, tweets from…, etc.

I propose that the first goal of the cyborg should be self hacking; who are you?  what are you?  those short questions could take up every waking minute for the rest of your life, but rather than looking at the investigation as something “else” than ones daily life, it could be the basis of a form of self anthropology mixed with future projection, ie, who do I want to be based on who am I right now, based on the data that I have and generate? which would then lead to an iterative self creation process, each and every element of which evolves as the person evolves.

1402262_10152005688085943_2049293433_othis evolution would involve many more aspects than simply wearing a strange prosthesis.  the exo-voice is designed as a gestural sonic interface for creating fractals made of sound.  you know what else is fractal?  Us.  Humans, nature, societies…I posit that self propagated fractal sound can interact with perception and modify it based on ones will. put another way;

I play my music as a means of modulating my thought processes within this sonic matrix.

interestingly,  I have begun the exploration of sonic fractals as a means of accessing memories in the same way as drawing a scribble can be used as a reminder, reliably.  I can listen to a piece from, say, a year ago, and tel, based on the developmental stage of the sound, what I was doing or thinking at that time.  this occurred when I played vsti’s, but the action of programming everything in the current system, mostly from scratch means that a scratch filter sweep can have more relevance than it did in the past.  combined with light, projections and haptic feedback, this will become my voice over time.  I recently added the ability to type and move a mouse cursor within the system, but that is for the next post.



the self iterated cyborg is not a “thing”, it is a “process” of self investigation.  the ability to learn oneself using technology and to optimize.  I propose that there is no need for invasive procedures to implant artificial constructs in the body of healthy persons, when there is so much that can be done with sound, electricity, magnetism, and diet, including food, supplements and psychedelics.

in one sense, I havent got a clue what I am talking about, as I never went to school for this stuff, but as a self-aware learning hybrid of man and “his own” gestural sonic machine interface, I have already created the sono-spatial construct necessary to test this over the coming weeks, months and years.  with the above stuff in mind, listen to this with headphones.

as a bit of a setup to part two I guess I should take this moment to mention a couple of things;

as a stylistic construction of sonic fractals. it has birthed a new style trajectory of sonic fractals call “Neuro”- a new type of music that focuses on realtime neuro-modulation. (on the album collection that the above piece is a part of, everything from the “NeuroGenesis”, is going in this direction now.

from now on, to book me or pay for any artifact I create, must be done in bitcoin, BUT, because of this, I charge less.  I will explain in detail in the future.

exo-voice v3—-onyx ashanti v5…


the original goal of the “beatjazz controller”, before it was called and exo-voice, was to allow me to busk better.  I have been taking the system out on recon busking missions and have accrued some interesting notes on the topic and how it will propagate in the near and long term future.


I still have a few more levels of weird to drop on you, but I am really happy I could finally get this new modality out in the public. m more soon.



“If Tony Stark played jazz and had a more creative superhero name, he would be Onyx Ashanti.”-WeAreReplicants “But best of all was an African American musician, Onyx Ashanti…a fusion of space and sound so evocative …you suddenly found yourself…swept up into an open place of art ‘in whose openness everything is other than usual.’ – Arthur Kroker, The Will to technology and the culture of Nihilism (2004) “He is not only an excellent musician and craftsmen on his instruments, but he is also exceedingly inventive. In my estimation, … he is one of the brightest lights and most inventive new musicians I’ve run into.” – Rick Walker, Y2K9 International Loop Festival (Sep 18, 2009) “There are no two ways to put it: Onyx Ashanti is an amazing digital musician… Check out this Grammy award winning sound-designer and we believe you’ll understand.” – editor, Indaba Music (Feb 15, 2009) “Looks like a scene from some science fiction movie where an ascended being comes to earth incognito and begins the transmission of love to a dirty, sad, sick world. FEEL THE VIBE!!!” – birchnbark, YouTube (Aug 13, 2008)

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2 Responses

  1. Snake Plissken says:

    Slow down with the ganja bro.

  1. June 13, 2014

    […] What Would "Cyborg" Mean If The Word Were Invented Today?h+ Magazine, on Wed, 11 Jun 2014 09:25:34 -0700what is the purpose of enhanced human abilities if not to enhance the human? or rather….how can we pre-suppose that these ideas “fix” humans, when we barely know what we are? pre-existing visions of CYbernetic-ORGanisms are sad, powerful robots with … […]

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