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A Computer That Works Like A Gong


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Date: 21 September 2012
Category: Uncategorized

For over 40 years, I have been beautifully haunted by the feeling that the gong holds the secret of the future of computers.

I have been fascinated to find ways to circumvent the purely causal logical chains of programming logic, to create a more fleeting and organic use of the extraordinary dexterity of contemporary circuitry.

It seemed key to be looking at how harmonics and tones resonate each other in a gong as an alternative model. I have a beautiful recording by LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela called “Studies In The Bowed Disc” where they bow a gong with a double bass bow. The sheet of sound that soars from this inspired me – and it started me thinking how a computer might use the resonating causal chains of frequencies rather than bits and bytes being control and data structures.

The right brain is understood to be a massively parallel processor. Now that we are down to microprocessor components consisting only of 10 atoms, and IBM’s sub-atomic particle microprcessors and memory with pico second instruction times look like not materialising, (correct me if I’m wrong) parallel processing seems to be the way forward for us.

In 1971/2 I did a research project as part of my undergraduate degree, where I looked at ways to work with frequencies rather than bits, partly since the then ideas, about the brain and the hologram were encouraging me to think about data that was spread throughout rather than localised at the equivalent of a street address.

It seems to me more satisfying to create a computer that works like the universe, rather than only like a more left brain or materialistic understanding.

I was heartened to hear the late American composer  Lou Harrison, who was much influenced by Asian music, say that it would be a good challenge for westerners to learn the oriental art of gong making, as that represents something profound in relation to our more technological achievements.

The gong has been an important focus in the music of LaMonte Young, Daevid Allen and Michael Ormiston. I have used the gong in titles and as a sound source (see “Gong Tears”  http://lawrenceball.org/page/recordingsECS90s00s.htm and “Gong Piano”   http://lawrenceball.org/page/recordingsMM1.htm) as I find it to be a wonderful instrument family, as well as the eastern symbol of synchronicity of effects.

I would be fascinated and interested to know how all this sits or resonates with anyone.

1 Response to A Computer That Works Like A Gong

  • Elaine Medina says:

    Wonderful use of written sounds to invoke/evoke unique inspiring thoughts! Holograms can make use of, as I recall, Fourier Transforms (math) as storage mechanisms; whereby a probability wave collapses into what actually happens … perhaps this could be used to achieve your wish & much more. Thank you for expressing your dream.

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