Botborg – “Principles of Photosonicneurokinaesthography” review from Foxy Digitalis


Artist: Botborg
Album: Principles of Photosonicneurokinaesthography

Photosonicneurokineasthography is an occult science developed in the mid-60s by a Dr Arkady Botborger (1923-1981). Due to the importable equipment involved, it wasn’t possible to demonstrate this process of “writing the movement of nerves through use of sound and light” in public… UNTIL NOW.

That’s what Botburg claim, and I can’t say I believe them. But this DVD on Brisbane label half/theory does come across as a sinister experiment upon the viewer by evil scientists too obsessed with feverishly pursued and unfathomable ends to spare a thought for such trifles as the moral consequences of their work, or the mental and physical well-being of their subjects.

The hour-long disc is essentially an inspired application of noise aesthetic in the audiovisual realm. The central gimmick here is the perfect coordination of imagess and audio, which seem to be produced from the same source. These thirteen films consist of violently strobing, solarised colours of great intensity and shifting shapes which seem to somehow produce layers of grinding interference, harsh pink noise, and distorted hums…or heaven forfend, through some obscure multimedia alchemy, vice versa.

It’s a tremendously visceral experience, certainly not born of any tame art-school approach. You wouldn’t necessarily want to listen to the audio alone, but the combined impact of the visuals and sound is immense due to their perfect synchronicity, and by virtue of the manic rate it’s all thrown at you. Linear structures are apparent, and there’s the occasional repetition of patterns, but there would seem to be a high degree of chance and random elements involved.

The process is hard to figure out. There are what sound like feedback loops resulting from creative abuse of equipment, and one common visual motif is something reminiscent of that “endless tunnel” effect you get from pointing a camcorder at a monitor. Is this the product of manic improvisation on some bastardized piece of machinery or software, or the result of painstaking editing and processing, or both, or neither?

The whole thing reminds me of the phenomenon of synaesthesia, the rare ability to hear colours, see sounds, and so on. You can’t actually taste these pieces, but keeping a nine-volt battery against your extended tongue for their duration would provide a fitting analogue to the material. Recommended for noise fetishists everywhere. Dr Botborger would be proud.

Paul Condon

1 January 2006 - News - Projects: Botborg, Art: Audio-visual.