‘Machines: History and Hardware’ contained one of those rare moments that can happen in live encounters when something approaching real drama suddenly takes over: which is not to say that anything melodramatic occurred or even that another of those argumentative conflicts that blight so much mainstream broadcasting had broken out. Both my guests Bruce Woolley and James Bridle were far too smart for that. For me, the presence of real drama is marked by a sense of shared anticipation: the notion that anything could happen and that the moment is open to possibilities.
James described it well afterwards, saying it felt to him as if Bruce and I were taking diametrically opposing positions over the relationship between humans and machines while the machines themselves waited outside the studio to be let in. Bruce later confirmed that he had a similar impression: a bunker debate – of the sort Herman Khan used to enjoy – appeared to be taking place. Such moments are difficult to stage-manage and impossible to script, but they are almost always worth the wait. Part of the context for this was an extended discussion of Karel Capek’s play RUR, but we also heard from James about his MENACE project and from Bruce on giant music-making machines like the Telharmonium. Giant music-making also took the form of two tracks – Avatar (Original) and Silver Strawberries – from Radiophonic, a new studio project involving the likes of Steve Dub, best known for his work with the Chemical Brothers. My sincere thanks to Bruce and James and Radiophonic – and to ‘Hollingsville’ composer in residence Graham Massey – for their involvement in last night’s show. Speech has indeed become immortal.
‘Machines: History and Hardware’ will be repeated on Resonance 104.4 FM at 11.00 pm this coming Tuesday May 4 on Resonance 104.4; and that the podcast for TX2/12 ‘Media: The Extensions of God’and TX1/12 ‘The Future: Suddenly it’s 1960!’ are both now available from the Resonance website. TX3/12 will join them in due course.
Welcome to Mars with Bruce Woolley at the Strange Attractor Salon
Welcome To Mars with Bruce Woolley at Archive.Org
Pictured above from top to bottom: Bruce Woolley contemplates the coming of our robot overlords; James Bridle ponders a MENACE mix tape