Note: This site is now archived. Find recent happenings at 3ecologies.org.
Select Page

The Affectometer

The mechanism for mapping intensity so that it can be transduced, through the monetizer SOP, into our coin (called occurency), will take place through the amalgamation of two processes that will work together. Occurency will be produced through a coming-into-relation of the affectometer and the sonic contour. For this, we need cephalopod dreams, and with them, Nora Bateson’s concept of “warm data.” The thing about the cephalopod is that it doesn’t have the rods in its eyes necessary to perceive colour. This creature that dances and shapes and colours the world, often matching itself to its surrounds, cannot actually see the world it composes alongside? This has stumped scientists, who have sometimes argued that the octopus arms may have cells that engage in some kind of seeing-function. But is it really so that seeing must be relegated to rods in the eyes or to cells in the arms? Might the cephalopod be engaged in a seeing-feeling that cannot be separated out from its activity of colouring and shape-shifting? These are our cephalopod dreams. The cephalopod does not represent the world, it moves with it. This image is very important to the 3E Process Seed Bank. What moves in the Seed Bank moves not through a centralized operation. Nothing oversees the process. Like the cephalopod that arguably moves in affective attunement to the world, activating a kind of phonic materiality in relation to a surrounds that both moves it and is moved by it, the Seed Bank as anarchive proceeds by relational lures moved both by our actions and by the processual operators that create inflexions and divergences and alliances and detours and stand-stills. Sonic countours. These processes are not mediated: they are immediating.

This is where the affectometer comes in. This high-level processual operator is the weathervane of the system: it catches the intensity in the system as it is performed. It does so not by first quantifying and then representating but by moving through alliances between the different seeds to pull out the differentials of their immanent relationality. These differentials are transduced into number by the affectometer. This affective transduction might be seen as the mapping of the sonic contours of the environment. Like the cephalopod who colours the world in a symphony of attunement, the sonic contour makes felt the qualitative shift in relation the affectometer maps. On the side of the Seed Bank, the affectometer maps intensity in a purely qualitative operation. Only through the SOP that invites its departure from the seed-bank – the monetizer – is that intensity quantified. This operation occurs at predictable intervals to create a working value, a price. The value of occurency is the value given by the affectometer in the transduction, a value that of course fluctuates with the affectometer’s mapping of relational hues of intensity. Working with what Fred Moten calls the “chromatic saturation” of the cephalopodic surface, what the affectometer does is register the phonic materiality of the changing relationscape of the Seed Bank. In the chromatic musical scale, each pitch is a semitone above or below its adjacent pitches, creating a “12-tone equal temperament”. In the colour spectrum, this temperament relates to hue. “There’s certain moments in a composition in which it feels like every note that could be played is being played, a tremendous marshalling of the possible musical material in a way that’s still connected compositionally, without anything having to be left out. Rosen thinks about this with regard to music, but it also connects with color” (Moten 2017). Bringing sound and hue together, hueing the phonic materiality, the affectometer seeks to include what is usually left out in the shift to measure. Working through differential attunements, its aim is to make felt the chromatic saturation of the system. The emergent sociality of the relational field as it bursts into liveliness or lurks in the corners of the 3E Process Seed Bank is what we’re after, a “chromatic saturation that inhabits black as that color’s internal, social life. The many colors that are absorbed and reflected in the color black, and in and as black social life” (2008: 199).

What is released in the valuation, what emerges from the chromatic saturation of the process, is emergent sociality. The measuring is here a side-interest, a hedge. We play the number-game not to give a number to the process, but to refuse to allow capital to own the number, to alone be capable of bestowing value according to number. We recognize and celebrate the fact that the number the affectometer reveals has no real value. We stick to the fact that the number in no way represents the force of what can only remain uncounted. We stubbornly hold onto the proposition that the value is what the seed bank will give form to, what it will allow to germinate. Yet at the same time, we refuse to be excluded from the living economy, from the ability to pay our rent and sustain our modes of life. And for now, in most cases, the exchange into fiat remains necessary in order to do that. This is why we have the monetizer SOP, the self-organizing proposition through which our currency, occurency, is minted.

What we know about the monetizer SOP is that it is a formula that translates quality to quantity. As mentioned above, this formula works through differential attunements of the online system. It does so by continously feeding on the process, on the affective currency moving through the seed bank. While occurency only actually exists in the minting, it exists in germ in the seed bank. This is what we imagine the monetizer to be in attunement with: the ebbs and flows of occurrent process. Because the monetizer moves through the system, trawling the process, it also has effects on the process. This qualitative influence is key. The monetizer must be immediating, not mediating. This means that the monetizer has to live up to its propositional nature which is to disseminate seeds of process. This must happen on both sides of the (monetizing) membrane. What happens when the movement of the work, the practices of the event, are monetized is simply that a value is created. This in no way corresponds to a generalized sense of value. This single value is an unknown quantity. It will only know what it can do in relation to a new process. The monetizer is, in this sense, a threshold-cut, a cut that completely shifts the assemblage, moving it into a whole new field of relation. But this threshold-cut is not a stockpiling. This is what we want to avoid above all. The proposition that comes with the monetizer is that a gift of process must be made in order to make the exchange between occurrency and fiat. This gift of process, the if-then proposition coded into the SOP, must involve seeding a 3E wherever the holder of occurency resides. There is no overview, no external board, no set of administrators who follow this up. Living SOPs must do that work, and they will need to be invented. What we now as of yet is that 100 occurrencies will create a different constellation than 1000 occurrencies. The affectometer works in intensive quantity. The valuation is measured in the quality of life-living the process seeds create. The key to the revaluing of value is to understand that the difference between 100 and 1000 cannot be reduced to quantity. Each time a number emerges we will have to learn collectively to see it as a differential and not an end-sum. We will have to learn to work with the surplus-value of life and not the surplus-value of flow.

Warm data, for Bateson, is “the (trans)contextual understanding of complex systems.” It involves “discerning vital contextual interrelationships and another species of information.” And, perhaps most importantly, it reminds us that relational modes of encounter are necessary for studying relational processes. We will need warm data to code the affectometer. Otherwise we risk turning anarchive into an archive. Warm data asks us to do something else: to “make sense of the vitality of a complex system” by “enquiring into its way of making contact.” Turning to warm data as the operation of decoding of affective quantity will perhaps teach us to make contact differently.