This is a video of talk presented at “Xenakis: Past, Present, Future,” NYU Polytechnic, January 29-31, 2010. A slightly amended also be included in a forthcoming collection of essays on Xenakis, entitled “Exploring Xenakis” on Pendragon press.
Here is a quick précis: the talk attempts to challenges certain aspects of Xenakis’ work (mathematics, order and noise) which have been treated mythically, by reconsidering the social origins of probability theory in 19th century and their role in the constitution of biopolitical power. The residual social meaning of probability theory allows for a new way of understanding the relationship between music and architecture in Xenakis’ work, one that does not rely on the shared use of ruled surfaces.
This talk was published as “Xenakis: the first composer of biopolitics?,” In Exploring Xenakis, ed. Sharon Kanach (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2012): 91-100.