The
Rhythmanalysis
Laboratory

The Rhythmanalysis Lab is concerned with the observation, representation, and interpretation of rhythms in everyday life.

With Rhythmanalysis (1992), Henri Lefebvre posited that rhythm deserves its own science. In one particularly evocative chapter, he attunes himself to the rhythms perceptible from his Paris balcony — a dérive through time rather than space — not just listening but engaging all of his senses to apprehend the cycles of the city. He notes the nature of traffic, of what kinds of people are out when, the poignancy of a lit window at night, the influence of the seasons on the street. Analyzing his observations, he suggests that the acculturation of the individual to the environment and society, down to the gestures of the body, is a process of rhythmic entrainment. He decries the arrhythmia of mediated realities (TV and newspapers), and critiques clock-driven, "linear" repetitions of the capitalist state that disrespect our inborn "cyclical" sensitivities. It's a beautiful exercise, and a highly suggestive one.

Two decades later, Rhythmanalysis is of particular relevance. We are in the midst of simultaneous crises of ecology, economics, health, and culture. The Internet has irreversibly transformed the nature of our world, and data has become the fundamental commodity of society. The result has been a profound shift in the temporal nature of everyday life. Recent turns in artistic practice, including spatial, tactical, environmental, sonic, and pedagogic within a broader understanding of technology as a social practice have sought to critically approach our networked culture. However, The Rhythmanalysis Laboratory operates on the hypothesis that the practice of rhythmanalysis provides an integrative means by which we can understand our quotidian experience, whether physical or digital, in a way that is uniquely responsive to the evolving temporal conditions in which we live.

There is no pretense at the Lab about presented any definitive interpretation of Lefebvre's work. Rather, it is an initiative to conduct concrete exercises, collaborative projects, and workshops that approach rhythmanalysis as a dialogue between several components:

 

Will the (future) rhythmanalyst ... set up and direct a lab where one compares documents: graphs, frequencies and various curves? ... Just as he borrows and receives from his whole body and all his senses, so he receives data from all the sciences: psychology, sociology, ethnology, biology; and even physics and mathematics ... He will come to 'listen' to a house, a street, a town, as an audience listens to a symphony.

Henri Lefebvre, "The Rhythmanalyst: A Previsionary Portrait" in Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday life. New York City: Continuum, 2004. Pg. 22.

 

The Rhythmanalysis Lab is supported by Eyebeam Art and Technology Center.

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Other inquiries, contact Brian House, Principal Investigator

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