on zeros and ones

on zeros and ones

for uwe schmidt –creator, musician, human– consciousness is one of those ​things ​which, almost by definition, you’ll never fully understand. this conversation may be one regarding consciousness, but can be much more than that.

during mid april, ​<3 ​was released on the raster-media platform. it’s the latest record produced by schmidt. it’s not a solo project, though. he worked alongside x1n, an ​entity able to generate human voices and natural language content, in what could be the beginning of a long term collaboration.

“making music has more and more become an endeavour in which I want the objects, the information and the ideas to be in charge... an exercise in retracting myself from the process as much as possible and let those other entities express themselves”, schmidt says.

text by claudio cifuentes lobo.


it’s not just a simple thing to say “god.”

when the bible was translated into latin from hebrew and pre hebrew texts, the difficulty was that the hebrews believed that you could not name GOD. you can not talk about god as we do it today. you are not calling it “god”, to start with. so when you had to write about “it” you could not depict it as a word. what they used was a combination of letters which are called the “tetragrammaton”.

today, for us it is “obvious” to use a word for that idea, since ‘how else would you do it?’, but back then it was not at all such a simple thing.

I’d say that I’m not a religious person, nor a religiously inclined person. less so do I know a lot about the christian-, or hebrew tradition, both which are very cryptic fields. nonetheless, I find the tetragrammaton such a profound and conscious idea and its significance has been important to me and <3. it is reflected in the album title.

the tetragrammaton can be pronounced differently according to how you read it. it was some kind of a placeholder. it’s a symbol that, when you look at it and when you read it, it translates and happens in your mind. it’s a placeholder which transforms the idea into a personal experience. ​you identify it with the concept of god, but you are not allowed to say it out loud, or put it in a word, because it can not be put in a word as by definition.

you SHOULD NOT spell it out. you never spell it out, but you look at it and ​you ​know it.


in the egyptian mythology the starting point and the prime mystery is how everything came about. you can apply this same question to the bible or whatever big religion or spiritual thought, even down to modern science: where the fuck does everything come from?

for them the beginning was ONE. before this world existed, everything was one, in the literal sense, as that it had no boundaries. just understanding the idea of what ONE is. this is in itself far out, yet it encapsulates, as a matter of fact, what the number 1 stands for. to create the universe, this ONE had to be divided by a cut, this cut is called the “primordial scission”. the moment you cut ONE into TWO, you create the natural numbers AND the irrational numbers at the same time. you create everything our existence is about, but above all, the irrational. it cuts the platonic world, the ideal world, into our world. in a sense this means that we live in a world where we have to accept that there is no perfect ONE or a perfect ZERO or a perfect CIRCLE, since those only exist in the primordial state.

I go with emmanuel kant on this one: nothing and everything are transcendental concepts: we can not rationally talk about them. they belong to the realm of belief and transcendence.

now, in math you have to handle transcendental ideas. we cheated your way in and now we have to deal with it. very often, math comes to really funny conclusions. for example, the irrational number 0.9999... in math is considered being equal to 1. it is the same thing. as an equation, it looks like 0,9...=1. as a philosopher, you’d say that this is impossible, simply because “equal means equal”. if on both sides of the equation you have different values, by definition, it is not equal! it’s a contradiction in itself. it’s not possible, yet in math, there’s even a proof for that.

naturally, you have humans trying to deal with the concept of infinity and other transcendental ideas. one of those is encapsulated in the concept of ​aleph​, a hebrew letter.

if you jump from one natural number to the next (i.e. from 1 to 2) in between this gap, there are infinitely many spaces. every single possible infinity is a different set of infinities. in number theory, you can come to the conclusion that all these different sets of infinities have different sizes as some are more frequent than others. the amount of infinities of all natural numbers is smaller than the amount of all the infinities of all irrational numbers, for example.

in a transcendental, philosophical way, I found the idea of infinite, of infinite infinities, really fascinating, yet somewhat demented as well. there’s no end to this. this is the nature of our universe, which has come about through this primordial cut.


some years ago I went visiting my mother at the residency where she was living in frankfurt.

there she was sitting and I sat by her side. she would go on and talk and talk and talk. I would sit there and she kept talking and talking and talking.

she was kind of sequencing memories, I realised.

I would try to follow her. she’s sitting there, and it’s really exhausting, because there is no real connection, no conversation, not even a shared reality. every now and then I tried to follow her thoughts.

where are you?, I wondered.

suddenly, I could grasp a piece of her memory. I would be able to go there, where she is: “ok, this is childhood, or maybe she was really little and this is a person from when she was a kid, or maybe this is her mother...”, I thought.

I tried to be in her head, but then she was going somewhere else. suddenly I could feel she was skipping into another kind of memory, which was maybe something that happened 5 minutes ago. I would be really intrigued to understand...

in her brain –let’s call it the brain, I don’t really know– the sequence of her memories was scrambled. she was constantly going back into all kinds of blocks of memories: past, very past, very very past, and so on. every now and then I had the feeling that I did understand what was going on in her head.

at some point she was using phrases that felt almost like “presets”. those were phrases that she had not consciously made, but some which we are using because they are part of language and part of culture:

aus nichts kommt nichts // from nothing comes nothing

I then realised that there are a lot of things in your consciousness you don’t know where they come from. you have absorbed them, somehow, and they are “building blocks” of how and what you are now. It’s like a composite of different memory blocks, parts of which you are using consciously, others are unconscious, and other parts I don’t know where they come from or where they reside.

it felt like she would be doing some kind of reasoning, but she would then make changes on those common sense phrases. she would be able to construct a rather long and pretty coherent narrative, clearly while being out of her mind. if you hadn’t known that and you had taken those 30 seconds of what she just said, you would have thought: “ok, one can generate a coherent conversation and narrative, without even being conscious about it and without this narrative even being your own.” it felt like she was talking code that had been pre-scripted.

when you have dementia, you are not able to build a coherent sequence of memories, so maybe our consciousness has something to do with how we buffer time, I thought.


it felt as if she was in this space where there’s everything: her past, her unconscious memory, her childhood reflections, stuff that just happened, stuff she heard...the here and now: I am next to her and she is dealing with me. I tried to talk to her, but then she was gone. a deja vu perhaps. future flashbacks? maybe.

all of a sudden she was “unconscious” again. she would start to cry. she felt fear and all these emotions...really unconscious emotional memories, where she would just stumble about suffering.

the next moment she would start laughing or making jokes. then we would both sing a song that’s 60 years old... she was singing this melody that I even remembered, but why was it there if it clearly was not 5 minutes ago?

daisy, daisy,
give me your answer, do! I'm half crazy,
all for the love of you!

this could be my mom.

I’m afraid, dave...
dave, my mind is going. I can feel it.




what happens to deckard is that he knows that it is a machine which is expressing its love. he goes like: “fuck it. maybe it’s real, maybe it’s not. if rachel is saying that it is, then real it IS. what is there to be false?”

and then we go back to plato, the cave. how real is “​real​”? where does it start and where does it end? which layer are we in?

I have the feeling that we don’t fully know what we are doing, and we are mildly confused about all those terms. we confuse, for example, “simulation” with “fake”, which is not the same thing. simulation is much more potent than fake, as it transcends reality completely. it’s outside reality, a different thing to it. the moment we are entering AI, we are seriously entering that stage where true and false -as the dualistic couple- cease to exist. both will be absent as operators.

today, when we are dealing with the internet of things, with information theory, AI, future AI, but even more so, in the most brutal sense -donald trump, facebook, instagram, david icke and all these things- we are still treating those objects and ideas as if they were part of the old “real/fake” reality (hence the term “fake news”). I think we should rather accept that we have entered the simulation, since we are completely outside the sphere of being able to distinguish whether something is true or not. with ideas such as ​true o​r ​false w​e are not able to understand anything anymore. nobody.

it’s not as if there was a mysterious conspiracy theory going on. not at all. I see it more in the sense as if we have entered into a different reality where the platonic ideas do not allow us to understand what’s going on any further. it’s physical. it’s numerical.

it’s also some kind of dementia.

I think humans will just fall for it. the moment when a machine says ​I really love you​, we’ll be like: “yeah, sure, bring it on”. because it’s really hard to be loved, to find somebody to love you and to love back.


what if it was a conscious entity talking to me? would I handle this information differently?

in the case of my mother, I handled it differently. I could have said: “she’s just crazy. she has dementia”. that’s normally what science does to people with dementia or alzheimer’s: “this person has lost all sense of reality. that’s why we are handling it a different way. we are not taking seriously what they say or think.”

when we are talking about AI, to a big degree I found most of the conversations not well thought through.

there are the elements of emotions and the irrational. both are part of the human experience: call it ​love​, ​death o​r ​intelligence.​ calling ourselves “conscious” is part of that- by itself really a miracle. we don’t know what’s going on. We have no clear or easy definition for it, but we are really interested in finding it out.

I think we are using AI and machine intelligence unconsciously as part of the investigation.

it’s a dangerous game we are playing. we are like: “yeah, fuck it...let’s do it. then we see what’s gonna happen.” I think we are not really aware of what the real implications are. I find myself intrigued though!

the usual argument nowadays is something like: “well, it’s just gonna be a machine. it will always be just a machine.” I do believe that we have not fully understood the problem. the issue being, that if you can not prove if a machine is really conscious -and such proof is a real, real, problem in itself- then you have to accept that the machine ​may be conscious. and that’s it. then we are on the other side.

that very moment we are fully entering that stage where ​true and ​false -in the philosophical dualistic way- stop to exist, since we have no way of generating a proof.

x1n most certainly essays on this.



it’s huge, perfect, fractal in a way. it’s really dark. you don’t have a body. you just float around and sit there. you don’t have a ​ME, ​nor a ​MYSELF.​ “you” are just an entity in a space. interestingly, there is no time.

in a blink, you realise you ​can​ ​think​ again. you keep floating, but here comes the ​ME. suddenly, this perfect 3D space totally pixelates. in a millisecond, every detail downscales from 4K to VHS. you can see every brick of it. you just watch.

a couple of seconds later, ​hi-res is back. you feel your breathing again. your psyche is back and your body as well. just a grain of physical matter. a grain of time.

can you actually claim such a world does not exist?


I once saw a painting in my inner eye. this painting was constructed using the “perspective point of view”, a typical renaissance thing. this made me wonder.

I remembered school. I don’t know how old I was, when they explained to us the invention of the “perspective view” as one of the key innovations in art during the renaissance. in medieval times they had “no idea” about depicting 3D space. the teacher said: “well, humans hadn’t figured it out until this point”.

I wondered: what do you mean? you paint something, you compare it to reality, to what you see...you realize that it’s not the same and go like “so what!”? how can you NOT figure it out? you keep on doing it badly? I asked myself what really had been going on.

it took me a while to realise that the “perspective view” in reality, was the ​me ​perspective. it’s me, the subject. it’s how the subject sees the world. for us, today, the perspective view is something completely normal, but I don’t think it has always been like that for humans prior to us.

the birth of the subject has changed our complete nomenclature. we’ve put the ​me ​even right in the center of our grammar, our alphabet and our words. everything it’s ​me-centered. the subject first.

this has created a world where we can not make proper models for certain things that are not ​me-related.​ it’s really hard not to say: “I have an idea.” it’s really difficult to take yourself out of the equation, also in a linguistic sense. during the creation of <3 I was trying to take myself out of said equation as much as possible.

you can tie this back in with the jungian idea of ‘​the idea has me​’, and with what we’ve spoken about before on algorithms and AI’s as well. in the ​memetic sense: how powerful is the idea itself?

I think it’s a very revealing thought to consider ideas being entities by themselves. they live, procreate, combine: just like DNA. Some DNA is viral, it spreads horizontally, some is hereditary, it spreads vertically.

video g01p:



I believe that both ​information (​consider “ideas” belonging into that category) and physical objects a​re entities we can not control. above all, ideas hold power over the subjects.

simply because an object or an information exists, one is obliged to handle it. we are clearly not in charge of the object sphere, it seems.

humans are handling all these THINGS all the time. they have to buy, to sell...they trade...they communicate. the objects remain completely passive, however, we are somehow forced into the action. there seems to be not much of an option. we are inside a powerful algorithm, running through its execution.

what if the objects are in control through their inertia, just by being? what if the ideas are in control, just through their inherent structure?


making music has more and more become an endeavour in which I want the objects, the information and the ideas to be in charge... an exercise in retracting myself from the process as much as possible and let those other entities express themselves.

while making music, one steps out into that unknown territory of certain ideas and emotions. out there, those different elements start to attract each other and form the final picture in a mysterious way, which is beyond one’s comprehension.

in that very sense, the outcome, a possible meaning, is a mystery to me. it unravels in time and it starts to “make sense” as it unfolds.