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The Violence of the Daughters of Men

On the Compulsion of Breaking the Silence

It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them. […] They took for themselves wives from among them such as they chose. And they began to go in to them, and to defile themselves through them, and to teach them sorcery and charms, and to reveal to them the cutting of roots and plants.

~ Enoch 7:1

Dear friends,

tl;dr first part is a moody musing on the conflict and compulsion of communication, the second part explains the technical details of the video creation

Hope you’re all handling the hibernation period well. I know, It’s been a couple of months since you received anything from this mailing list. I’ve tried to sit down and write several times, always ending up distracted, with the flow broken into half a dozen little trickles of dissociated thoughts. Just to confirm I’m still here, I’ve decided to share with you some of my A/V projects and little bits of inspiration and influences that anchor my attention a bit better than a blank screen these days.

On the Compulsion of Breaking the Silence

I want to grasp the brutality of our situation: communication is a compulsion and yet it is also the source of conflict.

- Bogna Konior, The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

I would personally like to renounce speech whatsoever. Capturing the emotion in the clunky constraints of words never scratched the itch. I want to hide in the Dark Forest, lurk in silence, with my face hidden in the dim light, pixelated, smudged, and my IP trail obscured by a rotating proxy.

But ants and anthills, individuals, civilisations. We’re not sparsely distributed points on a stellar map. We are crammed head to head in the rush hour trains and stacked like cattle in the tiny post-soviet apartments. Confrontations, unaviodable. I dream of privacy among my four walls, but the loud moaning of my next-door neighbour, separated only by a lousy plaster wall, reminds me of my foolish delusion.

Being, fragmented into countless interfaces - some are facing internal processes, how’s my stomach today? Some face outwards, consciously, in elegantly wrapped polysyllabic packets of logical argumentation. But the most cursed ones are the unconscious - that barely perceptible nerve twitch of insecurity, the betrayal of pulse elevated and uncontrollable perspiration. We constantly switch between the terminals, adjusting our broadcasting. But the vulgar physical presence still holds its shape - no matter how excellent our self-control might be, we leak information. There’s no way to un-do oneself in space.

And if you can’t hide, the only strategical advantage left is to strike first. Remember, the battlefield is psychological in nature. The accuracy of longbows and crossbows has been much superior to the early muskets. But they were never used in the Waterloo and Bull Run. It’s the loud and flashy BANG! that gains the decisive psychological advantage.

So we talk, loud and eager, oil and gunpowder. Filling in the scrollable side panels and infinite feeds with fragments of what we thought we were, and what we thought we felt. Regurgitated fast-brewed opinions, narcissistic self-indulgence. Just the foam on the surface of life, safely removed from the raw richness of experience. We struggle to build a flimsy ropebridge of our identity over the abyss. Affiliations. Adjectives. Labels. To break the silence is an obsessive compulsion. Because to be unseen is to be dead.

So we fight for life.

Technical Guide

As some of you know, I’m (professionally) scrolling the AI news on Twitter on a daily basis. And once seasoned in all this information, seeing the possibilities expanding endlessly, I have been compelled to start using some of these tools for my own projects. There are plenty of AI tools for image and video editing available, but I’m trying to combine various approaches to prompting and scripting in making my custom processing pipelines. The little snippet you see in the headline of this video is the footage of Sharon Stone in the Basic Instinct (1992) and her iconic “Fuck of the Century”.

Every(other) frame is run through the new Stable Diffusion depth2img model. It’s a new type of processing that uses an auxiliary model called MiDaS that extracts the depth map from the input, as shown in the picture below. The final image generation is then fully conditioned through the original spatial arrangement of the scene.

Because our brains are evolutionarily conditioned primarily to movement, just a few points placed at the main joints during a motion capture are enough to recognise a human gait out of a cloud of random dots. This gives us a lot of space to experiment with video footage. Even if all the frames lose their original content, once the layout of the human body is preserved, we still recognise the underlying motion.

I’m going to keep the prompts for processing these frames as a secret. It’s the formula that is applied to the depth map, attempting to capture the scene requested. But as a little hint, I’ve been reading The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy and playing Fallout 1 recently, so there might be some of that harsh violent crumbling industrial post-apocalyptic nuclear winter dystopian landscape; kind of vibes. (For those new to prompting, sentences used to make a decent image are as much as 75 tokens long, with multiple moody adjectives, photo lens settings and other hacks)

As the last step, I edited the original scene to match the demo recording from our new thing with Theia Mania, and ran the whole lot through some grungey colour filters. If you’re interested in more technical details, please feel free to ask.

Got a pile of these little experiments lying around my desktop. I might drop some more videos in the next few days, accompanied by a shower of disorganised thoughts and fleeing feelings.

Hopefully, soon enough, I’ll finish some of the larger, more coherent essays. There’s one promised on Faustus (and the homoerotic tension with Mephisto, ofc), one on the obvious non-linearity of Time and my ESP experimentation, and also one on the future communal uses of AI for an upcoming workshop.

Cross your fingers, but you know how it goes - we might get distracted again. Thanks for staying with me - drop me a comment with your fav neo-noir erotic thriller? A cold war documentary? An album you’ve been spinning recently? Or at least click that cute little heart on the article so I feel I’m not tuning to a dead channel.

Stay fiery,


Mercurial Minutes
Mercurial Minutes
karin valis