Imaabs released album Descifrar via NAAFI on July 7, 2021. Today, the artist shares a mix for AQNB along with some thoughts on the record and its outlook on social interaction, activism, and technology. It’s the debut album for the Chilean producer and DJ, following a nearly yearlong hiatus aside from an appearance with Corin on NTS Radio.
On Descifrar, the artist Cristo Gavras explores scissions within society, blending rhythmic club constructions with pop and harsh soundscapes that lend to its expansive arc. The record recalls personal heartbreak and alienation, pivoting Gavras’ experiences into a statement on the disruptive intervention of technology within enduring human relationships. He explains these ideas on the album a bit further over email.
**You mention fragmented social interaction as an inspiration for your record Descifrar. Can you explain this more? Did this precede the pandemic at all in your eyes?
Cristo Gavras: More than that, inspiration is something that you cannot avoid. It is present, these (heart)broken possibilities are the base of my intention to create, to think and try to create some visions about since I started making music. One part of this idea of codes, is the complexity of the image. I always quote a conversation of Derrida and Stiegler, and they ask this question: how illiterate are we in front of the images?
In that perspective, social media provides a few examples. A meme is a literal expression the impact and direct impression of an image on us, even with the direct messages of a text, sometimes contradictory, even in codes. There are probably more interesting interpretations, but it’s just an example. We are creating subjectivity in the middle of codes and images, the perception of us is surrounded by that growing fabric.
Probably in other times, that part of culture was analog, and mechanized by religion and after that by the state; it is a bonding with big machines, nowadays multiplied by capitalism and neoliberal technologies. This current dimension of operation becomes infinite in profits and exploitations.
Many strategies exist, in a micropolitical way, to manage social affections and create a constant of influx perceptions that kidnap attention in apps: creating new reductions, bonds with others, machines, apparatuses, desires, capitalism, and the unconscious. We are witnessing a multiplication of objects, ideas, feelings, traumas, thoughts, etc.
A complex flux and the void that can perceive us between others. That split proximity is what I’m trying to re-think on this album from my heartbroken experience.
**You also cover the Internet’s influence on this condition, which is interesting given its ability to send viral mass-media messages across an alienated public. Does this tension appear on the album?
CG: About the messages, I think we are in a bad position. We are highly de-codifiable, which is a condition that needs to improve. I think we can revisit certain questions, old questions of reality like Descartes’ ‘cogito’ or Plato’s ‘allegory of the cave’; or more radical questions about being, such as those from Heidegger or the cancelled and fascist Nick Land.
The idea of hyperreality or VR is old, I think we are feeling changes in the body, more than this expectation of de-codification of the brain and AI. Those are a final part of this process, I think. They are metaphors of this age, and the internet is just a part of its component. I think it is repetitive wondering about because it is just a technology, a protocol of communication, and in the end, one of many.
All this stuff of codes, algorithms and AI is already happening around us. The problem is the speed at which its moving, and the separation of technology and technique. We consume technology, but we lack technique to determine its outcome on us. We perceive it as useful for this reality in a constant feedback without options. That’s the problem.
This is not new, I think always when we think about biopolitics and necro-politics, or even the techniques about the self, we are in that process and the doped analogy of brains interconnected is now a reality we live. We are part of that, as consumers or IO devices. The alienation is in the nervous system.
I think we need to analyze this— amidst the spreading of many apparatuses that create new dimensions of reality—as upgrade of codes: therapeutic society, cancelled culture, neofascism, conspiracy theories, solidarity politics, and new struggles. We need to understand this in both a horrible and hopeful way.
The deeper process is that we are codified at our core, in a physical way, which has opened a dimension that can survive within us. This feedback-in-a-millimeter dimension runs lightning speed, akin to a multidimensional virus that extends to all the individuation process. Probably we need to become quicker with codes, even quit all of it, all on us, all on this idea of connection too.
**The record’s title translates to the word ‘decipher’, so it seems that you’ve created this with external perspective in mind. Can talk about this?
CG: I think the notion of decipher as a creation (for us or our communities) of our own code. It is a contra-process started within machines—religion, state, capitalism, internet, the cloud. Understanding how to start this mechanism for creation subjectivity and of one important process, the affections. We can understand that, or how it affects us within reality; depression, melancholy, pain, feelings of failure, deception, impossibility, even happiness and all desires linked to power and success. It’s an important notion to understand about this, as both impotence and a locus of power. On the notion of impotence, Santiago Lopez-Petit has an interesting analysis of “impoder” and “impotencia” as non-power or empowering possibilities.
I think in understanding what I can’t, it is possible to visualize what I can and desire. It’s this question of how power affects us. Does some strategy exist or is it just the expression of this reality in us, as a mirror of the unbearable? I mean, the power of the affections, probably the interpretations of Spinoza from Deleuze can give us many ideas, and some from Bifo, or even the concept of disidentification developed for José Esteban Muñoz. Starting there might open something and these are not new at all.
For example, the creation of inclusive language or trying think of ways to create yourself as a contra-apparatus (or disidentification). This has happened since many years ago. We have extensive dimensions of concepts and experience about it. As an exercise too, maybe try to understand how the unconscious is a flux, full of traumas and external codes, and ask in a political way: how many of these external malwares are inside us? What is useful? What can create new ways of bonding, or new realities?
This is not a question of mental health. It is a political question. We can create new realities. We can create bonds with these pre-individual subjects that are pre-content, and recode all, including the way of bonding and possible communities or non-communities.
This notion was thought between me and another person I loved. She started to say this about her, in the process of decoding us. That was the descifrada. Obviously, I too was deciphering in this way of building bonds.
**Lastly, given these situations, what do you hope to see in the future?
CG: I think there are many resistances, but the mainstream in all the senses, always performs resistance in favor of a lame position. I’m thinking all the political resistance nowadays as playing one of many narcissistic upgrades, a characteristic of some subjectivity, one item on the profiles about what we can show for others, as a hedonist technique of self. It is not bad, but are we creating communities that are diverse political, aesthetical, desiring, and resisting or are we rendering ‘the community’ as inoperant, centering all in a social-democrat post-political ethos?
I think both dimensions are part of the struggles, but I think we need to be clear what position are taking. I think we can struggle in the same way affecting this supposed social-democrat, global community. As for the other side, the less public, or anonymous that are creating other communities or resistances, the problem is understanding where or how to create them. Nowadays I see just a black hole about political thoughts and ethos in the alternative media, Instagram, music, contemporary art, and many spaces kidnapped by capitalism without content or consistent critics.
For example, the covid crisis reinforced the separation of the third global front the first white world. The migration and racism are alive and growing. Colonialism it is still a deep problem amongst the many processes of desire, the auto-colonialism of third world countries. This is for the other side, validation (not complete and concrete), just for the diaspora; but not the communities and speeches from the third world.
I just see people, above all in the first world, getting just a narrow-minded vision about other dimensions, other languages, other codes. The supposed political vision and criticism that I experience is reduced to ‘just my struggles’, my narcissistic desire for power about the projections I can create in this capitalist reality or the therapeutic way to try to understand my unconscious and traumas, but never about opening bonds or solidarity with others. These problems are present in Chile too: white feminism, classism, racism, fascism as desire, even a traumatic reality that we bear as country after a long, long dictatorship makes it really easy to absorb this narcissistic ethos. The unique goal is to confront this between ourselves and not focusing on the enemy.**
Microhm – Emerging from the depths
Bod – Why Survive
Price – Morning Counters Love
Balas de Agua – Flamma
Imaabs – Trying ft Tama Gucci
Imaabs – Bite me (An hipertition pre action)
Lafawndah – Le Malentendu (feat Lala &ce)
Access Device – El Lamento (Filiae)
Imaabs – Gare du Nord
Rosaceae – Casual Relationship
Concepción Huerta – Acepting a lost cause
Eterna -Industry Night
Elca – Defibrilation
Kinética – Lento fin de mundo
Mabe Fratti – Hacia el VacioQuit Life – Don’t be sad
Practice – Tema de ayer (unreleased Filiae/Ensamble)
Claire Rousay – Discrete (the market)
Lila – Te Pienso