Algorithm of the Night: Google’s DeepDream and (Dis)Harmonies of an Eternal Nocturnal

  • Christopher M. Cox
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)


Jonathan Crary’s conception of 24/7 capitalism indicates eroding distinctions between night and day, a notion I extend towards distinctions between nocturnal dreaming and wakeful states as epitomized by a recent music video: Calista and the Crashroots’ “DeepDream”. This video uses Google’s DeepDream, a platform that leverages artificial intelligence algorithms to mutate visual forms into abstractions indicative of nocturnal dreamscapes. DeepDream’s algorithmic rendering extends this abstraction to night-time itself, a phenomenon in which the temporal distinctions of night and associated dreamscapes give way to an “eternal nocturnal” consistent with the logics of perpetuity in 24/7 capitalism. I argue for a consideration of this eternal nocturnal as derived from a “hypermodulation” of harmonies and disharmonies in “DeepDream”. The video harmonizes sonic forms and visual imagery, yet the algorithmic abstraction of its imagery entails a nocturnal dreamscape that is not a departure from waking life, but instead more readily at hand for waking life. In this way, nocturnal dreaming is at hand to obfuscate sleepless conditions of 24/7 capitalism and also at hand as a commodity that feeds back into the perpetual churn of 24/7 capitalism and algorithmic processing. As I ultimately argue, the disharmony between waking life and nocturnal dreaming is hypermodulated through the harmonies of sonic and visual forms, attuning sleepless denizens to the logics of 24/7 capitalism and manifesting an eternal nocturnal.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher M. Cox
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CommunicationChristopher Newport UniversityNewport NewsUSA

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