SPECULATIONS ON COMPUTER LISTENING
01 INTRODUCTION COMPUTER-AIDED SONICS
02 STRETCHING OF TIME/FLATTENING
04 PERFORMATIVITY OF A FILE
05 HAPTIC COMPUTING THROUGH SONICS
06 RHYTHM AND ALIVENESS
07 COMPUTER LISTENING
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// INTRODUCTION COMPUTER-AIDED SONICS
The digital mutation of the sonic sphere populates our contemporary audio space. The fractal infinity of analogue waves is flattened when compressed in its digital format; the depth depends only on the quality of its bits.
......vibrating analog waves demonstrate a rounded curve, pulsating, varying cutoff frequencies: exhibiting the latent ghostly sonics of modular synthesis in its purest form. Modular has a memory - the texture of the analog sound is both predetermined by the form of its ancestor while responding to constraints imposed by the host body. Surfacing from the lower end of the dynamic range, remixed vocal samples enter the stream.
In this flat dimension; information gets stripped to immaterial data (into the realm of virtuality) allowing multiple manoeuvres without constraints of materiality. Information as data can be stretched, looped, cut, past, shared, analysed, modelled, etc. - the virtual layer of time can stretch from extremities. Within this ‘electronic time unification’ and the proliferation of digital networks, we are able to experience co-presence, to be virtually present in different local temporalities. 1.
......working with both software and hardware manipulations of time the track unfolds. Droning modular is populated by a soft stretch of Brian Eno’s Windows 95 startup, elongated to perform elastic chronology. Samples of increasing bpm synthesis demonstrate the line between audible rhythm and drone in manipulated pitch. The audio departs with the sonification of constellation patterns which gesture towards pseudo-pop territory. [pop is transmission].
1. The hardcore continuum demonstrates the accelaration of the drumloop which gains momentum to the apex of split time. The relentless bpm creates an elongation of chronology through repetition - the duplication of beat enters a kind of vacuum space operating outside of linear time - this is the location of Goldie’s ‘Timeless / Inner City’. Meditating on this in John Akomfrah’s 1996 ‘The Last Angel of History’, Goldie states that “Technology has broken time down, ‘cause we are the future. ‘Cause the time we’re in is the future”.
Beyond the audible, there is an unlisted rhythm of automation and data processing happening at hyper-speed. Moments like hardcore and speedcore take the bpm from 300 to infinity, stretching a track to fit an inhuman quantity of beats. Digital sonics become a virtual portal to travel to the unsound, that is "an audition to encompass the imperceptible and the not-yet or no-longer audible, and bring it to sound” (Goodman, 2019). Ryoji Ikeda unveils these unheard hyper-rhythms in his sonification pieces, the translation of raw data into sound. However, his work is a cold portrait of the potential of sonification using an overly rationalised approach. Mexican artist, researcher and composer Leslie Garcia proposes a notion of data driven composition as a collaborative process. She interfaces AI with biological entities: expended notions of energy, bioelectric, electromagnetic, chemical, computation. Thus sonification can be used as a gesture of communication towards the non-human, a practice of xeno-listening 2.
......swelling sonifications of stock market fluctuations in a single day, patched in PureData, overlays image data sonifications which assign color waves to frequencies. These moments unfold over a relentless splitting / splicing of the elongated sounds of a carwash achieved in transient beat recognition. There is a practice of translating which is similar to the function of a transducer that transforms different types of energy: electrical, chemical, digital, vibration, to one another.
2. “The Energy Bending Lab is an instrument consisting of a set of custom-built modular synthesizers and transduction tools that creates a real-time sonification from the electric properties found in some bacteria and other microorganisms.” - Interspecies collective - https://github.com/interspecifics/EnergyBendingLab
04/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// PERFORMATIVITY OF A FILE
“digital files appear by clicking on their names - as in earlier times we conjured spirits by calling their name”, (Groys, 2016).
Transduction also happens in dimensions. In the case of audio files, data becomes vibration. This screen flatness becomes spherical and resonant, bringing the information back to space, suggesting it to vibration and friction. Sonics touch our bodies; mp3s undergo a becoming-haptic when amplified. The digital file is a ghost until ‘staged or performed’, they always need the performative agency of the other, thus they “do not exist until they have a here and now”.
......racing files are looped to create an imitation of data-processing rhythms. Files perform their chaotic expression: airdropped over a rolling amen break - the sample which defines the drum and bass genre. This drum break from The Winston Brothers 1969 ‘Amen Brother’ originally lasting 7 seconds carries with it the gesture of the drummer [the controlled muscular spasms, performed by the body in a moment of energy exertion] , the resonance of the recording space in Washington D.C, the texture of the recording material, the haptics of the vinyl [the damage of the needle], digitised and shared online again and again. The looping of these 7 seconds, often at double speed resurrects this moment of freestyle again and again and relocates this spatially. A reel to reel reconstructs the syncopated structure over a mechanical re_chronology, accelerating and duplicating the bassline.