Contribution for the isaScience conference accepted
Thomas Grill and Almut Schilling have put forward a proposal termed “Libre tools and strategies embracing the temporal deterioration of digital audio” for the isaScience 2018 conference with the topic of “Participatory Approaches to Music & Democracy” in Reichenau/Rax to be held on August 10-14.
Our proposal has been accepted by the organizers and we are looking forward to presenting our perspective.
Abstract: Most of today’s media output is produced and stored in the digital domain. The efficiency as well as its ease of use, also in the arts, has led to an overwhelming abundance of data representing audio and video content.
The practice of a digital artist, specifically also a digital musician, is typically bound to a complex ecosystem of commerical hard- and software. End-of-life of one of the tools causes a chain reaction of obsolescence in the entire system, also necessitating the acquiry of new know-how.
On the other hand, published products of digital arts practice appear on media dependent on technological reproduction devices. The material embodiments as much as the logical formats of these representations are subject to deterioration over time, demanding perpetual actions of media migration for successful preservation.
The global accessibility of digitally stored media implies that it is not a scarce good any longer. The cost for the consumer is low, but so is the quality of the experience. The act of music listening has shifted from physically interacting with an audio sculture to subjecting oneself to an infinite succession of “tracks”.
Our project of artistic research “rotting sounds” investigates the causes, processes and ramifications of degradation and technological obsolescence within the domain of digital audio. The hypothesis is that by providing pertinent knowledge and respective means to encounter digital deterioration in a constructive fashion, the inevitable is no longer a source of irritation but rather an æsthetic benefit.
For this, we will put forward open technology fostering self-empowerment and independence for digital artists from commercial constraints. On the other hand, we will propose artistic strategies to work with the fleeting nature of digital data, especially exploring the qualities of ephemerality.
In the context of the isascience conference, we will outline some focal points at this early stage of our project. We hope to open up a discussion on the present condition of digital media arts, and about strategies for regaining control of artistic means of expression in the field.