Buffer Manipulations at Instruments Make Play

I represented RottingSounds at the festival/fair “instruments make play” that took place at WORM in Rotterdam, NL last weekend. I was welcomed with my “Buffer manipulation” setup in a very relaxed and informal atmosphere, in which many curious visitors stopped by to ask questions.

Table of curiosities at All About Audio 2018

Almut and Till spent some time last week to research on our project topic and eventually prepare and give a presentation at All About Audio at the FH St. Pölten. It was an intense time, yielding in very interesting and fruitful discussions and results.

We came up with (at least) two important elements for our research:

  1. the auralist — A fictional character that represents an aural culture (in the digital age) in which sound is considered the preferred medium, implying temporality (and hence decay) to be embraced. This was a rather good addition, we plan to further flesh it out and maybe turn the auralist into a true opponent that not only questions our visual/clean cultural approaches, but also our (project’s) research practice.
  2. the use of a large paper on the table — It served as note-taking and sketching medium as well as an archival container. We used the same paper for the four days and it helped us a lot to follow along all the different (but equally interesting) threads of our discussions. Many of our sketches you can find in the presentation pdf are photos from the paper.

Guests of the conference were quite interested in our approach and asked valuable questions leading into fruitful discussions.

You can find our presentation slides here.

Electroacoustic composition “residuals” at re_composed festival, October 31

At this year’s edition of the re_composed series, part of paraflows XIII, festival for digital art and cultures, i will present a new piece of acousmatic music, titled residuals.

The piece is re-composed solely of compression artifacts, originating from my piece Points of View, as performed at the same re_composed festival five years earlier. The new piece has the same 24 minute duration as the prior performance, and also the same 4-channel layout.

October 31 thru November 3, 2018
weisses haus, Hegelgasse 14, 1010 Wien, Austria

First publication “Embracing the temporal deterioration of digital audio – A manifesto”

We are happy to announce that our paper “Embracing the temporal deterioration of digital audio – A manifesto” has been accepted for publication in the upcoming proceedings of the Politics of the Machines conference on the British Computer Society’s eWic platform.

This paper presents the fundaments and challenges of the Rotting sounds project and expresses the most important theses in the form of a manifesto.

Most of today’s media output, be it audio or video, is produced and stored in the digital domain. Although digital data are adorned by the myth of lossless transmission and migration, everyday experience does prove the existence of degradation and, ultimately, data loss in various forms. This pertains to the physical nature of storage media and playback devices as well as to media formats and software in the context of their technological infrastructure.
We have recently launched the project of artistic research ‘Rotting sounds – Embracing the temporal deterioration of digital audio’, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Since degradation cannot be avoided by principle, we therein propose alternative perspectives on the nature and the implications of deterioration in theory and artistic practice, specifically for the domain of digital audio.
This manifesto shall represent an introduction to our endeavour, as much as it shall form a guideline for us carrying out the research.

Talk at ars electronica symposium, September 9

Under the title “Letting loose, embracing the loss”, I will talk about implications of audio deterioration at the Ars Electronica symposium “… under control of music, music under control of …; composing (in) digital worlds”, part of the Sonic Saturday at Anton-Bruckner Private University, Linz.

Most of today’s media output, also music, is produced and stored in the digital domain. Although digital data are adorned by the myth of lossless transmission and migration, everyday experience does prove the existence of degradation and, ultimately, data loss in various forms. This pertains to the physical nature of storage media and playback devices as well as to media formats and software in the context of their technological infrastructure.
Usually, this loss of control over the musical material is counteracted in the personal or societal domain using various kinds of archival strategies.
In the running project of artistic research “rotting sounds”, however, we rely on the hypothesis that by gaining pertinent knowledge and developing adequate means to work with digital degradation in a constructive fashion, its inevitability can be turned from being a source of irritation into a potential for aesthetic choice.

September 8, 2018, 4pm-7pm
Anton Bruckner Private University
Hagenstraße 57, 4040 Linz, Austria

Presenting a manifesto at the “politics of the machine” conference, Copenhagen, May 16

I will present some observations and implications on our topic of the degradation of digital audio. Consequentially, i will try to formulate a number of bold claims summing up to the form of a manifesto.

Politics of the Machine conference
Aalborg University Copenhagen
A. C. Meyers Vænge 15, 2450 Copenhagen, Denmark
May 16 2018, “sonic machines” session at 3:45pm

Article in Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard, May 10

An interview by Johannes Lau with Thomas Grill on the rotting sounds project has been featured in an article of the Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard.

In Europa hat das Phänomen des Verfalls im Gegensatz zu anderen Kulturen einen grundsätzlich negativen Beigeschmack, sodass wir ständig versuchen, Dinge am Leben zu erhalten. Wir können schwer akzeptieren, dass Dinge verschwinden, obwohl wir eigentlich mit diesem ganz natürlichen Phänomen umgehen können sollten.

Presentation and discussion @ Applied Practice, AIL, May 2

Right after the official start with May 1, Thomas Grill and Almut Schilling will present concepts and strategies of the rotting sounds project as part of the Applied Practice lecture series, both from their respective angles of sound art and digital preservation.
Following will be an open discussion session led by media expert Michael Iber where the audience is cordially invited to share their thoughts on the topic with us. The talk will be in held in German language.

May 2 2018, 17h
Angewandte Innovation Laboratory (AIL)
Franz-Josefs-Kai 3, 1010 Vienna, Austria

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.

Rotting Sounds @ Knowing in Performing symposium, April 4

Our upcoming research project Rotting Sounds will be presented at the Knowing in Performing symposium for artistic research at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.

4 April 2018, 9.30 am – 6.00 pm
MDW – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
Fanny Hensel Hall
Anton-von-Webern-Platz 1
1030 Vienna

Artistic research as it has emerged and evolved over the last three decades is related to an increasing interest in epistemological questions as well as an interrogation of how artistic practices constitutively support and instigate processes of knowledge creation. Art is thus being looked at both as an object and a medium of research, becoming part of a general discourse on knowledge regimes and research models.

The symposium will investigate this dynamic, ever-renewing field of interrelations with a special focus on the performing arts. Highlighting the issue of various implementation models in curricula and study programmes in higher arts education, it will critically analyse international institutional policies and facilitate an open debate on how to integrate current practices and discourses into future teaching and research structures.