2014/06/20 - 09:23

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As an artist I am, and always have been, interested by real-time. By this I do not mean that I have followed the evolution of the speed of central processing units with particular interest, but rather that, although I trained as fine artist, I have never been able summon much interest for artworks that remain in a fixed state. Hearing is the sense that has the greatest precision and therefore the greatest responsibility in the perception of passing time, and I rapidly adopted sound as my medium of predilection. In my opinion, however, recorded sound, like traditional fine art, is somehow frozen in time. Modern computers offer the possibility, at a reasonable cost, of processing and outputting information at the same speed as it enters the machine. Thus autonomous real-time art has become possible. By this I mean that, if real-time art has always existed in the form of music or theater, up until recently, unlike fine art forms, it necessitated the presence of people to make it happen, and therefore has tended to be assimilated into an event or special occasion, a concert or performance for example. My interest in real-time art, or arts of flux, finds its origin in the fact that it is neither anchored to this notion of the exceptional event, nor is it fixed in a final unalterable form. It has become possible to create artworks to be experienced on a day-to-day basis – maybe in a similar way to that in which we experience the landscape evolving outside our window or indeed the sound environment in which we live.

When I started working on the RoadMusic project I was attracted by the particularities of the audio environment of the automobile: Unlike most situations in which we find ourselves, that of driving a (average modern) car is largely exempt of natural or incidental sound. It is rarely possible to hear the sounds of the landscape through which we are traveling and considerable efforts are made to reduce sounds produced by the machine itself, generally considered as unpleasant. Therefore what we listen to on the car stereo has become the ambient sound of the car ride by default and we have come to accept the relationship between sound, our visual field and physical sensations as being, in this context, inherently artificial.

Sound produced by the computer used in RoadMusic is synthetic and there is a deliberate effort made, in (algorithmic) compositional choices, to offer the driver a musical style which is not completely alienating - there is an attempt to take into account cultural codes related to music for cars. So the generated audio is far from ‘natural sounding’ – it does not attempt to simulate a natural sound environment. Despite these facts it creates a concrete relationship of sound to the surrounding environment in that music is generated from the situation in which it is perceived. Although aesthetic choices are made in advance of the listening experience through writing the computer program, the actual sound that is produced at the time when we listen depends on captured variations in elements that constitute the environment. In this context, it can be argued that the sound is that of the situation itself, ambient sound (or noise), even if it is produced artificially and even if it is organized as music.

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