Desktop of a Disillusioned

My desktop narrative is meant to tell the every-day internet life of a conspiracy theorist internet addict in a bit of a comedic fashion, with an emphasis on the sound-track so to speak.

I made all of my sounds first and as I modified it I created a story around them, at first I thought of a man extremely high on drugs struggling to use a computer due to the warped nature of the sounds, notably the incoming call sound that goes across the piece, but that wasn’t an extremely interesting story to say the least, so influenced by this I thought of this man who is distracted and all over the place in this cluttered space of the desktop not because he is high but rather because he is doing something we all have done from time to time on the internet, delve into the internet, grasp straws with conspiracy theories and argue with people online. In a sense the actions reflective of internet addiction that he takes can be considered drug-like in their own right akin to the original thought.

As I was editing the idea developed into something a bit more complex, tackling the issue of the excess of information, which ironically makes it is even harder to find the truth these days, and so people are beginning to subscribe to their own personal truths, as the desktop user in my video does watching Alex Jones and lurking websites that solidify his beliefs, rather than peering into those that reflect the other side, ignoring rebuttal to the lack of evidence in what he considers fact.

It mostly consists of desktop sounds, notifications, and a piece of a song extremely warped in different fashions, this allowed me to focus more on just the user and the sounds but it also emphasizes the fact that this is an isolated or delusional person behind the screen separated from truth and reality.

Golan Levin: a telesymphony

Telesymphony by Golan Levin, Gregory Shakar, & Scott Gibbons, is a very cool piece due to both the nature of the sounds and the way in which they were orchestrated.

In the piece each audience members phones are treated as its own instrument, set off by the creators, of course the idea behind the composition is fascinating too, focusing on the sounds we carry in our pocket with us every day, reminiscent of other sound artists we’ve discussed focusing on the sounds of everyday life.

While the specific sounds in it emitted from the phones are ancient in technological lifespans, now over 15 years old, the idea behind them is the same they still reflect the sounds that define a part of everyday life.

The important thing about this concert is to try to indicate that everyone is already carrying enough musical equipment in their pocket to participate in an orchestral ensemble

I think these days sampling desktop & mobile sounds is a lot more common, especially with the emergence of internet popular like  Vaporwave and the PC music record label about 5 years ago, however it’s fascinating to see these sounds be highlighted in a performance piece, albeit slightly less musical, over a decade before these forms of music began taking off, especially in the form of an ensemble, really emphasizing the fact that these sounds are relevant in our everyday life and makes the attendee not just feel like they’re a small part of the experience but actually be the experience. The chiptune nature of the older mobile sounds is sonically also appealing in a different way than the bubbly modern notification sounds.

The idea Golan Levin mentions of exploring “the musical possibilities of something that people don’t ordinarily think about” is something that will heavily influence my work for the end of the semester.

Pamela Z: geeking out

Pamela Z is an fascinating composer who combines wide range of vocal techniques with electronic processing, and also uses interesting sampling techniques & MIDI controllers, many of her pieces contain video elements too.

Her piece Geekspeak does a fantastic job of invoking geekiness by seemingly asking people who act like geeks to define what a geek is.

There is a sharp comparison between what the people talking about and what they are describing which I really enjoy.

Pamela Z was able to accomplish this new narrative through fragmentation and collage, as well as of course sourcing the correct people to speak the words – while it may have worked had it been her speaking with the superimposition, it definitely would not have gotten the point across as strongly, as it would not have even with the geeky speakers voices had the collage not been done and overlaid so well technically, whereby as I mentioned she makes it seem like the speakers are practically describing themselves. In a way she also seems to use the description to define herself, or at least this piece of hers, with some emphasis on one phrase:


My definition of a geek would be someone who finds a machine or something really esoteric, like logical, to be a really fascinating construct, and likes to understand it, see what its limits are, and see exactly what it entails, play with it, to the extent that they probably find it slightly more fascinating than conversation with most people

This phrase feels like something that Pamela Z would resonate with as a new media sound artist working with so much technology, which you can read about more here  on her Bio.

What’s most interesting about Pamela Z’s work is how concise it is for something performed live, and how much more variety there is in what she is doing in these performances, which are more than just the music she’s making – recordings of her live performances can be seen on her YouTube channel, and her most popular video by views is Nihongo de Hanasoo.

This video displays her ability to perform and mix her sound pieces live spectacularly, as well as her ability to combine other forms of art & media, such as poetry, and video displayed through a projector on the background throughout.


Hyperessay #1: Concepts in Sound Art

The semester so far has been a sonic adventure, and I have learned a lot.

The futurists were my first introduction into noise, and I was very skeptical at how chaotic the futurists sounded, especially the likes Luigi Russolo were at first, from their sound to their personal beliefs, but as I transported myself back in time to when they were actually making music I was able to appreciate them, at least for their appreciation for the noises around us.

Edgard Varése made me really question what Music was, his electronic poem, much like the earlier works of the futurists, although fascinating and at times exhilarating, was not appealing like a modern song might be to me, but it expanded my conception of what music could be.

It made me aware of a notion of using noise as simply another instrument in one’s musical arsenal.

Listening and researching to John Cage taught me that with modern technology now more than ever we need not rely on traditional methods of measuring music, as stated in History of Electronic Music in the United States.


Magnetic tape music makes it clear that we are in time itself, not in measures of two, three, or four or any other number.

It is by the power of his approach to indeterminacy that we can make a lot of unique music now, and it was interesting how we practiced this idea of indeterminacy in our real-time aggregation.

There is also a video where he states “I don’t want a sound to be psychological” and this really resonated with me, as someone who enjoys music, even that which is relatively mainstream, first & foremost for the sounds, not for any deep meaning. It solidified my personal belief that the best music is more often than not totally meaningless, for me it is all about how it makes you feel.

Ultimately I appreciate him for how he pioneered electronic music, and how he’s made me that bit more aware about the sounds around me.

Bill Fontana was one of the artists that intrigued me the most, and he was a big inspiration for my sounds of the city micro-project. I really enjoyed his concept of sonificiation of the inaudible, this interview  also mentions that he actively goes about “treating sound as a living object”.

It was with his work that I started thinking of sound as something that takes up a more physical living space, as opposed to being this fleeting thing in the airwaves.

As I had discussed in a previous blog post I rarely thought of an audiovisual experience much past an LED screen, I often thought of visuals to be the main component of an audiovisual experience, but he, decades ago, managed to create audiovisual experiences that focused on the sound as the centerpiece, with visuals still being important, and this influenced me in emphasizing the sound of my digital landscape.


Janet Cardiff focuses on sound in a physical space also, but has an emphasis on time, which reminded me of the likes of Bill Fontana’s Pigeon Sounding, but gone a step further. What really interests me is that she uses modern technology & editing techniques in such a way that made me consider whether an audio-focused experience could be considered virtual, or at least augmented reality, which was great to comprehend the power of sound.

The walks are also physical sculptures through time and space but they evolve in a narrative way.  – interview

A fantastic example of this is FOREST (For A Thousand Years) where I was transported to this forest, and by sound alone was transported to experiencing different times of the same space.

Ultimately this semester I’ve gained not just an appreciation for noise in the world of sound & music, but most importantly a better understanding  of sound as something physical and alive that fluctuates through time & space, and like time is not linear as we experience it.

Digital Landscape: to hell and back

I set out to create a digital landscape that felt like a journey of sorts, specifically I decided on the journey of going to hell and back, as I had already created some eerie sounds.  As I was developing it many of the sounds reminded me of how I felt during some intense anxiety attacks, and so I began drawing inspiration from this. I attuned it to try and reflect the phases of going through one, how it erupts out of nowhere, how the world rushes around without you, the paranoia and the sudden disassociation, and finally slowly being able to breathe again and reel slowly back into reality, the visuals are also based around the feelings associated with each sound.


Janet Cardiff: Time-travel via sonic waves

Janet Cardiff is an artist who creates audiovisual experiences, similar to the likes of Bill Fontana whereby she focuses on the sound, but she uses modern technology & editing techniques in such a way that she truly made me question whether an audio-focused experience could be considered virtual, or at least augmented reality clips.

She is most known for her audio walks, such as the Alter Bahnof walk, where she essentially takes us on a walk, usually through a distorted version of time, all the while connecting physical locations more to their sounds and making us question the nature of time, specifically making us think of sound & time as something less linear.

Many of her pieces remind me of some of the things Bill Fontana did in relation to space and time which I quite appreciate, specifically his piece Pigeon Soundings, but she develops on these concept, and offers an even higher feeling of participation on our part.

It is difficult to decide whether or not her visual-audio pieces are a form of virtual reality, but it is hard to deny that her participatory art pieces, which also involve her manipulating time, are at the very least a form of augmented reality.

In FOREST (For A Thousand Years) for example we are physically in this space of a forest, and by sound alone we are transported to different times of that very space, one moment there is the sound of logs falling, footsteps and the rustling of leaves, the next people laughing celebrating in the woods, wind blowing, some lumber is being harvested, I can only imagine sitting there felt like you were truly moving through time, as it did for me even just watching it on a computer monitor.

Bill Fontana: sonification of the inaudable

Frustrated, the word I would use to explain trying to read this interview with Bill Fontana, it is difficult to simply read, I have never studied music, I haven’t even heard of the people or many of the things mentioned in this, I don’t understand the technical phrases such as “8 channel sound maps…  …fed these through a 24 channel matrix mixer”, and I have to guess what the likes of acoustic delay is, which I’m sure is very simple for technical musicians or other sound artists, which this interview is clearly targeted at, and which I am not.

However I did not let my frustration get in the way of learning about this revered artist.

What little I could gather from it was a reaffirmation in Bill Fontana’s belief in one thing:

the sonification of the inaudible

Bill Fontana claimed that everything has a sound whether we actively listen or not, the interview also mentions that he actively goes about “treating sound as a living object” as sound takes up its own physical space.  These are very wonderful  and innovative ideas, and has changed the way many people perceive sound and music.


In this piece he shows not just how musical the world around us is on it’s own, but he highlights how sound occupies physical space too.

Although I have only just discovered him I really appreciate what he does, before listening to & watching his work I rarely though of an audiovisual experience much past an LED screen, I often thought of visuals to be the main component of an audiovisual experience, whether it be cinema, video games, or an interactive art installation with flashing lights and some mild sound or vibrations, but he, decades ago, managed to create audiovisual experiences that focused on the sound as the centerpiece and the visuals as the bare bone canvas.




John Cage: a new way of thinking

It is easy to write off Cage as just being another pretentious artist in a lot of his work, which isn’t helped by his writing ‘History of Experimental Music in the United States’ which, without context, comes across as little more than him complaining about everyone else making music including other experimental musicians for not being experimental enough.

I came to understand his works would have been a lot more striking at the time. Today we easily have a hundred times the number of genres of music Cage had growing up, countless new types of music is popping up all of the time, especially with the internet, and I think it’s safe to presume much of that is thanks to him and his experimentation in music.

One has to transport themselves back to the time he was making his music, and you might begin to truly appreciate him, largely for the way he saw sound

Noises are as useful to new music as so-called musical tones, for the simple reason that they are sounds

The way Cage thought was revolutionary, not just his opinions on noises, but his belief in that with modern technology now more than ever we need not rely on traditional methods of measuring music.

Magnetic tape music makes it clear that we are in time itself, not in measures of two, three, or four or any other number

Cage then discusses how he doesn’t need sound to talk to him, and that’s something that I can appreciate. Most of the arts are thought of as being in time and space, and he claims that music is not a time art but a space art, it is about different sounds from various places.

There is an interesting interview on YouTube where Cage discusses silence and noise in general.

 “I don’t want a sound to be psychological”

In this video he quotes famous German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who said “there are two things that don’t have to mean anything, one is music and the other is laughter” he takes meaning nothing in this instance as something you can take deep pleasure in, it’s very reminiscent to how electronic music is enjoyed today, it is more often than not totally meaningless, there are no lyrics and often very little structure, it is all about how it makes you feel and think.

Although to me some of what Cage has made seems to me be more like he is saying something or making a point, rather than creating something to be enjoyed like traditional music, it had an enormous impact and gave way to a whole new generation of innovative musicians. Ultimately, I appreciate him for how he pioneered electronic music, and how he’s made me that bit more aware about the sounds around me.