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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Japanese “Room” MP3

Alvin Lucier’s “I Am Sitting in a Room” is one of the cornerstones of electronic music. Dating from the late 1960s, it is more a process than a composition. Famously, Lucier recorded the phrase “I Am Sitting in a Room,” then played it back, recorded that, and so on, the phrase dissolving as if in successive generations of photocopies.

More to the point, Lucier’s piece solidified the idea of process as composition. Earlier this year, Japanese artist Kanta Horio applied “I Am Sitting in a Room” to the feedback created by flat panel speakers (MP3). Information is posted at Horio’s blog (kanta.but.jp/blog). The track, in which near silence slowly becomes a woozy pile of circulating noises, speaks for itself. But a friend of mine was gracious enough to do a rough translation of Horio’s blog entry:

“Feedback with flat panel SP / Feedback experimentation using the flat panel speakers / [The set up] looks really desolate [lit. ‘cold colors’] but it was really [literally] so cold that my feet lost sensation. / I simply let it emit ‘feedback,’ using [a system programmed in] Max/MSP that resembled ‘I am sitting in a room.’ I didn’t process the seams between recording and playing well enough, so you hear some static, or noise, but I did various experiments. It was cool that the metals being heated up in the air conditioner made sounds from time to time. / This is the version started from no sound (3.2MB). / BTW, this but.jp [web address] is on a server that I rented from a company called lolipop. But no matter what browser I use, I cannot log into the page where I can make the payment from my Mac. The trial period is going to end soon!” More info, albeit largely in Japanese, at media.t-kougei.ac.jp/~horio/.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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