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

The Art of the Art of Failure (MP3)

The effects of decay and error serve as an increasingly active realm in electronic music. Glitch has blossomed into a broad variety of sonic experimentation. In the hands of the French duo Art of Failure, decay leads to a contraindicative revelation: chaos, volume, resplendence. What in the hands of many musicians yields the wan detritus of dying bleeps here, instead, gains increasing density. “Here” would be Art of Failure’s “8 Silences,” which the Chicago-based radio show Radius recently focused on, in association with the work’s inclusion earlier this month in an exhibit, titled Bricoleurs, at the Independent Media Center in Urbana, Illinois.

While the duo provides a sizable amount of context for their work, technical specifics are scant. What “8 Silences” appears to be is the result of a signal, or signals, that in the course of traversing the Internet accrue imperfections, like some ocean-going vessel might barnacles.

From the artists’ statement:

8 Silences offers a sensible representation of the Internet by broadcasting audio streams that travel and reverberate trough the web. Initially silent, the streams progressively incorporate an infinity of transformations or “errors”that modify the sound as it circulates on the network. These alterations are comparable to a form of erosion caused by the network space — they are a key to allow different mental representations of this digital topography

At times, such as at about 18 minutes in, the sound approaches something along the lines of Electronic Voice Phenomena, when human-speech-like patterns are heard to appear from sonic noise — which makes sense, metaphorically, given the concept that a sufficiently complex computing environment might, some day, gain sentience.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/thethetheradius. More on Radius at theradius.tumblr.com, on the Laps project at laps.artoffailure.org, and on the duo Art of Failure (consisting of Nicolas Maigret and Nicolas Montgermont) at artoffailure.org.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • 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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