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Caroline Park’s Piano Turing Test (MP3)

A sound and thought experiment is what is and isn't real

20130511-cpark

The sounds in Caroline Park‘s “field” are that of a piano stretched to the breaking point. That is not the instrument itself, but its tones. And that is not in the real, physical world so much as in an abstract zone, where space bends and algorithms are allowed bountiful time to work their fractal, generative beauty. Tones flare and thread, splinter and regroup, dwindle and emerge. At times it sounds like a jumbo jet has suddenly appeared overhead, but the sounds get gentle, even genteel, at other times. It isn’t just in the realm of metaphor that the piano is unreal. In fact, Park’s source instrument is the MIDI piano. Her aim is, in part, to work that simulacrum until it passes a kind of textural Turing test. As an accompanying liner note puts it: “executing human, repetitive strokes as an imperfect, but constant signal.” That effort is made on a MIDI device, so in fact there is a “human” element directly involved with the performance (the recording was made live), but the source of the playing is only half the equation MP3. There is still the MIDI sound itself, which Park has warped and twisted until it sounds like the tack piano on your neighbor’s side of an aging plaster wall has had a rough night.

[audio:http://archive.org/download/CarolineParkfield/field.mp3|titles=”field”|artists=Caroline Park]

Track originally posted for free download at the devinsarno.com/absenceofwax netlabel. Get the AIFF or Ogg, in addition to the MP3, at the release’s archive.org page. More on Park at blanksound.org.

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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