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

The Dance Music of Failing Digital Memory Systems

A downloadable 2011 performance by Valentina Vuksic

20140705-vv

As solid state drives (SSD) rapidly put old physical digital memory into the trash bin of history, it’s worthwhile to reflect on the sounds intrinsic to them. While today SSD is widely appreciated for its near-silent operation, the primary sound source being the fan that is occasionally required to cool a computer system, in its day the physical disc drive was itself seen as a respite from the devices that had preceded it: the click of the shuffling CD player, the surface noise of vinyl, the playback mechanism of cassette tapes. Valentina Vuksic has made much of the inherent idiosyncrasies of the hard drive, the galloping clicks and fizzy transgressions, turning those signals of function and malfunction into sound for its own sake, a post-digital chamber music of delicate tensions. She’s employed the word Harddisko as an umbrella name for many of these projects.

It’s been two years since Sonic Circuits, the Washington, DC”“based experimental music promoter, has updated its SoundCloud page, but there’s still plenty of engrossing listening there. A track by Vuksic dates, as well, from two years back, but since it currently shows just 331 listens, it’s safe to say it can benefit from some additional coverage. The performance is from a September 26, 2011, Sonic Circuits show at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. At nearly half an hour it is an engaging and challenging listen, the dance music of failed digital memory systems.

And here’s video of one of her Harddisko installations, from the 2007 Dutch Electronic Art Festival, including interview segments in which she describes her artistic and musical activity:

More on Vuksic’s Harddisko at harddisko.ch. More from Sonic Circuits at dc-soniccircuits.org, twitter.com/soniccircuits, and soniccircuits.tumblr.com.

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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