My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

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News, essays, reviews, surveillance

What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


People who try to express information on an XY grid eventually learn this lesson, often the hard way: sometimes the only option for accuracy is to access the third dimension. That realization was made, as well, by whoever was tasked at some point in the distant past with adding a fifth button (yes, fifth — note the semi-obscured circle at the bottom) to this already beleaguered assemblage. It’s unclear if this location is home to two or five individual addresses, or somewhere in between. The bottom set, if you perceive them as a set, could be three iterations of fixing a doorbell’s serial failures: first the main, boxy unit; then the second narrow sliver; then the side button. Then again these could be incremental sublets, the most recent an overpriced closet with the benefit of being near a major public transportation hub. The fact that none of the five buttons is labeled lends some mystery. While we may not know what the landlord is up to, clearly the next logical step is to go full tesseract.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


Some buildings are born as multi-unit dwellings. Others have multi-unit dwelling-ness thrust upon them. Amid that second subset are entrances that don’t live up to the challenge. This location has at least three additional addresses where there once was likely but a single residence. How you alert unit one to your arrival is unclear (since its button is missing entirely), as is how to access unit two (since its button is kaput). Adding to the mystery is the sequencing for units two, four, and three. The pièce de résistance isn’t the fact of that additional button for unit four, or even the quotidian instructions to “Hold for 3 seconds” (what happens if you hold longer?), or the readymade collage (RIP, James Rosenquist) where unit three’s identity is layered. It’s a one-two combo: First, how the “3 seconds” confuses the eye, carrying directly over from the 2 on the left, and briefly makes your brain think the center unit is, indeed, number three. Second, how the additional button for unit four is situated so as to serve as the noun in the instructional sentence — it’s virtually a doorbell emoji. As the shadows might suggest, this photograph was shot as the daylight was coming to an end, which seems appropriate to this location.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


Finally making it. Should be a great evening.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


If you look just below the image’s center you’ll see dots, four small indentations in the painted exterior wall. They’re at odd geometric relations with each other. Several subsets of the dots suggest the beginnings of a square, but all together any hope of true squareness collapses, like a cardboard box after the rain. At some point in the past the doorbell was modernized. The doorbells were, plural, that is, since both a knocker and a twister greet visitors. The long-gone upgrade was likely battery operated, since there is no fifth hole for wiring, though perhaps wiring explains the asymmetric lower right. This upgrade, like so many doorbell improvements, came and went and left a reminder that it had failed. The plaster and paint expose the difficulty in righting the wrong. Take a moment to zoom in on the uneven surface, with its stuffed moats and hardened streams, the topology of domestic futility.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


It’s comforting when Scholastic, the elementary school paper of record, is aligned with one’s household curriculum. Inside is a full spread on seasonal weather sounds, including foley instructions for simulating Mother Nature: “Do you want to make a sound like hail? Tap your fingers on the floor or table.” The back page introduces the useful term “onomatopoeia,” and asks young readers to single out examples from the sentences in which they appear. This is a nice contrast with a music textbook we encountered a year or so back. It sought to distinguish musical sounds from noises. Why introduce judgement and hierarchy at such an early age?

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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