for live, quadraphonic sound // duration: 30 min.
I'm interested in the idea of a "simultaneous understanding" as an alternate method of experiencing time-based work. How does one perceive time-based media without being exclusively bound to an inevitable linearity? From his Faust Golden Vivisection (2009), Kurt Ralske asks this: "If narrative, duration, and the coherence of linear time are removed from cinema -- what remains?" Many of Ralske's works deal with a deformation of time as we perceive it, shedding light on time's profound impact on new media art. From his Times Square Timeshare (2006), Ralske writes, "The impulse to stop time is connected with sentimentality, nostalgia, and magical thinking. It is a common response to the universally human experience of loss and mortality." Much of Ralske's work exists as video installation and as prints, and viewers of his work are free to roam their eyes around the many slowly-morphing images (both in video and print; similar effects, even if fixed), taking in the piece as a whole texture, or focusing on one particular image before shifting to a different image, and so on. The viewer can navigate as he or she pleases without being directed by a linear storyboard.
I ask myself these same questions about our perceptions of time, but in terms of time's many relations with sound. Sound is ultimately experienced linearly. One goes to a concert that begins at 8:00 PM and ends at 9:30 PM. A piece of music lasts twenty-five minutes, nineteen seconds. Music software that allows an individual to freely "scrub" through a song in reverse- and forward-motion, does provide some freedom from the inevitable linearity of time, but that individual ultimately walks away with some form of a linear experience. And so perhaps we come closer to having a "simultaneous understanding" in this time-based medium with a sound that is either looping, and / or is generative in some way. If a loop, over time it will have its own troughs and peaks in emotional heft dependent on the individual. If an emergent sound, it will continue to have its troughs and peaks in density, color, and feel with its own indeterminate ebb and flow - never quite reaching a "golden section". Both with the loop and with generative sound, we may edge further away from that permanent linearity of a beginning, middle, and end -- and in so doing, we might ask, "what remains?"
In synecdoche, I'm using data that is unique to me: the 25 items in my iTunes Library which claim to have the highest play-count (from August 2010, when I purchased this current laptop). The reason why these items have such a high play-count - some in the 1000's - is not necessarily because these are "my favorite songs" in my entire music collection. Instead, I came to realize that each item had been consciously looped at some point (and for some stretch of time), somewhere between August 2010 and now, for sleeping purposes, 4-hr bus rides, or to provide a subtle background to focused work sessions. In a simple way, this data represents an intuitive preference, a subjective memory of a time and space, a unique set of patterns. It was an interesting (and altogether, not completely surprising) discovery to find that most of this music was ambient or meditative to some extent.
Using these 25 iTunes items as raw material, I have designed a unique, generative system in Max/MSP which allows for multiple tiers of constantly emerging textures. The system is provided with a medium-length loop from each of the 25 full-length items, for a total of 25 samples representing the 25 original items. Following a select number of guided behaviors, the system is otherwise free to choose which samples are fed into a series of simple processes (and when). Through these live results, a newly-created iteration of the piece emerges. Due to its flexibility, synecdoche can be represented in several different forms: a generated "performance", an installation, a method to create newly-remixed fixed compositions. Mainly, it is most content existing as an idea. The data used is simple and subjective. I find that its simplicity reveals a certain depth in terms of accumulated time and memory.
Through managing this material via Max/MSP, I'm interested in exploring an abstracted mapping of this subjective information to explore the result of remixing (and otherwise deforming) my subjective memory (a particular time accumulation), as well as to inevitably to ask, "what can we gather from this sort of mapping? What are we left with? What is the experience?"