point back to the technologies of your making

“The technology becomes visible through its failures. Glitches and errors constitute evidence of its origins; we see the material through disruption.”

“The incorporation of noise into music and the significance of this procedure for the 8-bit scene perhaps needs no explanation, except to note that when musical elements are experienced as noise, they do insomuch that they point back to the technologies of their making. A discerning ear can hear the specific limitations of the Game Boy or Atari 2600 or Commodore 64 when such technologies are pushed to create music. Less knowledgeable listeners will experience – perhaps even unconsciously – a feeling of “past computer-ness”, without needing to know the technical reasons behind that particular range of sounds. (It is significant that many of these works draw on technologies used for early computer games, since it is through gaming that we first develop an intuitive sense for electronic systems; their distance in time and link to childhood lends an inevitable emotional quality, a pleasurably bittersweet colouration.) Pierce writes that “anything which focuses the attention is an index. Anything that startles us is an index,” and we could apply this logic to audio-visual disruptions and noise. “Thus a tremendous thunderbolt indicates that something considerable happened, though we may not know precisely what the event was. But it may be expected to connect itself with some other experience.”

Ed Halter

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