9.00 am. I prefer the number of unanswered emails in my inbox to be in single figures. Anymore than that, and I get the jitters. Some inquiries arrive via Facebook too, usually from former students either touting for references (as they should) or wanting to test out an idea or plan on me (which they can). 10.30 am. ‘The Wounded Heart Ministries’ piece is still bouncing down the runway. I’m turning for tutelage to the efforts of practitioners less than half my age. In principle, if (in the delicate middle years of life) you want to avoid becoming a dinosaur, then it’s imperative to cultivate a broad radar. As a matter of policy, I look at/listen to creative endeavours that I may not necessarily like, but which, nevertheless, challenges, and helps me to understand, the approach that I take. (My students are often my tutors in this respect.) Interesting things can be found in the most unlikely places (as well as on YouTube, of course).
My reservations about the examples of sound databending that I’ve encountered are:
- the sounds are over-processed, tamed, and made pleasant to the ear. Whereas, the raw sound of databending can be aggressive, noisy, monophonic, compressed, and dangerous — reminiscent of the spit and cackle of extremely high voltages;
- there’s too little dynamic variation. Often a particular sound occupies the whole piece and is repeated without modification. I like drone music. But the best examples are nuanced and subtle in their mutation;
- there’s too little compositional rigour, structural logic, and conceptual intent.
In short, some expressions of the genre are indulgent; the makers are content to remain at the level of process, rather than aspire to a higher intent or ambition. The works are insufficiently ‘art’; insufficiently difficult to do and to engage. 12.45 pm. By lunchtime, I’d inserted all the tracks into a mixing session. Now begins the scrutiny and the cull.
2.00 pm. Beware hypocrisy! What higher intent does the process serve in my work? What does the sound profile communicate about the source? How does the ‘distructure’, un-composition, and overlayering of the collapsed webpage inform the sound work’s realisation of the same?
3.30 pm. Having extracted something useable from my sound material, and begun stacking tracks, I manufactured further sound files from the source image. As before, I bounced images into texts into sound and into images again. However, today I extended the technique by enlarging sections of large files and of small files (by pixelating screenshots), and, correspondingly, enlarging the sound files derived thereby by slowing them down:
6.30 pm. Practise session 1. 7.30 pm. A review of notes covering all major projects.