February 25, 2019

Inventions (2019)

Between progress optimism and pop-culturally condensed dystopias of exploitation through machines, there is a neglected terrain in which the human being appears as a critical curator and voluntary producer of machine products, in which they refine them, interpret them and cast them into a final form.

In Inventions, machine-generated monophonic “improvisations” serve as a basis for tonal compositions that are finalised by a human being. The improvised sequences are necessarily interpreted as a result of the production and the acoustic diversification associated with it—both in the production process and in the product itself, a peculiar dynamic emerges in which the human being appears as the interpreter of a machine-generated creative contribution. Depending on the source material, the interpretation is sometimes monophonic, doubled or canonical, rhythmically free or bound, enriched with synthetic instrumentation or naked.

The monophonic guiding improvisations are generated in any key and scale by a simple algorithm written for this purpose—no particular attention is paid to the finesse of the algorithm. Parts that are perceived as “felicitous”, usually around ten to twenty connected bars, are selected for production and are further processed. A certain minimum length may not be undercut per part; such self-restrictions are required by the maintenance of the underlying form of distinction. It is notable how, depending on the scale used (here the Doric and Phrygian modes), the algorithm serves stylistic clich├ęs anchored in Western listening habits.

In all inventions, the algorithmically generated parts are represented by an acoustic concert grand. In contrast, the parts contributed by humans are synthetically set to music, repetitive, copied, dismembered—the acoustic realization reverses the human/machine distinction that underlies the compositional origin of the respective parts, relating to the possibility of confusing them.

Read about the algorithm