Sounds of the Web

Curated by Bence
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Digital technology has been booming for decades now, and with it came more freedom for artists to compile pieces of artwork from a multitude of sources. Since we suddenly have mass amounts of information and resources available at our fingertips it should be no surprise that artists have looked to the web for a variety of material from which they can create something of their own. People have access to countless video streams and clips, millions of pictures, and sound clips galore. The attainability of sound clips has thus provided vast opportunities for anyone interested in composing their own unique musical pieces. Artists are no longer confined to record their own material for a project; they can simply download whatever they need. Several artworks on Rhizome.org seem to reflect this theme of digital composers. Each artists brings his or her own touch to the compilations and mixes of sounds and creates a piece that is completely different from its original sources. <br> <br>The first digital composer worth noting is Michael Szpakowski who created a work called the “Orchestra Rhizome”. The piece incorporates the Rhizome discussion page and allows users to upload their own sounds. Once enough users have contributed, the result is a blend of musical clips combining harmoniously together like an orchestra. The discussion page permits flash applications for the sound files and is still open for new contributors. The piece demonstrates how the Internet can be used as a symphonic interface with each user adding his own instrument. No matter where the users are from or what their actual musical talent, such a project can bring people of any background together and bring a pleasant collaboration of music to listeners. <br> <br>The next project, Troy’s (Non)Mixtape of Love, by artist Marissa Olson, demonstrates how a sound clip can inadvertently gain fame through the Internet. The original narration was performed by a man for his girlfriend, who supposedly dumped him three days later. Her new boyfriend then found the recording and posted it online where it spread like a wild fire. The clip was gathered up by Olson as part of her "To Be Listened To” project. It has come to symbolize the basic need for people to be heard by those they care about. The recording also functions as an ominous soundtrack to the inevitable breaking of someone’s heart. It showcases how the web can be used to be heard, whether we want to be or not. <br> <br>The third piece represents the negative effects of the massive availability of artworks online. Universal Acid, as artists Abe Linkoln and Marisa Olson have called it, depicts the degeneration of music videos when placed in the hands of average users. They posted and remixed music videos to show how they de-evolved into undecipherable static. The concept stems from Darwin’s contention that evolution is so permeating that is cuts across genres of science, theology, and philosophy, as an acid. If music videos are continuously mixed and remixed, they would eventually become an unrecognizable mess. They regress into an analog state, which is described as “primal,” before decaying into static. If our obsession with constantly wanting to improve and change original artworks does not cease, the artworks will become meaningless over time. <br> <br>The last digital composer epitomizes the theme and provides the quintessential web-based sound project. It is called the “Sonic Map of Battersea Park” and was created by Gaya Gajewska. The artwork integrates a two-dimensional spatial environment where the user can navigate a circular figure around moving dots. The magnificence of the piece comes from the sounds of the London park interacting with the movements of the user. The listener is acoustically brought into Battersea Park and can maneuver around using his hearing sense rather than sight. It presents an auditory tour of the area, each part providing its own sound. If you close your eyes, turn up your speakers, you are teleported to the Park and actually feel like you are walking around absorbing all the auditory sensations. The artwork brilliantly demonstrates how the Internet can be used not only to familiarize you with an environment visually, but by hearing it as well. <br> <br>There is not telling where the prevalence of digital composers will eventually lead. As information and resources become more and more available, the number of artists will only grow. New copyright laws like the Creative Commons License gives artists the legal ability to share their works with users, paving the way for up and coming creators to flourish. Our idea of artists will also change as more people use the works of others to construct their own. No matter what new contraptions will surface, one thing is for sure, things are going to get a lot more interesting.

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