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Hard Drive Orchestra

By jo

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Radio Taking Place Between the Ears and Behind the Eyes

Hard Drive Orchestra--by Fundamental Radio (August Black and Markus Seidl)--is a sculpture and instrument that can be programmed to run autonomously as a stand-alone installation or played live and intuitively in a performance taking control commands via OSC, midi, or some other input protocol.

The hardware component consists of a mobile computer containing 8-16 IDE and SCSI hard drives of various ages of computing history and therefore of various sonic properties. The mechanical sounds of the drives are recorded live with 8-16 separate contact microphones, cleaned by a noisegate, and amplified over loudspeakers.

The software component consists of two objects written in C for PureData. One object performs very specific read-write operations on the various hard disks in order to force the disk's head to move from the innermost part of a drive's platter to the outermost part and back again. This results in an audible grinding click. The second object reads the data being written on each disk and blits it to the video screen. Essentially, the first object allows one to control the sonic activity of each drive while the second object simply displays the data to screen.

With the Hard Drive Orchestra, Fundamental Radio can analyze and present the physical, mechanical, and most importantly, the aesthetic properties of stored information. The HDO has premiered with "The Physical Mechanism of Forgetting" at the Freud Museum in St. Petersburg [Bolshoi Prospekt, Petrogradskaya Storona, 18a] as part of Traumlandshaften festival from October 7-10, 2003. There, the successive versions of the ****soft operating system have been deleted, slowly, over a week cumulating into a live performance of found and submitted data.

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