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The Art of Database

By Rhizome

The Art of Database

Much digital art has a database of files as it’s content. In several pieces that I’ve done both in collaboration with Peter Sinclair and in my own solo work assembling the files for the database is a key, if unseen, element to the work.

In A Soapopera for Laptops and A Soapopera for iMacs (1998-2005) a database of text files that were spoken by text-to-speech voices were assembled. The four characters, Fred, Ralph, Princess and Kathy correspond to the native synthetic voices of the Mac OS. Each character had a series of conversational tidbits, repartee, songs and exclamations. The front-end programming, a Max MSP patch assembled the text and fed it to the voices to be spoken using keywords triggered by speech recognition. Therefore the art of database has a synchronic two-part process, the files are assembled according to the manner in which they will be presented by the front-end program and the front-end program is written with the database in mind.

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