The space between the mountains and the lake (zoom, crash, reboot)

The first visual sound editing software I used was way back then. If you asked it nicely, you could display a scant few seconds of sound stretched out to sampling level resolution. It didn’t like trying though. Initially the sound was up there on screen, its amplitudes doing a good imitation of an interesting mountain range, symmetrically reflected in a lake. Then little clicks—zoom, zoom, zoom (crash, reboot)… zoom—and the image grudgingly changed: the mountains stretched sideways, sunk down and met the lake. Finally there was a jagged line of samples, before the landscape flat-lined and the program crashed.

I don’t miss that perilous journey to the flat edge between the mountains and the lake. But yes, technology permitting, it was only a matter of time before those miniscule adventures become what the piece could be about. As soon as sound became accessible as a small grain of digital sand, there was the chance to see a world in it.

And Kim Cascone’s Edgeboundaries 1 2 3  itches like sand between the toes. It’s a good kind of itch I think. Perhaps he would call it a post-digital itch. It’s all circuitry and networks, and nervous asides from the ghost in the machine. These scrabbling sounds are intricately related to nothing. There’s no point of reference or comparison, no obvious physical thing that causes them: so it’s all small—or it’s all huge. Depends which way you listen. Listening to these edges as the meaningful ups and downs of a sonic landscape invites some kind of recalibration. Zoom, zoom, zoom (crash, reboot). Listen again. The smallest, smallest fragment switches you from one scale to another. This digital dust scoots about, fast and furious, on the line between on and off, yes and no, here and not here at all.

And are we becoming more explicit in our sonic journeys? Has the concept of scale zoomed in as an aesthetic quantum leap? Dancing on the edge, playfully testing the water, scratching away at microscopic mountains. Daring to put a foot down, first on one side of the jagged line, and then the other. Laying things edge-to-edge and making art about the boundaries.

Edgeboundaries 1 2 3

Composer programme notes and bio

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