Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Various – On Isolation

In our file-sharing, instant messaging, cell phone-clutching modern world we are suffused with the illusion that the boundaries between humans are melting away and we are growing into tribally interconnected and enlightened societal supergroups. Or perhaps that’s just bullshit. Australia’s Room40 and the University of Tasmania collaborated in soliciting audio artwork that illustrates the flipside of this interplay: the silences and solitudes that individuals experience in the wake of globalism’s information bulldozer. Many of the artists on the compilation had already produced work immersed in the alienated end of digital minimalism: notably Richard Chartier (who also designed the sleeve) whose “A Field for Recordings 3” is a slowly creeping mass of sub-audio noise that eventually reveals itself, like the sudden surprise that your computer is a noisy dangerous animal. The other pieces waver between two basic approaches: David Toops’ “Chair Creaks, Though No One Sits There” and Scanner’s “Mountain Cabin” combine field recordings and music to evoke aural melancholy in a somewhat traditional trope; while Jeph Jerman’s “Albuquerque Hotel Room” and Greg Davis’ “Riwalla Farm (Excerpt)” reside in naturally occurring near-silences presumably far removed from technology’s empty chatter. Whether the compilation provokes though or merely more background noise perhaps has to do with each listener’s indoctrination into the machinery.


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