Guest Curated Exhibition

Catchy Name

An Idiosyncratic Concept

January 2004

Ways of mixing and composing audio within the Web browser have been catching on recently. While there are many differences between traditional instruments and software interfaces, between bands and anonymous collaboration via bandwidth, and between live music and streaming data, the works featured in Catchy Name demonstrate that software can have “an intelligible and accessible character (that) calls forth skilled and active human engagement” (Albert Borgmann).

REQUIREMENTS

Sound on.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Ways of mixing and composing audio within the Web browser have been catching on recently. This modest survey of online sound experiments focuses attention on these new forms of collaboration and creativity, which tend to resemble both art and instrument.

Music has been mechanized and commodified. These two processes are really one. Music can become available as a commodity only if there is a sophisticated and reliable machinery that will produce it at the consumer’s will. We may call the conjunction of machinery and commodity a technological device. The stereo as a device contrasts with the instrument as a thing. A thing, in the sense in which I want to use the term, has an intelligible and accessible character and calls forth skilled and active human engagement. A thing requires practice while a device invites consumption.

— Albert Borgmann

There are many differences between traditional instruments and software interfaces; between bands and anonymous collaboration via bandwidth; between live music and streaming data. Yet, as the featured works demonstrate, software can have “an intelligible and accessible character [that] calls forth skilled and active human engagement.”

The emergence of these modes of creativity has blurred the borders between musician and audience, and between artist and spectator. Whether we focus on the intellectual property issues, or on the merits of participation in music and art, our prescriptions for the future should reflect the changes before our eyes and ears. The limits and possibilities suggested by these world-wide instruments may be a good starting point for evaluating the cultural and technological moment.

Andy Deck

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