Royal Northern College of Music Manchester, United Kingdom
Author’s contact information: Mark.Dyer@student.rncm.ac.uk
INSAM Journal of Contemporary Music, Art and Technology, Issue 4, 2020
Main Theme of the Issue: Human-Machine Collaboration in Art, Technology and Theory
Publisher: INSAM Institute for Contemporary Artistic Music, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Section: MAIN THEME: HUMAN-MACHINE COLLABORATION IN ART, TECHNOLOGY AND THEORY
Abstract: This paper considers aspects of late 20th Century experimental music in a post-digital era, where DIY approaches of hacking now outdated digital technology have enabled new forms of artistic expression – namely, glitch and aesthetics of failure. More specifically, it will examine American composer Nicolas Collins’ approach to hacking portable CD players as a means to imitate sound production methods of turntable artists from the 1980s, in such works as Still Lives (1992). The paper will then explore Collins’ attempt to orchestrate this work for acoustic instruments using open musical notation in Still (After) Lives (1997). This discussion is viewed through the lens of musical borrowing, tracing Collins’ material – a canzone by Giuseppe Guami – through its varying mediums and guises, highlighting the limitations of technology and notation as a means to rearticulate a musical fragment and the fruitful artistic avenues this opens. Through the examination of a musical material, the paper goes on to scrutinize the entanglement between human, material and machine agents. I propose that understandings of such practices might be extended from the post-digital to the post-human: a collaborative network of agentic ‘things’.
Keywords: Nicolas Collins, post-digital, musical borrowing, new materialism, posthumanism, transhumanism, ruin