Data Panic

  • ©ISEA2015: 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Andy Weir, Data Panic


Presentation Title:

  • Data Panic



  • Keywords: panic, metadata, condensation, musical intelligence, collective composition, algorithm, genre and the generic, noise, speculation

    My work has already been selected for the main ISEA2015 exhibition, so I would like to present an artist talk to discuss the ongoing work, putting it briefly into the context of my practice and research more generally. Drawing on my position as an artist and academic researcher this would hopefully offer productive crosspollination between the exhibition and academic events.
    Saturated Highway Forest Death Psych Synth Panic (2014) is a 3 second pulse of metadata-composed collective musical intelligence. It is composed by collecting and mixing all music tagged as ‘dark’ as it passes across my computer. It proposes itself as a new genre, approaching (without ever touching) a collective generic distillation of TOTAL DARKNESS. It is an ongoing composition, where it is re-tagged as ‘Saturated Highway Forest Death Psych Synth Panic’, and re-shared, plugging back into the generic metadata system. The flashed image acts as a ʻlabelʼ for this new genre. For ISEA2015 it is presented, in progress, as a looped insistence, infecting the space – 3 seconds of sound/image, then 3 minutes of silence. Each day the file will be updated (as the composition changes) so it grows and develops over the event. Corporate music intelligence platform algorithms are put to work, producing something both filled with speculative hope and absurdly reductive, opening a core of panic within the data.
    I will argue, briefly, in relation to the ISEA2015 themes, that the work functions as an insistent affective disruption, as well as disrupting and re-using the technologies it inhabits. This draws on work such as Ray Brassierʼs writing on noise and the generic. Constructed as fiction from the residual debris of digital culture, where physical materialities and the digital are intertwined, the piece occupies categories, which are always on momentary verge of collapse. Talking on the work in this way would allow me to introduce a further performative element to the work (live ʻdistillationʼ for example) as well as capturing more ʻdarkness nodesʼ from listeners.