hyt-Looking-Outwards: “I am Sitting in a Machine” by Martin Backes

The inspiring sound installation art, I am Sitting in a Machine, is created by multi-disciplinary artist and composer Martin Backes. The piece pays tribute to the Alvin Lucier’s 1969 experimental piece I Am Sitting in a Room — a piece where the composer narrates a paragraph of text, then play the recording to an empty room, and re-recorded and re-played until the piece ends with hollow, resonated sounds. Similar process was used by Martin Backes, except that the narration is conducted by an artificial human voice, and then run through a MP3 encoder repeatedly through algorithms.

Exhibition view of “I am Sitting in the Machine”

For the physical work itself, the left portion is a 30-unit dubplate vinyl disk, and the right portion an online web page that conducts the same audio. The production presents the process of encoding until it fades into distortions and simple data formats.

I was mostly drawn to the artworks because of the reiterated interpretation of the experimental process, revealing the transformation from supposedly natural sounds to another that is so artificial and cold, and slowly goes into decay as the process repeats infinitely; at the mean time, its recursive algorithm also accentuates its properties as both a physical and digital production. According to the artist, he made 3000 iterations of the piece and eventually chose 32 tracks eventually, illustrating the variety and differences for each trial.


Web edition: http://iamsittinginamachine.net/info.html

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