“Sonic Chatroulette” Online At The New Museum

June 17, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

Holly Herndon is an artist interested in how the spaces we inhabit in the digital world become physical. In her video for “Chorus” off her 2014 EP of the same name, she explores how we coexist with technology. Her collaborators Akihiko Taniguchi and Mat Dryhurst created the video using clips sourced from friends and rendered in glitchy 3D format. Now, Chorus has been adapted into a piece called Sonic Chatroulette by Adam Harvey and Simone Niquille, which is currently exhibited online by the New Museum. 

Sonic Chatroulette takes apart components of the song and allows viewers to make them interact in differently, alone together online. New Museum describes the piece as anxiety brought into the sonic realm:

“Sonic Chatroulette” distributes the experience of Chorus across thirty constituent sounds, each tagged to a distinct icon in a grid of thirty. Here, the anxieties of production (sitting, thinking, rendering, playing, eating) as well as concerns about networked invasion are recast as sonic building blocks, where participants can create their own compositions, or make them live with others online.

This is close to Herndon’s intentions with the original video.

On her motivations for this piece, Herndon writes: “I was interested in exploring the textures of daily necessities and the embodiment / physicality of the computer and Internet. One of the most striking contemporary images is that of the desktop capture, which is seen commonly on YouTube as part of software tutorials. I like the shots of desktops that are poorly organized and ‘lived-in.’”

View the exhibition here. (Image: DIS Magazine)