Automatic sleep

Aug 15, 04:07 PM

Composition by The Organizing Committee.

"The Organizing Committee is influenced by cybernetics and analog computing. I'm an independent researcher and artist  exploring the social impacts of emerging technology. Much of my practice involves digging deep into the origins of computing to see how the logic and ideology of obsolete machines influences the use and development of today's "cutting edge" tech. 

"Exploring the obsolete sounds of technology is one way of thinking through those logics. Whereas my research and writing is visual and intellectual, The Organizing Committee is an attempt to bring my research to a sonic landscape. Sound can move us in ways that reading can't. Blending analog sounds, AI-generated lyrics, and finding inspiration from cybernetics, the result is a pop band that couldn't exist without computers and is constantly engaged in rethinking our dependency on machines.

"When I learned about the obsolete sound project, I was delighted to participate. I chose the sound of an obsolete technology, the Apple iBook Duo. It was an early (1992-97) notebook computer, capable of plugging into a larger monitor and unplugging to take on the road. You can trace the origin of the iPhone back to this "mobile computer." Hearing the clicking and clacking of the keyboard makes it visceral, brings it to life. 

""Automatic Sleep" was created from a sample of that clacking, finding rhythmic structures and breaks where I could. The rhythm of the click, tapping a keyboard over and over again to get it to wake up, made me think of waking up a computer from sleep mode. When I'm frustrated by a broken machine, I literally bang the same key over and over again for a while, even though I know it's hopeless. That's a kind of automatic sleep all it's own.

"The clacking rhythms inspired the bassline and from that, the melodies. Next were lyrics: The Organizing Committee uses a vocal synthesizer, Vocaloid, to sing. Usually, I create lyrics using AI-generated text from a special data set I curated of relevant books and articles. For this track's lyrics, I dug up an old iBook Duo user's manual from the Internet Archive. There's a whole section on bringing the computer back from "Automatic Sleep." It mentions, and I found this odd, that any key except for caps lock would wake the system from sleep. 

"I was struck that this was a machine that emerged just after the Web and that caps lock was the only key that would never wake it up. Like many people, I'm skeptical of the way the Web has splintered our societies, our social discourse. Caps lock, to me, is the equivalent of screaming online, and yet, in the manual it's clear: Caps lock won't wake the machine. It won't wake up our political rivals in the midst of a Twitter argument, either. I wished all of our machines came with that warning printed at the top of the keyboard: "Caps lock won't wake you." Clicking the same keys over and over again doesn't change anything: whether it's an obsolete machine, a Twitter bot, or one of the many frustrating conversations we live with in online spaces. We all need something else to wake us up from our own 'automatic sleep'!"

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The Organizing Committee has an album, "The Day Computers Went Obsolete," on the Canadian netlabel Notype. Eryk Salvaggio's website is cyberneticforests.com

This is part of the Obsolete Sounds project, the world’s biggest collection of disappearing sounds and sounds that have become extinct – remixed and reimagined to create a brand new form of listening. Explore the whole project at https://citiesandmemory.com/obsolete-sounds