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A helpful commenter on my recent VHS generational loss experiment post alerted me [Thanks, W P Tunes!] to composer Alvin Lucier’s 1969 recording I Am Sitting in a Room (Wikipedia), which is one of the earliest and most significant artistic works based on generational data loss on repeated copying of electronic media. Lucier spoke a short text in a room, recorded it in that room, then played the recording back in the same room and recorded that. And did that over and over again. The quality of the piece would change depending on the acoustic properties of the room in which it was performed/recorded. You can hear a copy of the original recording here.

Now, YouTuber canzona has repeated Lucier’s experiment/work by uploading a video of himself speaking a variation of Lucier’s original text, ripping that video from YouTube, reuploading it, and repeating that process 1,000 times. His original recording is embedded uppermost, and the 1,000th generation below that. All the intervening generations are available in canzona’s channel. [via Boing Boing]

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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