Accueil > visual art > Digicode


mardi 27 mars 2007, par erikm

time : 02.27mn
Digicode by eRikm
image : Sebastien Coupy 2001


"In the beginning there was feedback : machines speaking on their own, answering their - supposed - masters with cries of discord. Gradually human beings learnt how to control it, or at least that is what they thought, and the next stage saw the introduction of distortion and artificial sounds, in the form of synthesizers, which human beings also tried to control. (...) Today machines are not content to outdo the human beings who created them, but absorb them, to the extent that man and the machine, having developed an awareness far superior to them, are one." As early as 1975, Lester Bangs predicted how the digital industrial revolution would transform the relationship between musicians and their instruments, and how at a mechanized turning point in sensitivity, a new figure of artistic authority would emerge, namely the operator.

It is precisely this position that Digicode produces, by auscultating in a near surgical way that is totally counter to the heroic and very demonstrative aesthetics of traditional turntablism videos (those of Grandmaster Flash for example), silently, through a magnifying glass, a series of operations, which define the relationship between eRikm and the digital and electronic protheses used. This technical relationship seems to be two-fold, uniting on the one hand the operator with the instruments generating the sounds that he wants to produce and, on other hand, a music-playing exercise of memory (practising improvisation - whether or not it is electronic - proceeding from mnemonics, that is to say being constituted from flaws marking gaps between the mnemonic markers that are the basis of all musical memory) to the memory media used (here the audio cassette, which appears clearly as a prothesis used by the operator’s memory).

Digicode describes the contact of the musician’s fingers with the sensitive surfaces of these digital machines. This contact leads the fingers to invent new means of working, it leads the hand to rethink its handling techniques, up to the instrumentalisation of the smallest muscle. Digicode, by describing this dual relationship where man invents himself through the instrument, writes the story where the body itself becomes an instrument, a thought of the hand manipulating the instrument.

But if there is a central issue that Digicode addresses it is the apparent absence of sound produced by the handling of the ‘musical machines’. From this silence, which is above all the presence of an absence, emerges a phantom sound, which is itself the concern of every spectator/listener, insofar as it becomes the only valid recording surface of what the eRikm practice reveals : ‘the technological extremity’, which contemporary music has reached having multiplied frenetically the techniques of sound meditation, distribution and archiving, a new figure is born, that of the music lover, who can listen permanently to music without knowing how to play it, and for whom silence, over and above everything that it can make ‘happen’ (John Cage), has become an empty surface on which are recorded the tracks of his continuous experience of music and his keen awareness of musical works.

The silence of Digicode offers the possibility of erasure, where the ghosts of our memories persist, a persistence that has disappeared in the decor and reinvents itself unceasingly through the new sensitivities, which can be implemented thanks to this technological musical future.

text : Vincent Normand
translation : Yves Poliart