Resonant Thoughts: Thor Magnusson’s “Sonic Writing” (2019)


“Incarnated as a digital instrument…all your behavior can be redefined using a language of algorithms that can be written and rewritten to change your nature. Indeed you might not feel that you have a nature as such, as a new software upgrade might change your behavior so completely that it does not remind you of anything you’ve done before. You turn schizophrenic, polyfunctional, and metadimensional. The coupling between the user’s touch and what you output depends on the program applied at the particular moment, so you don’t really know your user’s touch. Unlike the acoustic instrument that knows its user very well, your user behaves differently every time you are played, and that is possibly because you direct the user in what is possible. What makes you really excited is when you are given the opportunity to learn about your user and establish a relationship. You memorize what has been played, you analyze their performance, and you can respond, suggest, adapt, reject, save, or tease as you like. This is where you find meaning in your existence.”

– Thor Magnusson,
Sonic Writing: technologies of material, symbolic & signal transcription (2019), p. 35.

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