Resonant Thoughts: Karl Bartos’s “The Sound of the Machine” (2022)

“The sequencer’s automatic sound sequences and the drum machine’s loops hypnotized me. These black boxes brought the trance quality of African, Indian and Asian musical cultures into pop music, a quality that had been the starting point for the minimalist concept.”

“Working with automatic music machines is fundamentally different from human music-making, simply because machines reproduce set parameters and aren’t capable of listening and reacting.”

“In a wonderful film by Peter Schamoni, the great visual artist Max Ernst talks about having had a problem filling a blank canvas. In his inimitable way, he called it his ‘virginity complex’. It was simply impossible for him to apply the first dab of paint to the surface. Until one day, coincidence helped him overcome his inhibitions. Sitting in a small inn on the French Atlantic coast on a rainy day in 1925, his eyes alighted on the wooden floor. The boards were faded from being scrubbed clean, and he noticed the grain of the wood moving before his mind’s eye, turning into a kind of animation. To hold onto the moment, he dropped pieces of paper on the floor and traced the grain with a soft pencil, like rubbing brass. To his surprise, he found his vision sharpening as he looked at the lines on the paper. Max Ernst refers it as to ‘questioning the material’. These traced basic patterns then went through a series of transmutations in the process of his work, losing their original character and taking on – as Max Ernst describes it – the appearance of incredibly precise figures.”

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