EH Out Loud

The podcast where we investigate how technology mediates what it means to be human.



Season 2, Episode 4 : Living with the Machine





Voice: Experimental Humanities


Matthew Sargent: Hello, this is Matt Sargent. I’m a professor of music at Bard College, and I’m introducing this week’s sound sculpture podcast. The title of this episode is Living with the Machine. Each of these works investigates in their own particular way, the internal life of cell phones and laptops, other hand-held devices; the objects that we carry around and live with every day. Many of these pieces use contact microphones in order to create the amplify, the radio frequencies, and other undetected sounds within these devices, often undetectable to the ear. I hope you enjoy these works as well as the rest of the pieces offered by our class across these three episodes.


Jacob McConnaughy: Hi my name is Jacob McConnaughy, I’m a music major, and I made this piece recording the sounds of our phones and computers, that they’re communicating with each other as we’re using them to communicate with in these new times.


[Jacob McConnaughy’s piece, Untitled, plays; it includes sounds of background voices and computer interference, as well as repetitive, rhythmic elements]


Loren Ames: My name is Loren Ames, and I called this piece Inside Phrases. One of my goals for this piece was to craft a listening experience which would be extremely physical and almost uncomfortable. I was also exploring methods for making the channels interdependent on each other with gating and compression so that the audio channels themselves would be distinctly separated but there might be something conceptual in the middle of the stereo field linking them together.


[Loren Ames’ piece, Inside Phrases (Sculpture for Headphones), plays; the piece includes sounds of static cutting in and out, hinges and buckles squeaking, fluttering sounds, and an occasional windy, echoing quality]


Jess Belardi: Hi, my name is Jess, I’m an EUS and music major at Bard College. My piece I think largely came to fruition through navigating the circumstances that we’re in right now, and also trying to consider how I could approach this project differently than I usually approach electronic music projects. And so—when I was brainstorming what to do, I was thinking a lot about how I could re-interpret the space I live in and kind of also make something that changes the day-to-day of being in quarantine for myself. And I guess for those watching, for others in the sense that it’s being—the—my piece, which essentially I guess comes off as a performance is like being done somewhere in the midst of all this. And I guess that also—there’s a feeling of like making something significant, or feel significant out of what at the time could feel like a, a void of nothingness almost. And so that also was something that made my piece come to what it ended up being.


[Jess Belardi’s piece, Feedback Ritual, plays; Jess’s piece includes sounds of jingling bells, guitar feedback, bass tones, a mechanical clattering, and a rhythmic elements]


Ezra Kahn: Hi, I’m Ezra Kahn, and I’m an electronic music major. My piece, Basic Sonar is an attempt at recreating specific moments of anxiety and fear that I’ve had during quarantine.


[Ezra Kahn’s piece, Basic Sonar, plays; Ezra’s piece includes sounds of a microphone brushing against an object (as though being carried in a pocket) and repetitive synthetic elements]