Junto Project 0331: Born Under a Bad Sign

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

If a robot is sad, it’s likely the fault of a human being. “To some degree, we all live out our emotional lives through technology,” writes Michael Harris in his book The End of Absence. “Yet every time we use our technologies as a mediator for the chaotic elements of our lives, we change our relationship with those parts of our lives that we seek to control … ultimately, we seek machines that can understand our feelings perfectly.”

Suss Müsik has never been comfortable unloading our deepest emotional traumas in any context—human, animal or machine—solely because we don’t want to subject our whinging upon others. A team of scientists once determined that the root cause of unhappiness is the persistence of painful childhood memories, which fester and accumulate over long periods of time. Now imagine a robot programmed to store entire reams of superficial data, terabytes of squalor dumped into its gloomy computerized brain like some digital landfill for the morbidly wretched. Hey, you’d feel sad too.

For this sedate piece, Suss Müsik aimed for a result somewhere between To Rococo Rot and Tom Waits. We started with a somber sequence on prepared piano and played it through a Boss RV-3 on the 12th dial setting. Two electronic figures were then composed for Moog synthesizer to imagine the sounds a sobbing robot might create. The misery ends with a sad trumpet and maudlin fake strings pecking at the carrion.

The piece is titled 0011101000101000, which is the binary code for an ASCII frowning face. The image is a sad little robot in Suss Müsik studios who feels a lot worse after hearing this piece.

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