The project reads the relation between technology and the arts bidirectionally. The question of how technology transforms art and the question of how art transforms technology condition and necessitate each other. Posing these questions at the same time initiates an oscillation between the poles of stabilization and experimentation that gives rise to the project’s central research question:
How can the oscillation between technological closure and aesthetic opening reveal unexplored spaces for experimental computer music practice? #
Rather than constructing a static dichotomy between the poles of technology and aesthetics, Speculative Sound Synthesis identifies the mutual interaction of aesthetics and technology as its central epistemic object. In doing so, the approach revolves around the development of speculative models, which are hybrid aesthetic and technological artefacts that enable experimentation while remaining in themselves experimental, unstable and speculative. The speculative sound models (SSM) are a central methodological concept of this project. They are based on artistic investigations of unexplored potentials in computer music technology and its underlying concepts. The SSMs seek to reconfigure the connection of mathematical, engineering, artistc, and cultural dimensions at the basis of today’s technological standards.
Taking the own artistic and technological pratice as a starting point, the research team will distinguish sets of notions that identify common technological presuppositions and produce significant aesthetic effects and limitations for artistic practice, such as determinism, instrumentality, control, representation, etc. These notions, among others, will form the center of case studies, which will be created by different collaborative constellations of the members of the project team and by commissioned guest artists. Over the course of the three year project, six commissions will be given to artists responding to an international open call that will be published once a year.
The case studies will consist of artistic artifacts ranging from collaborative performances to generative sound works and online installations. Each case study sets out to challenge certain notions, deconstructing and reconstructing them aesthetically and technologically. The resulting pieces, fragments, installations and artefacts will follow a speculative trajectory and take a chosen algorithm as their generative seed.
A central point of attention is the investigation on documenting, publishing and sharing the project’s processes and results. Along with a page on The Research Catalogue, each year there will be at least one workshop and one public showing.