“To Study the way is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self; and to forget the self is to awaken to the ten thousand things.”
‘Aesthetic Interfaces’ are systems created in the graphical programming environment Max/MSP; these line forms exist as functional computer programs that are drawings in code and content. Every line in these digital illustrations carries a signal to different positions in the structure, and at the end of their signal flow, specific commands notify the speakers to utter sound. The audio is pulling from a pre-collected database with thousands of recordings gathered from my body (for example, itching, scratching, coughing, and heart beat). I like to think of these ‘Aesthetic Interfaces’ as living bodies of human utterances.
These systems must be set up in specific ways. There must be certain lines connected to specific objects for particular outcomes. In result, the drawings have inherent qualities to them. For example, with a database of one thousand sounds, each sound is represented as a separate object. In order to be heard, each object needs to be connected with a line to the Digital Audio Converter (Dac~) for output. This creates a build-up of lines at the Dac~. The overlapping lines create a threshold where information is lost just as details are lost when looking into a bright light, because the ‘Aesthetic Interfaces’ that play audio must be connected in this way the drawings have this threshold as an inherent quality. Each drawing, however, retains its own individual characteristics based on how it is organized as a form.
The layout of the program is not objectively designed for others to use as software, like Microsoft Word or Photoshop, but subjectively constructed as a drawing, an “Aesthetic Interface”. I want to stress the embedding of human qualities in these digital structures by programming in a nonsensical way. They are not created in an efficient manner, but immaculately shaped as a form, and in their construction they reach a level of complexity that builds in human imperfections as errors occur.
The spirit of exploration within these aesthetic interfaces is an investigation into complexity as a meditative process of dealing with the ‘ten thousand things.’ The selections of audio are programmed to randomly choose combinations of sounds similar to the rhythm of a wave or breath faster, then slower, faster, then slower. This allows the listener to either hear glimpses of clarity when the database is playing slower or become lost in an overall sound field when the whole database is playing all at once in a cloud of complexity.