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Breath from Breath

Matt Nish-Lapidus (2021)

Buy the album on Bandcamp

‘Breath from Breath’ (2020-2021), originally presented as a four channel installation as part of the exhibition ‘A Path’ (2021).

Four channel audio, SuperCollider, Raspberry Pi, equipment rack, ethernet cable, speakers, artist’s voice, field recordings. Infinite, dimensions variable. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

The digital album includes a PDF copy of the exhibition artist book “Paths”, a book of poetry and collage about computers.

‘Breath from Breath’ (2021) takes its inspiration from a Kabbalah linguistic creation myth—that the universe is created by speaking all possible combinations of letters in the alphabet. In the installation, two speakers at roughly head height speak endless stuttering streams of phonetic sounds, recomposed from the artist’s own voice. Two other ‘environmental’ speakers sit on the floor emanating a generative soundscape composed of field recordings, radio frequency and electromagnetic signal recordings, and found sounds. When the voice speaks a set of phonemes that match a word in the system’s vocabulary the ‘environmental’ speakers respond with a passage of generative eerie tones, a moment of sublimity responding to the voice’s almost happenstance alignment of meaning. The system is endless, a continual act of moving in and out of entropic states, from hints of poetic meaning to utter noise.

From the exhibition forward by Jean-Paul Kelly:

“Glottal stops and aspirations are reassembled and combined with ambient field recordings through audio synthesis and algorithmic composition software. Heard through speakers connected by excessive spools of reverse-engineered ethernet cable running from an oversized equipment rack, Nish-Lapidus’ machine voice, hovers at the edge of meaning, nearly forming comprehensible utterances, and then retreating. Enveloping the cryptic multi-part installation, Breath from Breath acts as one of many contiguous elements that quickens a compulsion to participate in the puzzle the artist provides us. In A Path the seduction of coding and decoding—the pleasure of deciphering a position in relation—emerges fully engaged with the emancipatory roots of computation. Working through ideas central to early heuristic pedagogies of computer programming, Nish-Lapidus offers a brazen institutional critique of our current dangerously innocuous relationship with communication technology.”

The two excerpts in this collection represent different states of the system. The first is a direct stereo export from the SuperCollider program, for at-home listening. The second is a stereo mix-down of the installation audio, recorded in the room with some post processing/cleanup, May 2021.

More information about the exhibition: