A dialogue between four hands:
Can we feel data? And can we see music?
In our ongoing collaboration, musician Kaki King and I, aim at exploring how we can use data to engage deeper experiences.
This is a multimedia exploration of the role of data in our lives, and a call for Data Humanism, in which we reclaim subjectivity on how data is captured and collected, and embrace the subjectivity that invariably comes with how data is represented.
Kaki grew up playing guitar and drums, and she applies the techniques of both instruments as she plays her guitar. What Kaki and I share is not our field of expertise, but our hands at work, what we are aiming at doing together, is using data to deconstruct and reveal the textures of what makes this music that she plays so beautiful.
There is only so much information that you can impart to a musician via traditional notation, and especially in Kaki’s case, since she uses a lot of unorthodox technique, there is a lot of nuances that is difficult to express on paper, without developing an entirely new visual system.
In our first collaboration we created a visual that simultaneously displays:
- the melody that is played (like a score),
- where the notes are played on the neck of the guitar (as in a tablature),
but also how Kaki plays them with her hands:
- the movements of her hands,
- the types of different touches,
- and the different fingers she uses with her right and left hands.
We started with basic data collection of the notes being played but we enriched them with all of the details we manually gathered on how Kaki plays them.
I then - of course - meticulously visualized all of these information. Instead of focusing on a linear representation of the music, which would have been simply a visualization of the partiture and tabs, I played with a different approach: following the repetitive nature of the song, which is clearly structured by sections.
The song that Kaki wrote has interchangeable parts. One can be played after another in an almost random order and it will still function well as a composition.
We premiered this project at Design Indaba, in Cape town.
The video of our performance will be on-line soon, for now enjoy the data-artwork and the music.
Detailed legend on the gallery above.