Synopsis Seriation

A 2 track electronic album (2h 21m 30s) — released April 9th 2021 on Editions Mego

While you enjoy the colour of Les Andelys, I see the Seine. An almost indefinable grey sea, even in the strongest sunshine under a blue sky.

— Georges Seurat to Paul Signac, 25 June 1886*

'Synopsis Seriation,' Hecker's latest release with Editions Mego, draws upon current research in machine listening and music information retrieval, where the 'ghosts in the machine' are unsupervised, engineered operators designed to extract auditory features from a signal. The album advances a general research programme Hecker initiated through various projects. In 'A Script for Machine Synthesis' (EMEGO 226, 2017), the third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces in collaboration with Reza Negarestani, both a resynthesized and a computer-generated voice modelled after the narrators voice, reflect on systems of language, automatons and chimerized synthesis. 'Articulação Sintetico' (EMEGO 180C, 2017) — a complete resynthesis of 'Articulação' (EMEGO 180, 2014) — features synthetic voice models of Joan La Barbara, Sugata Bose and Anna Kohler. Central to 'Inspection II' (EMEGO 268 / UF047, 2019) is a bespoke computer-generated voice, reciting Robin Mackay's libretto — by means of deep neural networks and machine listening computation, perpetually crossing formal anticipations of sound analysis to the unexpected artefacts of synthesis**.

'Synopsis Seriation' does away with such staging of computer-generated speech. It dramatises synthetic sound in all its unnameable intensities and detail by transforming four multichannel pieces Hecker produced since 2015. These have been analysed, dissected and reconstructed utilising information geometry, a subfield of mathematics at the interaction between statistics and differential geometry, designed by Vincent Lostanlen. Similarities and logical segmentation, partly accessible to the human listener, partially exclusive to virtual listening agents, open a dialogue with these spectral operators. Moving between analysis and synthesis, they render audible their intelligence signature, the signal trace of their nonhuman brain-ear, between discriminative and generative models. This newly seriated arrangement of 'Synopsis Seriation' further abstracts and detours the appearance of specific motifs, sequences and characters, into a hallucinatory gaze. Remembrance of what has just been heard, in which formulation and mode of synthesis continually navigate between sensible and highly formulated registers. Resembling George Seurat's perception of the Seine, 'Synopsis Seriation' is a streamlined, structured whole. Yet, by embracing time, succession, and sound as an immaterial, its multitude of auditory perspectives and encoded logic challenges a traditional synoptical overview of analytical architecture and resynthesized sensation.

Synopsis Seriation

Disc 1: 72min00sec

Disc 2: 69min31sec

Total duration: 141min31sec

Written and produced by Florian Hecker, 2015–2020

Information geometry and sound computation by Vincent Lostanlen

Seriation Input

  • Formulation (2015)
  • Formulation DBM Self (2015–2017)
  • Formulation As Texture [hcross] (2017)
  • Formulation Chim 111 [hcross] (2017)

Scattergrams of seriation input, seriated output and process diagrams: Vincent Lostanlen

Correlation matrices of seriation input: Axel Röbel

Graphic Design: Norm, Zurich

Mastering: Rashad Becker

© 2021 Florian Hecker, Editions Mego

*Quoted in: Éric Alliez. The Brain-Eye: New Histories of Modern Painting. Trans. Robin Mackay. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016.

**For further detail see: Hecker, F and Mackay, R. (2021) 'Synthetic Listening', in Bonnet, F. (ed.) Spectres #03 Ghost in The Machine. Paris: INA GRM / Shelter Press, forthcoming.

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