NEW WORK: Quotidian Record

It’s been a couple of months since I first showed this project at Eyebeam, but I’ve just finished this video and the documentation page.

With Quotidian Record, I’m interested in how you might record and make sense of the everyday — this project builds off of a year’s worth of data that I recorded using my phone (using OpenPaths), starting May 1 in 2011. I then clustered all these points to discover what the most prominent places in my life were, and how they were connected. Each place gets assigned a step of the scale in the music, and each city a key. Theres kind of an underlying pulse to the composition, each pulse which represents two hours of actual time. And what you hear on top of that are these little motifs, the geographic narratives that I cycle through over the course of my daily movements.

The fun part is that one rotation of the record corresponds to one day of lived time. As the record turns, it functions as a 24-hour clock, which you can see in the markings. (And keep in mind, it doesnt matter how close you are to the center, it always takes the same amount of time for the record to go around, trust me). So a year is about 11 minutes, which is a nice length for a side. Within that year, it is also marked when I travel to other cities. The negative space is NYC, but you can see where I take off to Colorado or Korea or whatever, and if you move the stylus to those rings, you’ll hear the change.

Ostensibly, Quotidian Record is about data, but symbolically mapping the digital information to something analog emphasizes that it’s lived data, it’s subjective, even as the paths you take from place to place in your everyday life are actually intensely personal. Your personal rhythmic signature. So it’s important to me, despite the necessity of posting excerpts of it online, that you experience it with the physics of the vinyl — seeing the rotation and selecting into it with the stylus — it provides some tactile interactivity to the piece.

The back of the sleeve is essentially the score of the piece. For each city, you can see the network of places that I traveled between, which ends up directly mapping to the sound. It’s the spatial rather than temporal representation of what’s going on.

Quotidian Record is about experiencing data in a way that might be more interpretive than practical. But still, while the images we’re inundated with on the internet are not so concerned with time, I’m hoping to suggest we might reveal something by documenting life in terms of rhythm.

Special shout out on this one to Greg Mihalko, who collaborated on the graphic design and physical production of this thing and who deserves the credit when people comment how nice the final result looks and feels, and Ted Riederer who actually cut the piece into vinyl on his lathe.

Check out the press from Create Digital Music.