In this age of the cloud and of big data, it’s easy to think of digital data as purely intangible. However, data always exists within a physical device, whether that’s the hard drive, the computer memory, or the network switch. I’m interested in this materiality of data, and what happens when the underlying mechanism starts to fail and erode. When a hard drive starts to fail, invisibly, the first sign is often a change in the noises it makes; that change to the smooth sound of the motor at 5400 RPM, halting, spinning up, sputtering out; the so-called “click of death” as the arm snaps back and forth across the magnetic platters. Recording and amplifying these sounds with handmade contact microphones, I constructed an imagined soundscape of data in decay, and use this sound in turn to generate the visual landscape. In a sense this is a kind of data visualization, but the data itself is inaccessible.
Traversing the Sectors (2016) is a virtual reality environment continuing my work with these recordings, now as a landscape and soundscape in the Oculus Rift VR headset.