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Hello Darkness My Old Friend

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Source Link:

Date Minted:  January 24, 2021

Artist Description: PNG File, 3168 X 4224 px ~ Send tx after purchase to @bittty_nfts on Twitter to receive an 8 x 11" physical print w/hand-drawn details on metallic coated paper.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

A most fascinating project is” BitttyLabs: Early Readings” by Bitttylabs. The artist themselves explains the six-part collection as a series of “Pseudo-scientific experiments using a small hand-held recording device (iphone) to intercept and translate rogue transmissions.” Something about that description stinks so strongly with the scent of mystery. If these pieces are all physical-visual representations of sound, then what the hell are we looking at, i.e. what was the original device hearing? Hello Darkness My Old Friend and the other five parts of the Early Readings project demonstrate to me the widest possibilities of digital art, the reason it has gained so much prevalence as an artistic movement: because you can do (insane) things like this. Because you can reveal the intrinsic beauty of otherwise unknowable data. Because the computer is a processor which takes in inputs and spits outputs back in a vastly different manner than the human brain does, and Bitttylabs shows us that there’s an unlimited amount of forms that can take. Six pieces in this collection, but there could surely be 600, 6000, 600,000,000; none would look much like each other, I’m sure, and all would be hyper-specific, referential to a certain sound that existed for only a single moment in time. I’m reading a book by the noted lingual theorist Walter J. Ong (titled Orality and Literacy), and he talks about how, unlike the other sensory inputs, sound can only be detected as it is dying. To see, smell, taste, or touch something, it must be solid and in existence for long enough to be detected. But sound disappears as it is produced. Each stray sound is a sudden supernova, emergent and explosive and then nonexistent. Bitttylabs immortalizes such sounds, but does so in the only way one can: by transmuting them into other forms. That Hello Darkness My Old Friend is such an aesthetically beautiful composition (my favorite of the six in the series). By simply being, by simply capturing what it was meant to capture, by simply giving form and permanence to that which is, by nature, formless and impermanent, Hello Darkness My Old Friend is a triumph. But oh, that chiaroscuro. And oh, that incomprehensible visual waterfall. A lot to unpack here.

Could Hello Darkness My Old Friend be a visual representation of Simon and Garfunkel’s timeless song, Sound of Silence? Or perhaps it’s just an apt description for a piece that traffics so well in the interplay between light and dark, white and black, positive and negative versions of the same image. Hello Darkness My Old Friend is split into three sections, descending downwards in order of size. The top-most section is the largest, occupying ⅔ of the piece itself. It is darkened, captured in a dour and grey-inflected hues, but the colors in it all shine like neon tubes in the dark. It seems as if a large screen of some kind stretches down through all three parts of the image (they’re continuous in all but color), and atop it is an intricate quilt made of what I presume are visualized sound waves. In appearance, they appear almost like fabric, more like gauze than anything else, tattered in places and in no discernible pattern. Most of the waffle-like quilt is dark and grey, though in certain sections, an iridescent wave of color passes through as if blown there by a wind. Purples and blues and greens are the most immediately apparent colors, though a long ochre sliver is what these colors all congeal into before becoming grey again as the quilt drapes down. Towards the bottom of this section is the penetration of a different kind of color composition, a bubble of colored lines, phallic in totality —turquoise and magenta upon a black background— that stretches down into the image’s second section. In this section, the color-scale is negative —as in photographically negative— and so the predominant color is white, the section is bright and blueish, and the other colors that dominate here are pinks, very pale blues, and interjections of yellow. The quilt extends down into this section, its grey brighter, but it tails off towards the right side of the image. Most of this section is either empty white space, or a continuation of the phallic color lines I previously mentioned, or a more recognizable assembly of digitized lines, ones which form indescribable crags of smushed-together colors and textures, which we find along the bottom of this section, abutting the left side of the image.

The bottom section is perhaps the return to darkness alluded to in the title. The darkest of the three sections, a black void that spits up a spittle of neon red and blue and green lines, like the innermost workings of a server farm as seen in a villain’s insidious spy-movie lair. The black void doesn’t take up the entire section —much of it is left to the same empty grey background as the first section— but that which is black and voidlike curls into a final globule, like a curled finger. From here, it’s easy to see how the various textures change as the colors emerge from one section into another. A red line becomes pink, becomes black, becomes blue as it centipedes itself up the length of the composition. 

I just wish I could hear Hello Darkness My Old Friend as well as I can see it. 

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