A13: Levy

Neale Willis - 2020

Length 01:33


The source material for this work is a box of audio cassettes left behind by Levy’s grandfather after his death in 2003 which formed part of his personal collection of classical music and opera.

Images of the cassettes are converted to text, and then to code, and back to images. Sound, reworked from its original state, is laid on top. Abstract, and seemingly alien, metallic forms rotate as if in mid-air.

What is an intensely personal collection of musical scores of what are intensely human emotions has passed through a number of mechanical processes to reach something that has a new human fingerprint embedded within.

The human aspect of music is removed once a musical score is recorded to paper, to magnetic tapes, to radio broadcast, to digitisation. The machine is not concerned what the sound is or what it contains - that it is noise or silence is enough. These works presented the opportunity to reintroduce a human element to the music.

Using AI to read the handwritten sleeves of the cassettes introduces a conflict between the machine and the human. Each mistake made by the AI leaves a fingerprint of Levy’s grandfather engrained within the work, lifting each piece above what would otherwise be a cold and emotionless object and creates something that is intrinsically both his and the music it contains.

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