Inaudible Sounds, Invisible Sights

Abstract

Lossy compression formats such as MP3, JPEG, and MPEG-4 erase information based on models of human audio-visual perception. This erased material seems to evaporate, as there is an illusion that it simply disappears. This is, however, not the casethere is a great deal of meaningful, even emotionally affecting information in the deleted data. In the work presented here, I investigate the sounds, pictures, and moving images that are cut from our current digital media environments. We can hear the material deleted from our favorite songs when they are encoded from lossless audio into MP3, see the deleted material from familiar videos when they are uploaded to Youtube, and print the deleted material from familiar images when they are uploaded to Wikipedia. Further, this previously discarded material bears rich aesthetic affordances for the creation of a musical language of digital loss, the music of an endangered species of data.

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