No Numbers

No Numbers

Media: computer, nixie tubes, acrylic.
Photograph: © Katie Marcus, 2010

A playful response to John Foxx's seminal 1980 electronic music work, ‘Mr No’. The music is transformed into a sequence of numbers — digital samples — which the viewer is encouraged to copy down using the paper and pencils provided.

At a rate of one number per second it would take 4 weeks to transcribe the original 3'18" work in CD quality. The futility of this task reflects the artist's interest in what we may be compelled to do but that which is ultimately, humanly, impossible.

The reduction to a slow, seemingly random series of numbers highlights the essentially approximate nature of digital sampling. This links to the artist's interest in exploring the aesthetic and cultural questions suggested by the analogue-digital distinction.

The title of the piece suggests remix and reappropriation, but also codes for a putative request from the copyright holder of the original work. Downloading music, we're told, is theft. Four weeks of laborious, transcription seems more like pilgrimage.

© Andrew Back, 2009