HT to Xenaudial for unfolding its speculative psychoacoustical narrative. We will be following it closely. The latest chapter, below.

– Fr. xenopraxis


Soon after the solo experiments mentioned above, X committed a number of exploits with A DumB Raid, his anonymous collective. A frequent method guaranteed to rapidly ramp up attention involved handing out “download tickets”—slips of paper with a unique URL typed on—at random gatherings, usually large-scale public events or occasionally at busy intersections. The ticket was signed: Adam Brady. A further pun. Members of A DumB Raid were all named Adam Brady. If one was brave enough to surf to the address, the downloaded zipped folder simply named ADBR contained a multitude of apps geared towards destructuring features of an individual’s sonic environment, passing the audial framework one lived in through a set of paradoxical filters revealing its ultimate contingency (and thus, the possibility to change it). “We have always been cyborgs,” began one of their admittedly few communiqués. “Anyone who thinks technology is a tool is a moron, dixit Marshall McLuhan. Media work us over completely.”

The apps ranged the gamut from Bait&Switch, a crude image-sound recombiner & mixer wherein one could associate any soundtrack with any imagetrack, and swap out either on-the-fly via a bare-bones interface; to “everyday” apps such as RoomX—modeled on Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room (1969)—which gradually builds up a diagram of the complex set of frequencies that make up a room tone, its acoustical affordances, by recording the resonant effects of a simple action, playing back the recording into the room while recording the resonant effects of the playback, repeated until the room yields its occulted particularities. Labeled a “training app,” it was intended to “improve the fidelity by which you leverage the acoustical idiosyncrasies of a situation”—a mètic declaration if I ever heard one. A second feature of the app was more immediately interventionist, providing options for automated feedback response. You could program it to playback tones into the analyzed room, exploiting its already diagrammed propensities to induce effects on a continuum from mild disorientation to maximal confusion.