Being neither algorithm nor person, this installation brings an alternative type of living entity to the DJ role – living, breathing moss.
An Experimenta Commission.
Materials: Moss, Terrarium, 4 Plinths, Laptop, Audio Mixer/Pre-amp, Cables, 2 x Turntables, Microchip cards (Arduino, KL25Z), Directional Speaker
Dimensions: 250 x 250 x 175 cm
Machine-learning is increasingly used in the music scene, whether to generate song suggestions for our playlists or to compose new melodies and beats for artists. Yet when it comes to live DJ events, it seems that audiences are not ready to hand the decks over to non-human entities. Even though A.I. systems have the capability of curating and delivering perfect beats, the ‘feel’ between DJ and audience – an intangible, emotional feedback loop – is perceived as absent. This continuing demand for human DJ’s speaks more to the social nature of humans and music’s ability to bond us together, than to any lack on the part of a digital system to deliver technically optimal music.
DJ Moss is a playful response to the artist’s observations of the ever-evolving spectrum of machine vs human-made entertainment by introducing another protagonist to the mix – living, breathing moss. Being neither algorithm nor person, DJ Moss brings an alternative type of living entity to the decks. The work is a living system in and of itself.
The moss, a plant that sits in a unique taxonomic division of Bryophyta, exhibits basic internal communication systems. Its micro-signals are made perceptible to the audience via special sensors made visible through interactive graphs. Different signals can trigger a range of classic DJ moves, mixing in new sounds or changing the rhythm of the music. The turntables spin vinyl engraved with nature sounds, juxtaposing the artificial electronic output of the laptop with the analogue natural sounds of the records.
This strange and haphazard performance prompts us to reflect on the agency of plant life, their societal networks and systems of communication, as well as our relationship with non-human and non-biological systems.
Thomas Marcusson is an interactive and online artist creating mixed media artworks that talk about culture, science and identity, often inviting visitors to engage in different kinds of ways.