PLOrk fall2006/Works/Self Deterioration

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Revision as of 11:05, 30 September 2006 by Amisra (talk | contribs) (Human Instructions)

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Self Deterioration (bit rot)

Program Notes

This piece is inspired by the common experience of coding something, having it work perfectly, stepping away from it for a while, and then finding that it deteriorated all by itself. It can also be considered a broader commentary on computers and what we (I?) have come to expect of them.

The piece starts out in good form, and performers are encouraged to walk away from their machines and enjoy the sounds with the audience. But soon something or the other sounds really "bad" (wrong, unpleasant, broken), and the performer is obliged to come back and fix or restart it. This continues until ChucK crashes on every machine, denoting the end of the piece.

The risk of "messing up" the performance occurs on many levels. Performers can mess up by not noticing when a machine needs their attention, resulting in general unpleasantness. Machines are "guaranteed" to mess up because that's what they are programmed to do. They can also mess up by not messing up.

Laptop Instructions

  • turn apple logo to face the wall
  • make sure nothing is plugged into the headphone jack, and that output/input audio devices are set to the built-in options, and that the speaker volume is on highest and it's not mute, and...


  • files: plork/users/amisra/one/ (,,,,, ___.wav)
  • score: play by ear

Human Instructions


ahead of time

  • Each performer picks one or more laptops. Each laptop is associated with one program from,, and If all these are covered and there's an extra laptop, any one program can be repeated.
  • It's best for performers to run their selected program for some time and listen to it, so that they know how it deteriorates and can identify it as needed.


  • Open miniAudicle with and the selected program from {1,2,3,5}.ck on your laptop(s).
  • Start virtual machine.
  • Add and the other .ck file when you feel like it (preferably soon).
  • Walk away from machine. Feel free to entertain yourself by reading a book or something, but be aware of what sound is being generated.
  • If something sounds like it's dying, go back and restart the appropriate shred (from {1,2,3,5}.ck).
    • If it's dying but not on your laptop, you can still restart it, or urge the related performer to do something about it. It's up to you to make as big a deal of it as you want to.
    • If you think someone unnecessarily restarted your shred, you may have it out in public (but also in silence).
  • Feel free to show any emotion you experience (or don't experience) as a result of the whole process.
  • If something causes the miniAudicle or OS to crash in the middle of the piece, great! Restart and continue if it happens in the first half, otherwise pretend your part ended.

more detailed instructions for each program

  • : Can deteriorate in several ways, such as becoming loud and clippy or insanely fast.
  • : Loses energy and slows down over time. After a point, beeps for attention.
  • : Seems to end with a burst of white noise, followed by silence until it is restarted. Possibly the hardest to catch goofing off.
  • : May need the most hands-on control. This is a feedback loop and the performer can experiment with it by stimulating the microphone and changing the volume controls. For example, the volume can be muted when the high-pitched wail has overstayed its welcome. The shred can also be restarted, of course.


  • be a super performer