ERROR 404 502 410 / 2012


ERROR 404 502 410 / 3 hard discs, acrylic glass, PC Housing, Arduino, Piezos, Speakers / 2012

 ERROR 404 502 410 / Transmediale 2012 / 3 hard discs, acrylic glass, PC Housing, Arduino, Piezos, Speakers / 2012

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ERROR 404 502 410 / Manifest Gallery / Cincinatti / USA / 2013

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What do computer errors sound like? In our everyday use of computers error messages are communicated without sound. Most likely you are presented with matter-of-fact information like, “Server Error. The server has encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request”, or “Oops…This link appears to be broken HTTP 404 File not found.” These silent messages are software interfaces designed to prevent you from having to worry about or engage with what is taking place at the deeper level of the computer‚s processor.

I created a group of hardware interfaces to three common errors that – beyond principles of usability – challenge the visitor to relate to the materiality of errors through the abstract qualities of sound.

Onto the disks of the drives I laser etched the 404 502 410 status codes in big Latin letters. Because of the lasered letters the disk routine stops and the write/read head goes back into its rest position, the disk powers down. A contact microphone is attached to the hard disk drive, recording the mechanical sounds of the moving disk and the write/read head. The sound gets amplified by an equalizer, pronouncing the rhythmical pattern of read action and the disk spinning. The boot routine creates a composition of random length and rhythm, that is always slightly different, depending on how and where on the spinning disk the read / write head gets distracted by the laser etched letters. While the disk is powered down and isn‚t spinning, the text becomes readable by the audience.

 “Marcelina Wellmer’s project Error 502 404 410 is a generative sound installation based on the phenomenon of server errors. Rarely noticed when occur, there are sounds, accompanying the technical failures. The discrete work of hard disk appliances becomes both an example of “reverse-engineering” and an attempt of a translation between media. The obscure realm of data noise is revealed with the artist’s scientific attitude and receives an aesthetic frame. As the disks perform their turns, in the endless loop of self-reference, the recursion is not always regular, disturbed by the randomness factor.

E.Wojtowicz, PhD, University of Arts, Poznan / Poland