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Polybius by James Houston – Dead media played as a musical instrument


Scottish artist and filmmaker James Houston has been toying with the idea of recreating music using old computer hardware for some years now – much before the HP ad, utilising dead media as an instrument, picking out recognisable sounds these devices produce. When these “instruments” come together, and if you were born in the 70s, there is an immense amount of familiarity, as if transported into the past but clearly located in the present, as the melodies linger the familiar tune.

The latest production, titled Polybius features Julian Corrie who wrote and performs the piece, playing a guitar in a dry swimming pool, used as an input to control sounds produced by a SEGA Mega Drive, Commodore 64, floppy disk drives and hard drives. The once again unusual assemblage (controlled live via MIDI) is given a last curtain call in a nostalgic farewell to forgotten friends. The video was produced by Bold Yin for Channel 4.

If unfamiliar with James’s work, we’ve embedded below the earlier piece (2005) created out of frustration with Radiohead’s Nude Remix contest (thefoxisblack).

James Houston | Dead Media Project (reference)

Farewell? How about one for the cursor? or the Moving Pictures.


/via GameScenes + Colossal


      great idea and execution

    • FreezeFrozen