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By Gerald Smith
Noise was made for thetextisthetext (Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh, 2011). It is a concrete poem which offers a representation of computer noise, shown as a series of 0s and 1s randomly flipping back and forth. As the noise increases, the typefaces begin to change. Noise is a lo-fi piece, essentially a flip book animation transferred from page to computer screen: the image had to be moving in order to represent noise, and I could see no reason why a concrete poem had to be a still image. The content was gathered using Word before transferring it over to Director for the animation. Whilst referring to computer noise, this piece is not a mimetic representation. The layout was set to resemble that of a poem on a page rather than the usual images of binary code on screen which signify computer. Likewise, instead of machine-readable fonts I used Times New Roman as the main typeface. The poem on the page provided the reference point and this was to show that, like most remediations, the computer progresses partly by denying itself.
Gerald Smith’s Noise is perhaps most interesting for its apparent simplicity. As a visual representation of computer noise, with its flipping ones and zeros, the piece strikes a balance between being overt and metaphoric. We understand the context of binary information, but represented as typographical, non computer readable fonts the ones and zeros are displaced. They are purely representational. Overall, the effect of the piece is cinematic; we view rather than play or use it. But, in so doing we begin to realize how the noisy of operations of the machine are buried beneath the mediated, viewable surface.