Data Culture Generation: After Content, Process as Aesthetic

Alistair Riddell

Academy of the Arts
Queensland University of Technology
Kelvin Grove Campus


This paper considers the extent to which the concepts of process and data, inherent in the technology of contemporary music, are contributing to a new musical practice and aesthetic. The role of technology in musical production has cast music into data (a tangible entity, commodity or product) thus a kind of cultural object itself in certain contexts (LPs, CDs, MP3 files). This condition, under an impetus fostered by the abundance and social dimension of music, suggests that a rethinking/transformation of contemporary audio arts based on process (the concept, design or actual systems that produces musical data) is taking place. Increasingly, musicians are becoming involved in alternative contexts in which sound is only one of several simultaneous and expressive components constituting a cultural experience. Here process permeates the proceedings as a kind of a priori theory of contemporary art because it can suggest and define a set of possibilities as an artistic statement irrespective of whether something or anything is manifest by any artist. With the environment saturated with music, it appears that the creative design of musical processes might become an art in itself.