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Bill Clinton spent a lot of time talking about the century in which he would no longer be president, but maybe his wife would be. I started looking for a way to think about how I can do a more democratic form of portraiture, something that's more about my country and how it works.
Lyndon Johnson was the first President to give his State of the Union addresses on prime-time television; he began every paragraph with the word "tonight." And Richard Nixon, or more accurately, his speechwriter, a guy named William Safire, spent a lot of time thinking about language and making sure that his boss portrayed a rhetoric of honesty. Every 10 years, we make a census in the United States.
This is a project that was inspired by some work that was funded by the US Federal Government in the early 2000s, to look at video footage and find a specific actor in any video.And if you think about what music is — notes and chords and keys and harmonies and melodies — these things are algorithms.These things are systems that are designed to unfold over time, to make us feel. I was trained as a composer, and about 15 years ago, I started making pieces that were designed to look at the intersection between sound and image, to use an image to unveil a musical structure or to use a sound to show you something interesting about something that's usually pictorial.But there is one thing I know how to do: I know how to program a computer. And people will tell me that 100 years ago, folks like me didn't exist, that it was impossible, that art made with data is a new thing, it's a product of our age, it's something that's really important to think of as something that's very "now." And that's true.But there is an art form that's been around for a very long time that's really about using information, abstract information, to make emotionally resonant pieces. We've been making music for tens of thousands of years, right?