What happens if you take parts of the code from the Blaster Worm, which ripped through 400,000 Microsoft systems in 2003, and insert it into audio and visual files? As in any glitch-based work, that depends on how you handle the corrupted material.
For his newest, virus-themed electronic album Blaster on the Berlin-based label PAN Records, New York-based artist James Hoff used bits of the infected code to make electronic beats. Artist Nic Hamilton added a pulsing and prismatic video for its title track.
“This video exactingly deconstructs a previous video work and repurposes it into a new composition using velocity pass render elements with each colour representing degrees of movement in an X,Y,Z space,” Hamilton explains.
Hoff’s particular repurposing of the noise produced by code-corrupted media is rabid and wonderful, scratching and screening in tight, concentrated loops. Rhizome called it “a fungal aural mass.” In his visual practice, Hoff also uses “bad code” to create new works.
The beats, together with the abstract patterns of the video, form a multi-medium connection to painting. “I borrow from the historical vernacular of abstraction to render the work as abstract paintings,” Hoff said in a interview with BOMB magazine. “It allows me to talk about viruses using the language of painting rather than the technical jargon of computer programming or the hyperbole of mass media. In this way, abstraction functions as a lens, an interface.”
Hoff seems to be discouraging technical discussions–which makes us skeptical about the degree to which Blaster Worm or any virus can be deployed to create sound or imagery. The vintage computer artifact may only be a conceptual ingredient, but it makes for some pretty sweet beats.