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Between Sound & Data
A tribute about executable music, in .mod, .xm, .it, and .s3m format
What exactly is “content?”
As an adjective and verb, it can be described as “a state of satisfaction.” But used as a noun, it follows two definitions.
1. The things that are geld or included in something. (Especially information made available by a website or electronic medium).
And 2., The substance or material dealt with in a speech, literary work, etc., as distinct from its form or style.
Perhaps content can be easily explained as “things that are contained.” But here, content can also be described as “substance” and “material” that is different from anything else.
Content is a biased word. It assumes value exists within substance and the material, and that these “things” are not just strands of “information,” but valuable “content” found in any art form.
Hence we enter a new phase of corporate control over the internet, by introducing the concept of “content creator.”
Wikipedia defines “content creation” as,
“the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media for an end-user/audience in a specific context.”
As a rather insidious and ambiguous term, “content is something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts, for self-expression, distribution, marketing, and/or publication.” This, however, can only lead to the creation of a “material” that “people contribute to the online world.”
This very important “contribution” is providing ever-changing values to a larger context of our society. And when did “information” become so ideologically motivated?
By following this strict definition, Plato, Socrates, and Shakespeare did not produce their art out of thin air, but they were “content creators” giving the people what they wanted, or what they desired. We therefore enter the condition of modernity, where the materialistic worldview makes spiritual and primordial traditions obsolete. Modernity in and of itself is responsible for the creation of the American academia, and the constant gatekeeping of Western literature to advocate the neoliberal agenda we live under.
“Content creators,” if there is such a thing, are the foot soldiers of the establishment, providing subjective “value” to an otherwise bored and misled masses. Acts of self-expression are nothing more than “content,” not art. And self-expression alone is nothing more than a subcultural trend led by the perverted forces of marketing, distribution, and publication, all motivated by profit. According to this logic, Henry Darger didn’t make the Vivian Girls for himself, but rather his work aspires towards a modernist audience, seeking the validation of his own unique, or “queer” character.
The content creator fad appeared in the last decade when the establishment took over the online world. Without the internet, would we still produce “content” in a Luddite, “steampunk” environment? The materialistic world has invaded our semantics with an ideology and bias on how to pursue the arts. The artist can no longer actualize himself in an age of technological acceleration and automation.
Take for example, “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays.” Christmas is a spiritual day and is celebrated by Christianity. By delegitimizes a religious day as a “holiday,” it not only persuades people to be anti-religious but insists that the sacred is nothing more than a day off from “work.” (And “work” as we know, is completely misunderstood in capitalist society). In this clever semantic trick, religious days are nothing more than spent vacation days, while the individual is forced to accept the meaning of life as a series of 9 to 5 office jobs. This is not only a misunderstanding of the concept of work but dissuades the individual from ever questioning a grand narrative of life. The meaning of his life is already set inside the language he understands.
As this example shows, we are not advancing and progressing towards a greater understanding of the arts, but instead using corporate buzzwords to define ourselves as eccentric celebrities and spokesmen for the Silicon Valley elite. By calling ourselves “content creators,” we incite the same values that Anna Akana is doing, that is, brainwashing the public with sad stories and producing cookie-cutter clickbait.
It’s all “content,” isn’t it?
This materialistic understanding of value being a subjective force is another clear example of why American society is in decline. We are pushed constantly to the ring of the electric bell, enjoying non-stop “work” we don’t even like. We produce “content” to satisfy the “end-user,” a consumer who does not want to understand us. Our art is delegitimized, not as a job, but as tangible assets people supposedly want to consume, only to be forgotten later. We live in a deracinated society that pretends to care about free speech but insists that reactionary and anti-liberal politics are hate speech. White nationalists don’t make pro-white content, they make “hate content.”
We must ask why should we ever use the word “content” in the first place. What if we are contributing to no one? What if our self-expression is autistic and anti-social? Is the medium we have nothing more than tools of expression? Content is edible, and it has no longevity.
The goal of content, according to the same Wikipedia article, is as follows,
“Examples of more recent social media protesting through online content include the global widespread use of the hashtags #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter to raise awareness and exact change for women and the black community.”
Content is nothing more than a vessel of social control. Hence, content creators are agents of the neoliberal system. They say “The medium is the message.” Don’t worry, because “the revolution” will be televised!
Is it possible we could make anti-content? Or should we be called “anti-content creators?” Content already implies we are consumers in a consenting, corrupted capitalist system. What if we just stopped using the word altogether? What if there was a new word?
I have discovered there is already a concept against content and its creation. If the content is nothing more than niche “information” used for contribution, information is furthermore subjective, and it takes up all virtual space, without any meaning.
This important concept is called data.
Data alone is denied as “the quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, being stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording medium.” And it is the smallest sense, data is just “a piece of information.”
…Now Is content worthless? When everyone produces “content,” it negates all material and thus becomes useless, or of no value. Then they say that there is such a thing as “worthless content,” and content alone must have value. Data must therefore be described as worthless content. It’s no much that a bad word is offensive, but rather the conundrum and paradox of worthless content cannot be comprehended by both content creators and their consumers.
Data is simply that computer information is stored. It exists as a digital unit. It takes up space on the internet. Data is meaningless and it fills up computer programs, for good or worse.
Then they also scream “Content without context is useless!”
Exactly, what context is there?
To rebuttal this claim, we must become a part of the traditional demoscene.
I announce myself as an anti-content creator. I provide no value to anyone or the internet. I create data, as a natural urge, and fill up empty spaces. The data is useless, nobody wants it. No one else finds value in the data I produce. Value is subjective. The virtual world anyway is bent on worshipping the consuming individual. Subcultures, etiquette, music, memes, videos, forums, social cliques, and text messages all persuade a liberal individual to find value in their personalized consumption. There is no end on site.
Look at TikTok. It’s creating a new generation of psychopaths. TikTok claims it’s all just “social networking,” and that the medium is used for filming shorts, which is “content” for each orbiting niche. Even big corporation admits that there are consumer categories, and when technology devalues one artistic medium, it is absorbed into another. They are not filmmakers, but actors using film to make their opponents jealous. All these glittering images and fleeting desires, how can all of this belong to an intellectual canon of the fine arts? All of this is a postmodern disease of eclectic confusion, of letting corporations create rhizomatic schizophrenia. Content creators are becoming anti-social, and will further provide no value to anyone. All value negates itself into nothing.
I instead create data. I am a data creator. I am a man of letters, where I text my friends on Telegram, and I want those messages, that textual data, forever kept saved in a chat log. They say there is no value in YouTube comments or Telegram texting. But that’s data! We take up space!
Hackers can be defined as people “skilled in information technology who use their technical knowledge to achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle, within a computerized system by non-standard means.” As hackers, and as anti-content creators, egoists, and data creators, we take this information and abuse it. We distort data and do funny stuff we it. We get those bugs and exploit them to our advantage. Hackers enjoy all that useless data out there, and we insert subjective values into all this meaningless shit. And that shit becomes golden. We don’t make content. We shit gold.
Ask, what is “executable music?”
According to Sunspire Records,
Executable music, at first sight, is very much like an audio track that you can listen to on your computer by double-clicking it, except that the music you hear is not a static pre-recorded file but a real-time generated audio reproduction from pure code. Therefore, there is no sample data and nothing you could load up in an audio editor. The file size is also very tiny compared to an mp3 of the same song, usually no bigger than 32768 bytes or 32 kilobytes but sometimes even as small as 1.8 kilobytes. The majority of VST synths suitable for executable music creation that originate from the Demoscene are free to use and can be found on Demozoo, Pouet, or downloaded straight from scene.org.
In the Demoscene, executable music is a popular format in competitions to showcase what sound fidelity can be achieved in the smallest possible file space. To make executable music, you need to write your track with software synthesizers suitable for executable music writing, either by directly converting your DAW's project into a .exe file or by relying on the synth's author/programmer to do it for you. The only synth I am aware of that can convert Renoise .xrns files straight to .exe - is Clinkster by Loonies. But there may be more. Because Clinkster executables are heavily compressed with the tool Crinkler, the files are often mistakenly flagged as malware by various popular virus scanners. They are of course - false positives! 1
The artist can fully understand himself not through the material world of content creation, but through the spiritual of the analytical, of data collecting and producing. Everything is a science. The computer demoscener is a data creator and collector. The demoscener is an egoist looking to hack data for his pleasure. As an egoist myself, I am also must be a demoscener.
I must make demoscene audiovisuals, demoscene literature, and demoscene hacks that will invade spaces. I appreciate the beauty of this simple computer limitation, and that a greater sophistication of the art will be proliferated not by dumbfounded elegance, but by autos (αὐτός), that of the self, of our egotistical interest. Science, technology, engineering, and math are liberated by limitation. We will then abuse the rules and start to appreciate what the analytical has to offer. Inside that .mod, .xm, .it, or .s3m file, we can see all of those 8 to 16-bit samples, and the coded patterns that constructed an electronic song under 1MB. It’s no longer simply about audio at a high-quality sample rate. The demoscene is between sound and data.
For example, electronic musicians have been plagued with performative attitudes of acting, and thus become “content creators” of every medium. There is no value inside a raw sound file anymore. It rather negates itself into white noise. Soundcloud and Bandcamp are internet hubs containing sound files of no value. The same redundant noise is made to advocate certain subcultures and lifestyles. This is not classical orchestrated music, but popular garbage to brainwash the innocent. Music has such power it can tell people to be decadent. But the demoscene musician combats this noise by creating tracker music between sound and data.
I collect .mod files. I hoard them for myself. And inside each .mod file, I see the samples being triggered, and that exact line of code used to perform the song. Everything is self-contained. While sharing MIDI data can be handy, sharing .mod data is more powerful. MIDI is only a communication tool. Music modules show you data and music. Here it is no longer just artsy noise, but calculated, analytical electronic music triggering samples and the sequence. By obtaining a .mod file, you can play it on an actual Amiga 500 and see an electronic song not only as a meaningless wave of sound but as a tangible, sophisticated textbook. The hobbyist threatens the performer, and electronic music regains its purpose again. This is not content, but data being produced for one’s artistic enlightenment.
Even collecting “rare memes” of Pepe the Frog used to have a significant subculture. Before profiteering Non-Fungible Tokens, meme creation existed outside the stock market. People even sold CD-Rs and Floppies that stored rare Pepe pictures on them. The sole purpose of creating Pepe memes was to invade the internet and take up space. Data was there. No culture war or no “metapolitics” behind it all, it was just existing.
Many more video essays on YouTube will argue why they like art based on “feelings” and “memories.” But all of that content is meaningless. Content is evil and has no purpose. What will make us free is data liberation.
As a demoscener, we must take up the scene. We must produce without reason. We must celebrate a hobby based on the analytical. Every little thing on the internet has a purpose. That includes written digital words, artsy memes, audiovisuals, tracker music modules, obscure PDFs, bizarre podcast recordings, ASCII play, BBS logs, and a medium between sound and data. We must catalog all this data forever, for the world to see. Hobbyists must be centered around the creation of this data. The artist must produce without reason. Value is subjective. They will label us later.
We don’t make content. We destroy it.
I am a demoscener. Get out of my sun.