Listen to these 12 seconds (audio). Play it again, if you want.
It's Dada audio. Producer Tracy Wahl, inspired by the Dada exhibition at the National Gallery here in Washington (it's moved on to MOMA in New York where it will open June 18), wondered what the sound equivalent might be. Here's what she set up: Twelve people went into our computer sound files and each selected 12 seconds at random, with each excerpt coming from a different NPR story. Then, again at random, they pulled one second from each of the 12-second files. The order of the excerpts is random as well.
The final words are "always be." Tracy Wahl says she likes the way it ends, but she can't explain why we hear Fred Child say his name. He's the host of Performance Today and on air a lot, but why just Fred? Does it mean that Fred Child is at the center of the discernable universe? Maybe we should just download the 12 seconds to use as our cell ringtone and not worry. It's definitely much more pleasing to the ear than that "adult-proof" ringtone I blogged about earlier.
A further puzzlement: When I run the 12 seconds of audio on my computer using Windows Media Player, the screen displays an array of swirling graphics. Means nothing. Means everything.
Tate, London 2005 & Max Ernst/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, ADAGP, Paris
Der Elefant von Celebes (The Elephant of Celebes), an example of Dada art from Max Ernst, one of the founders of Dada in Germany.
Der Elefant von Celebes (The Elephant of Celebes), an example of Dada art from Max Ernst, one of the founders of Dada in Germany. Tate, London 2005 & Max Ernst/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, ADAGP, Paris