What are the sounds that are most representative of human life on Earth?
In 1977, Voyager 1 and 2, two space probes, were launched by NASA to study the outer Solar System and beyond. They are the first probes to leave the Solar System and are currently the farthest man-made objects from Earth.
Included aboard each space craft is a Golden Record. These records are intended to serve as artifacts representing the life and culture on Earth, should they ever be found by intelligent extraterrestrial life.
The sounds and other media included on the Golden Record were selected by a NASA committee chaired by Carl Sagan. They include the sounds of nature and animals, and musical selections from around the world.
The selections are inevitably dated, and skewed by the biases of the curators and those they answered to. For example, NASA did not allow the committee to include a photograph of a nude man and woman on the record.
At the same time, the Golden Record may end up being one of the most enduring human cultural artifacts ever produced.
Pop music is constantly changing. Thus Gold Noise is inexorably linked to the present moment.
The "Now That's What I Call Music!" (often shortened to "Now!") is a series of pop music compilation albums. Each entry features the latest hit singles, all on one disc. The series has been extremely successful, with over 100 million album sales worldwide since its inception.
The latest US release at the time of writing is Now That's What I Call Music! volume 37, which was released February 8, 2011.
Pop Music is increasingly being experienced via music videos on the internet. For example, Justin Bieber's "Baby (ft. Ludacris)" currently has over 500 million views on YouTube.
In Visual Gold Noise, we combine the top 10 music videos from YouTube/VEVO (as viewed on March 8, 2011).
The video content was combined by exploiting compression algorithms used to efficiently transmit video over the internet. Basically, a service such as YouTube will not send the image of every frame of video, but instead will only send the difference between the previous frame and the new frame. In Visual Gold Noise, at every frame, we take each of these ten frame differences (from each of the ten videos) and apply them simultaneously.
Tom Butterworth's Datamosh Plugin for Quartz Composer was used to create this effect.
Launch International Gold Noise
Does Gold Noise sound different in every country?
The International Gold Noise web page lets us hear live Gold Noise in countries all over the world. It does this by searching for Shoutcast radio stations (a technology for streaming music over the internet) within a country-code top level domain (for example .jp for Japan). It takes the first twenty results and attempts to connect to each of them simultaneously.
The Gold Noise project explores the relationship between signal and noise, desirable and undesirable sound. We find that when all desirable sound is played at once, it creates noise, Gold Noise.
Is Gold Noise desirable or undesirable? Is the distinction between desirable and undesirable sound a dualism that can be transcended?
Some forms of meditation seek to transcend dualities by focusing awareness on the constant passing of one moment to the next without judgement or attachment.
The Gold Noise Meditation space consists of a circle of radios, each tuned to a different radio station in the vicinity. The practitioner sits in the center of the circle. By tuning in to the constant stream of invisible transmissions which surround us, but hearing this sound as it is, as neither desirable nor undesirable, as Gold Noise, the practitioner seeks to become one with the present.