KOVÁCS / O’DOHERTY
“Minute/Year” is an automated, multi-year, sound-based durational installation.
What happens when public and private contexts are collapsed, for one minute each day? Can surveillance be turned inside out? Is it possible to simultaneously be a listener and a performer? What is “performed” when ordinary, banal acts are automatically sampled? What ghosts lurk in the constant repetition and layering of sound in a single space?
For the whole of 2016, “Minute/Year” was installed in an ordinary living room in an apartment in Berlin, Germany.
This process-based installation—made up of microphones, speakers, and software —undertakes a daily three-step task. Firstly, it records the sound occurring in the room in which it is installed, for one minute each day. Secondly, while this one-minute recording is occurring, the previous day’s recording—the sound of the same minute, in the same space, twenty-four hours before—is simultaneously played back into the space. Therefore, each recording includes an acoustic trace of its predecessor, which includes its predecessor in turn, and so on, in a potentially infinite regression. Thirdly, each day, that day’s one-minute recording is published online as both audio track and an accompanying spectrogram image, immediately after it has occurred. This documentation can be found at minuteyear.com, as well as on SoundCloud, Twitter, Tumblr, and Telegram.
These daily tasks, the recording, playback, and uploading, are automated. It runs on a small computer—a Raspberry Pi—regardless of whether or not anyone is present in the space. In 2016, the piece ran each day at 8:16 pm.
Through this daily three-step process, the sounds of daily life—of human activities large and small—become material for a layered index which develops, mutates, and degrades over time. “Minute/Year” is partly a multi-year durational sound installation, partly a cumulative, layering process, and partly an online archive.
“Minute/Year” also alters location each year. Having been installed in an apartment living room throughout 2016, it has now started a new iteration, for the entirety of 2017, in Lütticher 5, Berlin—a performance venue, exhibition space, living room, and ordinary kitchen. For 2017, the one minute of sound occurring daily in this space, now at 8:17 pm, will again be recorded, replayed, and layered, and posted online, as the process continues.