Digital technology has the power to transmit information more efficiently, to make the invisible visible, and to express new things. It can also be pushed so far to the limits of actually transmitting information to be meaningless. It can push well beyond what we can even perceive in a useful way. What’s bizarre and wonderful about Johannes Kreidler’s work is that he’s not afraid of pushing toward that boundary. The results may have only a shred of remaining meaning, or be intentionally, comically meaningless. But he’s nothing if not inventive.

Compression Sound Art (2009) [“Comments on Music – Musical Zip-Files … Time is relative!”

The video above, politically speaking, is Not Safe For Anything – where else can you bring up Hitler and Britney Spears and condoms? But the only visually tantalizing information is the brief view of a condom speaker membrane and a chest with pasties.

The creations range from:

An oven pipe imported in 1972 from Alaska to New Zealand, vibrated at 574 cycles per second using a gasoline motor. Then, in 2003, this recording was manipulated and filtered on an old atari computer using hacked software.


Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason, played 22,000 times in one second (audible only to bats).

The controversial nods and humor aside, I think this really does say something about time and data. I could tell you, but I’d need a microsecond. Let’s just avoid any mention of datamosh.

Johannes Kreidler does know how to encode information in useful, accessible ways, too, however. He’s done just that with a terrific book on Pd (Pure Data), the open source, visual programming environment in which he created works like the one above. Can’t dance to it? You can do other things with Pd, too. You can dance to it? Then, by all means, go for it:

Be a Music Geek Ninja with Electronic Music Programming in Pd: New Book

Previous Kreidler sightings:

A song made from 70,2000 samples

The stock market declines, as a song

  • BIlly Gnosis

    Not an incredibly interesting project.

  • Jaime Munarriz

    Mmmm, absolutely amazing!!

  • this is gold!

  • apalomba

    *yawn* interesting I guess…

  • Ha… okay, well, this is certainly proving to be divisive. People either love it or hate it. I would ask people to expound on their opinions, but it seems to be so visceral, I guess there's no need.

    Condom speakers are clearly the future, however.

  • rmc

    agree with apalomba…..

    not even really that politically provocative, either.

  • Ah, but if you're Catholic it is. 😉

  • not to rain on anyone's parade, but you're not actually hearing the-entire-anything. you're hearing how the compression algorithm interacts with source data that's unreasonably large.

  • zenzen

    Quirky! Thanks for a post that's not about handmade controllers built by skinny white guys sporting ironic facial hair (although I like those posts, too) or MAX/MSP (although I'm thankful for the links to the PD works).

    Seriously, CDM is my first stop every day, Peter, and I appreciate the range and thoughtfulness of the posts and comments. zz

  • Rob P.

    Meh. Sample trash, IMO.

    You want good sample work? Check Akufen.

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  • wow. i love it.

  • Much more interesting Beatles compression:
    Stephen McLaughlin's "Run for Your Life":

    See also a number of his audio compression pieces here:

  • richard

    See I liked that, Watched the whole thing laughed openly. Enjoyment. I’m not gonna sit down now and watch an entire Akufen video on youtube no matter how great it sounds in the car.

  • While this definetely a nic proof of cencept, it lacks some style. I mean, it’s quite ugly, as piece of art. Check here, Cildo Meireles, conceptual artist from Brazil, did stuff like that already in the 70s:

  • mikey

    What I like is that he provokes so much different opinions! (btw – I like the piece very much.)

  • somehow reminds me of the 'brainwashing' scene from The Parallax View:

  • love it, hate it, or are bored of it. i think the third category is pretty important. 😀 I did laugh at some of the ideas though.

  • Miha

    ????? ??????!

    Complete shit.

  • Someone should open this in Paul's Extreme Sound Stretch (no pun intended) and see if all the songs are really included.

  • Not to be pedantic or anything, but from from hearing the speeded up sounds I'd say the technique used to speed up sounds actually keeps a very small amount of the original sounds. That's why it sounds more like fast forwarding on a CD.

    I realised that a couple of years ago when using ARSS (the command-line predecessor to Photosounder) I tried speeding up speech between 10 times and 100 times and realised when you keep all the sound info and actually compress it instead of discarding then it sounds a lot more bubbly.

    Here's an example of George W. Bush's 2008 State of the Union Address speeded up 100 times so it only lasts about 30 seconds

  • I feel like being familiar with this approach helps a lot. I don't think it's supposed to be taken "seriously", it seems more like an over-the-top parody of time-compression based work.

  • rhowaldt

    conceptually i think it is very good, and with a sense of humour. i must agree however, with the fact that the exection in video is very, very ugly. but i guess the guy is not a visualist.

  • rhowaldt

    execution. and is it agree with, on or to? confused. (not native English)

  • Yep, yep. If you don't take this thing too seriously, it's fun. If you appreciate that compressing things this much makes them meaningless, it's fun. To me, it's less about the content and more about the perception of time… remember the Beatles in Yellow Submarine pointing out just how long 60 seconds can be? I feel this can do that with even one second.

    I appreciate everyone offering up this other work; some great stuff. That's the idea … just to start a discussion. I always figure the post is half the story, and your comments are the other half. 😉

  • Anig Browl

    Put me in the unimpressed camp. Leaving aside whether you like the music aspect (which is OK), if you listen without the video and don't know the context, there's nothing in any of these samples that gives you even the remotest sense of what makes one thing different from another.Beethoven and Britney Spears are reduced to the same level of meaninglessness…and so on.

    Really, what we're hearing here tells use more about whatever sound editor (and its mathematical code with its cumulative rounding errors) than it does about the content that's put through it. I really like the idea, but the execution is dreadful and uncreative. What would be interesting (and I hope the artist will pursue some other avenues) would be to 'normalise' these disparate audio sources to the same length and then modulate, convolve, vocode, or otherwise blend them together.

    It's like Looking at google Earth – occasionally you see a blob that might be a person, but since you can't tell you don't much care.

  • ross

    Of course without the explanations the sound has no meaning, but with explanations it's an intelligent humour. It doesn't disturb me that it's no visual art, I don't think that's important.

  • I'm not sure whether it's supposed to be serious or not, but either way I liked it.

  • i'd be interested to know more about the compression algorithms.
    do they work in reverse?
    are we hearing all of the material or just bits and pieces?
    i realize that it probably wouldn't sound all that different either way based on what the ear can perceive, but execution & presentation in this type of conceptual art are some of the most important criteria in determining its success.

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