The Sentiment Machine, machines with no sentiments

The Sentiment Machine, N. B. Aldrich, the_sentiment_machine.jpg

In ‘The Sentiment Machine’, a self-regulating sound installation by N. B. Aldrich, a dozen of speakers dangles from the ceiling, broadcasting audio clips from TV (talk show interviews, news briefs, and soap operas). Developed for the Soundmarks show at Art Interactive, this un-interactive artwork is based on a database of TV soundtracks and on a computer program that cross-edits and remixes audio clips on-the-fly mimicking conversational rhythms. The clips are randomly played back with the intent of proofing that “The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining…”(Neil Postman). Aldrich’s work usually aims to break the chain of experience, refiguring the events’ timeline or geography, creating new, juxtaposed experiential relationships. Here, the purpose is quite obvious: to show how machines designed to foster communication often end up obstructing sentiment. But is it still necessary to proof that computers can’t provide us with meaning? Probably this assumption cannot be considered true anymore.

Valentina Culatti