Caleb Kelly – Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction

Caleb Kelly

The MIT Press, ISBN 978-0262013147
, USA, 2009, English
Since John Cage we have started to prefigure what is now called the “aesthetics of failure.” Reconsidering accidents as opportunities has been the conceptual terrain of different avant garde artists ever since. All the major musicians that have founded their own career researching the “malfunction” are discussed here. Mechanically deconstructing both player devices and played media has not been just an alternative fashion, nor a mere aestheticizing of error, but a formal and conceptual process to explore. Kelly formalizes the “crack” as the nodal point in this process, being a productive break, that interrupts the usual flow and diverts the same process to a different creative development. This break implies a sudden switch to different perceptual categories and suggests entering a different auditory field where the unexpected become the expected. In an almost squared small format size, with the text ideally fitting in a CD booklet, this book analyzes the “crack” with all its consequences at the noise and the liquefaction of “music” boundaries. The concept of “error” has been almost absorbed in contemporaneity, as it’s more and more frequent in daily life, thanks to our dependence on digital tools and networks, and it has become even more obscure and unforeseeable with the predominance of complex digital technologies. So the mechanical materiality of disassembling and disrupting sound processes evolving into the “induction” processes of constructing glitches is definitively placing the “wrong” as an established center of interest.