Brian House’s Quotidian Record is a record of his life--the result of a year’s worth of geo-data collection, translated into a composition on vinyl. "We spend a lot of time taking photos of exceptional events and posting them on Facebook. These are a little false, if you ask me, in that they leave out the experience of day-to-day life that’s more about the patterns of our habits through time," he says.

Greg Mihalko of Partner & Partners designed the sleeve and visuals. "For the cover, Greg had the brilliant idea of the Q representing both Quotidian and the platter with tone arm. Stylistically, we were referencing mid-to-late 20th century record sleeve designs," House says. "Personal data is increasingly defining us, and increasingly inescapable. We have to reckon with that. We don’t have access to the infrastructure for heavy data-mining, but anyone can use the open source tools that are out there to collect their own information, be expressive with it, and own that aspect of their identity."

"The choice of Futura was based on its geometry as well as its history within the Bauhaus context of form following function," Mihalko says of the typeface.

"The back includes my visualizations for each city, meant as a kind of score which Greg worked into a design," House explains. "The idea is that someone is holding the sleeve while listening, it’s part of the feel."

"The markings on the record indicate what is being represented at the point of the stylus, making it both a sound and visual piece," says House.

"Since the grooves are positioned uniquely, each record had to be meticulously laid out individually," says House about variations in the 10 limited-edition, manually cut records. "I had to come up with a formula and process to figure out how much each individual ring had to scale for each record, send those percentages to Greg and he would generate the artwork."

"The question was how much to show visually in a way that added to the aural experience and facilitated the gestures—but which didn’t confuse it," House tells Co.Design.

A year in the life.


Soundtrack Of Your Life: Get Into The Groove Of Tracking Your Every Move In Vinyl

Artist Brian House puts a new spin on record collecting by turning his own geo-data into music.

The dance floor claim of "Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life" just got more literal (that’s saved as in data stored) for one media artist. As part of a residency at New York’s Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, Brian House documented his whereabouts for an entire year with OpenPaths—which he worked on at the New York Times R&D lab—on his phone. Then he put it on a turntable and took it for a spin, in an 11-minute musical composition.

"It’s not just a sound piece," House tells Co.Design. "It’s the performance, the physical gestures involved in placing the record on the turntable and placing the stylus." (He only posted a portion of the audio online so as to keep its full length intrinsically tied to the real-world record player.) "There is a critical dimension in pointing out that data is always qualitative and means different things depending on how it is cast."

He began his personal data translation with the predictable part: analyzing and ordering the list of spots he visited by the relative size of the "cluster" formed by personal patterns, how much time he spent at each location and with what regularity. In this respect, most of us play a similar tune, following the expected paths, House tells Co.Design. "My apartment was first, followed by work, followed by my studio, etc."

But even the routes of everyday routine leave room for creativity, and it’s the breaks in them—like travel, for example, which was a part of House’s self-documented year—that keep things interesting. He assigned each site of his life a specific step in the musical scale, and each city he visited a key. "I decided to use a tonal series, which I composed a little by intuition and a little by trial and error," he says. "The more common places were generally given more consonant harmonies, so throughout most of the piece you get a major third repeating, which is basically me sleeping at home. As I’m moving around more, it gets more complex."

Producing a physical form was an essential part of the process for House; he turned to vinyl maestro Ted Riederer to manually cut each of the 10 limited-edition records on a lathe, resulting in a series in which each disc is unique. A rotation of the record takes 1.8 seconds, making the documentation of 365 days a manageable 11 minutes.

Greg Mihalko of Partner & Partners collaborated on the sleeve design and various visuals on the record itself. "The graphic decisions were dictated by the data and of course, the medium as much as possible," Mihalko says. "Although unintentional, the concentric rings resemble the cross-section of a tree trunk, which also indicate the passage of time."

Though others can enjoy the melody of House’s year in the life, he admits that he’s a singular listener. "It’s a framework for a set of memories," he says. "I hear my commute and my travels through a lens of expectation. I love the sound of my trip into the Colorado wildness, in particular. I reenact that when I listen, and it’s especially meaningful to me now because my patterns have changed drastically since I’ve moved away from NYC."

And despite its roots in info and figures, House maintains the work wasn’t made to be parsed or decoded. "It’s meant to be felt, just as you feel other music. The most surprising thing, really, is that the process actually results in something that (I think) is compelling."

(h/t Prosthetic Knowledge)

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