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Holly Herndon: Home

The electronic musician questions the intimate relationship with her laptop

by Nara Shin
on 16 September 2014

As an electronic musician, Holly Herndon spends more time than most with her laptop. And, though this relationship is serious, she's indignant about the possibility of a threesome with an unknown surveillor—a sentiment felt by many after Edward Snowden triggered the ever-growing snowball of NSA spying revelations in 2013. The issue of being anonymously joined is directly addressed in her new single "Home," released today. This feeling, as she has found it—as have many other artists—has made her aware of how "our relationships with these interconnected devices are still so young, so naive." Her laptop, she writes in a statement, "is my instrument, memory and window to most people that I love. It is my Home.” And so, Herndon drafts a musical response to this unknown NSA agent, featuring her characteristic vocal processing and complex, skittering percussion, that is simultaneously a love letter and a break-up song. The trippy video, created in collaboration with Amsterdam-based design and research studio Metahaven, makes it rain NSA symbols.

As an artist who spent her early career in Berlin's underground club scene and is now pursuing a PhD in composition at Stanford University, Herndon has taken concept-based electronic music from its esoteric academic context and made it more accessible to a larger audience. Through this, she intends to make live Max/MSP software processing just as engaging as musicians bringing their synths and samplers to the stage.

Purchase an MP3 version of "Home" for $1 from RVNG. Also check out the unusual landing page of GIFs and short clips (what you could call the sonic version of GIFs) that Herndon and Metahaven created together.

Images courtesy of RVNG

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