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ISSUE 51:
Proof of Sound by Sonic Screen
聲介面:發聲如何證明
March, 2022 Planner: 徐詩雨, 吳其育, 沈森森, 致穎, 李雨潔 Creator: Sonic Screen (聲介面) Curator: Sonic Screen (聲介面)
Mar
2022

A Meta-Text in the Sonic Metaverse

This special issue is edited by Sonic Screen members: Shih-Yu Hsu, Wu Chi-Yu, Shen Sum-Sum, Musquiqui Chihying, Yu-Chieh Li.

Decentralization relies on independent nodes/verifiers running a pre-established protocol under a premeditated consensus. In his paper from 1982, Leslie Lamport utilized the Byzantine Generals Problem to describe a problematic situation within a network’s distributed communication — if the system fails to have more than half of its generals agree, through communication, upon a unanimous strategy to either attack or retreat, then the operation will not succeed. When art workers remotely coordinate or communicate, the situation is often much more complex than that with Byzantine generals. Sonic Screen chat groups are overflown with information concerning editing works, gossips in the art world, as well as information that will hopefully help art workers with financial sustain, such as tips on cryptocurrency investment or pop science knowledge on blockchain technology; editing ideas and investment tips are updated across different time zones. If there exists any “art labor problem” within such protocol, then the problem would not lie on whether agreement has been reached among the majority but on how to make decentralized sounds (ideas) sustain permanently.

When it comes to art labor, is the Proof of Work consensus the best method for validation?Proof of Work (PoW), a renowned solution to this communication problem, is a consensus mechanism that achieves validation by requiring its members to contribute towards certain works. [This style of decentralized singing simultaneously implicates conceptions regarding aesthetics—legality—property—nature, and the act eventually results in the establishment of a new community.] And yet, different from Bitcoin verification, art workers are not adept at bookkeeping; instead, they work highly frequently at running pre-decision-making communication, imagination, (investment) suggestions, constantly voicing themselves and shaping dynamic consensus — a “Proof of Sound” attempted at helping everyone achieve financial/creative freedom.

How to “prove a sound” and determine a consensus mechanism for it is indeed an interesting question. Sonic Screen’s core objective has always been to develop ideas based on “sounds” and “voices;” nevertheless, ideas and artworks have, at their best, merely depicted the objective’s outline — the project’s true framework is determining methods of collaboration and joint output. Inspired by the collaboration framework of decentralized algorithms, Sonic Screen’s team of editors has invited a group of creators to devote to a series of writings containing words and sounds of varying shapes and forms. As a consensus mechanism, Proof of Work ensures that communication is decentralized and executed effectively. By having editors comb through participants’ works, Sonic Screen is opting for a collaboration approach that encourages participants to pledge their work as project objectives; more than proof of validation through working, it is a “Proof of Stake” (PoS) for participation and ownership (of the project). In blockchain technology, the popularization of Proof of Stake implies change in efficiency and energy recognition. Meanwhile, under such transformation of consensus mechanism, there has been a series of updates on ETH transaction (communication) fees as we witness the bloom of NFTs, which has pushed Ethereum’s standard for representing ownership of non-fungible tokens — ERC 721 — to top 1 on ArtReview’s 2021 Power 100 list.[1]

Sound has never had a center; nor can it fade away completely or become totally inactive —especially in a DAW (digital audio workspace) work environment. Visuals rely on focuses — when we are looking at a visual editing software’s windows, the frames determine our focal range and border, creating a two-dimensional space for placing a principle image. [Sound is always at its most powerful when it inadvertently surrounds us without interfering with other senses.] The concept of a sound-creation interface is superimposition. If we take time to be the x-axis, then we can have an almost infinite amount of “sound lines/tracks” (depending on hardware capacity) on the y-axis. When we group a cluster of sound tracks together, we create a sound scene in which every sound track is equally significant. We can classify them as well — sound lines of singing, noises, linguistic, environmental (in a scenery where nothing is happening, space noise soundtracks are crucial in signifying the silence), and so on. It doesn’t matter how much their volume or frequency is subsequently adjusted or how they are eventually represented after sound mixing, they demonstrate equal significance in the work interface. Sonic Screen was born out of a writing project — there was exchange of ideas, mutual sharing of information, and messages of spiritual support on a daily basis — gradually, it seemed as if this word-stacking interface began to take a structure similar to that of a sound production interface.

As a project/organization claiming decentralization, our consensus came to formation after setting our objectives and, during our work process, gradually grew into a subtle background noise. More often than not, we spend our time waiting — waiting for progress, waiting for replies. The silence between such waiting resemble the quietest block in a blockchain — the Eater Address — “0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000.” If we take a closer look, we will still see how it is made up of many different components: an Ethereal black hole that is silent yet at the same time polyphonic.

It is rumored that sound waves in the Metaverse are “immersive” sounds — this nihilistic description that covers almost every type of contemporary device probably won’t help us expand our imagination. What we are perhaps certain of is that sound waves in the Metaverse are neither attached to some tangible medium nor transmitting through vibration towards a fixed direction. In such a setup in terms of sound wave communication environment, when a sound transpires, it is already heading towards an unknown direction and will eventually be interpreted as an unknown sound in another space time. [By questioning the words we use. By passing on stories unburdened by footnotes. By listening hungrily.]

What decentralization and Web3 have brought us is more than a brand new work interface but, perhaps more effectively, one with a voicing philosophy that can target one or multiple vocalisms. A decentralized phonation is noisy, concurrent, disordered, or “polyphonic.” [Bumblebees don’t make buzzing sounds — they encode sounds and then hide messages using random noises.] The disorganized becomes polymeric via continuous collaboration — sort of like the metaphor of Code is Law, how we identify laws and consensus through phonation shall help us arrange our harmonic and inharmonic melodies. [Emotion – it is one factor that has been largely underestimated.] In the writing process, the crowd’s voices sometimes cross over each other; sometimes, they stand confrontationally, turning into noises in one another’s world; sometimes, they become background or even white noise. And whether as white or background noise, they are all amplified feelings of “here once was” moments; here, sound does not diverge — it can only exist by being quite self-centered. On the other hand, this dissonance piece of wording combination has somehow presented an unprecedented sense of coordination or coherence… Perhaps beyond the original intent for dissonance, these sounds have mutually affected one another and pushed towards a harmonious consequence. Is this a contradictory result, or have we created some kind of Proof of Sound similar to white noise?

[1] Ever since the upgrade of Ethereum’s EIP-1599 proposal, the NFT marketplace OpenSea has remained at the top of  the transaction list for gas fees. Reference: https://ultrasound.money/.

 


The five editors of Sonic Screen invited five writers to re-imagine various embodiments of physical and conceptual sounds. Taking the idea of “sounding through decentering” as a starting point, they employ creative and critical writing to explore cross-disciplinary communications, memories, noises, and silence.

This special issue on No Man’s Land records this collective creative project through texts and images. Responding to the idea of decentralized publishing, the six articles are featured on No Man’s Land’s special issue no. 51, and registered on ISCN (International Standard Content Number): a metadata record on LikeCoin chain under Web 3.0. (This writing project is supported by “Visual Arts Criticism Project” by the National Culture and Arts Foundation and the Winsing Arts Foundation.)

See Also
See Also
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