Feral File is hosting Sound Machines, an online exhibition of digital art prepared in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The works displayed in this show all center around the concept of sound, a physical category which is fleeting in its manifestation, and yet seminal in how we perceive the world around us. It is this effervescent quality which the creators have tried to capture and make permanent, each of them imbuing their individual works with a unique take on the intersection between sound, technology and art.

Integrating art and sound has a long history dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, when artists and composers and performers saw sound as a new mode of perception which could open up new vistas in artistic expression. The introduction of electronic and digital technologies during this period paved the way for experimentation both in art and in computer sciences, prophetically predicting the integration of these technologies in the modern era and the advent of NFTs.

Among the works in this online exhibition are Play From Memory, an audiovisual piece created by American composer Holly Herndon and artist Matt Dryhurst. In it, they draw a comparison between how humans learn music and how programmers train machine learning to recognize music, using prompts, games and symbols that brings to life a vibrant soundscape that is visually accompanied by black-and-white drawings of musically-gifted children and fantastical instruments. Yoko Ono participates with a revival of Sound Piece V (1996/2024), a poetic prompt which calls its observers to laughter and joy, but with the added twist of viewers being able to add their own recordings to the piece on-chain.

Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley follows Yoko Ono in a similar vein, engaging participants in an interactive game titled Cancel Yourself, an intense digital purgatory which invites users to question their own moral failings and endure the consequences of being cancelled. The adventure is followed at each step by a soundtrack that underscores this cathartic journey. Finally, in Payphone, 0xDEAFBEEF takes a retrospective look at phone cards, attaching live call-and-response performances to imaginary ones on-chain, giving a multilayered insight into the history of telephony, tokenization and exchange.

These works are available for viewing until March 14, after which Feral File and MoMA will mint each of the five works into a series of 30 sets on the Ethereum blockchain and auction them off, with the artists receiving 60 percent of proceeds from the sales. To find out more about this exhibition and other projects by Feral File, visit their site.

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