Since her arrival in 2012, Holly Herndon, who is considered one of the most interesting multidisciplinary artists of the last decade, has successfully mined the edges of electronic and avantgarde pop and emerged with a dynamic and disruptive canon of her own, all while studying for her soon-to-be-completed PhD at Stanford University researching machine learning and music. Her LP ‘Platform’ (4AD) closed out 2015 by gracing year-end lists from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, and The Wire. In the aftermath, Radiohead hand-picked her to open up their European tour.

Herndon has just published her third full-length album, ‘PROTO’ (May 2019, 4AD), which is expected to rank high in many lists of best albums of the year, and which has also been conceived as a live show. ‘PROTO’ tests the boundaries between human and AI creativity, working hand in hand with her own A.I. ‘baby’, Spawn. For the project, she assembled a contemporary ensemble of vocalists, experts in machine learning, choreographers, visual artists, developers and an inhuman intelligence to create a record that encompasses live vocal processing and timeless folk singing, and places an emphasis on alien song craft and new forms of communion. The show, live, comprises a team that has developed AI customized unprecedented processes regarding sound generation, vocal processing and visual manipulation.

You can hear traces of Spawn throughout the album, developed in partnership with long time collaborator Mathew Dryhurst and ensemble developer Jules LaPlace, and even eavesdrop on the live training ceremonies conducted in Berlin, in which hundreds of people were gathered to teach Spawn how to identify and reinterpret unfamiliar sounds in group call-and-response singing sessions; a contemporary update on the religious gathering Holly was raised amongst in her upbringing in East Tennessee.

“There’s a pervasive narrative of technology as dehumanizing,” says Holly. “We stand in contrast to that. It’s not like we want to run away; we’re very much running towards it, but on our terms. Choosing to work with an ensemble of humans is part of our protocol. I don’t want to live in a world in which humans are automated off stage. I want an A.I. to be raised to appreciate and interact with that beauty”.

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[ FRIDAY 13 | 23:15 | CAPITOL ]