Quotidian Record

Brian House (US)

Quotidian Record

Musical record from location data, 2012

Quotidian Record is a limited edition vinyl recording that features a continuous year of my location tracking data. Each place I visited, from home to work, from a friend's apartment to a foreign city, is mapped to a harmonic relationship. One day is one rotation, and 365 days is roughly eleven minutes.

As the record turns, the markings on the surface indicate both the time as it rotates through every 24 hours and the names of the cities to which I travel. The sound suggests that our habitual patterns have inherent musical qualities and that daily rhythms might form an emergent portrait of an individual.

As physical vinyl, Quotidian Record may be collected and fetishised, connecting the value of data today with the history of popular music culture. It provides an expressive, embodied, and even nostalgic alternative to the narratives of classification and control typical of state and corporate data infrastructure.

About Brian
Brian House is a media artist whose work traverses alternative geographies, experimental music, and a critical data practice. By constructing embodied, participatory systems, he seeks to negotiate between algorithms and the rhythms of everyday life. His work has been shown by MoMA in New York, MOCA in Los Angeles, Ars Electronica, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Eyebeam, Rhizome, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Conflux Festival, ISEA, NIME, and Issue Project Room, among others, and has been featured in publications including WIRED, TIME, The New York Times, SPIN, Metropolis, and on Univision Sports. He is currently a doctoral student at Brown University in the Music and the Modern Culture and Media departments.

How did you get started lifelogging/analysing data?
I have always been interested in patterns — in machines, in nature — and seeing how they evolve over time. The banal can become beautiful with repetition and variation. Lifelogging can be a form of exploring that.

Why do you find lifelogging so interesting?
I am interested in the human contingencies of data, and right now, as a society, we are learning the benefits and the pitfalls of recording our every move. I think it is important for artists to play a role in that and to try out approaches that might not be obvious at first.

How do people in your life react when they discover the extent of your lifelogging?
Thanks to mobile phones, everyone is a lifelogger. I've tried to point that out, and to suggest ways of accessing and interpreting that information. People are alternately scared and blasé about surveillance, but sometimes some of the other possibilities aren't obvious.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Evening, because of the colors, and it's when I'm most alert.

Do you remember the first electronic device you owned?
Simon, a classic electronic memory game.

What do you want done with your data after you die?
Burned on the shores of the Ganges.

Is there about yourself would you absolutely never like tracked?
Pitch accuracy when shower singing.

What insights on your life has tracking your data revealed?
I try not to consciously modify my behavior, that's not what I'm interested in. I think of it more like a form of documentation that reminds you of the original sensory experience but isn't quite the same thing.

What websites, magazines or other resources inspire, confound, amuse or irritate you?
The New York Times, The Whole Earth Catalog, HOLO, Avalanche, ESPN, XKCD, NASA.

What is your go-to piece of tech or software for lifelogging?
Every project is different and uses different hardware. I always write my own software, because it's fun, and I like working with as raw information as is possible. I am looking forward to new devices that are more reliable for capturing biometrics like breathing and blinking for instance, as well as new algorithms to detect more things from simple sensors like accelerometers and rich ones like microphones.

We're creating a speculative timeline of the possible future of lifelogging. We're asking everyone to make one prediction for a future date. What's yours? Feel free to think big!
By 2025, all horoscopes will be personal, data driven, and real.


This project was supported by a residency at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center.