one-minute vacation
serendipity machines

I have always been interested in finding ways of introducing people to the sound I collect that escape the paradigm of concert-and-CD.

One direction I pursued was the Serendipity Machine. Each Machine produces an ever-changing stream of sounds by autonomously and randomly mixing source clips from a prepared library.

Clips can be anything from a few seconds to several minutes long; several clips of silence are included. Each Machine is built into an object appropriate to its sound sources, typically a suitcase; blindfolds are usually provided to focus the listener on what she is hearing.

My first Machine, 03-19-02 (Skyway), was installed for Systems Up! on March 19, 2002, an evening of installation and visual art curated by San Francisco's Elliot Lessing; that is the Machine documented here.

My album Dusk Machines documents a series of more recent Machines, which mix quiet sine waves tuned to the slendro scale of the Indonesian gamelan with more refined libraries of recordings.


marincello unsoundwalk
rodeo soundial
handpans and the hang
as paredes têm ouvidos
flostam resonance #1
a day, a week, a year
field effects concert series annapurna: memories in sound
quiet, please
serendipity machines
urban cycles
other recordings

serendipity machine 03.19.02 (skyway), dedicated to dice walker Larnie Fox

These Machines enchant me because they offer the listener an opportunity to hear something unique: the chance conjunction of sounds that is evocative, provacative, lovely or jarring. A conjunction that may never occur again, exactly the same way.

In other words, the Machines reproduce and amplify exactly those elements which are most elusive, that interest me most, in the act of field recording itself.

Perhaps that's why they can surprise and delight me, though I make them and know every sound in their library.

Let me know if you'd like to purchase or curate a machine.

skyway22 MB

Sample composition generated by Serendipity Machine 03.19.02 (skyway). The machine constantly mixes a set of around a hundred clips of unmanipulated recordings to produce a never-repeating, always-changing series of juxtapositions up to three layers deep. Some 20,000 combinations are possible, including moments of silence.

Note: more recent Serendipity Machine tracks are available on my album Dusk Machines.