Titles with or about Tony Conrad

Cycles of 3's and 7's

1977, 12:12 min, b&w, sound

"Cycles of 3s and 7s is a doubled statement. First and foremost, it is a commentary on computer art and the role of computers in video. Secondly, its arithmetic project has some bearing on the construction of musical scales. In reclaiming the computer as a performance instrument, I intended that the human operator must compete directly with the computer, doing what the computer does best. The selection of a simple hand calculator was a deliberate denial of the computer aesth/ethic of bigger, faster: computer art must be doable within even the most modest architecture. Cycles of 3s and 7s shows that it is not the answer that 'counts,' but the pleasure in getting there. Simple rote calculation is turned into rhythm and song; accuracy of gesture and count become a game. These are 'stories' about numbers, the kind machines should like to hear and tell—if they 'liked.' The 'stories' here are calculated approximations to 1, each having the form

i j -k p x 3 x 7 x 2

In musical theory, the prime numbers 3, 7, and p are harmonics, and a just-intonation interval scale with equal steps requires approximations of this form. For instance, our twelve-tone scale depends upon the approximation"

12 -19 3 x 2 = 1.0136

—Tony Conrad