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The redefinition of noise

Finding beauty in an unlikely place.

The word “noise” generally conjures up some negative connotations. Synonyms could include “loud”, “abrasive”, “unnecessary” and “non-essential”, whether it’s audiovisual in nature or in reference to something modern like sorting large amounts of data through a computer.

Despite those associations, for decades noise has entranced creative people seeking to make art out of what most consider to be a nuisance. Distorting reality with noise can create an enchanting, or sometimes unsettling, atmosphere.

Apps can help those seeking out such experimental thrills.

Play to the noise

If “experimental” is what you want, look no further than No Thing. As a player, your task is simple: navigate the path laid out in front of you – all you have to do is turn left or right at the right moment.

Seems simple enough? Not if you count all the oddities that appear around the path. Gigantic flying heads, limbs and even entire cities are there to distract you from your task, never mind the droning soundtrack that seems like it’s been composed by a secret member of Kraftwerk who thought the German musicians didn’t quite push the limits of electronic music enough.

It all adds up to some mild, digital psychedelia-infused fun and it’s such a novel and unique experience that it’s well worth trying.

    NO THING - Surreal Arcade Trip

    Surreal Arcade Trip in 1994!

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Express yourself in pictures and videos

These days, we’re spoiled when it comes to photography. Using an iPhone or an iPad, you can capture any moment and share that with family, friends or complete strangers in an incredible variety of ways.

But a picture doesn’t necessarily have to remain a representation of a moment. Using noise, you can transform your photos into more of an art piece, evoking feelings beyond merely “remember that?”.

Apps like Hyperspektiv and Efekt contain a variety of noise-themed filters. Use these to play around with shifting colours and add glitchy effects to make your photos feel positively otherworldly.

    Glitché

    Video. Photo. AR. Aesthetic.

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    EFEKT Video Maker by Picsart

    Glitch Effects, AR, VHS Camera

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    HYPERSPEKTIV: Photo, Video, AR

    Psychedelic Glitch Filters

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Making music out of noise

Of course, when talking about noise, sound has to play a part. To explore the role this has played in music, look to the master of classical music in Russia, Igor Stravinsky, and his use of variations of rhythms and dissonance.

For example, the earliest ultra-high-pitched bassoon solo had never been used in classical music until his signature ballet The Rite of Spring premiered. It’s not hard to imagine that the first performance, which was regarded as noise by the audience, became a great controversy.

Inspired by Stravinsky and his legacy of going against the grain, a whole subgenre of noise music is thriving.

With apps such as Fractal Bits, a drum pad that generates as many as 400 million noisy sounds, you can continue in those footsteps.

The drums are generated through eight-character codes which you can save and share.

They can be used as part of your music, or they can be incorporated into the background of videos or a game’s sound effects. What was once noise, now has a purpose.

    SoundScaper

    An experimental sound mini lab

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    Fractal Bits

    Fractal-based drum synth

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Noise, which is spoken in various contexts, exists everywhere in our lives. With these apps, you can explore what you might’ve thought of as unnecessary and non-essential.