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Syntax Errors

Syntax Errors is a sound art performance in three movements by Christopher Dela Cruz and Eric Slyfield.

The title of the performance is a reference to mistakes that can occur during the process of writing code -- that is, when the computer cannot recognize or understand a command that you are attempting to make it do. It speaks to the lack of linguistic flexibility of technology with these errors that prevents the programmer from running their code, yet also its ability to be idiomatic. Leaning into the organic nature of chance, trial, and error, the performers embrace the process of programming and debugging collectively through three distinct movements, all in which represent an ongoing exploration of the potential of non-verbal communication, the artists converse strictly through technology and sound in this 60-minute performance.

Throughout, both artists chop and distort audio on-the-fly using hardware samplers and effects boxes, with Slyfield iterating through rhythms written on-the-spot in the programming environment FoxDot, while Dela Cruz brings both harmony and discord to the composition through custom-built instruments of his own design.

And to debut the artists’ respective positions as “Program Directors”, they perform the first movement - Research and Development - as faculty members of Department of Fine Arts.