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New Artwork: What do machines sing of?

I finally finished a new installation called “What do machines sing of?”.


“What do machines sing of?” is a fully automated machine, which endlessly sings number-one ballads from the 1990s. As the computer program performs these emotionally loaded songs, it attempts to apply the appropriate human sentiments. This behavior of the device seems to reflect a desire, on the part of the machine, to become sophisticated enough to have its very own personality.

What do machines sing of? (90s Version)
Size: 170 x 55 x 45 cm
Material: metal stand, mic stand, mic, cable, 2 screens, computer, custom-made computer program

List of songs which are included and performed by the computer program:

Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
R. Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly
Toni Braxton – Un-Break My Heart
Bryan Adams – Everything I Do, I Do It For You
Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On

Documentation Video

I also uploaded the video to YouTube. You will find here.


A big thanks goes to Prof. Dr. Alberto de Campo, Hannes Hölzl, Prof. Joachim Sauter and Fredrik Olofsson (Art and Media Departement, University of Arts Berlin) for inspirational thoughts, lots of help and of course very good programming advices. A big thanks goes also to everyone involved in this project, but especially to some good friends, namely Markus Lerner for helping me out shooting the documentation video, Till Nagel and Brendan Howell for thoughts and translation.

The work has been created at the University of Arts in Berlin (Art and Media Departement) with the environment and programming language SuperCollider.

Media Coverage


Radio Deutschlandfunk, Corso – Kultur nach 3
Corsogespräch: Wenn Maschinen singen

WIRED Germany
Dieser Algorithmus singt euch Liebeslieder

Web (selection)

Süddeutsche Zeitung / Phänomeme
Berliner Künstler baut Maschine, die in Dauerschleife 90er-Pop-Balladen singt

20 Minuten – Schweizer Pendlerzeitung
Wenn der Computer endlos Schnulzen singt

Cosa succede quando un computer canta al karaoke

oi9 / Gawker Media
Heaven or Hell: A Computer That Never Stops Singing Hits From the 90s

CDM – Create Digital Music / Media
This Computer Singing 90s Love Ballads will Break Your Heart

The Creators Project
This Machine Will Sing 90s Pop Songs for Eternity

Fast Company / Co.Design
This Poor Computer Was Designed To Sing ’90s Karaoke Forever

Sonic State
Sonic TALK 412 – Live From Stekker

prosthetic knowledge
What do machines sing of? Tech art by Martin Backes

martin backes gets a fully automated computer to sing emotional 1990s ballads

Business Insider
There’s a computer that perpetually sings 90’s ballads and it’s weirdly perfect

É provável que este computador cante melhor do que você

Get The Weirdest Serenade Ever From This Robot TV That Sings 90s Music

This Computer Program Sings ’90s Hits With Soul

90s Forever

Watch a Computer Program Sing ’90s Power Ballads