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Artist Dmitry Morozov makes music by destroying your smartphone

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His Moscow-based installation encouraged participants to destroy their belongings

Warbled, metallic clatter. The crunch of plastic. A droning buzz. A soft, squelching thump. This is what it sounds like when you take a smartphone, crush it with a hydraulic press and record the sound. That's what Russian media artist Dmitry Morozov, aka ::vtol::, does in his exhibition, Oil, commissioned last year by Moscow's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

The destruction of a phone becomes a 20-minute album

The interactive exhibit contains five stations, each composed of a 10-ton hydraulic press attached to a microphone, an Arduino Uno microcontroller board, a Mac Mini, and an Apple CD drive. Visitors are encouraged to sacrifice their material belongings — cell phones, headphones, Maneki-neko toys — to the whims of the machines.

As you can see in the video above, an object — in this case, a dated Philips Xenium — is placed under the press. Then, in a process that seems tauntingly slow, a lever must be manually pumped to lower the press. While the object is being smashed, the noise is recorded, funneled through a processing algorithm, and finally, burned to a CD. The result is a 20-minute long track for the participant to take home.

In his artist statement, ::vtol:: says, "The project is intended to provoke visitors into spontaneously ridding themselves of material consumer objects for the sake of creating their own individual work of art via deprivation, divestment and destruction." Over the course of the exhibition, 1574 original recordings were created.