The Ghost In The MP3 also known as modernist is an experiment by Ryan Patrick Maguire where he collects the bits of data that are erased during the MP3 and MP4 compression processes that make our files smaller and plays them back as a standalone file. This results in a hazy, ghostly audio and video of the discarded bits of data that are erased when a file is compressed that sounds and looks like it’s trapped in another dimension.
Some of us may have gotten to the MP3 sound because of the convenience of a smaller file or because it has become the industry standard but many listeners may not realize we are actually missing parts of the original. In this example Ryan used the song ‘Tom’s Diner‘ by Suzanne Vega which in the 90′s was used as the litmus test while the MP3 algorithm was being developed in Germany.
Ryan explains: “moDernisT” was created by salvaging the sounds and images lost to compression via the mp3 and mp4 codecs. the audio is comprised of lost mp3 compression material from the song “Tom’s Diner”, famously used as one of the main controls in the listening tests to develop the MP3 encoding algorithm. Here we find the form of the song intact, but the details are just remnants of the original. the video is the difference between uncompressed and compressed versions of the original tom’s diner music video [1987 a cappella version]. thus, both audio and video are the “ghosts” of their respective compression codecs.
See and hear it below. For an overview on how he did it and some audio samples check out this.