Ade Ward interview with Soundtoys

interview with: ade ward (2005/08/18) journal contents

Have you got a web version that will play within a browser.

No. My work is easily downloadable from the web, but explores the possibilities of the computer's executable environment within an existing operating system. Doing this allows more diverse and explorative activities, as the web is, by definition, a limited medium. Shockwave is ultimately unfullfilling, and is a flakey and unreliable technology, which is a shame - it used to be fantastic.

Could you send info on how it was made,etc and any promo material.

Coded in RealBasic 3.0alpha3 from for Macintosh computers only. Realbasic makes it easy to rapidly prototype applications that use standard operating system components. This is why I choose to use it for my pieces, because the resulting code is almost guaranteed to work on a plain standard operating system without further upgrades/installation. Also, the code footprint is very small, ideal for web delivery.

Once I have the stable development platform in place, I can be sure that my work will execute in the manner that I desire, rather than being subjected to the tyranny of a browser plugin. Knowing this, I deliberately subvert the computer by placing it under extreme circumstances (infinite open windows, endless device and resource calls) until it crashes. I am in control of the system's crash, not the browser plugin.

How long have you been working in this area?

Started coding generative systems when I was 7 on my 48k ZX Spectrum, so that would be about 17 years. However, been more informed and critically aware for the past 5 or 6 years.

Studied MediaLab Arts at Plymouth University in 1994, part of the CAiiA-STAR scheme at the school of computing there. Graduated with first class honours after exploring the implications of generative systems. Developed Signwave Autoshop <> and presented a paper on the Authorshop of Generative Art at GA99 Milan. Commissioned by Lovebytes in Sheffield to extend ideas explored previously into realtime interactive musical systems, had worked published by them on their DSP CD-Rom.

Recent work includes collaboration with visual and performance artists, performances of generative systems and development of realtime, collaborative audio composition software.

Were you an artist/ musician first who got into using computers/the net or did you respond to the net in an artistic way?

Computers have always been a major part of life. Music came shortly after. Played trumpet as a child. It seemed natural to use a computer to generate music. The net has been an important thing for me for the past 6 or 7 years. Don't see computers/internet as something to 'use' - it is a _part_ of the self, something unremovable and a basic part of being. Thus, no 'response' as such. Merely natural reaction.

What/who has influenced you in your work? (themes, other artists etc)

AudioRom (interesting a few years ago, but now quite banal) AntiRom (ditto) Toshio Iwai (musical insects, interactive audio installations) Max Eastly (sonic, kinetic sculptures) Autechre (autogenerative techno music) David Toop (writing) Ryoji Ikeda (sonic composition).

Are there any other artists covering the same field as you?

Not enough, and they do not make themselves known. Most have a tendancy to hide their process making it difficult to consider generative aspect. Generative systems allow precise and unclouded consideration of process and intention. Unambiguous artwork must surely by caused by clarity of process, what better clarity of process than executable code?

With regard to 'soundtoys' especially, why do you think the audio visual metaphor is so key to the net?

Not really exclusive to net, but to interactive technology on the whole. Simple visualisation opens up possibilities of reaching new audiences by providing playful experience, hence 'game'like interactions. Children participate and learn new musical concepts. Foster a new wave of musical creativity from the stale technology of yesterday.

Does the net promotes visual awareness that is unique to it?

No. Video/Film most visually aware medium in society. Net is about information and open access, surely? Information and code. My work explores accessibility to code.

How novel do you feel generative music is?

Certainly not a new concept. Dada/Oulipo movements 40/50 years ago explored automation and autogenerative concepts, modern interactive technology is re-opening the debate and allowing a fresh perspective on an otherwise age-old concept.

Would you describe yourself as a multimedia artist, a net.artist, programmer, or none of the above?

Interactive media developer and artist.

What software do you use most?

Internet Explorer, telnet, BBEdit, Perl (unix), nano (unix), Apache (unix).

Ade Ward.


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