Beth Carey interviewed by Soundtoys

interview with: beth carey (2005/08/18) journal contents

Beth Carey Occupation: Artist

How long have you been working in this area?

In the creative field, as long as I can remember. In computer arts,
started dabbling in the mid-1980's, got heavily into it in the mid-1990's.

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

I did nasty punk rock muzik and abstract 16mm filmmaking b4 working on
computers. Computer work being everything from tech muzik to digital video
compositing to multi-user participatory work.

Look at what makes the 'net medium unique: multi-user capabilites, as well
as the data that is availble to play w/, such as ping, who is, finger, and a
whole slew of Unix enironmental variables that our sysadmin and programmer
friends could tell us about in detail. The 'net environment is totally
social and this aspect is what should be worked with in creative and
interesting ways.

The popular understanding of "interactivity", that is, the "point and
click" approach in which a user decides the flow of pre-defined events of
an electronic experience by choosing from a set of choices, overlooks the
most important qualities of new telecommunications media. Is that all
there is to interactivity? Fuck no, healthy interactivity involves
exchanging ideas with another human being, and this is a significant
direction that Internet art and entertainment must take in order to evolve
with the technology.

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

Giving credit where credit is due, we ALL have to site the Happenings and
Fluxus performance artists of the 1950's and 1960's. This is without a
doubt the origin of 'net-based interactive art. They were the first people
who made participatory art where active involvement of the audience was the
art object.

Aesthetically, I am influenced by 1980's tech and industrial muzik and most
everything that evolved from it, e.g. old and new Cabaret Voltaire, Test
Dept., Controlled Bleeding, Throbbing Gristle, Joy Division, Front242, et

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

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

The audio-visual metaphor is not the key part. The key is multiuser

Could you come up with a definition of "soundtoys"

I don't know what yours are. Mine are StudioVision and Samplecell.

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

Yes, in the area of user presence and user representation.

How novel do you feel generative music is?

Its not novel, per se, since its been done for a very long time. Intent
is what makes something art. Generative pieces are somewhat conceptual
because the art object is the program and the user interaction with the
program, not the resulting sound from it.

You can make a sound piece using data from anything, like IP addresses of
people who email you, but its aesthetic value would be lacking. A lot of
generative music is based on the "wow-ness" factor, if that's what you are
asking. I appreciate it for what it is, but usually the results do not
appeal to me.

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

I don't think I am human most of the time, I don't know what I am.
Sometimes I think I am an AI agent. If I ever felt human I would strive to
be seen by my peers as an artist.

What software do you use most?

Lots. For programming I like pico text editor and a java compiler on a
unix box. I'm not sure what you are asking. I'm a Mac and Unix user, I
hate PC's.

For muzik composition I love SampleCell and StudioVision on a mac of
course. If I had more time I'd check out more midi composing software.

Other awards, festivals:
Visual Arts Gallery, Soho, New York City The 1998 New York Digital Salon


Production tools used:

Sound: Sample Cell, StudioVision, SoundEdit 16 Programming: Text editors, MS J++ and IRIX Java Compilers Grafix: Photoshop

KeyBored: A Multi-User Audio Environs

KeyBored is a networked multiuser audio environment that explores sound as a communication medium and computer-mediated presense in social interactions. An Internet virtual meeting place becomes a performance space, and users are simultaneously both performers and audience members.

Users on the internet participate in improvised "sound conversations" in which sound samples are mapped to their computer keyboards. The users are forced to communicate with one another in the artist's self-made sound language that is based on her theories of the sublime in communication and the resulting accompanying terror and emotion. All users can hear each other9s sound, and they may play simultaneously. A shape that moves with the cursor visually represents each user, and when someone triggers a sound the associated shape flashes.

Keybored was exhibited at the Visual Arts Gallery in Soho, The New York Digital Salon which carried through nearly a dozen shows in Spain and Italy, on Nomadnet, and was featured in the journal, Leonardo.

Beth Carey received a BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and an MFA in Computer Art from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Prior to working in digital media, in the 1980's, she made independent art films on celluloid, and worked in the commerical film industry. She currently resides in New York City and is working on several art projects that involve extensive user interaction.

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