Carla Diana Interview

interview with: carla diana (2005/08/30)
tags: journal, interview
journal contents

How long have you been working in this area?
For two years.

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 was a designer working on 3-dimensional products (housewares and interface devices, mainly). Once I started rendering my products on the screen, it hit me that my knowledge of computer programming could drive my creative work into an entirely new realm.

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


My experience at graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art was a time when I was encouraged to put aside preconceived notions of what it means to work in a particular discipline, and simply create. It was during this divergence from the norm that everything I'd studied in the past actually *converged*, that is: Creative Design, music, Mechanical Engineering (my undergraduate degree), and language. In fact, this has been the first time that I was able to realize the truly creative potential of making "machines" (even though they are virtual ones).

My personal work deals very heavily with humans as the link between animal and machine. I find this particular juncture in history to be a perplexing haze of discovery that makes us increasingly aware of how little we truly know about what it means to be alive. It is this complexity that I seek to highlight in my interactive experiments. I make work that is part image, part sound, part math and part language. In particular, I take user responses and translate them into shifting melodies, creating what can best be described as "visual mixing boards".

1. My biggest influence: Peter Gabriel's (Real World) EVE CD-ROM: This blew me away. It was the first time I was confronted with an interface that was so stunningly beautiful that the urge to click anxiously was overcome by the desire to lose myself in the experience. It is also the first thing that got me thinking about "visual mixing boards".

2. A project called "Strane Cose" (featured on a Creative Review CD ROM from 1997) by an Italian multimedia artist in Milan named Luigi De Aloisio (he is part of a website called . In this piece, movement and interaction were programmed to simulate real-world physics. Also the sounds were an integral part of the interaction and narrative.

3. Brian Eno. I am still inspired by the depth of his work -- the layering of lyrics and sounds is gorgeous.

4. Laurie Anderson. I saw her perform "Moby Dick" recently, and some of the electronic instruments she used to enhance her perfoemance reminded me of what I'd like my "sound toys" to do for people.

Are there any other artists covering the same field as you?
There is a man in France (I believe) who runs a website called Unfortunately I have lost his name, but you can contact him at We have been in contact with one another in the past to discuss our work (we were both very influenced by the "EVE" CD-ROM).

Luigi De Aloisio (

With regard to 'soundtoys' especially, why do you think the audio visual metaphor is so key to the net?
I think that what happens on the 'net is that the "soundtoy", or programmed audio-visual-experience, is responding as though it is *alive*. You are touching this creature and making it sing, and when your computer processes your program, it is responding in a "live" way, as opposed to being a pre-recorded soundtrack.

Could you come up with a definition of "soundtoys"
A programmed audio-visual experience in which the sounds and images dynamically change in response to user input. Also an interface that entices one to experiment with the cause and effect of sounds and images.

Does the net promotes visual awareness that is unique to it?
What is unique about the 'net is that the user is usually sitting a few inches from the screen, often with headphones or speakers near the head; this creates a pretty intensive, intimate one-on-one experience. Also, savvy internet users are accustomed to the process of exploring a scene on the computer in order to acheive a response. Once again, it gived the user the sense that the program is responding as though it is *alive*.

How novel do you feel generative music is?
Very. It takes some innovative ideas in contemporary music and art (like Eno's layering in Music for Airports or sound installations) and brings them into a more comprehensive and ubiquitous realm.

Would you describe yourself as a multimedia artist, a net.artist, programmer, or none of the above?
I would describe myself as an interactive designer/programmer.

What software do you use most?
Now it is Flash 4 (seriously limited in terms of sound, but has the potential to reach the largest audience). Previously I used Director 7, plus SoundEdit (and sometimes Cubase), Photoshop and Illustrator.
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