|interview with: ian andrews (2005/08/30) |
tags: aesthetics, soundtoys, artist, journal, interview, text
How do you define "soundtoys" ?
Toys should be fun. Soundtoys should not be too serious or overly academic. Unlike sound applications (productivity software) they should not need a definite purpose. Unlike games they should not need to have a goal or final outcome. Sound should be, if not the primary consideration, at least equal in importance to the visual elements.
On a personal level, why do you make this work?
Over the years I have come up with a number reasons to justify my work, ranging from the political to the aesthetic expression. I now believe that my motivation to do this work comes from a compulsion to "muck around with things." It is play, playing around with ideas and technologies, rather than the desire to express something (from within) that drives my work. For this reason, among others, my work often involves a considerable proportion of random, aleatory or indeterminant processes.
What is you project and your work about?
Ether -1 combines my fascination, since childhood, with shortwave radio noise, and the "empty" channels on the television (in 60s, of course, television sets had large rotary switches which displayed several dead channels of snow and noise patterns between the broadcasting stations), with my research into the fascination that the Russian and Italian Futurists had for the "new" science of radio telegraphy in the early 20th century. It is, in other words concerned with the zone of "noise" on the fringes of communications. It is also an attempt to raise questions about the nature of the net itself. By forcing the visitor into a radio style interface I hope to reinforce the idea that the net is not like radio television. Ether-1 can also be thought of as an online album of electronic music. Its also an ongoing project. Ether-2 is planned to be a collection of contributions from other artists working in the same field. Ether-3 will perhaps be a "remix" project where different artists get the chance to tweak one another's code. Overall, my work in this area is primarily about providing interesting low bandwidth sound and music over the net.
How long have you been working in this area?
I've been working with sound since about 1981, with video since 1984, moving towards computer graphics about 1989. I started working on net based animation with Flash in 1999 and finally, with sound in flash and action script in 2000.
Were you an artist/ musician first who got into using computers/the net, or did you respond to the net as a medium in an artistic way?
I was an artist/ musician first who got into using computers/ the net but also had a long relationship with computers starting with Commodore 64, then Amiga and Atari computers. But I always used them in conjunction with analogue technology.
What/ who has influenced you in your work? (themes, other artists etc)
For this piece the obvious influences are: the poetry of F. T. Marinetti, Apollinaire, Khlebnilov, et al, Jean Cocteau's film _Orphee_, Shortw noise and number stations (from my own listening over the years, as well as the Conet Project), and the extreme techno-minimalism of artists such asPanasonic (Pansonic).
As for my work in general, there have been a great deal of influences over the years. I'll list only the most important, and I think it would be more
interesting to list them I the order in which they occurred.
1979- Han's Richter's _Dada: Art and Anti-art_ changed my life and set me down this path. In the early 80s the writings of William Burroughs big influence and got me working with tape recorders. The art of Duchamp and Ernst,. David Lynch's film _Eraserhead_. The music of Stockhausen, Cage, Fluxus, Varese, Paik, Robert Carey, early Severed Heads, Esplendor Geometrico, Boyd Rice. The experimental films of Brakhage, Sharits, Resnais B grade Sci-Fi movies, the original Twilight Zone and The Outer limits. I the late 80s the writings of the situationists, The films of Jarman, Godard, Tarkovsky, Ruiz. The 90s - The writings of Bataille, Derrida, Benjamin. Techno music (in particular Detroit techno and the post-techno avant garde).
Are there any other artists covering the same field as you?
Joshua Davis. www.praystation.com/
Do you see this work as art?
Yes but also music, more or less bluring the line between the two.
With regard to 'soundtoys' especially, why do you think the audio visual form is so key to the net?
Probably because the net has been marketed as an entertainment medium, and that has, to a large extent, determined the direction taken by the development of the technology. I would argue that the audiovisual form is the dominant form of the net but it's not the only art on the net. Non-browser based works, text environments, and conceptual works on the net are of equal importance in my opinion. mIn regard to "soundtoys" on particular, they represent something more unique than the dominant audio visual forms (movie trailers/ advertisements, MP3s etc.) in that they, to a certain extent, resist commodification.
How important is the visual aspect in the 'new' relationship of the audio visual.?
Here I can only speak for my own work. For me the visual aspect is very important but it should never become dominant. The idea of someone watching my work with the sound down is a concern for me. Therefore I have tried to make it pretty obvious that it is a sound work, not just a visual work with sound.
How novel do you feel generative music and interactivity is?
Theoretically there is little difference between computer generated generative music and the aleatory and process based work of John Cage and other Fluxus artists. Also generative algorithmic computer music has been around for some time. However, the fact that it happens over the net, often taking the form of a unique version every time it is played, so that no one who plays it, hears exactly the same thing as someone else, makes it quite novel at this moment in history. Interactivity, in terms of the visual, has been with us for some time, but true interactive sound pieces are much more recent artform.
Do you think there is a history to audio visual work?
Certainly, beginning with the first avant garde films of the Futurists and Dadaists, through to the tradition of experimental filmmaking in the 1960s, through to video art and media art. Recently this trajectory has been marginalised in the independent film/video communities and replaced by the dominant form of the "calling card" or "one joke" short film. This has resulted in many experimental film and video artists turning to multimedia and the net, where global communities concerned with like minded activities can flourish.
Would you describe yourself as a multimedia artist, a net.artist, programmer, or none of the above?
A multimedia artist in the broad sense of the term, covering video art, sound art and music production.
What software do you use most and why?
Macromedia Flash because I like the aesthetic, it can deliver quite small files, it has large install base, and a reasonably powerful scripting language. On the downside its very buggy and is somewhat lacking in of what it can do with sound.
Can you recommend three urls to soundtoys?
its not really soundtoys but I like it alot
Ian Andrews, born 1961 (Australia) is a Sydney based independent film, video and sound artist who has been practicing since 1981. Beginning with experimental audio collage, Andrews gradually moved into the production of film and video, and film and video soundtracks, and then to electronic music, digital animation and interactive net art.
Much of Andrews? work consists of video/sound collage, "cut-up," and agit-prop culture jamming utilising a diverse range of visual styles ? from animation to "found" footage. The work is often characterised by themes such as technology and subjectivity.
In the early 80s he produced a number of 16mm "cut-up" films which were shown in conjunction with live audio performances, During this time he also created experimental radio work and audio cassettes, and collaborated with international artists on various experimental sound projects. He studied electronics and computer studies at TAFE from 1983 to 1986 in order to achieve the knowledge and skills to build his own electronic instruments and video equipment. This was supplemented with a traineeship in the broadcast television industry. In1988 be began working at Metro Television (Metro Screen), where he is still employed today. He studied film at the University of Technology Sydney from which he graduated with first class honours in 1994. During this period he made a number of films and videos, and wrote several essays on sound which were published in periodicals such as NMA and Essays in Sound. In the early nineties he formed a video (VJ ?visuals) group with long term colleges John Jacobs and Marco Fante. The group ? Subvertigo performed using a diverse collection of video equipment including cameras, video mixers, VCRs, effects devices, computers, oscilloscopes and specialised home built equipment. Subvertigo performed from 1992 till 1997 during which they did over fifty performances at techno dance parties and other events.
Andrews has also produced electronic dance music of which much can be heard on CDs and records released in Australia and overseas. Over the last couple of years he has returned his focus to the production of experimental music and video. His latest work consists of a series of sound interactives (and aleatory and permutative works) for delivery over the net. Using Macromedia Flash with action script he has developed techniques to deliver interesting and reasonably high fidelity sound using minimal bandwidth and small file sizes.
Recently he has collaborated with Garry Bradbury (Size) on the Sanity Clause project, and created visual work for The Loop Orchestra.
Andrews has exhibited his works in various international film and video festivals including festivals in Edinburgh, Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Naples, Catania, Amsterdam, Berlin and Wellington, in addition to numerous events throughout Australia. He has spoken about and presented his work at various conferences, both nationally and internationally. In June 2001 he presented a retrospective of his work, from 1983 to 2000, as part of the Sydney Film Festival.
Andrews teaches video technology and interactive media subjects at Metro Screen in Sydney.
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