Paul Webb

interview with: paul webb (2005/08/30)
tags: journal, interview
journal contents

Paul Webb Subject: questionaire

Could you come up with a definition of "soundtoys" going very general - objects that enable the creation of improvised live music and sound though simple interaction and play yet offer the scope for exploring and discovering though practice other sound realms.

- so a bit like a traditional instrument in that respect

What is you project and your work about? Current project is for live sonic performances of multiple interacting computers. The sonic-compositions will be an emergent result of their interactions. I'm busy developing the software in C++ for all the componants - from extended midi techniques to the rules and system and architectures of how they can respond. Most of my work is exploring the creative possibilties of computer code and processes - computational aesthetics as some call it -

How long have you been working in this area? about 10 years. I started around 1991 developing programs in Basic for Amiga computers that enable the specification of algorithmic composition using a visual programming language
( Later created a series of sound installations where the sound aesthetic was the direct result of simple algorithmic processes shifting around the data of looped samples. I was interested in the sonic result of extremely simple data processing - applying the process logic of the code onto areas of computer memory - that happened to be heard. After worked on what could be a physical sound toy. A big fluffy creature that emmited sound dependent on its mood - it used AI and simulated emotions, and could crudely recognise how it was pushed around - and these influenced its emotion centre and indirectly the sound. Next was a MA in Digital Art at Middlesex where final project had 2 buckets of water having resynthesised conversations extracted from soap opera - used AI processes, generative process and the sculptural apsect and physical properties and processes played rolls in the cybernetics - minds and bodiess were connected and interacting. Last 3 years I have been creating midi-based generative music software (OMM, RMM, CGM, RXMM) - and wasted 6 months on a editor in hope of some money (never again) (, and developing in C++ : GangBang (for interactive music system design - bit like MAX) and MusicWorld (a language for algorithmic composition systems)

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 software engineer first but after I got my degree spent 11 years on the dole so I could spend my days doing what I wanted...

What/ who has influenced you in your work? (themes, other artists etc)
jim horton, larry polansky, xenakis, AI, Alife, process art, fluxus,

Are there any other artists covering the same field as you?
yes but maybe a different corner of the field.

Do you see this work as art?
yes sometimes. The coding can sometimes take over and the reasons for it lost.

With regard to 'soundtoys' especially, why do you think the audio visual metaphor is so key to the net?
because we are so used to audio-visual gestural relations for doing things - it can build some motor-skills, music scores have explored visuals for a long time - cornelius cardew mentioned how his great learning was seeing how music sounded - shared morhologies of sound and graphic.

What defines the aesthetics of new interactive music.? a particular graphic design look and sampled sound effects and clicking.

How important is the visual aspect in the 'new' relationship of the audio visual.?
if its audio visual then important else its audio. but for interactive audio not so,

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

How novel do you feel generative music and interactivity is?
depends on who is doing it, an algorithm can give a millions different music experiences that depend on other factors - some could sound novel,

Do you think there is a history to audio visual work? yes. james whitney, graphic scores,

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

What software do you use most and why?
code warrior - for C++ - I know C++, programming techniques, practices all really well and can translate the ideas into code without thinking, but at the same time have the coding styles, practices and design influence and determine the nature of the systems and processes that ulitimately create the work. If I was a painter its my paint, brush and canvas.

On a more personal level why do you make this work? because I find the areas it crosses into interesting, because I am lazy and want the computer to create endless sound performances while I listen,

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