Squid s o u p

interview with: squidsoup (2005/08/30)
tags: soundtoys, artist, journal, interview, text
journal contents

Could you come up with a definition of "soundtoys"

it's probably still too young a concept to make a strict definition -- and i wouldn't want to preclude anyone's work for the sake of a couple of dodgy words, but for me at the moment i guess a sound toy is something that allows you to play with, or explore, sound/music in new ways. so far, this usually means interactive or generative work.

What is you project and your work about?

random#1 is about generating what i think are quite beautiful and entrancing musical patterns out of systems, structures and a dose of randomness. the structure is defined, but what happens within that is completely random. it's not really an interactive piece, though you can 'perform' yourself.

squidsoup's recent sound projects (mainly altzero - see http://www.altzero.com) have tended to have less interactivity involved in them. this is because what i'm looking for are new ways of listening that add to the audio experience; this often involves some doing, but interactivity isn't really the point - listening and experiencing the sound is more important.

for example, altzero2 is really a spatial composition; a complex drone that can be explored by moving around the environment. as you move through the space, you discover the subtleties and variations of the piece. navigation is the only form of interaction available. earlier versions allowed for positioning of sounds, distortion, restructuring and so on, but these often seem to distract from the listening experience.

How long have you been working in this area?

i first started playing around with Director and multimedia in 1996 i think. my first foray into interactive sound was a collaborative cd rom called Dawn in 1997/8, around the time we formed squidsoup.

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 looking for an artistic outlet and discovered multimedia. i only really got into the net when it became possible to do the kind of stuff i wanted to do without too many compromises.

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

60's minimalism - the music mainly (steve reich particularly, also terry riley, lamonte young, philip glass...)

more recently the whole loop/sample revolution.

and from a design/interactivity point of view, maeda (i know, i know, everyone quotes him), golan levin, char davies' Osmose... antirom used to be heroes.

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

Do you see this work as art?

sure, but with a small "a"...

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

i'm not sure it is, but many of the people doing this are visual designers rather than musicians and so they understand the visual side of it. random#1 has deliberately got almost no visuals to it (other than a randomly selected colour).

however, it's quite hard to make interactivity intelligible and intuitive without the use of visuals.

What defines the aesthetics of new interactive music.?

loops, samples, glitches, abstract imagery generally at the moment

How important is the visual aspect in the 'new' relationship of the audio visual.?

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

definitely; it has its own language that has developed out of the need to explain navigation and interactivity in an efficient way. but that's about digital interactivity rather than the net -- cd rom, iTV etc have similar but distinct visual languages.

How novel do you feel generative music and interactivity is?

the ideas aren't new, but computers are enabling novel approaches, interpretations and ways of doing of these ideas.

DO you think there is a history to audio visual work?

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

interactive designer mainly, despite the fact that this piece isn't really interactive. multimedia artist...

What software do you use most and why?

director and basic sound editing software. Director's not brilliant at interactive sound but most people have the plug-in and it's powerful for visuals and interactive design. it's cross platform (mac/PC anyway), reasonably stable, easy to install and runs in a browser.

i'd like to get into Max and Nato one day...

AND on a more personal level why do you make this work?

i'm fascinated with the sense of space and time that repetitive and gradually changing music has for me; and also in the structures themselves; the unpredictability, the way things form out of nothing and then disappear again. the audio cd is great, but surely there's so much more...

CAN you recommend three urls to soundtoys?

http:// www.media.mit.edu/~golan/ and other stuff he's doing (links from this page)

http://www.sodaplay.com - especially with sound enabled.
http://www.singlecell.org seems nice, and it's got most of the usual suspects

Anthony Rowe - ant@squidsoup.com