Interviews


Recently, this reporter had the absolute pleasure of checking out Cosmin and Marie’s ISEA2008 project at the Mixed Reality Lab at NUS. It was a real adventure listening to Cosmin go through the intricate details behind the project, the different cosmic worlds that he hoped to energize and visualize in his project entitled Aurora Consurgens. In this project, the visitor would don a built head piece that had electrodes extended into contact with the skin; the electricity/energy that the brain gave off would then be tapped, and visualized as abstract shapes in a screen nearby.

IDM also had visitors from DSTA who were interested in seeing the projects that were hosted at the Mixed Reality Lab.

Marie showing representatives from DSTA how the project works, with MXR Director Dr Adrian David Cheok present

\

Horia Cosmin Samoila and Marie Christine Driesen’s work Aurora Consurgens will be showcased at the ISEA2008 Main-juried Exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore.

For more information about the artist and project please visit the ISEA2008 main site. Keep checking this site for latest updates and developments in the buildup to the exhibition.

Advertisements

Nigel Heyler was also involved in a Lush 99.5FM interview recently.  We caught up with him as he was setting up his project in the NUS Faculty of Communications and New Media Lab.

Back at NUS’s CNM Arts and Creativity Lab, Nigel was working on a table for his upcoming exhibition at the National Museum.

Nigel in the magnified presence of the ISEA committee. 🙂

Nigel Heyler a.k.a. Dr Sonique’s installation setup entitled Run Silent, Run Deep will be showcased at the Singapore National Museum from the 25th July to the 3rd August 2008.

For more information about the artist and project please visit the ISEA2008 main site. Keep checking this site for latest updates and developments in the buildup to the exhibition.

Last Thursday 17th July 2008, 3 of ISEA’s artists, as well as a member of the organizing committee were invited to The Living Room on NewsRadio 938Live with Stanley Leong.

Jodi Rose, Nigel Heyler, Momoyo Torimitsu spoke about their works and exhibited samples of the sound files in a very candid atmosphere, as ISEA2008 Organizing Committee Member Shirley Soh gave details of the exhibitions, performances and in-conjunction events. (Information of which can be found at http://www.isea2008singapore.org/conference/conf_programme.html)

Here are the photographs of the interview. Momoyo even had a chance to film Stanley as part of her ISEA2008 project collecting occupation-specific smiles!

Today we had the opportunity to talk with Kelly Andres while she was at the Singapore National Museum meeting up with Artistic Director Guna, as well as reviewing the spatial setup for the Main-Juried Exhibition.

Kelly’s work is entitled Finally We Hear One Another, and involves a pair of participants wearing headsets that consist of a parabolic microphone and a speaker each, simultaneously sending and receiving audio signals through a bluetooth network, allowing each listener to hear instantaneously the auditory environment that the other listener is traversing.

Over tea yesterday we spoke about the conceptual engine underlying the piece, as Kelly described a walk on a fall day in at her abode in Lethbridge, Alberta, while she was plugged in to a recording of the Vancouver soundscape some time ago. The soundscape brought up memories and emotions unique to her experiences living in the city, which formed an interesting disengagement with the environment that she was actually walking in. Saying that she was always intrigued by the fact that listening to audio environments could actually bring you to another place, the inspiration of this piece was borne in a desire to rejuvenate the auditory experience as a crucial sensory tool by presenting a situation where listening (to a dislocation) became more important, and interesting than the visual environment.

Similar to the collusion of sound environments during her walk in Lethbridge, Kelly reveals that the disassociation that will be brought about through her ISEA2008 project, which involves a pair walking through different parts of the museum, could be scary, or strange because the association with which we are used to lies within the comfort zone of our experience. and the simulated audio environments brought about during the installation are displacing and potentially provocative – but it is important, she stresses, to take people out of these comfort zones, though not through extreme methods. Indeed her use of humour and sometimes absurd materializations, as can be observed by some of her past (and future) designs, these become very amiable entry points into the project topic. Did we mention that her headset incorporates the horn- shaped icon most commonly associated with the gramophone in its design?!

Kelly’s project arises from the conceptual shift in private to public gallery where art removes itself from conventional detainment in place of more quotidian environments, finding inspiration from the immediate environment, as well as presenting her discourse in a public sphere. Reminiscing on Sherry Turkle idea of the digital network tether that everyone is bound to, enforcing a displacement of identities even in a single social environment (e.g. people see you as a son when you answer a call from your mother at a gathering with colleagues), each instant of a personal moment in a public space becomes a sort of public performance, with the cell phone, or PDA as performance props. In this case, not only does the participant traverse the museum grounds as listener, he also becomes performer; and in so doing, makes every person and sound he experiences participants in this public art demonstration; allowing both an objective, and subjective experience of the piece.

In a world of quickly advancing media technology and electronics, Kelly’s work is simple, yet poignant in remembering the connections between perception and sensation, between people and communication and between technology and perception -connections that are sometimes ignored and/or fenced up, bringing a much needed human touch to the technological plethora.

Come witness this insightful, and fun-filled piece at ISEA2008, and be amazed at the perceptual dislocation as we listen, locate, and relocate ourselves through the ears of another!

Kelly’s ‘naked’ heads on display at the National Museum. Headgear will be included when the installation opens next week.

For more information about the artist and project please visit the ISEA2008 main site. Keep checking this site for latest updates and developments in the buildup to the exhibition.

Channel NewsAsia also invited to the studios ISEA2008 Artistic Director Gunalan Nadarajan, and scent artist Mei Kei Lai from Macau on the auspicious 4th of July Here are photographs of the event. Video footage will be added after rendering.

Artistic Director Gunalan is an art theorist and curator from Singapore, who was recently appointed Vice Provost for Research at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Arts). Stay tuned for coverage of the museum meetings as the last preparations for the installations at the Singapore National Museum are finalized.

On the Way to the CNA studio with MediaCorp’s Dila Saadon

Going through preparation questions

In the Studios with Suzanne Jung and Steven Chia

For more information about the artists and projects please visit the ISEA2008 main site. Keep checking this site for latest updates and developments in the buildup to the exhibition.

Today we speak to Filipino artist Tad, whose work with user-activated solenoid beaters on gamelan instruments is part of the main juried exhibition here at ISEA2008 in Singapore. Popping in on Tad while hard at work in his studio laboratory at I2R, we see a myriad of enginnering tools at his disposal, and him making full use of his rather fortunate position amongst these machines.

Installing solenoids onto the bonang, the saron, the kenong, and the gendang, Taddeus presents interactive systems as musical conduits through which the enterprise of the participant serenades, allowing users to interact with the system, as well as each other in orchestral unity. We speak to Tad today about the impetus for the project as well as his thoughts on the developmental process.

<portions of the interview have been excluded due to constraints>

Q: What got you started on this project?

A: Well i always liked the gamelan. When i first heard Balinese gamelans – differ from Javanese in that they are really fast and orchestral, i really liked the sound of them, the drums are a brilliant mixture of gongs and thunder. And of course, it kind of pains me to admit this, but there is some part of it that has to do with trying to digest or integrate some sense of being South East Asian. I hate that, Filipino or South-East Asian art that tries to be emblem mongering – to do stuff about rice, stuff about gongs, generally waving the third world flag. . . i guess i understand the impulse to do it, but i think basically why i like it is just cos i like the way it sounds and thunders.

Q: Would you consider this a particularly musical piece as compared to the other works you’ve done?

A: Well i guess, cos most of the other stuff i do, i don’t actually bother to make it sound like music, whereas in this case i m actually trying to make it … gamelan like. Its going to be basically so – the xylophone will play lead guitar, the other instruments would fill in rhythm guitar and so on, almost modeled after rock band. I think thats also why i like the gamelan so much, most of it is in 4/4, so there’s a lot in it thats accessible to any body who likes, grew up on rock. Especially Balinese gamelan that is noisy like thunder where there are parts where everyone hits everything. I like the violence.

But that being said, the Javanese gamelan set that i am working on does not hamper the project basically because my requirements are so untraditional. For example, i’m going to play the drum – the gendang but i’m not going to play it to sound like a the way it is played in the Javanese gamelan ensemble. As well as that, there is normally a strictly monophonic melody on xylophone where you have to mute a note as you play the next, but im not going to bother doing that. It’s going to be a really noisy resonant gamelan played improperly.

Q: About the project now, how much emphasis does ‘Quartet’ as an interactive piece place on the audience as participant?

A: I usually like removing the person from the equation. What i like about the gamelan is that it is classical, not romantic in the sense that it’s not about somebody’s feelings about the rain, or feelings about his mother. It is basically about patterns – i like that coldness. In my project, you’ve got an AI controlling the interactivity and algorithms controlling the patterns of music experienced. But yet it’s supposed to be interactive with people in the audience conducting. I guess the project just involves making artificial intelligences play instruments and having them come out physically into the world.

I was just thinking the other day that i want to give logical body. Usually media art is so gossamer, you manipulate pixels and you manipulate logic. More and more im going towards heavy s***, make it heavy, make it matter, make it in matter – flesh of the world, bones of the world.

The good thing about residencies is that i am discovering resemblances, like a secret genealogy where you realize you’re a branch of the tree you never knew you were part of. Theres Trimpin, Ajay Kapoor who was recently in NUS. So for me, this is not really a spin on Trimpin’s works, though it is related to his pioneering work with media and computers interfaces that control physical instruments.

Basically i was just thinking the whole thing is scratching the itch i have of making the image physical. In the Philippines, artists are always putting stuff next to TV monitors and video loops, playing with the idea of real and the virtual. For instance, there’s this guy who put a fan next to to a video of a flickering candle. It was just all about timing, so after ten minutes it would get out of phase. I wanted to make such a virtual image enter the real world by making it perform work, so i put a sensor on the screen and basically found a video of a guy lifting the sandbag. I like the idea of a ghost that works really really hard to life something really really light, so i connected the sensor to a little crank, and every time he lifted the sandbag, the crank rolled up a bit of the red thread. At the end of the work, people see it as a school of red thread being wound by an image. I like that the whole idea of making an image enter the real world – instead of vice versa which we have all the time like the mouse.

Q: So a little more about the installation setup now? What can we expect?

A: There will be 4 screens and under each screen will be one of these gamelan instruments. The interactor will stand on a square and he’ll conduct, with things like claps – and it will start playing. You can make it go faster and slower, or we could have moments where everybody stops except for one guy. In that sense it’s having some robots you’re conducting, and the point is that you’re communicating with something which has a kind of type of intelligence – a shadow of life, and not only are they responding to you like any game avatar, or any non-player intelligent character in a game responds, but its also hitting stuff in the real world.

Basically the videos will just be torsos. . . i don’t know why but it seems important not to show his face (laughs).

For the tracking system, I2R has a processing group and they do a bunch of computer vision gestural tracking tools, so they’re coming over here to use it. This is one of the more ambitious projects iv done in terms of all the stuff i have to built. The last time i tried to deal with images coming into the world i had just had one sensor, this time i have 15 sensors and 4 instruments – kind of a sudden jump. But I want to do it so that when it changes not all of them change at the same time and there is some variation in the way the music is played.

Q: Where do you position yourself in the sound art fraternity?

A: I’m not sure mainly because I’m not really conscious of my place in a sound art fraternity. This has got to be a work of sound art, but it’s not about making music, because at the very most i am innovating at 2 levels – not muting the keys or, playing it badly, and using triplets in the gamelan, putting something like an African vibe in there.

In that sense its a lot more about Alien intelligence in machines. Up until recently, i could describe myself basically as a video artist – now i describe myself as a media artist. I’m not conscious about using sound as my medium, its just something that comes out usually just because of the fact that i like sound.

One of the things that i wind up doing, is trying to create more bridges of meaning that can be but are not necessarily tactile, allowing the audience to perceive more order in the sense of a particular sound being connected to something else. One thing i did was i got this timer from a washing machine- there were switches opening and closing, sort of like a music box. I thought it looked like a hardware sequencer so i attached the switches to a keyboard that i had stripped and taken out the circuits. Every key had electrodes so you could switch on and off a key by opening and closing a circuit. I just exposed the electrodes and attached the washing machine timer to the keyboard and basically had it play music. Of course i added a little piezo electric microphone to it as well so you could hear the mechanical sounds and then hear the electronic sounds that it was conducting.

So even conceptually, there is a connection between what you’re hearing on stage, that something has to be happening. You have to be percieving information together with the sound, and that’s my problematic – what other information can you give the audience! The perception of order produces pleasure.

Tad Ermitano’s work Quartet will be exhibited in the National Museum as part of the ISEA2008 main-juried exhibition. Come experience the interactive gamelan orchestra from the 25th July to the 3rd August 2008.

More information about the process can be found at the artist’s Blog site at http://cavemanifesto.blogspot.com/

For more information about the artist and project please visit the ISEA2008 main site. Keep checking this site for latest updates and developments in the buildup to the exhibition.

Today we have a chat with ever cheerful Aussie bridge symphony director Jodi Rose on her upcoming project at ISEA2008 in the backdrop of the newly opened Keppel Bay bridge.

Jodi Rose’s work in Singapore has taken her to the major pedestrian bridges throughout the island including those at Boat Quay and Robertson Walk, Keppel Bay, the SAFTI link bridge, and even the newly opened bridges at Hort Park.

Q: So whats the deal about bridges anyway? What sparked off an interest (artistically and aesthetically) in focusing on bridges?

A: The idea originally came while studying sculpture at art school in Sydney in the mid-1990s. One of the lecturers for a course in public art had given us the exercise to come up with an idea for an artwork in public space which had absolutely no constraints, wasn’t limited by feasibility, practicality or any other real-world concern.

Looking up at the new Glebe Island (Anzac) Bridge as it was being built over Blackwattle Bay on my way to art school everyday, the particular mix of public sculpture, sound art, and deconstructive theory swirling in my sleepy brain led me to wonder, in an idle moment of curiosity; how would that big harp-like structure of cables and concrete sound? Could I link together bridge cables around the world as instruments in a global symphony?

The first recording I made while the Anzac Bridge was still under construction, taking a team of radio producers and sound engineers from the ABC National Radio with me to best capture the industrial yet ethereal voice of the cables.

Bridges continue to fascinate me on both an aesthetic and artistic level, as they are everywhere, and make a perfect instrument to stage a Global Symphony work. Everyone responds differently to the project, depending on their own focus and interest, and most people have a favourite bridge, or bridge story to share, and the continuing interest and creative engagement from many people, both collaborating and appreciating, keeps giving me new energy and perspectives to explore. Bridges are loaded with symbolic meaning, they speak of connection, crossing borders and cultures; they are a threshold between worlds, states of mind and consciousness, and a liminal space ‘in-between’ places.

According to Heidegger, the bridge ‘creates a location, it brings together many places, both near and far, and is a meeting point for the earth and heaven, divinities and mortals’.

Bridges are familiar, yet unknown, they are the pinnacle of engineering at their time of construction, and become monuments to the past, they are deeply local and iconic to a place, and yet also universal. They carry poetic metaphors and romantic conceptual philosophical meanings.

Q: A global bridge symphony implies a collaboration and alliance in sonic properties across geographical boundaries. How political would you consider your work to be? Any plans to record sounds of causeways?

A: In general, I don’t consider my work to be overtly political. It has a strong conceptual-aesthetic and philosophical axis, which does have an inherent political aspect in that bridges are built for a certain purpose, to be functional, and their aesthetic qualities are usually visual. They are certainly not built to be listened to, or played as ‘instruments’, and by intervening in this system of use and functionality, with a whimisical, poetic and sonic aesthetic use, I think that creates a gap in the political-economic power system that is built into bridges. Re-framing the urban environment, and a very utilitarian object in a completely different direction that it’s orginal purpose is also a kind of culture-jamming.

Bridges are not built to be listened to – but I hope in the future that they may be!

I would love to see bridge design start to incorporate the sonic qualities of the structure.

No plans for causeways at the moment, or buildings, or tunnels – I have enough bridges to stay occupied for life, and people keep building more, which is fabulous.

The economics and politics of building bridges is often controversial, but once that dies down they tend to become emblematic of their location. Power and wealth come together with poverty and homelessness, on and under the bridge, and I find that inherent politics is also played out in my life as a precarious worker and cultural nomad. The choice to live as a freelance artist is one that brings certain privileges, access to places, experiences and creative possibilities in a very fulfilling enagagement with the world, but it also carries certain stresses – economic, geographic, and ecological; where the issues of living in a sustainable manner with a distributed community are highlighted.

I believe that it is one of the functions of art, besides expression and communication, to take you to places outside the mainstream expectations of being a productive, functioning member of capitalist society, that you are not driven by the desire for wealth, status or power, and have the freedom to explore other aspects of the world, ephemeral, abstract, esoteric – although in the process of course you may produce cultural capital and cultural objects, and hopefully generate some income along the way, although there are myriad different approaches to being able to sustain life as an artist, working in different areas.
Freedom of imagination is a gift not to be taken lightly. It’s open to everyone equally, although of course it is influenced by access to knowledge, education and economic factors, but in the end, your life is expanded or limited in accord with your capacity for imagination and corresponding courage. I hope that my ongoing committment to this project single-mindedly and wholeheartedly, is inspiring, and creates a small gap in the fabric of social expectation – no dream is too crazy, if I can do this, you can do anything!!

Q: Have you encountered a silent bridge?

A: Yes, quite a few bridges have not been in the mood for singing at the time of my visit.

Some of them along the Singapore River, as we discovered, and also the My Thuan Bridge in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam; and others that I forget right now.

Part of the process is finding the resonant parts of the structure, and when there is no vibration audible through the steel or cables, I am disappointed, but it is also a very Zen reminder to accept what is there. If there is a song inside the bridge, I will listen, but if it prefers to stay quiet, then I respect that! I know I speak about bridges in a slightly anthropomorphic fashion, which comes from my belief that the sound of the cables really is the voice of the bridge. In the sense that voice = breath and vibration, this makes perfect sense, and as John Cage says, ‘There is a spirit in everything, that is released by it’s being set into vibration’. Hence the vibration of the bridge is it’s voice, and spirit.

Q: A bridge brings together two places, possibly quite different as opposite banks of a river often are. Do you see sound as art a possible medium for promoting cohesion and a collective identity?

A: The frame of mind in which interesting things germinate is often more
confused and desperate than organized and confident. (Randy Thom)

I think that sound art definitely brings people with similar interests together and it is a very dedicated and passionate worldwide community – although I wouldn’t make any claims for engendering coherence, as there are many different approaches, philosophies and niches that can all gather under the term ‘sound art’.

Q: Lastly, which bridge in your experience is most memorable and why?

A: The best bridge experiences I have had so far in terms of the actual sound are Brooklyn Bridge & Golden Gate Bridge, which both have exposed steel cables that burble and chatter and screech – and Anzac Bridge, the first one I ever recorded, and still one of the most spectacular. In terms of place, the Novy Most in Bratislava, for the exceptionally cool bar on top of the bridge – you catch a lift up in the pylon to the crazy UFO shaped bar (it’s called U.F.O!) and drink cocktails with names like velvet sarcasm, while looking out over the Danube, an upside down 14th century castle, and on the other side, blocks and blocks of 60’s concrete tower apartments.

The My Thuan Bridge over the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is still the only one where I have bought a mango and had a wild motorcycle ride down from the bridge, and the Mega Bridge in Bangkok was the most exciting experience structurally, as the engineers took us for a ride in their crane up to the top of one of the pylons – 250m high – to see the cables being installed inside. That was amazing. I’m looking forward to the quintessential singaporean bridge experience, and hope it is still possible to throw apples or oranges from the lovers bridge!

Jodi Rose’s work Global Bridge Symphony will be exhibited in the National Museum as part of the ISEA2008 main-juried exhibition. Come listen to the secret language of bridges in their sonic utterance this 25th July to the 3rd August 2008.

Jodi with Keppel Bay Bridge engineers and managers at the newly opened Keppel Bay Bridge

For more information about the artist and project please visit the ISEA2008 main site. Keep checking this site for latest updates and developments in the buildup to the exhibition.

Next Page »