enculturation (english version)
Interview on Punapau / Short Cuts by Thomas Rickert (Univertity of Texas at Arlington)
1. In what sense is what you do "music"? Surely, you have encountered the question of whether what you do is actually music. How do you respond to these encounters?
Amazing, how deep we dive after listening to 20 little holes within silence
... sketches, just sketches, no musical elaboration - i have to emphasize that. "Short Cuts" is a collection of non elaborate sound images. But computer access to pieces of concrete musical material doesn´t mean any negation of musical composition at all. I should have known that 10 years before. The artistic intention still follows aestetical laws. The well known trap of capitulation when facing the machines indifferent construction power creates another step of art developement.in the end.
As an actor´s son it´s the dramaturgical behaviour of sound series that takes me away. What a game to play on the machine ... These tunes are possible compositions for my digital orchestra.
2. What led you to conceive of your art in this fashion? What genres / artists have served as your influences and how do they impact on your found-sound approach? (You might think of this as an introductory statement, an excerpt of which we'll put at the top of the published interview consider ...
On feb.´99 somebody pushed me into a freeware wave editor program ("ddclip", genius programming!!!) -- "just find some wave file material", he said like a game invitation. After 15 minutes overview i found myself busy for another 4 hours on "big band style". This gambling became more and more serious until i really did consider this to be a new creating habit for muiscal sketches. ICQsong became the 2nd work 2 days later.
I spent my 20ies as an ambitioned jazz guitarrist flippin´between hardbop and freestyle.
Still today any noise carries musical content to my ears, always looking for jazz beyond jazz, - ... -. musical influence: debussy, strawinsky ... M. Davis ("ESP") and nearly everything between blue note records and the art ensemble of chicago as far as the exploration lasted, J. McLaughlin (Extrapolation), Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, J. Hendrix, and the whole 70ies ... sorry, no computer artist available!
Jazz and sound imaging always tuned my spiritual imagination. As a physical working musician i usually hated any form of repetition. As a calculating cutter i began to step into the world of loops. There is no real personal impact of any musician on my computer collage work. It´s just 20 years experience of film making, theater and musician work, read / write (in German!), multimedia a.s.o. - All this pushes me sometimes into what i call new creation habits.
3. How do you see the relationship(s) between technology and music? Given that many of the sounds you use on tracks like "ICQ_Song" and "Microsoft_NT" are connected to oftentimes mundane functions, how do you conceive the movement from functional technology to aesthetics?
There´s no hendrix without eletric guitar, hardly any sushi without a fridge - an artist´s job is to redefine the relationship between technology and aesthetics continuously, again and again. Looking for solutions often leads to some kind of technology or at least know how - searching for the inner motive necessarily touches aesthetics. To escape from tautologies let´s say: both phenomena follow each other but rarely appear at the same time. Somehow this reminds me of heisenberg´s formula.
4. If sounds particular to each application (e.g., the ICQ app' or the Win '95 platform) help create an overall impression, what sorts of impressions do you have as a musician about these applications? Are there sounds in particular applications that you favor and why?
We are still living in an optical culture - we solve our problems with visual control mostly Computers don´t deny this secondary and additional part of audio perception, but utilize it consequently.. Sound Designers for successively more multimedian computer interfaces have only just begun to chart their future territory. . (“Beeps considered harmful”) Furthermore the development of real audio and the new mp3 format makes music enter the world of internet data exchange parameters perfectly as well. Now there are wheels for a musical mind, too.
In hard times i make my living on computer graphic, 3d design aso. But anyway my inner urge creates sound, orientates to audio reception. What i found out, is: If you look at the acoustic world of additional audio files within a computer program, you feel some extra sense of the program itself.
Both ICQ tunes give a good example (by the way: I really love ICQ and my unseen ICQ friends!): Nearly all the sounds are fixed to program actions and most ICQ users are intuitively used to these signals, representing a light and easy "change-the-world-by-a-mouseclick” illusion. We all loved the Uh-Oh for incoming kontacts from the ICQ 89 version.
I tried to imagine the syncronicity of ICQ signals happening at the same time all over the world. Imagine, all these millions of horns blowin the programm opening for example, just like a symphony. The female voice was a pure invitation for chorus arrangement and even the 99beta version choir turned out more musically.
The music of a danish authorware for kids and teenies turned into a parody of rap music (“Aesygroove”). A tasteful sound selection even for a $ 50 program is really typical for danish works. I had some fun to break the real time beat, like drummers get in back after a bad timed singer phrase.
"Microsoft_NT" is an ironical comment on microsoft´s user illusion of pure comfort - just with a hanging support line. Anyway the system sounds are great, what a movie!
"Robot" illustrates american pedagogics giving orders. This is the tone that makes you learn to use the office package! The musical ambience just turns it more absurd, and there´s somebody praying in the background.
"Simcity" (as a perfect loop) reminds me of a pink floyd piece on "umma gumma", stricly absurd, too! Other tunes explore purely musical themes in a similiar fashion. "Something" reamains as a question "what is that? Is there something? "Thrill" is based on counted single frames of a movie sequence i made in ´85, synthetic musik for sure. "Big Band Style" looks for a contemporary approach between easy listening and drive. "Session3 and 4" search for a musical world fusion idea, same as "crack 44" - 44, my age, a cracked version of my musical interest catalogue (my favourite loop - endless breathing energy filling you up) - "Misc" is classic sound mixing with pure space feeling, what we all love, or not? "NYC" is an audio theater idea.
5. What does "Punapau" signify? Why did you choose this term to represent your music?
Punapau is a small area on easter island, where i spent 6 months in ´81/82. Two tiny hills with 5 trees, an isolated house and mostly very windy. The view opens westward 3.500 km of just ocean (ecxept from Pitcairn Island). This is what i took back to europe: a long distance view about how imagination changes my perception ...
6. In your initial response to us, you mentioned Bataille and Deleuze. What theorists do you read any why do you read them? Do these and/or other
theorists influence/describe things that you are doing in your music?
I checked the content of your site. French structuralism was one way out of german definition systems in the 70ties / 80ties (what and how to explain, what has to be changed socially). Somewhere between Barthes and Fucoult i necessarily met Bataille and Deleuze.
Besides some astonishment on my side about which european ideas american literature cares about (beautiful prejudice), i was just reminded of better days in philosophical discussions. I I must admit, that i don´t consciously know much about the influence of these studies of 20 years ago on my art work today. You got me a bit on the wrong foot ... A great impulse for me to think that over - i wrote this answer the same night i got your mail. I´d take another chance with your second 6 questions (if you´re still interested).
7. I read with great interest your quite pastoral description of Punapau. The irony is, of course, that it is so far removed from the technology informing your music. It dovetails with the gap between what is normatively called "music" and the functional sounds that you
utilize. Can you comment more on your ideas of these fissures that your work spans?
1st Error 404 on what i mean by long distance view. A long distance view from easter island punapau westwards just opens up your imagination of 3.500 km of ocean space and this changes your perception of where and maybe who you are. It´s not the distance within a dualistic thought system, but the exploration of space. The power of imagination becomes the vehicle to experience the incomprehensible. Besides my pseudonym punapau became the meaningful motto of pscn (punapau studios creative network / about 15 musicians in Hamburg) as a corporate internet music label working as a regional gate onto mp3.com. I hope, this name always recreates bright moments within all our musical projects. No perception without vital imagination.
No gap between “music” and what can be used as a musical icon. So let´s talk about earcon design within computer multimedia applications as an extension of musical formation:
As music was confronted with the movie industry in this century, film music has opened more musical freedom than pure audio listening music could claim. (Miles Davis in “escalator to death” was substantially different to the live performer. / Free Jazz had its biggest audience accompanying thrillers)
Easy computer access to ready made soundpieces doesn´t have to leave the aesthetic stage at all, even if the sounds have been used technically (or however) before. Computer technology can enable deeper imagination than any other technical prop – so earcon design will open a new chapter of characteristical musical themes – jingle like compositions. The lasting use of computer multimedia applications requires at least lucky musical inventions as well as compositions. It seems to me that music itself survives through this usage, too.
What i do is just cooking around within the soup of little earcons, looking for a little bigger meal. I re-collected isolated computer sound events into the spotlight of conventional musical performance. Perhaps my audience may realize the musical content of their habitual computer noises - an actual cultural necessity (reintegrating a special subculture)? Who knows.
8. You say that any noise carrries musical content to your ears. Can you elaborate on that? When is there a distinction between music and noise, for you? Why is it important that noise be made musical, or be thought of in musical terms?
Musical perception - musical intention. What people perceive as music depends on what plays inside them, what kind of musical illusion (illudere, lat. – inner play) happens inside. What kind of illusion this is, depends on the impact of cultural filters plus actual personal mood. But everybody has somekind of inner music playing.
What musicians intend to create musically turns out to be music, whatever critics try to argue. Even a condemning audience can´t deny its essence of being music. Above all, those whose talents get music out of noise help us listen to the world as a musical gift. (Nada Brahma, sanskrit “The World Is Sound”)
We all do often bridge the gap between noise and music. The question is, who listens to which acoustic phenomenon, and when! (When the waters of the river Elbe in Hamburg move the pontoons near the harbour, they rub against each other and sound to me like a free jazz trombone combo. People who live in this area will perceive it as noise for sure - except when they are in love or elsewhere inspired) !
9. You claim that an artist's job is to redefine the relationship between technology and aesthetics continually. How does your music redefine that relationship (and would it matter if it was only on the personal level, or should this extend to the wider cultural arena)? If you were willing to speculate, how might you see your work as influencing others?
Somehow i remember a remark by Robert M. Pirsig about the ancient greek word “techne” meaning both “art” and “(handy)craft” – a long time before aesthetics and profane productive views split. Think of `high tech´ training methods for classical musical studies, all the computer added transcription work, any desperate trial to reach virtuosity (did you know that saxophone players nowadays are able to breath and blow at the same time?), overdubbing as convenient and conventional studio work, no chance to realize where recorded music has been cut ... One cuts – the other pastes! Where music is fixed to CDs or any other database, it´s created to be listened to over and over again, real time musical happening is already planned to be a copy of a copy of a copy of a virtual live moment. Art or Technology? Either you listen to who you really face or you try to get an echo of the musical godness you chose or remember...
I hope i´m not the only one who looks for a union within this antagonism.
There will be many young musicians combining everything you can listen to and turn it to what at many people will call “music”. Try to listen to it –the upcoming multimedia world will make you do that in the end anyway !