[-empyre-] response to Anna Friz

Anna Friz anna_friz at yahoo.ca
Thu Jun 19 07:12:08 EST 2014

Thanks for your thoughts Christoph and Ryan,

Ryan, Colin Stetson is exactly the kind of example I could make for someone who succeeds at being a very unique and powerful performer, while finding the potential in technology that is already (widely) available. Stetson crafts a sensibility, a meeting between self and things, rather than showcasing a technical mastery. The technology is not what's in focus of his innovation, it's the relationship he enables between breath, voice, saxophone, microphones, spatiality, etc. In so doing, he is able to deeply implicate the materiality of various bodies into his music, which as a listener and audience member I find very moving. 

I should say that I'm not against all forms of innovation, of course, but as someone who tends to work with the common or the trailing edge of technology, I'm more interested in what presence can be created, sustained, experienced, and expressed in cahoots with technology rather than explaining why my approach is so terribly avant, or how I think I'm reshaping the genre or field. When recently applying for a production grant, I realized that this pernicious focus on 'innovation' has come to occupy the top spot of the granting criteria, and in addition to valorizing new technical forms over interesting approaches or concepts, as Christoph points out, it also suggests that as a sound artist my body of artistic work should be evolving according to a particular (as I understand it, linear) narrative, where each piece somehow exceeds or breaks with the previous one/s, rather than be iterative, or express a deepening of a particular approach. 

The innovation bug is not limited to new fancy digital forms -- it's an issue whether people are coding Supercollider or building modular synths. The DIY scene is filled with people showing off new instruments at shows, but few people continue play them for 20 years after they build them. Chicago sound artist Eric Leonardson is a good example of someone working with self-made instruments who really intimately knows and collaborates with his creation (the Springboard). 


Anna Friz
radio * art * sound * research
free103point9.org transmission   artist
steering member, Skálar Centre for Sound Art and Experimental Music

 From: Ryan Alexander Diduck <lunarlodge at gmail.com>
To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au 
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 10:15:53 PM
Subject: [-empyre-] response to Anna Friz

Hi Anna, and everyone;

Yours is a great question. Some colleagues of mine, though, have found the opposite -- where new technological innovations are frowned upon within more traditional academic musical and artistic spheres -- and have difficultly accessing grants and other kinds of committee-dependent resources. At the moment, I am studying the cultural history of MIDI, and am often surprised when I hear tell of digital instruments and tools viewed as somehow less legitimate than 'pen and pencil' instruments. There are cases on either side of this argument: artists doing profoundly status-quo work with "innovative" technologies; and others expending what is possible with more traditional instruments. An example from the latter camp that comes to mind is Colin Stetson, the Montreal-based horn player who makes unexpected and incredible noises with minimal technological intervention. Is Stetson's the kind of innovation you're hoping to see more of?

Best, Ryan


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