Andre Damião is a Brazilian catalyst of a new current of postdigital art where code is a visual tool for the performer, meaning that not only the result of the code is an artistic resource, but also what is behind it. He performed several artistic activities during his visit to our country. After the presentations in DF and Guanajuato for the WhiteNoise Fest, he returned to Morelia where he worked in a mobile sound research, custom made for the Centre for Culture of Morelia. During this period DigitArt Mx arranged his visit to León, where he performed a Live Coding feature called Super_fic at HOLUX Galería. This was followed by a party at El Piso where he played a selection of music that showed us his electronic, ambient, IDM, and jazz influences. Before the main presentation at HOLUX he gave a three days workshop about visuals and noise at the Plastic Arts School (ESAP León) where he taught students how to create a variety of noise sequences and how to transport it to a visual state in the same interface. The open source code he used in the workshop was PD Pure Data.
The next interview was made at UG Arts Department, during the WhiteNoise Fest [ex nihilo] events in Guanajuato Capital.
Talk us about your musical background?
I studied composition, in the University of the State of Sao Paolo which has a graduation on electronic music, but before that I studied in Holland for a year, also composition. Then I went back to Sao Paolo and studied for other 5 years. I graduated on electronic music and now I’m making a masters at the Center of Sonology of Sao Paolo University, which is about mobile music, I´m researching music and mobility, what does it do in our perception to have mobile media through which we can communicate and use as sound sources.
Can you explain us what is Sonology?
That´s a hard one. There are very few places where the term Sonology is used, only in Brazil, The Netherlands and Spain. The term has areas which are more technical, like acoustics, and more artistic, as experimental music. The good part of the term is that it embraces a lot of things we still cannot put “inside a box” right now, like sound art and software art in music. I think in music there are a lot of preconceptions about what is composition and rituals around it. In Sonology things are still more open, we search for this kind of experimental approach to create new works.
Are these areas of study really new?
Not so much, the Institute of Sonology was founded in the end of the 60’s.
What can you tell us about the scene in Brazil?
There is a lot of activity in Brazil right now. I know better the scene in the southeast. Where there is more and more space for experimental music inside the Universities and there is a strong movement of hackerspaces and of small venues for experimental music.
What do you think about what is going on right now in Mexico?
I was really happy and surprised about the scene here in Mexico, I arrived here last week to DF for the WhiteNoise Fest , where I participated with a live coding piece and three concerts, two on WhiteNoise Fest and another one at the Multimedia Center of the CENART. I was really surprised, especially at the WhiteNoise where we had a public of about a hundred people every day, so it was wonderful. There were also other events going on at the same time in the festival which also had good public, I was really surprised. And the quality of the work was really good as well.
What kind of work did you present?
At the WhiteNoise was a fixed media piece, which was created after I made a radio show during the Biennial Arts in Sao Paolo, there was a radio program and I made a show which is called Feed the Radio Back, where I played the programs and made a piece. First I played the piece and asked the audience to record that in their homes or the place where they were listening to it, their cars or wherever, and send me the recordings back. Then for the next show I would remix this sounds they had send me, and played it again and they would record again, and so on, and so on. So it would have degradation from the material, the first material, and also to bring all the other environmental sounds. The piece I played was the result of this show, and the other ones were live coding pieces which is what we are seeing at the workshop.
What kind of software do you use?
I use only open source code, I use PD Pure Data, Supercollider and Processing, for performances and for editing I try to use Reaper.
Any other hardware platform you use?
Not for this performance, but I use Arduino, and Raspberry Pi, I think those are the main ones I used to develop my works.
What would you say to the new creators of new media and digital arts?
Do stuff, create. Especially with technology in art you can get really mesmerized in the beginning: “Oh look at this! Anything I can do!” And then when you start to see the works, things look pretty much the same in the first stage because it takes time to develop a language, it takes practice. So that´s the message do stuff, create.
Is there any one of your pieces that you like the most?
I could not specify one piece, but more of the process through which I made many presentations and it was around 2008 when it started, I was doing a lot of visual music and at that time this got me really bored because there were so many other artists making this kind of music. When I got to the concerts and start to check the sound, the blinking spheres, the angles, and how everything is reacting together, etc. There were a lot of people doing this kind of thing in Brazil, so I started to get tired of it. That´s when I started to make visuals with my patching, with the code itself, using code as a visual tool. Then I got to live coding and it´s been four years since I´ve been using code as visual material. The piece I´m going to present on Friday at the WhiteNoise Fest is a good example of my work using code as a visual.
André Damião is a composer who works in the fields of new media and experimental music. He is part of NuSom (Sonology Research Center) at the University of São Paulo and is represented by the Art Gallery TechArtLab in Rio de Janeiro. His work focuses on the aesthetics of the interface, livecoding and mobility. His pieces have appeared in concert halls and galleries from 15 countries.