mr lowercase:
steve roden

>1. why sound?

that is a tough one. first response is of course... why not! but mainly i
work in so many different mediums - painting, sculpture, film, sometimes
words, and sound as well. so it is simply that the inspirational impulse
seems to move me towards a sound as opposed to a tube of paint or a piece
of wood.

>2. how did you get interested in working with sound?

been interested in more band type things at first - but even then with a
kind of a bent perspective. then through an awareness of people like
feldman, cage, coltrane, eno, etc. it felt like a natural progression. as
the visual work became more conceptually sophisticated, so did the
soundwork - and the notions of sound moving beyond musicmaking to include
the interaction of sound with a space, the activity of listening, sound as
a kind of sculptural presence, etc.

>3. sound-art is getting more and more attention in various media right now,
>do you think that this is
>a trend or something that was just bound to happen/long overdue?

i think it is perhaps a trend. video art has become such a force in the
contemporary art world, that sound was bound to come up behind it. computer
art is still in its infancy, so technologically there isn't anything else
really with a deep history that hasn't been heard. it is kind of a shame
because when trends occur, the media and curatorial world tend to go out
hunting for the next big thing in the trend which leads to exhibitions full
of people under 35 and tends to be neglectful of people who have been doing
this for years. there are these group shows, etc. going on over the past
few years dealing with sound - and generally it is the folks who came out
of club culture as opposed to people workign with sound for such a long
time - i would like to see people like rolf julius, terry fox, christina
kubisch, max neuhaus, etc. getting the media coverage some of these younger
folks are getting. it isn't that the new work isn't interesting - some of
it is and some of it isn't - but with trends like this the overlooked seem
to remain overlooked. i wouldn't say it was overdue in terms of the art
world - sound isn't an object that can be bought and sold, and tickets for
museum shows are still being sold for blockbusters like 'van gogh' and
tittilating trend shows like 'sensations'. something as subtle as sound
will generally remain in the background i think.

>4. how did you get the idea to make your "furniture/object" 3"CD-series?

i am very interested in the idea of wright and wrong use of an object. if
something is beautiful one way, could it be beautiful another. i had an
eames leg splint and always ran my fingers along the edge of it. it was
visually beautiful but i also began to enjoy the sound. i thought a lot
about bertoia and how he made these sound sculptures and wondered if he
ever made sound with one of his chairs. it was both a kind of re-reading of
information or intention, as well as a kind of homage to three of my
favorite industrial designers. it is obviously poetic to make poetry using
virgil or blake, but can one attempt it with a chair or a lamp...

>5. my favourite among your CDs is probably 'crop circles'. can you tell me
>some about how it was made?
>i mean to me it feels very 'digital' (the sounds being very crisp and clean
>and gives the impression of the use of a
>sampler) compared to other CDs like 'view' or your collab. CDs with
>B.Labelle which feels more 'lofi'.

first off crop circles was made technically by sampling various movements
of a microphone and a speaker. basically i dropped the mic on the floor,
scrapped it along the carpet, held it in front of the speaker (thus causing
feedback), ran it along the surface of the speaker. etc. i wanted to create
a sound piece using the most minimal of means available to me and force
myself to try to create a work without a soundmaking 'object'. i was also
inspired by a photo of a man listening to radio frequencies while standing
in a crop circle formation - so i was definitely using these sounds in an
attempt to capture what he was hearing. i was using a sampler - and in a
very different way from view because the source material for crop circles
was sent directly into the sampler from the world, while the source
material for view was taken from a low volume cassette recording of a room
- with view, the 'noise' was as loud as the recorded sounds. for me, the
source material or concept has a ton to do with the overall sound of a
piece. i 'play' a lamp differently than i 'play' a chair, and i use
feedback differently than i use the screeching brakes of a cable car. it
isn't a question of low fi or digital aesthetics as much as it is about
keeping the integrity of the sound source and letting that effect the
resulting work.

>6. how does living in LA affect your artmaking? is there any other place
>you'd rather like to live in?

i always say la is a great place to make art and not a great place to try
and have a career as an artist. it is great because everything is so spread
out that one can really have time away from a scene, to drop out and simply
make work, as well as being able to stumble into the scene and participate
in the arts culture if one wants to on occasion. unlike new york though,
the scene is very small. there are only so many places for one to exist in
terms of exhibition possibilities or sound activities. people always ask me
why i never perform here - because there really isn't anywhere to play more
than once a year. i don't mean this as such a negative thing. it is a fact.
everything is so spread apart that there isn't that kind of energy of new
york or even san francisco. for me this is great. i tend to want to spend
time working with less distractions. i would love to live somewhere a
little more rural - even farther away from the distractions of the artworld
- someplace with more trees, land, and quiet. but i was born here and it
seems that as much as i always think about leaving i am relatively sure i
will be here awhile.