Monome Interview

The following is an interview I did for monome

i. Instrument, Utensil, Implement, Machine, or Apparatus? which? why? where?

Apparatus. To me, ‘apparatus’ implies a totality greater than the sum of the parts, imbued with some broad purpose, yet open-ended. An apparatus is a modular machine, an interchangeable instrument. In both my scientific and artistic experiments, designing the apparatus is often the core of the project. A musical instrument has a predictable timbre, a scientific instrument makes a pre-defined measurement - an apparatus, however, combines known elements to explore the unknown. I have always felt uncomfortable calling the monome an instrument, perhaps it is better termed an apparatus.

if you had to choose just one preindustrial tool, which would it be?

The lens. There is so much to learn from nature on length scales in/outside of our everyday experience. Light is undoubtedly the best vehicle for navigating between the cosmic and nanoscopic. Our observations, communications and experiences rely so heavily on sight - its not surprising that the vast majority of our knowledge of the universe is a direct result of our ability to manipulate light. Imaging and spectroscopy aside, the lens is quite a useful tool: most are familiar with starting a fire with a magnifying glass, but did you know that a telescope is cooled through radiative coupling to the night sky?

ii. creativity has been redefined throughout the ages. our most modern tends to focus on process, placement, person, and output (or product). do you find your abilities within this realm of definition or do you see outside influences, such as divine inspiration, muses, daemons, or forces of nature as factors?

For me, creativity has always been a game of connect-the-dots. The creative spark is the union of two otherwise disparate entities. I often feel that my creativity is very rational - particularly when combining complimentary elements to make materials or music. Other times the lighting strikes, from some strange source, burning a melody or method into my mind. Both are valuable and rewarding in their own ways.

The truly creative connections are those which are unimaginable in their time, yet beautifully unifying in hindsight. These are the ideas that cause forehead smacking and global paradigm shifts.

iii. sound energy is the form of energy associated with the vibration or disturbance of matter. work, a form of energy, is force times distance. in living organisms, energy is stored as polysaccharides. common terms referring to such magical energy include mana, numen, chi or kundalini. how do you derive energy? how would you define your own personal energy?

It is hard to imagine that the energy inside a few thousand burritos and some water has primarily fueled all of my life experiences. Surely there must be an emergent energy outside of strict calories. How does life become more organized and connected with time? Entropy should be increasing, yet nature does the opposite. What makes up the balance? This is the question of physics, philosophy and religion.

Spiritually, Kundalini has been resonating recently. It is the best word I have found to describe the spectacular shiver in my spine, which I experience most frequently while listening to or playing music. It is an uncontrollable excitement, connection, realignment.