Mapping The 1-Bit Mind: Tristan Perich Interview

A few years ago, I stumbled upon about an article about Tristan Perich. I was fascinated. This made made listening to music a different experience. With that I searched for him on the web and found his website. I listened to his recordings and loved all of them. For those who love the music of Philip Glass and Wim Mertens will find his compositions a source of pleasure. But he  is more than a musician. His love for music, add that to the mastery of computer science and the fact that he has an eye for the visually mind-blowing paved way to many projects.

I recently followed his exhibition”Interval Studies” in Dublin which was really huge. You can say that what he does is revolutionary. He took the time to answer these questions while in- between projects.

 Tell us about your latest project.

I’m finally fabricating this huge microtonal audio installation. At least, it’s huge for me… around 1,500 speakers on a large aluminum panel. It’s an extension of work I’ve been doing called Interval Studies, where large arrays of speakers emit a single 1-bit tone each, tuned to microtonally span set intervals of pitch. It’s sort of a blasphemous hint at the infinity of white noise through finite media. Stay tuned.  

 Your 1-Bit Music is revolutionary. It pinned you on the musical map. Has the recognition affected you in a positive way?  

Thank you. The positive response has been so helpful because it opens the door to newer and larger projects. Ideas themselves don’t need material things like money and resources, but implementing them does, and anything that lowers that barrier is a gift.  

Tell us about your musical influences.  

Some are obvious: I grew up listening to Philip Glass and going to see the art of Sol LeWitt. (Every time I forget if the W is capitalized.) Their ideas of process, of pattern, of profoundly intense conceptual approaches to music and art giving rise to immensely beautiful and emotional work, was deeply inspiring. But like a lot of composers these days, I also grew up listening to more popular music, and learned to drum by listening to DJ Shadow and Portishead. I think Aphex Twin’s IZ-US was the first time I thought about how recorded acoustic samples could be incorporated in a decidedly digital fashion (the non-linear step in volume between the end of the drum pattern and the next loop of it).


Who influenced you the most to chart this path(merging Mathematics, Music and Computer Science).

While musical influences gave me my musical vocabulary, the strongest artist influence came from Kurt Gödel, a mathematician interested in the limits of mathematical logic. His major contribution was proving that any formal, consistent mathematical system, like algebra, would be incomplete: that there would be true statements within the language of that system that could not be proven by it. It basically said that mathematics itself was limited in a very meaningful way, and if you expanded it to account for those limitations, the new system would have its own set of unprovably true statements. It taught me how rich and interesting the study of closed systems can be, which is how I approach code, and musical scores too. It’s kept me away from having any degree of interactivity in my music and art, which keeps the logical, computational frameworks separate from the messiness of reality. I hope that makes some sense.  

Do you think that the Internet has done a good job in educating the masses musically?

Absolutely. I’ve been doing an arts residency that involves talking to high school classes, and I’m amazed at how sophisticated their musical tastes and vocabulary are. It’s an entirely different world now (of course, that’s true every generation, every time communication expands), and I’m excited about the prospects because being exposed to the arts at a younger age is so important. I was lucky to have parents in the arts who brought me to so many amazing things. These days it’s much easier to consume what interests you, and for fringe artists to get their work to the five, ten, hundred or million people in the world that really appreciate it.

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