Stephen Vitiello, Andrew Deutsch & Sawako | Regentag fur Hundertwasser

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Regentag fur Hundertwasser

by Stephen Vitiello, Andrew Deutsch & Sawako

These recordings were made using ting objects, bells, pieces of steel, electronics and field recordings of Hornell, NY made by Sawako Kato. The work was mastered by Stephen Vitiello and mixed by Deutsch and Vitiello. Dedicated to Hundertwasser
Genre: Electronic: Experimental
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
INTERVIEW WTH ANDREW DEUTSCH AND STEPHEN VITIELLO
BY ANJA CHÁVEZ, CURATOR OF CONTEMPORARY ART, THE WAREHOUSE GALLERY
Anja Chávez: You have collaborated with each other since 1999. How do you define your collaboration, and
has this collaboration been different from past ones?
Andrew Deutsch: It was 1993 that I first met Stephen. He was working with Tony Oursler and Constance DeJong
on an interactive performance project. I was a camera operator. My first impression of Stephen was his total
dedication to sound. It was clear to me from his performance that he believed sound itself should be on equal
footing with any other art form. Years later, I had the chance to bring him to the School of Art and Design at
the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and our collaboration began at that point. About
three years later I invited him back to work on a video project. In this collaboration I took care of the technical
aspects while Stephen performed live real-time image processing. The result is called Light Reading(s). After this
we have worked together in live concerts and have exchanged sound files in the production of CDs (Inductive
Music, Autumn Light, Voice Coil). Stephen trusts improvisation in a way that I don’t, and it is his trust that lets our
collaboration happen. I would say like John Cage, Stephen practices “non-obstruction.” He lets you carry on
with your ideas while adjusting himself to the situation. Stephen has a very strong sense of what he wants, but he
allows ideas to develop so that all the possibilities are explored before any final decision is made. So far I think
our current collaboration has been the same.
Stephen Vitiello: Every collaboration is different and every project has its own terms that I think we do our best
to set at the on-set. There are projects that are really done as Andrew and Stephen. I guess you could say we
are functioning as “equals.” There are others that are different, where one is supporting the other. For example,
I have come up to Alfred University a couple of times to make videos and Andrew in many ways acted as my
producer. He made the technology available, taught me a great deal about analog video processing, and
then asked me to direct him in certain aspects of video manipulation as I performed a sound piece that was
directly connected to the video signal. In another case, Andrew was working on a Carrier Band CD and asked
if he could use sounds I had made at Alfred University in the mix he was making. I didn’t participate in any
way except to give him access to something I had done previously. In a sense I contributed to the CD through
Andrew’s use of those sounds but really it was just raw material at that point for him to use and to play with.
You have to have mutual trust for these sorts of relationships to work. I wouldn’t give my sounds “blindly” to very
many people but Andrew is someone I would always do that with. With this exhibition, there are several different
forms of collaboration and co-existence.
AC: Each of you created a score for the other. Is there a beginning and an end? Who started and why?
SV: I see (hear) our scores as really just suggestions of ways to work. Neither of us approaches anything close to
classic notation. We’re combining graphic scores with text descriptions. A lot of my background/training is in
the years I spent creating soundtracks for video artists. When a video artist gave me a rough cut of a video, or
a story-board or a series of stills and asked me to get started on music or sound design material, for me, what I
received from the video artist was a score, a direction, or a series of hints, clues, ideas, moods to start working
with. I don’t think either of us (Andrew or I) is expecting one very exact thing from the other, rather hoping to
open a door for the other to explore.
AD: I would say there is no beginning or end, more of a weaving of sound. I made my scores first. I was eager to
explore the idea of using basalt rocks as scores. Basalt is formed under tremendous pressure, various elements
are forced together, and veins of minerals are aligned. To me this is exactly the kind of thing that happens in
sound processing instruments. Later, I added elements from Notgeld [German emergency money], as stimulants
for field recording, or story telling.
AC: Most of the exhibited work is new, while some was created previously. Why did you choose to include
past work?
SV: 7 Studies for Graphic Scores is a series of photographs I shot in Maine in 2007 that led to the first graphic
scores that I made, which have subsequently been exhibited (such as the black-and-white Pond Set scores in
this show), and published, and performed by the group Beta Collide. I was in Maine, at a site, waiting to record
the sound of some loons that I had heard. I had my microphone setup but the loons were gone. As I was waiting,
I was watching the movement of the reeds in water nearby, and thought they looked like some sort of music
notation. I took the photos but never managed to record the loons.
AC: When you compare 7 Studies for Graphic Scores and Pond Set, Stephen, there is a noticeable change from
a recognizable landscape to an abstract image, something the viewer might also detect in your music. How
important is it for you to capture both the concrete and the abstract in your work?
SV: I want to capture different things on different occasions. Sometimes I want to capture something in stages.
Perhaps it’s about taking someone through my process of thinking or listening or discovery. Discovery is always
the most exciting part of all of this.
AC: Andrew, your sculpture in the main gallery also reflects upon Rudolf Steiner and Joseph Beuys. How important
are these artists for you? Stephen, do you share Andrew’s fascination for these artists?
AD: My sculpture Objects as Energy Point has been evolving over eleven or more years. The sculpture is an
extension of the ideas of Rudolf Steiner and Joseph Beuys. It is only for this exhibition that using the sculpture as
a source for sound has occurred. Also, I have constructed video from this sculpture which is completely new.
I would like to say that I am actually not fascinated with Steiner’s ideas, I am engaged with them. Reading
Steiner’s books is incredibly stimulating. It’s the same with Beuys, except I would never want to take on the
actions of a shaman. Karlheinz Stockhausen has been important, his music and writings.
SV: I don’t have the same interest in those figures. It’s not that I’m not interested. I just haven’t investigated their
work and writings deeply. I was very close to the artist Nam June Paik for a part of my life. I learned about Beuys
through Paik, but I don’t know that I really learned about Beuys, as much as the Beuys that Paik knew.
AC: Both of you are sound artists. Your work also shows that sound can be visual. How would you describe
your work process, methods, and importance of the medium when responding to the score you received
from each other?
AD: I actually describe myself as a composer. I think this is a big difference between Stephen and I. I have a
tendency to affect every aspect of a sound. I “push sounds around,” as John Cage advised against. There is a
subtle difference between sound art and sonic composition and it’s a rare occasion that I take the full plunge
into sound art. In saying this I don’t mean to imply that Stephen is not a composer, just that I have dedicated
myself almost exclusively to stereophonic electro-acoustic works.
SV: Andrew sent me a number of collages and asked me to treat them as scores. He gave me some suggestions.
He wrote:
“Colors and lines - read them left to right or right to left. Shifts in color mean shifts in pitch. Sharp edges can be
sharp changes or dead stops before a change.
Colors red & yellow = high frequency.
Blues & purples = mid range.
Greens & browns, black = lower frequencies.
The rocks are noise, cluster sounds - the colors in the rocks can modulate quality of the sound.
Drawings/images indicate the use of sampled sounds or field recordings.
The most important part is to mix tone and noise. The tones can be culled from other recordings you’ve made
with musicians in the past. Or, you are free to devise your own way to understand them. Have people or kids tell
stories about what they see, or have people sign what they see and mix them.”
I took his notes but also presented my daughter (she’s almost 8) with the images and asked her for clues as to
which images she liked and in which order to place them. Which ones seemed loud to her. Which ones might
sound the most melodic. I used those as added clues. I’m still mixing this piece and Andrew is meant to send
me some sounds. I’m also on my way to the Middle East tomorrow and Andrew asked me to get some “sand”
sounds there, so who knows where we will end up in the next few weeks!
AC: How important is color for the both of you when ‘translating’ a pitch of a sound/note into a visual image?
SV: For me, this is really intuitive. There’s some sense of a personal synesthesia but it’s not one that I have a true
notated system for.
AD: I find it quite natural. We are all born into a synesthetic world and bare witness to the separation of our
senses as we grow up (by six months the senses are separating).
AC: How did you come across the emergency money (“Notgeld”), Andrew, and why did you include it in your work?
AD: I found the first pieces of Notgeld in a junk store. The idea of emergency money appeals to me greatly,
especially in relation to Steiner’s idea of the “Three-Fold Social Order” and Beuys’ famous quote “Kunst = Kapital”
[Art=Capital]. The Notgeld I collect is very beautiful; they are the most wonderful examples of stone lithography
I have ever seen. Add to this their social function and I feel you have an amazing set of ideas. Obama’s stimulus
plan is a kind of national Notgeld idea. I wish the stimulus money would be printed in blue rather than green, it
would be interesting to see the stimulus money flow from business to business, state to state.
AC: You both have previously worked with children. How important is this collaboration for you, and why did
you choose the format of a workshop to engage younger children (Seymour Elementary School) and teenagers
(Fowler High School) here in Syracuse?
SV: It just felt like another potential for engagement. One of the main reasons for making the work that we
make is to connect with people. Sound art, video art, installation work still feels somewhat inaccessible to some
audiences. The more people are exposed to the work, the more the potential for larger audiences over time; as
well the potential to inspire more people to make work that explores the potential of the mediums. A nice thing
too is that working with younger children often means that there is less baggage brought to the table. They
haven’t come in with pre-conceived notions of what art or music should or shouldn’t be, or can or can’t be.
AD: The energy of children’s drawings is infectious and children also invent their own words (neologisms). My son
invented the words “klinertay” and “degristicted”. “Klinertay” are the brown marks found on dying leaves, and
“degristicated” is when something is almost broken. I use these words all the time now. For instance, America
could be seen as being “degristicated” at this point.

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