SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Hovamigyan, G.H.

G.H. Hovagimyan
US media artist

  • artist biography
  • example of soundart


    Interview: 10 questions

    1.When did you start making music?

    A. I taught myself how to play guitar in 1963. The music scene at that time was the most exciting thing happening. It was my first access to my creative soul. The buddhists say that music is the first thread that connects one to the spirit.

    2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.

    A. I live in New York City. I have no formal musical education. I went to Art School in 1968. It was there that I experimented with performance art, installation art, film/video, photography and conceptual practices. I also played in rock bands and jammed with a lot of different musicians. One of my best classes was experimental music I received an “A” for that class.
    Indeed, at the time I went to College the sense was that revolution and experimentation were more important than formal learning. The first disco recording studio of Gamble and Huff’s was above my art history class. I went to School at Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts).

    3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?

    A. I call myself an experimental digital artist. Some of my work is based on the structure of music but it is not music, it is “music-like” art.

    4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?

    A. I think of mass media, recording and transmission as the source material for my work. Indeed, I feel that all communication systems, networks, recording and playback systems are the subject of what I do. Within this information matrix is a media language of memory recognition and response. I think of myself as an information filter. I take all the information in, process it and re-order it into art in some way.

    5.Tell me something about the instruments,technical equipment or tools you use?

    A. I use my body and my voice. I also use computers with text-to-speech and speech synthesizers. I use video cameras and microphones and laser beams. When I’ve worked with Peter Sinclair in the past we’ve used the MAX MSP programming environment. I use the internet as both a delivery vehicle and an information environment. Indeed, I was one of the first artist to start working with the internet in the 1990’s. In my latest performance works RANTAPOD and HD_RANTS I perform with post production in mind. For Art Dirt Redux I use a 1 gig solid chip audio recorder and a Sony Lavelier microphone. I edit with Audacity.

    6. What are the chances of new media for the music production in general and you personally.

    A. I think that with digital tools and the internet as a distribution medium the environment for “music production” has radically changed. Many young musicians now present their music on the internet. They make a living by creating micro-markets for their work. For me personally, The computer and New Media have opened up a range of new ways of thinking and re-ordering perceptual reality.

    7. How about producing and financing your musical productions.

    A. That’s a strange question. It all depends. I apply for grants like every other artist. I sometimes do residencies to develop a new media work and then present it. My two ongoing works RANTAPOD and Art Dirt Redux are self-funded. I have patrons who financially support what I do.
    I think that the media world and the art world are converging. This will give artists like me more access to decent money and tools without resorting to teaching. The reality is that mass media is now looking to new media artists to create the new information environments to market whatever it is they want to sell.

    8. Do you work individually as a musician/sound artist or in a group or collaborative. If you have experience in both, what is the difference and what do you prefer?

    A. I do both. I don’t have a preference. Sometimes it is necessary to be alone with your thoughts in order to drill deep into your soul and understand who you are and what you have to say. At other times I work with other artists. When I collaborate it is because each artist brings something of value and the synthesis of ideas and spirits create a larger meaning. Oftentimes you don’t know what you are capable of accomplishing until someone pushes you or challenges you. This often happens in a friendly jam session among musicians but is equally true when working in collaborative teams in new media.

    9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?

    A. There are so many that it is unfair to single any one out. I will say that since the first telephone conversation that transmission, displacement and later sound recording have radically changed the idea of music. As Marshall McCluhan says, “The medium is the message.”

    10. What are you future plans or dreams as a sound artist?

    A. At the moment I am an “underground or fringe or cutting edge or whatever” artist. I’d like to bring my work to a mass audience. I believe they will understand it and like it. I’m looking for some savvy producers who believe this as well. Oddly enough, the people who respond most to my work are people who are half my age. This pleases me to no end.

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