14. Derek Holzer


Derek Holzer (US, 1972) is a sound and light artist based in Helsinki and Berlin, whose current interests include DIY electronics, audiovisual instrument building, the relationship between sound and space, media archaeology and participatory art forms. Since 2002, he has performed live, taught workshops and created scores of unique instruments and installations across Europe, North and South America and New Zealand. http://macumbista.net

Derek Holzer gave a lecture titled 'Schematic as Score: Use and Abuse of the (In)Deterministic Possibilities of Sound Technology'. In it he considers it axiomatic that, for every work of art that must be considered experimental, the possibility of failure must be built into its process. By this he does not mean the aestheticised, satisfying disturbances and cracking that Kim Cascone valorises, but the lack of satisfaction caused by a misplaced or misdirected procedure in the experiment, colossal or banal. These are not mistakes that should be looked up, sampled and celebrated, but the flat-on-your-ass gaffs and embarrassment that would disturb the sleep of all but the most Zen of musicians or composers. The presence of failure in a musical system represents feedback in the negative, a turning point in anticlimax, irrelevance, the everyday, the cliché or even unintentional silence. Many artists try to eliminate true, catastrophic failures by scripting, scoring, sequencing or programming their work in as many predictable, risk-free quantums as possible in advance. But this unwanted presence also guarantees the vitality of that fiercely fought areathe live electronic music performance.

Over the past few years there has been a strong response to the sterile world of sound and video from the laptop. This has led to a new interest in analogue processes or 'dirty hands' art. With this renewed analogue interest comes a fresh exploration of the pioneers of electronic art during the pre-digital era of the sixties and seventies. Artists and inventors such as Nam June Paik, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Don Buchla, Serge Tcherepnin, Dan Sandin and David Tudor all constructed their own unique instruments long before similar tools became commercially available or could be freely downloaded.


We became familiar with the work of Derek Holzer through his project on tonewheelsan experiment in converting graphical imagery to sound, inspired by some of the pioneering twentieth century electronic music inventions. Transparent tonewheels with repeating patterns are spun over light-sensitive electronic circuitry to produce sound and light pulsations and textures.

This analogue way of generating sound from graphic notation was an impulse to check him out for the 'Pushing Scores' project. He came up with the idea to give a reading of his text 'Schematics as a Score', because that was a current issue of his practice. It completely complimented our thinking around how to imagine the concept of composing and making scores.

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