Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
spacer

INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES

Arena Homme+ SUMMER/AUTUMN 2021 - by Paul Stolper

HEAVEN IS A PLACE WHERE ENO REALLY HAPPENED

Paul Stolper: Thanks for doing this, Brian.

Brian Eno: That's alright.

PS: So essentially what I am going to do is kind of look at really, really early period, almost teenage period, and then I would like to do a second session more about the films and we will talk about lightboxes too, but we will just crack on with this one and see how it goes... So some background; the way this came about was that Ashley [Heath], the main editor of POP and Arena Homme+ magazines, he's a big Richard Hamilton guy and he's working on this museum show in Catalonia. And he called me and said, 'Do you know if Brian Eno ever worked with Richard Hamilton?' I asked him what made him think of that and he said that in his archive in Cadaqués he'd found the original master tape of his famous 'art recording' which I have got a segment of here now... I'll play it to you. It's a recording made of stray dogs in Cadaqués and it says on the tape box: 'Produced by Eno.'

BE: Yeah, yeah, this is true. I remember it. I don't know if I should honestly be called the producer of it, but Richard Hamilton was working in a studio, and I was working in an adjacent studio actually, and he asked if I would come in and have a listen. I can't actually remember much about what happened, but I did listen and I probably made some suggestions. I don't know if that merits being called producer.

PS: Well, if I play it for you, you might wish to deselect yourself or include. This is supposedly a snippet of it. [A collage of stray Catalan dogs barking ensues.]

BE: They don't write 'em like that anymore.

PS: It's a beauty. It would have been a chartbuster... So Hamilton just had these dogs on loops did he, I suppose?

BE: Yeah, it was in Island Studios. Is there any other information on the box?

PS: No, I haven't seen the box, Ashley's going to get that to me. it's quite a find.

BE: Yeah, I think it was in Island Studios and that was the only time, no, that wasn't the only time I ever met Richard Hamilton. No, there was another. Yes, yes. That was the first time I met him and he was very very complimentary to me. I guess partly because I had been a student of one of his best students. One of his favourite students, Roy Ascott...

PS: Ah, right!

BE: Roy was a student of Richard Hamilton, and Richard said something really kind of very complimentary to me, something like, 'I think you turned out to be the best of all of us...' or something really over-the-top like that. I was a bit embarrassed actually.

PS: So what year was that?

BE: Well, it must have been probably, it was either late '70s... Yeah, I think it must have been the mid to late '70s... or, if not that, it could have been the '80s...

PS: I wonder what Hamilton was doing in a recording studio?

BE: Yes, I don't know. That piece I think had something to do with Dieter Roth.

PS: That would make sense for that time period. It would make complete sense.

BE: For that piece as well. But Roth wasn't there at that session.

PS: Well that would make sense if it's Dieter Rot, because Hamilton, I think, was slightly dismissive of British Pop Art, was championing German artists a lot more, Beuys and Dieter Roth, and people like that and I think what he felt was more the intellectual side of art and I thought they all went out to Cadaqués and everything.

BE: Where is Cadaqués?

PS: North of Spain. It's on the coast very close to the French border and it was where Dali lived. He would go there as a little boy, his family went there. Picasso went there, Duchamp spent every summer there, Man Ray would visit... I don't think artists went to the seaside because it was the seaside. I think it was just a great place to...

BE: Hang out?

PS: Exactly. I wonder if people are drawn to the, it must be the open air, out of the city, you know... Anyway, well, that's interesting to exhume. I'll get a copy to you if there's any more mad dog barking in the vaults.

BE: The other time I met Richard was in the early part of this century. I think iot was Canon who came out with a new camera, a digital camera, and they wanted to do a special way of launching it. They invited about twenty artists to come to an incredible chateau in the South of France and spend three or four days there, and each artist got one of these cameras. I've still got mine. It's a beautiful camera. I think it was a Canon. It was their first adventure into professional digital cameras, so we each got a professional digital camera and we got full access to a sort of workshop where the films could be developed at any scale. So Helmut Newton was there, Richard Hamilton too.

PS: Bailey?

BE: Bailey, he was there, yes.

PS: Penn? No, maybe not Penn.

BE: He was dead, wasn't he? I don't know. He wasn't there anyway. Alive or dead... Also Terry, Terry, I've forgotten his name, the famous...

PS: Donovan?

BE: Terry Donovan, I think it was. yes. And then one of those acclaimed war photographers. Don McCullin.

PS: Quite a line-up...

BE: And then there was Eric Fischi the painter. Brian Clarke was there. I can't remember everyone else now... But that was actually another strange situation. So they had a little exhibition of the work that various people had done. Everyone got to take a picture and develop it at scale and there was a little show. By pure luck I took a really great picture. It just happened to be an amazing moment when it looked like a classical painting when everyone one was sort of, just all the people there, and they were all kind of in strange positions like that. It was just one of those moments that I happened to catch.

PS: As if it was posed?

BE: Yeah. It looked so posed, very classically posed and Helmut Newton was walking around the show and he said, to somebody else not to me. he said to Brian Clarke, he said 'This is why I fucking hate photography. You spend your fucking life doing it and then some cunt comes along and does a better picture.' Because it was definitely the best picture in the show in a way. It was the one that everyone remarked about because it just had this, I'll show it to you one day, it was very...

PS: I would love to see it.

BE: Sheer luck. Sheer luck.

PS: That's a really good jumping point. People are very guarded about their discipline, aren't they? Brian Eno's a musician. God knows why he's come along to the South of France because he's not a photographer, but as long as he stays in that box, it's fine, we don't mind... but then he goes and takes a great picture, the best photograph of the show, that shouldn't be allowed.

BE: It was, it was really luck, because I don't know how it happened that the camera was at all the right settings. I just turned round and saw this moment and took the picture and everything was perfect, the balance of light, and everything.

PS: If I was McCullin or Newton I might have been pissed of with that.

BE: I ended up apologising for it to everybody.

PS: I'm sure you did too. Let's return to the Roy Ascott connection, as I've said to you before, it really feels to me that everything you started out doing, from your teens when you go to school, that this original practice has guided you for the last fifty years or so... To what extent do you think that's correct? I mean it seems very, very early on, some sort of principle, some guiding principle was formed. And I don't know where it comes from exactly.

BE: No, I can't say that I do really but I mean the very first light piece I ever made was a really good piece and I would love to make it again one day because it was such a nice piece and it was so simple and so surprising because of its simplicity. Everybody could see exactly how it worked. There's no mystery about it and yet it did something that was really unexpectedly beautiful and that was, God, when was that? That was...

PS: '66?

BE: '66 it must have been, yes. No, hold on, no '65, because '66 I went down to Winchester College. So, yes, it was the beginning of the, hold on, '64, '65. I am just trying to think when I started...

PS: Roy Ascott? Is it during Groundcourse or...

BE: Yes, it was. Groundcourse was two years and it was in the second year of that.

PS: So '65.

BE: Yes, it must have been, because I started the Groundcourse in '64, then the second year started in September '65, so that's when it was. It was in that autumn '65 that I made that piece.

PS: Before you went there, are you thinking, I would like to be an artist and what one does is go to college?

BE: Yes. Exactly that.

PS: And with all the other interests I know that you were nourishing at the time, what is it about 'Art'. What did you think the function of an artist was then?

BE: I didn't have any idea and I still don't. I still keep thinking about it. I've got a lot of ideas now which is as bad as having none. Yes, I have at least six distinct theories about what 'Art' does for us and I just keep adding to them.

PS: Which isn't bad. It's not too many.

BE: I think number seven is due to pop out soon! I've just been having some conversations with a woman called Fantini Marcopolo, she's a cosmologist by training. She's a quantum physicist, but she decided to become an artist, and so since I knew she was a scientist so she could therefore probably string a sentence together, I started asking her what she thought the function of art was. She's got a very interesting theory so we're having a three-hour phone call on Friday to develop her theory further.

PS: So you go to Ipswich in '64 and I presume you're not reading prospectuses or anything, and thinking, 'I'll go to Ipswich.' It just happens to be local, I presume, is why you go there.

BE: Yes, so that was very interesting, because I didn't apply to Ipswich, I applied to Colchester. Colchester was a bigger college and had a better reputation and I applied to Colchester but as it turned out my Education Committee wouldn't pay for a grant for me to go there, because there was a closer school in Ipswich. So I sort of rather reluctantly went to Ipswich. And then that was the year that Ascott and his team went to Ipswich as well so it was very, very lucky. That was one of the great lucky accidents of my life actually.

PS: So where Ascott is completely innovative and promoting process and method over and above product... I mean, that's so much you. Was that similar thinking installed in your psyche before you started the course?

BE: Yes, I think it was.

PS: So did it chime with you at the time, was it something novel that you just attached yourself to...

BE: No, it was something that I was already into and that it really felt like recognition. I tell you what it was. I used to invent games when I was young and a lot of them had that same aspect of process over product. For instance, one of the games I remember, I had a train set like everybody else did. But I wasn't that interested in watching the trains tootle round the rails, so what I did. I just kept buying new pieces of rail and I would build these sort of mountains of books and boxes and whatever and I just made a long downward track. I had a stopwatch actually because my dad repaired watches and the whole point of the game was to try to get the longest possible journey, just letting a little carriage go at the top.

PS: Interesting...

BE:I just wanted to make it as long as it could possibly be, this journey. So I used to watch and then I'd put in a few sheets of paper under this piece of rail here to slow it down a bit more. So that was a good example of something where there wasn't realty an end result. It was just sort of seeing, how can I make a process, influence an interesting process... Another one, another game which turned out to be very sort of resonant at Ipswich was. I used to dig holes in the garden, a hole about that big. Then I would collect sticks and I would break the sticks so that all of the sticks were less than the diameter of the hole, so you couldn't span the hole with a single stick. Then I would build a roof by...

PS: Locking...

BE: Weaving it together, yes. Then I would cover it with mud and let it dry. The test would be if my dad could step on it. If it survived my dad stepping on it, it was a success.

PS: That completely chimed with Ascott. I mean that's amazing...

BE: Yeah it is.

PS: It's radical practices that he introduces. Art using computers and sharing ideas through electronic networks coining the term 'telematic' whereby computer networks in themselves are an artistic medium and this is what also resonates, that he promotes collaboration, thinking, articulation. It's as if in themselves they merit enough to be...

BE: Yes! We didn't of course have computers at that time but he talked about them as though we were living now. Nobody knew what he was talking about really when it came to that side of it. He was imagining a future that seemed just completely sci-fi to everybody I think. But it turned out to be quite accurate. He was of course the person who introduced me to cybernetics, and as a result of that I became friendly with Stafford Beer later on who was sort of one of the leading cyberneticians. Stafford was a very interesting man indeed, a very unusual person. He saw a lineage in cybernetics starting with Norbert Weiner. Then it went to McCulloch, Warren McCulloch. Then I think it went to W. Ross Ashby and then to Stafford. That was the sort of succession of teachers and students who carried the cybernetics frame.

One day in '76 or '77, Stafford invited me to come and visit him in Wales. He lived in this quarry. He had four huge dogs. Huge, huge poodles. White poodles, but those monster type, you know. I remember I sort of dressed up for this because I thought it was a bit of an honour to be invited to go to Stafford's home. So I went down by train, got a taxi from the station to this middle-of-nowhere little cottage where Stafford lived alone. I got out of the taxi. It was a filthy day, absolutely drenched with rain, and these dogs ran towards me. In a second I was absolutely covered with mud. Stafford didn't seem to notice at all and as soon as I got there started in on the conversation we had been having which was pretty high-level cybernetics. No, 'Oh, nice to see you. Would you like a cup of tea?' It just like went straight in. 'So the problem with closure, the theory of closure. It's, can the system digest itself or is that a logical impossibility?' and that's how it continued for the rest of the two days that I was there.

He smoked cigars all the time. He chain smoked these big cigars and he chain drank sherry, so he was just drinking sherry and smoking. We were in this little tiny low-ceilinged cottage, he was a very tall man, full of cigar smoke, and I was starving. I said 'Do you think we could have something to eat?' He said: 'Oh yes, I forgot. Sorry, yes, I'll put some potatoes on.' He put some potatoes on, but then he completely forgot and just carried on talking. Gradually the room filled with steam and the smoke, the steam and the smoke together, and the mud, and he just carries on talking. I could see the steam starting to abate which meant that the potatoes were actually burning because alt the water had evaporated off. Finally, fuck knows how much later, we got these just potatoes on a plate.

PS: I think if you can smoke cigars and drink sherry that's kind of fodder enough. You can just kind of keep going for hours and hours and hours.

BE: Yeah, that's right. A good combination of drugs, caffeine, sorry, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, you know. That's fine.

PS: I was looking at a couple of the Ascott projects that you did during your time at Ipswich. Remember them?

BE: Yes, sure.

PS: A brilliant one. 'Draw the room in reverse perspective. What information is lost?'

BE: I've got another one. 'Imagine you wake up one morning to find yourself a sponge. Describe visually your adventures during the day.' [Much laughter] You just can't imagine how utterly baffling a lot of these things were for sixteen to seventeen-year-olds. We had all come to Art College with our little box of paints.

I remember one project. One project that was really, really baffling. This was done as a group, all of us together did this, and what we had to do was to find a single item that was in every publication that we found in the local newsagents, so one item that they all had in common. Then we had to use a huge, huge role of newsprint which went all around the inside of this large room, to discuss visually the common and distinct features of these different reports... In fact the only thing we found was the weather.

PS: How English.

BE: So we were painting things about the variations and distinctions between these different weather reports. We had no idea at all what we were doing.

PS: There must have been some students thinking, he's bonkers, this is absolute rubbish. I mean it sounds perfect now because it seems so tailored to how your work developed and lots of others, but at the time poor kids you must have been, when are we going to go out in plein-air and paint the mountains?

BE: Yeah, well, I think in the first term, so the first year we were there was not so radical. The first year kind of weeded out quite a few people, but the second year was really radical and most of those kind of projects you were talking about happened in the second year. Some people were so disorientated that they just left the course. I remember one girl. She's still alive actually. She was the daughter of A. S. Neill, the guy who started Summerhill, that free school in Suffolk. I remember her so well, Zoe her name was. She was a big tall girl, head in the clouds, and she came from this very progressive free-schooling environment and I always thought that Zoe would be the girl who could deal with this, but she actually had a kind of nervous breakdown.

PS: Oh no.

BE: She just couldn't deal with it, and quite a few people found it so disorientating. Nobody was sure what they were supposed to be doing and the staff never really told you whether any of it was any good...

Sorry I'm really going on a bit here, but! it's nice to recall this stuff. I remember one event where we got into the school one morning and there was notices up saying, 'Please assemble in the courtyard at nine o'clock,' or 9.15 or something like that. It was an old Victorian school and there was a kind of enclosed quadrangle in the middle of It which had been the playground, not very big, probably ten metres on a side, a square. So we all sort of got in there and were wondering why, what we had been assembled for, and then the door locked behind us. the door that we had got into the quadrangle through. We're thinking, that's funny. Then we looked up and on the rooftops of the building, it was a sort of slightly gradient to the roof, and all of the staff, they were just sitting looking at us, not saying anything, nobody said a thing. They were just looking at us like we were specimens in a kind of laboratory experiment. It was incredibly interesting because people had so many different responses. There was good weather. There was nothing bad being done to anybody. It was just that sense of us being watched.

PS: And again it's an Ascott trait, but again it seems to be become very important to you but there's definitely in the projects you've just discussed a communal aspect to it.

BE: Yeah.

PS: You're working in groups which again Ascott promotes, the idea of interdisciplinary opinions and he brings in other people, doesn't he? He brings in biologists and psychologists. This whole communal way of thinking and you say, funnily enough, this idea that what Ipswich did was it dispelled the the silly ideas about the nobility off the artist.

BE: Yes, yes, that's right. In fact also of the individual really. It was sort of saying 'Don't bloody take yourself so seriously.' Because you know being a young artist was such an ambition for so many people and it was this idea...

I'm just going to move to another room because I've got my, sorry. I don't know if you can see but I've got my pheasant.

PS: Ah, it's a pheasant!

BE: Can you see him?

PS: I can. He's expecting food, I presume.

BE: Yeah, yeah, I'll just give him a little food. Hold on. He's such a scrounger.

PS: What do you feed a pheasant?

BE: It's a mixture of sunflower seeds and corn and suet pellets. He's a funny character that one.

Okay, I'm going to go into another room because he will distract me otherwise. I feel a great kinship to that pheasant.

PS: He won't have told any other pheasants that there's food over at Eno's?

BE: Quite the opposite. He's told every other pheasant. When I get up in the morning there are always nine pheasants outside the door and the word is still going even further around.

Okay, yes so I think part of the teaching strategy was disorientation. It was taking people apart in a way. It was a little bit like joining a cult. When you join a cult they sort of take you to bits and then they rebuild you.

Ascott was very interested in behaviourism and a lot of this came out of behaviourism, the idea that, i think one of the terms that was used was 'perfectability.' The idea that humans could somehow be perfected. So it was very controversial and he was very well-known among other art teachers and pretty much hated by a lot of them, because it stood for everything that they didn't believe in. They were very much about the individual, the spirit and the unconscious and all this sort of thing. He used to sort of say 'Bollocks to all of that!'

PS: Yes, generosity seems to be part of it, although if he was terrifying... The word that came out, and you've said it to me a couple of times is, and I'm really interested in it, is 'surrender.'

BE: Yes.

PS: Which is quite important for me. I wondered if, is it a conscious aspiration to arrive at a point where you have the ability to surrender or is it a tool that you are able to pull out and use. Is it armour?

BE: It's part of your repertoire of possible responses. So this surrender thing was not talked about at Ipswich, at least that word was never used as far as I remember, but certainly there was a very strong pressure to not rely on your ego, to submerge your ego if you were working with a group of other people. I mean it was very good practice and of course to musicians that's much more natural than it is to visual artists, because musicians are used to working together you know, whereas visual artists generally aren't. They are used to working alone and collaboration is unusual for visual artists or at least it certainly was then anyway. It still is pretty much now, I think.

So the surrender thing was something I started to develop myself later on and it was, my way of explaining It is to say that in any situation you have a spectrum of possible responses and at one end of the spectrum is control and at the other end is surrender and of course most of the responses are a kind of mixture, but somewhere on the line between them.

So, for example, I always think surfing is a very good example of something that uses surrender and control. You use control to get on to the wave, to stay up on the board, and then you let the wave take you. Then you take control again and then you are taken again. A lot of things we do are sort of like that, where you have to keep shifting strategy.

Now control, although we are very proud of it and it's of course the key to our technical civilisation. Technology is basically a way of controlling. It's basically a way of making the world conform to your wishes more than it does at the moment, so central heating is a way of evening out the fact that the weather changes. That kind of control we are good at and we are historically very successful. But of course control is a luxury. It's not possible to use it in many situations, particularly complex ones. So what you have to then be able to do is to improvise. Now improvisation is always somewhere between surrender and control, it's trying something, seeing what happens, surrendering to what happens and then trying to take control of it again, then shifting out to let it evolve a little bit.

This is actually a whole lecture but I am trying to give a brief version of it here. I'm not doing very well, but I've written lots about this so...

PS: Surrender is not a natural emotion. You associate it with humility, negativity, giving up, giving in...

BE: Well, I think it is. I think in our civilisation because we are so used to being able to take control, we've forgotten that surrendering is an active strategy. So we tend to regard control as active and surrender as passive. I don't. I regard surrender as another active choice and it's the act of choice to fit in to a situation, to become part of it rather than to take control of it.

So if you think of more under-developed societies than ours, many many aspects of those societies were uncontrollable, the weather, for instance. You were just stuck with it and you were just stuck with most of it actually, disease, so on and so on. So what are the possible strategies? You try as hard as you can to take control but there isn't much you can do, so you have to, as hippies used to say, 'go with the flow.' You have to learn how to navigate something and it's useless to try to take control of a situation where you don't have the tools to control. All you do is put yourself in the position to be smashed up.

If you fall into a rushing river, you will just tire yourself by trying to fight against the current, so the better strategy is to be taken and kind of try to navigate your way towards a bank and hope that you can grab on to something, so you are mostly surrendering but you are doing a little bit of kind of steering the surrendering process.

PS: Which is difficult. It's a difficult place to arrive at. It was interesting that in terms, I don't know, if it's part of surrender but it's certainly part of some of the other things we spoke about, as an example when you were offered that exhibition at the Serpentine, instead of opening a retrospective, instead of looking back and showing your greatest hits, you used it as an opportunity to invite, as Ascott would, biologists, focus groups, to all join in and just to listen and try and use the space for discussion. Again, I was like at the time, wow, what a great idea to try to put it into place, to allow other people's opinions, contrary to the artistic notion of 'I' and 'Me.'

BE: Yes, I just think that's finished now for a while. If we get through this climate emergency then we can perhaps have the luxury of individualism. but we can't really now.

PS: I remember towards one of the last meetings we had, you wanted to invite a choir into this. You feel the choir's a very important notion.

BE: Yes, I think one of the tragedies actually of education is that they stopped morning singing. I think that was a really great idea, because singing together, it's almost the most bonding experience you can have with somebody else outside of having sex with them, so let's assume we don't want our young teenagers to be having sex every morning together. But it's a very interesting thing because in a way you have to let your defences down to sing. You're very vulnerable when you're singing in a certain way and if you can be vulnerable in front of people and they can be vulnerable in front of you, you have a relationship that is quite strong I think. So I would love it if there were many, many national choirs and everyone belonged to one of them.

PS: Wasn't that part of the Portsmouth Sinfonia, that you didn't have to be great at your instrument...

BE: No that's right. The Portsmouth Sinfonia, anybody who cares to attend rehearsals can join in. So we did used to have rehearsals. But the whole point was to try to do it as well as we could and the better we got, the more funnier it became because the failures became even more obvious. It was a very interesting musical education to be sitting inside an orchestra where instead of a well-defined melody line, for example, you had like a cloud of instruments sort of following the shape of the melody. It was like that thing the murmurations that you see with birds...

PS: Yes, yes.

BE: So they are kind of moving together. Because usually If you have an instrument even if you have never lifted it up before, you quickly work out how to make the sound higher, the same or lower. So it sort of reduced all music to those three possibilities.

PS: So music was important, I didn't realise Tom Phillips was so important introducing you to Steve Reich, John Cage, La Monte Young...

BE: Yes, Tom was an interesting character because I was his favourite student and he tried to, he had this idea that art colleges should, like football teams, have sort of transfer fees so colleges could buy good students from other colleges.

PS: That's brilliant. That's so good.

BE: It's a great idea, isn't it?

PS: (Laughter) Who's good or not?

BE: The other thing I started doing partly on the provocation of Tom actually. He said to me one day 'Why don't you just come to Wolverhampton?' which was where he was then teaching, After I left Ipswich that whole scene fell apart, the Education Committee kind of took it apart actually, and so all of the staff that had been there went to different colleges to teach, for a job. Tom said to me 'Why don't you come to Wolverhampton? Just join the college for a week or two.' So I thought, that's a good Idea, so I did. I just walked into the college one day, like any other student, and was just there for two weeks as a sort of guest student.

Then one of the other, who was it, I've forgotten, one of the other tutors who was now teaching at another college, said 'Why don't you come and sit in on ours for a week or two?' So I spent a lot of my time at art college just visiting other colleges and pretending to be a student and nobody minded. Nobody ever questioned it; nobody ever said to me, 'What are you doing here? You're not a student in this college?' It was a completely different scene.

PS: And leaving Ipswich and going to Winchester...

BE: It was such a different scene then.

PS: Sure. So I suppose in terms of art school and you having to make art, Tom is introducing you to music and you are listening to Cage and La Monte Young, Steve Reich's It's Gonna Rain is massively important, and so even though I know you've said in those days you couldn't make a choice because you didn't realise you could have two careers, or meld music and art, but in spite yourself you're doing that anyway, aren't you, you're beginning to do art projects but you talk about instructions being the tool. Does that just evolve through Tom Phillips' inspiration and...

BE: No, the problem for me was not whether I could do art and music. I knew I could probably mix those two somehow. The problem was whether I could do pop music, that was really the question. Pop music, well, it was an entertainment form and there was a bit of snobbery in me, saying can that be, is that art too? I can remember that one of the things that really struck me, The Rolling Stones released an album by a friend of theirs, they kind of sponsored it or produced it, or something like that. It was by this soul singer called Chris Farlowe.

PS: Yes, of course.

BE: And the album was called The Art Of Chris Farlowe and that really struck me. I thought, is it?

PS: Well, if they say it is.

BE: That was very encouraging to me, the fact that that album had that title. It was important.

The other thing that happened that was very big for me was one morning in Ipswich Art College, Roy Ascott came in holding a 7" single and he said 'This is it. This is what you should listen to.' A pop single, and I thought, 'Oh!' It was a song by The Who. It may have been My Generation. I can't remember whether it was actually that particular single.

PS: In that case it could well have been.

BE: Well, of course, Pete Townshend had been his student.

PS: I can't remember whether you were talking about art or music, but when you talk about any of this works, music or art, what we respond to, we respond to magic. So you may look at it and it's just a hat, but actually look again and there's a rabbit inside of it... I always liked that way of viewing things.

The story that you once told me that really resonates, and I Just want to hear you tell it again, but I'm always just blown away by it... it's the story you told me about the man who, before we had recorded music, is so proud to be able to say that he heard the same piece of music eight times. Is that correct? There must be something more in that story?

BE: Well, yes, that was a guy who at the end of his life of listening to music would talk at length about the seven different performances of a Beethoven piece he had heard and the comparisons between them, you know. When I read that, it struck me how strange it is. We live now in a world where so many things are precisely repeatable. That's called recording and everything is revisitable. Experiences are revisitable through photographs as well. So we have all these ways of fixing moments in time so that they are reclaimable. Yet we don't actually really realise that we are doing that. It just becomes the water we swim in. We don't notice it anymore.

So that was part of the justification of generative art, the idea of instead of making a piece that sits there and is one thing, you make something that is constantly remaking itself effectively, so nobody can ever say they've seen one of my light pieces in its entirety. They can never know whether that's true or not.

PS: You talk about variety using very, very simple systems which I presume the lightboxes do. Whilst you programme the LEDs to tell them what to do to some degree, they are programmed to be random, that's another aspect of your art, that you put distance between yourself and the work of art.

BE: Mmm, mmm... Yes, I mean for me what I like is being in the same position as a viewer. So if I make something that I know is going to change and produce combinations of things that are unpredictable then I am just a viewer like anybody else is at that point. I'm a viewer who can tweak. I can change the rules a little bit.

PS: Looking back and knowing how relevant those early foundations were to later work, I'm trying to pinpoint the genesis of what you are exhibiting now, the film Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan. I picked out three seminal moments that I think may have directly or indirectly influenced them. Let's start with your uncle showing you films, what do you remember of that?

BE: Well, first of all I should say it only happened once. But It completely knocked me out and I think because it only happened once, it never became familiar to me. It sort of stayed in eny memory as this incredible sort of psychedelic experience. I was only probably seven or eight or nine, that sort of age, and we went to visit my uncle in Ipswich. He had borrowed a little 8mm projector to show us kids Disney films on it. He had children as well so there were five kids altogether there. He had set it up really close to a wall. As f recall it was only about a foot away from the wall that he was projecting on to, so the colours were incredibly bright.

Now you have to imagine this is before I had ever been to the cinema. I had never seen a television. I had never actually seen light in that way before, and it just knocked me out. The colours were so beautiful, and I can remember dreaming about it for years afterwards, dreaming of things in those colours, and as I said it didn't really happen again for, I suppose I did go to the cinema within two years of seeing that probably, but the cinema wasn't anywhere near as vivid as those colours had been. Being cartoons of course, they were sort of flat plates of bright colour which is not typically what you see in normal cinema.

PS: And the quality of Disney films was extraordinary, the detail and the amount of frames per second was stunning

BE: Yes, it was, well, as I said, it was just so exciting for me. I just remember, I have no idea even now what I was watching but just that sensation of intense colour was very exciting to me.

PS: I remember that you wrote 'the visceral impact of that intensity of light. I had never seen anything so bright and concentrated.'

BE: Yes.

PS: And that magical quality of something moving and living on a wall. It's a weird construct, isn't it?

BE: Yes, that's right. Yes, and he probably didn't know much about projecting things and he'd set it so close to the wall that it was a tiny picture. It was about an A5 page size, the picture that we were looking at, but it was so strong.

PS: I think you are right, when you do experience something only once, it's like a gem in the imagination, it doesn't dull, does it?

BE: It doesn't dull. In fact if anything it gets embroidered. Your memory keeps elaborating on it basically.

PS: The second influence I thought was relevant was that Pyramid Field that you made at Ipswich, it seems to be quite a key piece. Was that a project you and other students developed, or was it following rules set by Roy Ascott?

BE: Yes, that was, I'm trying to remember, that was a response to an exercise that we were asked to do. The question, the project was to make something to test people on, to make some sort of object or game or procedure which wo would put people through and see how they responded, and build a kind of map ot that person's personality depending on how they responded. Were they timid? Were they rash? Were they confident? Were they nervous? Were they able to take instructions? All those sorts of things.

We were asked to put those games that we made, or whatever they were, into an environment of some kind so that you felt you were walking into a different place to perform this experiment and there were five of us working on that wall, that wall of pyramids, and I can't say I really remember or know how the idea came about. I seem to think that there was a woman called Sally Benbow, a fellow student, and I have a feeling that she was quite important in the genesis of that idea. But it was a big moment because it was so simple, so simple, and yet so incredibly engaging. It was just a beautiful thing to look at, people would stand and look at it for ages, and it was three light bulbs and these cardboard pyramids. That's all it was. Ordinary light bulbs.

PS: It's amazing how so early on. you've been given the notion of following sets of rules which is so fundamental to your practice, that you relate to even now. I think you say 'not only the complexity of the result, but the economy of means of producing it.'

BE: Yes. That's right. That's always been important to me, that balance. I'm never very impressed by things that are very hard to make.

PS: I remember you talking about virtual reality, saying, 'well, when it works, I'll do it.'

BE: Yeah, yeah. Well, I have seen it work now.

PS: Have you?

BE: Well, Laurie Anderson I think has done, as far as I am concerned, the first virtual work that really, really is special. Have you been watching her, by the way?

PS: No!

BE: She did the Norton Lectures and they're being broadcast now. They just showed the second one about two or three nights ago and it's actually online today. It's really nice. It's got such a good atmosphere to it.

PS: The last thing I saw her do was screaming.

BE: Oh yes, yes. I know that thing. She's a surprisingly good screamer.

PS: Yes, she's quite petite and she's got a lot of scream in her. Well, maybe we all do.

BE: She puts herself into it.

PS: Sorry do go on.

BE: I was going to say, so that was where I started, actually I had earlier become aware of this interest in what's the least you can do, to get the most result. That was what fascinated me.

PS: That sounds like a sort of Ascott challenge as well.

BE: Yes. yes. It is probably. Well, as I explained, I fitted into that school because it seemed sort of like a lot of things I'd been playing around with anyway as a kid.

PS: Then you make your first light box in '66 that seems to be a really key work, which not only seems to follow the seme kind of rules of simplicity but then has this amazingly complicated result.

BE: Yes, and one day I'll remake It. I tried to remake it once and it didn't work so well. It very much depended on a technology that is hard to find now.

PS: Exactly.

BE: These little cheap flashing light bulbs.

PS: Was it at all about light in the traditional role of light in painting, you know, Rembrandt paints from dark to light, or have you already moved away?

BE: No, not really. It was about the fascination of creating a machine that could generate permutations. Did I ever explain to you how it worked or have you got a diagram at all?

PS: I saw the drawing from one of your notebooks. The Pifco light bulb as it heats up.

BE: So it switches itself on and off. It's a flashing bulb. They were used in car indicators and because it didn't really matter how quickly they flashed, or precisely how quickly they flashed, they were never made to very exacting standards so they all flashed at a slightly different rate. So if you had a few of them flashing together, they would always be out of sync, so there were always new patterns forming, but then the really clever thing about that work was that each of the nine cells, they were in a 3 x 3 format, was separated from the other cells by its walls of course and what I did was I made a hole in each wall and then put a gel in the hole. So if you had a cell in the middle, let's take the middle cell for example, if that cell was off the only light that was coming into it was from the adjacent cells, whichever adjacent cells were lit. If you see what I mean, their light was coming through the hole in the wall. So let's call those adjacent cells: 1, 2, 3 and 4. So if the central light, the central cell, was off, then you could have either colour 1, or colour 1 plus colour 2, or 1 plus 3, or 1 plus 4, or 2 plus 3, or 2 plus 4, or 1 plus 2 plus 3, or 2 plus 3 plus 4, or all four.

So the colour of any square was constantly changing and at quite a fast rate because these Pifco flashers had an on-off rate of about one second or something like that, and it was just dazzlingly complicated. People thought there was something really clever in a way, you know.

PS: Did it sit on a table or did you hang it on a wall?

BE: Yeah, it was on a wall.

PS: So it had a sort of painterly or wall relief sort of quality to it?

BE: Yes, yes, it was quite deep. Again because it needed for the colours to mix properly there had to be a sort of gap in there. Well, at art school all the sort of painterly teachers really thought I was a dead loss because I never made anything that looked much like a painting. They had tried to chuck me out, some of them, there was a whole correspondence I must show you one day which I have between all the staff about whether I should be allowed to stay at the college or not.

But funnily enough when I made that thing everyone was so dazzled by it, even the sort of hardcore St Ives School teachers had to admit that it was pretty great.

PS: Is that the piece you try to patent? As a light display unit?

BE: Yes, that's right. Exactly. And I did patent it. Yeah, that was the only thing I ever patented actually, and the only response I got to my patent was from a German company who said, they're obviously a kind of shark trade of some kind, they said would you like to sell the rights to your patent or something like that, and then offered me a completely pathetic deal so I said no.

But nobody ever exploited the idea commercially.

PS: Well, we should revisit that.

BE: I think that's a very good idea, yes.

PS: So, you leave Ipswich and the two rules you develop further are randomness, which in your words 'produces things that your own taste wouldn't,' which is really interesting, it's a sort of way of exploring outside your taste-envelope.

BE: Yes.

PS: And then about not making finished static works. You wanted them to have their own life separate to you.

BE: Yes.

PS: And are those rules you could have also applied to music? Was there a division there?

BE: No, no, that same thing applies. That's sort of where generative music came up really. Instead of trying to make finished pieces of music which of course is what you do when you make albums, you make a final form of a piece of music. Of course I like doing that as well, but when I started to discover that if you were building systems for making music, like running three loops of tape together that are not in sync so that they keep forming new clusters, for example, a very simple example. That was so interesting and you couldn't of course confine that to a record really because the whole point of it was that it was constantly generating things that you hadn't heard before.

So that's what I call generative music and then I realised that actually what I really liked doing was making these systems or machines and tweaking the rules until I got them to behave well. So I had a different attitude to this than people like Steve Reich and Philip Glass. They were sort of in a certain sense, machine makers like me, in that their work was procedural, you know, what they gave you was a procedure for making something. But I think because they came out of fine art, the high art zone, they had this somewhat purist attitude, so that the idea was that the system was supreme and you had to accept whatever results it delivered to you.

PS: They reject all interference then?

BE: Yes, It was sort of like, this all came out of John Cage I think really, because for Cage music was very much a spiritual discipline and so his thing about chance was that, well, if you set up a situation and you allow chance to operate, then you just have to reconcile yourself to what the results were. You don't have a right to fiddle around with it.

PS: Right.

BE: Whereas I thought, no, I just want to use it as a tool, you know. It's just one of many tools. I'm a composer. I have preferences. I have tastes. But I want to explore them and one way of exploring them is by making machinery that constantly sort of challenges it and throws up possibilities and says, what about this then, and what about that.

Ideally then, what I want is to make a machine that is always sort of courting the edges of my taste at that moment. It's always doing things that are a little bit outside what I expected.

PS: How do you allow for good and bad, or your own qualitative judgement? I'm so interested in this notion of surrender, and how you decide when to interfere and to reject.

BE: So for me the interest is in making something that can be interesting for a long time. So if I wanted something that just tasted, smelled or felt sweet all the time, that's easy enough to make and it's not very interesting. So what you want is to make something that is in that very interesting area at the edge of chaos where it doesn't really settle down. It's not really stable.

For example, in music a lot of people if they want to make music of this kind, start with a strong drone. A drone is like an anchor. You can build things around it and it's reliable. It holds the music in place. The problem is that it anchors ft in a way that you might not want. It means it's always sort of within the same little area of possibilities. So I discovered that, this is just one of these types of discoveries, I discovered that if you don't have a strong drone and in fact if you imply several different tonal centres to the music, so for instance if the music is basically in the key of C, if you sometimes have a low C in there, that will sound right, but if you have a G in there or an F, or even A, they can also suddenly sound like they're the anchorage of the music, which means you are suddenly anchored somewhere else.

So I started experimenting with ways of making something that was secure enough for you to feel still in ft, still involved in it, but variable enough for you to sometimes not be recognising where you are and to think, 'oh, this is a new feeling, I haven't had this before.'

So there are ways, I think there are quite a few ways of doing that, which I have been exploring.

PS: Are you able to write with the audience in mind, in as much as it may be something that resonates with them, or if it only resonates with that one person it doesn't matter what anyone else necessarily feels?

BE: Yes, well, I always assume that the audience is pretty much like me. So I've always worked on the assumption that if I like something, somebody else will, and probably quite a few people will. I'm quite aware that sometimes I get there a little bit sooner than other people do, but I know they are going to get there. But I don't end up anywhere that outlandish. I just get there a little bit sooner, I think and I think that's because I have always trusted my taste.

PS: Was that a reason to move to New York, it seems like you are leaving a lot of things behind, but I'm wondering, a bit like what punk rock was at that moment, was London the end of something or was what came after the beginning of something. | So you leaving the UK, you've achieved a huge amount, and so New York is actively] searching for something new.

BE: Well, actually, it's a little bit like what hap-J pened to me last year when I left London for locfa down in Norfolk and I sort of thought I was goinfll to be there fora few weeks...

PS: I remember, yeah.

BE: ...and I ended up staying... I just ended up staying in New York, but one of the reasons was I had had a pretty bad time in London for a couple of years when, well, you won't know about this, most of the cool rock press had really really turned against me and there were a lot of really snipey nasty articles. In fact there was even am adjective that was often used as a very disparaging description of something. If you wanted to really piss on a record that you were reviewing, you would describe it as 'Eno-esque.'

PS: [Laughter]

BE: And that word came up a lot. It meant sort of not punk. It meant wimpy or soft or wet. That was actually quite a difficult atmosphere to work in. In fact it led me to make probably the biggest mistake of my career which was Joni Mitchell called me up once, out of the blue, I don't know her, and she said 'I really want to make an ambient record with you.'

PS: Wow.

BE: And I said at the time, as I had just been under a huge amount of attack for those records, I said 'God, the last thing I want to do at the moment is hear about, do more ambient music. I just don't feel like it.' That was such a shame because I think she is possibly the, now it becomes more and more clear to me, that she's one of the greatest songwriters of all time by a long way.

PS: She's incredible.

BE: Yeah, I really, really wish I had worked with her actually.

PS: On a positive note though, there's this brilliant 1979 article by Lester Bangs. He Writes in Musician. I think the article is called 'Taking Manhattan by Strategy.' It says the influence of your move to New York is 'unmistakeable, a polyglot freneticism, a sense of real itching rage and desperation... It gives intimations of a new kind of international multi-idiomatic music that would cross ail commercial lines, uniting different cultures, the past and the future, European experjmentalism and gutbucket funk.'

BE: Well, do you see now why I decided to stay in New York?

PS: Completely, it's so interesting, maybe that's the appeal of America and New York, it's that kind of openness.

BE: Yeah, exactly. I got there and I didn't know actually before I went that I was a kind of icon there and in fact one of my first experiences was walking, I was on 6th Avenue, and there's a subway station on 6th and Spring, I think it is, and I noticed on the sort of steps down to the subway that said 'Eno is God.' And I thought, I wonder who that is, thinking that someone had appro- priated my name. It's probably only one person doing it for all I know. But it took me a few days to realise that I was the person they were referring to and then at the same time I was starting to get this flow of stuff coming towards me of people like Lester Bangs, saying 'God, it's so great to have him in the city and everyone wanting to meet me and I thought, bloody hell, this is a lot better than being in London with all these fucking bitter cynical people. The English do cynicism like nobody else does.

PS: And at that time you have New Wave and Punk and then you have all these artists making videos.

BE: Yes.

PS: Was that new for you? Seeing artists make videos or do you have it in your mind to be making film or anything? Are you aware of artists such as Joan Jonas and Laurie Anderson for example?

BE: I didn't really know that much about it and most of the stuff I had seen called video art was so appallingly dull I thought, I just couldn't bear it, It just seemed to me that the only objective of video art was to not be television. It was like a completely negative goal. We are not going to be fast. We are not going to be interesting. We are not going to be colourful. We are just going to be something that isn't TV.

Now I can see if I lived in America I would certainly have a strong reaction against television as well, but there was nothing positive about it to me. It just seemed, it was just a tick-list of things you shouldn't be if you want to be a video artist. When I started discovering what you could do with a colour video camera, I thought, oh, this is the answer, you just have to stop thinking of video as a narrative medium, as a subset of cinema, which was a subset of theatre. Forget the screen as a sort of theatre set and think of it as a picture. Then start thinking, well, what's the medium, the medium is light, light and colour, and everything else is a subset of that. Cameras produce light and colour, and screens produce light and colour. Then for cultural reasons or historical reasons, we decide that they should be about something, there should be a narrative. There should be something theatrical happening or something cinematic. But you don't have to make those decisions, you could just say, 'This is a new way of making pictures,' and that's what I chose to do.

Again, had I wanted to make films in England, well, I wouldn't have done it because I think it would have been so unencouraged here that it wouldn't have gone anywhere.

PS: There's a lightning moment isn't there, in terms of losing that theatrical format of the television set when you buy your first camera that seems to be crucial.

BE: Yes, yes, that's right, So that was completely accidental. I bought that camera and it didn't have a tripod with it, so I took it home and I was very excited about it trying it out and, oh fuck, how do I get it straight, I can't get it straight. It had a sort of curved bottom this camera, so it would rock if you stood it up, and so because I just wanted to play around with it, I just laid it on its side and of course that meant the picture was the wrong way up. So then I turned the TV on its side and I thought, this is something new, I've never seen this before. Suddenly I'm looking at a picture. I'm not looking at a story or a sequence of some kind.

Then, and this is something that would only happen in New York, and only because there was this buzz about me at the time which, as I said, I was quite unaware of until I got there, a guy who worked at The Kitchen, called Tom Bose, who I bumped into a few times while I was in the street said 'What are you doing?' and I said 'Well, I'm making these kind of pictures with video' and he said 'Do you want to have a show of them at The Kitchen?' and I said 'Yeah, why not?' and I said 'When?' He said, 'Three weeks' time!'

So just this sort of can-do enthusiasm without any bollocks of 'Are you qualified to do this', 'Are you really an artist' and so on, which is what we are getting in England all the time. So I did it, and I think if Tom Bose hadn't done that, that probably wouldn't have come to anything in the end.

PS: I also think about high art, low art, art versus design, and I know you talk about this, you say that kind of distinction which is probably just snobbery and leaves out a lot of interesting things in the middle.

BE: Yes, yes. Well, you know it's all to do with the economics of the art world, but there's re- ally only two ways of making a living in the art world. You either sell a lot of something which is what you do if you are in pop music. You sell a lot of something at a not very high price, or you sell very few of something at very high prices. There's more now, but at that time, there wasn't much territory in between those two poles, and here I was trying to work in both of those areas. I wasn't prepared to say, I'm never going to touch an electric guitar again, but nor was I prepared to say. I'm never going to mention the word Kandinsky again.

PS: Didn't you give a talk on that. I think, at MoMA, about low art versus high art.

BE: Yes I did. That was when I pissed in Duchamp's urinal.

PS: What? In his urinal?

BE: Didn't you know about this?

PS: I've heard it, but I wasn't sure if it was true.

BE: Oh, it was very funny. Yeah, I was asked to do this 'High Art, Low Art' talk at MoMA and they happened to have at that time a show on which included the Duchamp urinal, you know there are quite a few of those urinals around, but this was one of them, and it was signed by him and so I thought, wouldn't it be great if you could piss in there. I had this idea, at that time one of the buzzwords in art talk was 'decommodification.' People talked about that a lot. Decommodification. So I had this idea which was 're-commode-ification.' Turning something back into a toilet.

I still think that was such a brilliant joke but one of the problems with New York is that they're not very snappy with that type of humour. It just went down like, what is it, a lead balloon.

PS: Really?

BE: Yeah, I think that would have sounded funnier in England, but they just didn't get it. I don't know whether they don't know what a commode is.

PS: Well, they don't get cynicism. They don't do that at all.

BE: No. But I thought re-commodification was sort of a brilliant play on ideas. It's still ahead of its time, I think. I don't think anyone's picked up on it.

So I managed to piss into it by a complicated sequence of tubes and things. Then when I gave the talk that same night, that same evening, I introduced a whole set of diagrams to show how I had done it, and witnessed the growing unease of the Trustees and so on who were sitting at the front of the lecture theatre and who were no doubt wondering whether their insurance was voided or something, because art at that level is mostly about insurance.

PS: So you're making film and living in New York where you said you only ever took apartments on the top floor because the pace above New York, above the streets is so much slower than the kind of frenetic pace at ground level, and that does beautifully tie in with Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan.

BE: So, yes, it was a completely different world up there because all the noises were sort of distant anyway, so even though it was a very noisy city, everything sounded quite far away and everything was quite slow up there, the only movement really was steam coming out of buildings, which happens a lot in New York, and clouds. I just thought it was so great that you could be out on the street where there's always fucking noisy roadworks and trucks and taxis holding their horns down, just completely hectic and you get in an elevator and suddenly you are in a different city. You've only travelled three-quarters of a minute up in the elevator and you're in another place. I thought that was so beautiful and again an under-appreciated feature of the city really. People didn't talk in those terms. They would talk about 'uptown' and 'downtown,' but uptown and downtown for me were up at the top of a building and down at the bottom.

PS: When you are making Mistaken Memories... did you film it and then decide to write music specifically for the film?

BE: So at that time I was working on the music that became the album On Land and in my loft where I lived which was a very small loft in many ways, it was a long narrow building on top of the roof of this building. I decided that because the city was so noisy, I decided to build a completely soundproofed room, and the room was built by a painter friend of mine called Michael Chandler. It was a room inside a room sitting on neoprene blocks so it transmitted no vibration at all. I had light tight curtains basically so that I could make it absolutely dark and absolutely quiet and it was really an antidote to New York.

But what I often used to do was I used to leave the curtains off so I could see out of the window, so I could stand in this quiet room but see New York and I started setting up my camera there and I would start to make film, it was a way of listening to the music I was making, because again most of it came out of procedural operations like I described. So the job of listening to these things was quite important, you had to let them run, listen and then maybe change the rules a little bit. It wasn't the kind of music that you make by just sitting down and building it. You had to step back and let it play itself out and listen to it, as it was doing that. While that was going on, the way I would keep myself occupied and prevent myself from fiddling around with the music too much was I had my camera. I had a tripod by now, but I had my camera looking out of the window and I was just filming the rooftops of New York, and so though I wasn't really making the music for those films, I was making them at exactly the same time. The two activities were going hand-in-hand. It was very natural to me to just stick them together.

PS: Did you look at that skyline and think the music really suits that?

BE: Yes.

PS: Or the other way round?

BE: Both. Both ways round. I was very aware that I was creating another way of thinking about being in this big city. There are very obvious ways of thinking about being in a big city. It's frantic. It's hectic. I can get things done here. I've got six meetings today. Those are the kind of things you tend to think about in New York because it's really a business city. But to think of it as a sort of dream city, like an Italo Calvino type city it became more and more appealing to me, and I felt that I was creating this other city within New York. I was using bits of New York to build this new city and I called it what I called it because at that time I was living right near Chinatown and the place was pervaded by a smell of burning meat. In Chinatown they often cooked with windows open so stuff would come out of the restaurants anyway, but there are also people who kind of roasted kebabs, and so on, on Improvised carts in the street. That alreadv made me think of something very ancient, mediaeval.

Then you had all of these strange-looking people because it was a complete melting pot then. It made me think of Paris in the 14th Century or something where people from everywhere were meeting and didn't know each other's languages and so on, but somehow commerce, buying and selling of things, gave them a reason to interact. It was a very exciting place to live then.

PS: And of course on ground level you produce the No Wave album which much have been a really intense moment, and then with The Talking Heads... I mean that's the complete antithesis of your personal life up in the clouds above New York.

BE: Yes. It was. No Wave was more sort of, I felt like I was being a kind of ethnomusicologist there. It's like I had found this tribe and they had this strange new kind of music and I just knew that it wouldn't last for very long. I knew that it was kind of doomed already because it wasn't commercial and everybody doing it was kind of doing it as a hobby. They were like models or artists or writers or whatever and you just felt, this isn't going to last, but I thought there was something great about the music as well, so I thought, wouldn't it be nice if this was actually documented in the same way as I'm sure in the 1920s or 1930s when Alan Lomax and those other recordists were going around the Deep South collecting material, I am sure they were doing it for the same reason. They were thinking, this is going to be lost forever unless somebody records it.

PS: It's a cultural moment, a special moment.

BE: Yes.

PS: Well, brilliant, thank you for your time Brian. I think how Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan has been shown, well I was going to say in the gallery, but of course you view it from outside the gallery through the window, where you use the QR code to hear the soundtrack and yet the film is on the inside of the gallery, so you don't even have to come in, because we are still in lockdown... It seems to be a really beautiful repost to the constrictions imposed by the pandemic and what's been the shutting down of culture. It's a bit of a fightback I think, and it seems to be working. It's really beautiful to see people standing outside, listening to the music and also being able to watch the film as you originally showed it.

It's so nice. Do people seem to enjoy it? Yes, I think it's a really, I was going to say for them it's a really interesting experience but of course we are so used to not being film on your original television set, just being able to point your phone at the QR code on the window and then picking up the soundtrack. It feels very 'now.'

BE: They are listening on headphones presumably, are they?

PS: Some have headphones. Mostly people will be walking by, stop, read the vinyl on the wall, watch the film and then notice the QR code and then play it out loud.

It works really well.

BE: Great. That makes me happy.


ALBUMS | BIOGRAPHY | BOOKS | INSTALLATIONS | INTERVIEWS | LYRICS | MULTIMEDIA


Amazon