Semiconductor make artworks, which reveal our physical world in flux; cities in motion, shifting landscapes and systems in chaos. As forces of nature come into play on our surroundings, we witness events unfolding over thousands of years well beyond our lifespan, or outside the limits of human perception.
Since 1999 UK artists Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt have been exploring many processes of digital animation to produce moving image works and live animation performances. Central to these works is the role of sound, which becomes synonymous with the image, as it creates, controls and deciphers it; exploring resonance, through the natural order of things. Finely crafted digital work is combined with analogue processes that tailor the randomness and errors within computer systems as co-conspirator.
Semiconductor have recently returned home to Brighton, after completing a series of fellowships at: The NASA Space Sciences Laboratories (UC Berkeley, California USA), Berwick Gymnasium Fellowship (Berwick-Upon-Tweed, UK) and Couvent des Récollets (Paris, France). Past and future exhibitions include: Venice Biennale , Prague Contemporary Art Festival , ICA London , San Francisco Museum of Modern Art , Careof Gallery in Milan , EMAF Osnabruck and Beaconsfield Gallery London .
Semiconductor are currently working on an Animate! commission and will release a new DVD, Worlds in Flux , with Fat Cat Records early 2007.
Q&A WITH SEMICONDUCTOR
– What attracts you to working in the live audiovisual realm ? Can you tell a little bit about your background and how it lead to this point ?
We come to work in this field as visual artists inspired by sound and music and as a way of thinking about them not as separate mediums but in terms of a synthesis. Semiconductors Sound Films are concerned with many processes of digital animation and, by way of these, reveal our physical world in flux; cities in motion, shifting landscapes and systems in chaos. Central to these works is the role of sound, which becomes synonymous with the image, as it creates, controls and deciphers it; exploring resonance, through the natural order of things. Finely crafted digital work is combined with analogue processes that tailor the nuances and randomness within computer systems as co-conspirator. Presented as fictional documentaries, these works are set in the future; histories yet to be considered. These films are screened in galleries, festivals and biennials worldwide; in addition they are presented as surround sound installations. Semiconductor also produce live Sound Film works which they perform at multi-media festivals and events.
– Can you tell us a bit more about your performance at Optronica Do you use any modified technology or software in your set-up? What do you think of the advances of AV technology in the last decade and how has it impacted on your art ?
Semiconductor’s latest contribution to the genre of live cinema is their dedicated live performance software Sonic Inc ;a real-time 3D drawing tool that charts the beginning of an artificial world and its shapeless inhabitants. The visual aesthetic of Sonic Inc. moves away from the high-tech world of computer graphics and towards the inherent visual language of the computer as material. The slick complexity of current computer graphics is stripped back to reveal the basic building blocks of computational visual language. An unformed landscape evolves with simple “life forms” that grow according to the soundscape. Forming as basic structures and developing into creatures, they learn to move autonomously, grow, respond to and build their own environments. This progression reveals as much about the birth and development of the microchip as it does about the world it projects.
Sonic Inc’s development was inspired by the challenge to create truly live image creation and manipulation. The program ‘listens’ to the sound input and creates and animates the landscapes and the creatures from scratch, according to Semiconductors real time inputs. Every element is controlled in real-time; the cameras, the viewpoint, the creation and application of image textures, the creature development, the landscape creation etc. This is a multi-purpose program, which can also be used as an improvisational tool, using a direct audio feed with live musicians.
– Who are your artistic influences, both visual/music and audiovisual?
We have been inspired by the freedom and creative energy in music to create our visual art and animations, helped along the way by the early pioneers in cinema who embraced the spirit of the medium in their day. We follow in their tradition using this new age of digital and portable technology – Oskar Fischinger, The Whitney Brothers, Len Lye and Zbigniew Rybczynski.
– Why do you think it’s important for festivals like Optronica to happen?
The UK is lagging far being Europe in terms of contemporary media festivals. Optronica is a rare example in the UK in that is has already established an international reputation with its unique live performance focus, which sets it apart from the others.