Shikantaza Creativity Interview III
I answered 11 questions from Shikantaza Art.
You can also read the interview on their blog or on the Occupy White Walls blog.
At Shikantaza we are not content to just create art. We want to understand art. We want to understand the people who make art. Into the act of creation. Who are the people behind the art work? What motivates them? Where do they find their inspiration?
No two people think and act alike, so it is even less likely to find two artists who think and act alike. Yet, there will be crossovers, shared thoughts and shared experiences. Where do we adjoin and where do we diverge?
Our series of interviews with artists and creators aims to answer these questions.
In interview number three we speak to multimedia experimenter SPARTALIEN. You can find his creations here spartalien.com/visual as well as a collection of his work in the Shikantaza gallery.
1 - Starting with the most important question - Who is Memoria?
Memoria is Latin and means, when translated, memory / remembrance.
I named the merchandise for the album "2358" Memoria instead of Memory, because the main track titles are also translated into Latin.
I see my merchandise as small memories/artefacts. Not only because they are very rare, but because I can never go back to that time.
Editors thoughts: "Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things" - Cicero
2 - You work across different mediums. Do you have any preference for a specific form? When did you first find the format that was "you"?
I became really infected with the digital virus around in the late 90s when I built my first computer. A year or two later I started taking photos and manipulating them digitally. I also had a few printed, which allowed me to bring the digital into the real world. Then I discovered IRC and started learning a little bit of TCL. Since I had fun coding, I decided to learn the basics of web development because I needed a website to show my pictures to other people. In general, I was fascinated by the flow of information on the Internet. That distance is no longer a real hurdle when it comes to data transmission.
I’ve always loved music as a listener and small collector. I was then and still am one of those people who never go out of the house for long periods of time without a Walkman. Music production came into play when a couple of friends set up a small studio where they produced Techno/Psy. When I was there for the first time, I knew immediately that I wanted to try it too. A few old tracks from back then are still available on my website.
From then on, many of my projects have developed in the direction of music. The input for a program was often music metadata or it was a website that was about music in some way or another. But since I was still at the very beginning of my learning process, I kept discarding practically everything in order to improve it or to learn new things. Around 2001, I started a web radio with friends, which was online for several years. The music was mainly Downtempo, Trip-Hop, IDM and Ambient. Promos from unknown artists from around the world were also broadcasted.
The atmosphere, the feeling I got from this time - how the music finds me and not the other way around, how it can change people’s thoughts - has never left me since then.
3 - Do you feel that each medium allows you to express yourself differently from the others? How do you choose which medium you work in any given moment?
Yes. But I think you can convey the same feelings with any medium. The question is how direct it is. For example, pain can be expressed with fire but also with a chair in an empty room. At the end of the day, in my opinion, it’s not about the artist’s intention but about the perception of the viewer and his or her subsequent thoughts and actions. For example, imagine you make a dark ambient track that you experience as sad and heavy, but someone else tells you that it helped to relax and develop thoughts.
In addition to all of this, each medium also has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to technical implementation. So, sometimes the choice can also purely depend on skill or resources.
Editors thoughts: We all have ideas and often out ambitions outweigh our resources. Sometimes we need more resources, but more often than not we need to chip away at our ideas until our ambitions and resources align.
4 - Do you seek different sources of inspiration for your music than you would for your visual creations?
It’s everything in the world around me that inspires me. Everything I perceive and feel, so to speak. Most of the time I don’t have a melody or a picture in my head. It is more of a feeling and then I look for the right tone or shape for it, so to speak.
5 - How closely are your creations connected to each other?
Very close one could say - through my thoughts that I have wrapped in it. I always had a bit of a problem putting my thoughts into words. I tend to stray through various topics when I talk about something. With music and visuals, it feels lighter and more natural to get to the point. The "message" doesn’t always get through, but being able to do so is liberating and invaluable to me.
6 - If you were to direct people to a specific piece of work that you feel really nails what you are aiming for with your creations, which would it be?
This is a hard question. Maybe I would ask you to sit down and listen to the album "FLOATING HIGH" in one sitting. Since it felt like coming home to me while making it. The music is less intrusive and not as precise in its message as the previous releases. Like its cover art, where the clouds could be seen as opening or closing. I wanted to create tracks that leave more room for thought while still telling a story.
7 - You have "X minutes of peace" on your site. Why is this needed? Was this made for you or for others?
For others but also for myself. For me it is self-reflection that allows me to understand myself better. But since I have problems with "just switching off my head", the moments in which I just sit quietly and let the recording device do its work are very valuable. In moments like these I can really switch off and think about something very carefully. Asking questions even though I feel like I don’t have an answer. Or simply enjoying the precious fresh air and sounds of nature.
Unfortunately, too many people don’t have time for that kind of peace. Too much pressure is on them. They either get this or that, or they can’t survive. It’s so sad how the system works. I simply think that if everyone would have more inner-peace, the world would be a better place. But then again, what do I know living under a rock between mountains?
The videos should allow us to find peace for a few minutes, no matter where we are. So that new and hopefully useful thoughts can develop.
The series Let It All Go is actually the same thing, just with music.
For the really dark hours there is BRAIN I/O. From time to time I prefer to embrace the pressure. Difficult to describe. The concept is basically: don’t think, just feel and record it. It’s about things that I personally want to leave behind or at least want to learn to accept (not necessarily being okay with) them if I can’t change them.
Editors thoughts: Peace is an issue for me. When I briefly find it only points the way to the next act. This is fantastic but self defeating. Why can’t we just stay in peace?
8 - When inspiration has left the building where do you look to find it?
I’m not really actively looking for inspiration. Somehow it doesn’t work that way for me. So variety is important to me. That is why I usually have several side projects going on in the areas that I do not much publicize. Much of it never leaves my hard drive and is mainly intended to free my mind and get on to new ideas in the process. Coding, graphics, drawing, etc. But the music production is and remains the main focus.
9 - These are the questions I am asking all the interviewees. Why do you create? What is it that pushes you to keep creating?
The inner child is just too strong. I’ve been living for a while and I know exactly nothing. It kind of feels like that. So many things that you can create with the computer alone. I’m stuck in that loop where you just love to create things and learn - and use the new knowledge to create new things. Things!
10 - What would most assist you to create more works? Is there an ultimate goal for your creations?
More time and resources for sure. but most important to me is the feeling that my loved ones are safe. When I have to worry about their future because the system is going the way it is, it feels like a pile of stones in my head.
The creative / social goal of my art is relatively simple and based on my own experience. Art has helped me tremendously when I felt lost - or when I was just "bored". Taking time to really listen to or look at something can be very liberating.
My short-term financial goal is to generate a more or less regular income through art. But since I never released anything commercially before 2016, this world is still new to me.
My dream goal is to hear my music in film and games and to generate an income that supports my family.
Nonetheless, I think goals are here to create an initial path, not necessarily motivation.
Editors thoughts: I do not know of a single soul who has not been lost. Some never find their way back. Some don’t need to find their way back, they are happier in the place they found.
11 - If you were to offer a creator any advice what would it be?
Based on my own experience in no particular order:
- Stay curious and open minded for different viewpoints.
- Tutorials can limit your creativity. Sure, learn the basics, but explore as much as you can on your own and never be afraid to fail. It’s a process, not a game.
- On projects that take longer than a day to complete, set yourself a deadline when you want to have it completed. Not important if it takes longer, but in general that helps to stay more focused.
- Very few things are easy when you start.
- Limitations are not necessarily bad.
- Don’t wait for motivation to create. It will kick in usually a few minutes after you’ve started. Therefore keep your tools ready and organized so you can start creating at any time.
- You can always turn off the internet.
- Be open for constructive criticism.
- Especially for the digital crowd, backup your stuff!
(All images and works by SPARTALIEN)