<< Continued from page 2
JT: What do you examine in your work? What are you trying to say - express? How is technology important to you in what you are trying to accomplish with your work?
JF: There is this notion that I examine the live moment. I use technology to try to make a big deal out of a performance moment, either one that's live in front of an audience or one that's recorded and taken from history. So in a way, it's using technology to talk about what is the most ephemeral in our world, an instant that's gone forever. This is sort of a statement against the old classical notion or even modern avant garde notions of a honed work of art, that is, if not in its ideal state, it implies that there could be an ideal state... that could be a best performance of Mahler's big Eighth Symphony. You could imagine...
JT: The definitive performance.
JF: Yes, that is something that you could postulate if it hasn't already existed. And you could certainly say that his score was the best possible score for Mahler's Eighth. I think that's a notion that we all grow up with, that a great piece of art embodies the best possible decisions for every parameter - it could only be this way. What I am saying is really the opposite. There are these moments that are past, or by-products of someone trying to do one thing and then having something else come out that are equally beautiful. There isn't and can't be a definitive singular work.
JT: Beyond that there is a vague irony in your work. In your radio 'grab' works you are recording snatches of music or words from the radio that have been first pre-recorded and then broadcast and then re-recorded by you. There is a generational thing going on. Your performance becomes something which is not just about a moment ago when you heard it on the radio but it's about a moment before then when the material was actually first recorded. So you are going back a couple of levels. You are really having this connection with multiple pasts in your work.
JF: Yes! Does this make me attached to the past? (laughter) That's funny. It's not a stream-of-conscious crazy improv. It's snatching moments in time and then over time making these minimalist things out of them. I repeat these tape loops more than another composer might because I have this minimalist thing. Somehow I like that. Somehow I think that is a way to get out the subtleties of this instant that I have grabbed.
JT: It makes them naked. It puts them front and center. You can't avoid them.
JF: They lose their meaning. You hear subtleties. And also you hear the un-repeatability of it because you are repeating it. We're not reminded of the nuances in what I am saying right now, how they can't be repeated. But if we take a recording of it and repeat and repeat that... then we do see its unrepeatable aspect. In a weird way this minimalist aesthetic is helping me do my primal moment shtick.
Copyright © 13 February 2000 Jeff Talman, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA