[March 22nd 2002]
Rick Silva himself
The 2nd generation -
Interview with net.artist Rick Silva
is one of the up & coming net.artists. He recently became represented
in Rhizome's ArtBase with the work Swound and he is participating
with two works at the whitneybiennial.com
- an internet based alternative to the biennial show at the Whitney.
Rick was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1977, and moved with
his family to the US in 1986. Rick just graduated from University
of Colorado at Boulder. kopenhagen.dk exchanged e-mails with Rick
Silva to hear about his works of art and his views on net.art.
By Kristine Ploug.
I first heard about your work in Rhizomes net.art newsletter.
You were presented as one of the new, young net.artist in the tradition
of JoDi and Superbad.
How do you feel about that presentation - do you see yourself as
following in somebody's footsteps?
My net art work Swound at it's base is very much like jodi.org
or superbad.com, that is,
it uses linking screens that share similar differences. As far as
following in the footsteps, I guess it depends on whether we are
talking about following in the footsteps of the medium or of the
message. As far as the message goes I think I'm offering something
new to the net which is more akin to artists like Bruce Connor
or Bill Viola, but as far as medium goes, yes, i see myself
as following in the footsteps of the early net.artists.
How did you get in to net.art?
I studied film at the University of Colorado where the vibe
is very experimental with teachers Stan Brakhage and Phil
Solomon being the core of the program there. I strayed away
from celluloid my second year and started to do live video scratching
using a computer and a homemade video mixer, that got me thinking
about how traditional film and video use the computer as a filter
rather than as the means. In 2001 I set up lightmovingintime.com
as a vehicle for my video scratching, but the site went through
five redesigns in the first couple of months, and each time the
focus became less and less about the offline video I was doing and
more and more about the possibilities of the moving image online,
the interface, and the interaction with the site visitor. There
is still a corner for video streams on the site, but the net.art
works are definitely the feature presentation.
Will you explain, in your words, what goes on in your work Swound?
The opening screen triggers a soundscape and you can choose from
three blind (black on black) buttons, when you press one of them,
another screen opens up which triggers a new soundscape and once
again you have to feel your way to the next screen. You can skip
around 40 screens by way of 120 links.
You initially started as a DJ - is the music in Swound
your own work or is it sampled?
Elements of both are included, I've always loved a good song cover
or remix, or when an old rap record is mixed in with a new breakbeat
record. I made all the sounds in Swound using virtual instruments
or by sampling downloaded songs from Napster or Morpheus. Music
is still the main commodity of file sharing and the soundscapes
in Swound are inspired by these compressed packets of music
spiraling inside our phone lines.
JoDi once said in an interview that they consciously aim at
getting the user confused. Swound's black on black confused
me at first. Do you deliberately work with the user's confusion?
Yes, the good confusion, the one that begs a second look (or listen)
from the user, but becomes clearer in time.
Theorists like Lev Manovich (that you interviewed
that speaking about interactivity when it comes to computers is
tautological, as a computer is interactive. However, interactivity
seems to have fascinated a lot of net.artists (e.g. the user typing
a word that the work of art reacts on). How do you - as a member
of a new generation of net.artist - feel about interactivity?
I agree with Manovich that interactivity is a given. If we follow
his line of thought, computer and net interactivity, like linking,
becomes a simplifying/mirroring of our individual mental structure/process;
like making associations and daydreaming. if we think of interactivity
in those terms, there is still a lot to be done and explored in
the net art to interactivity relation because interactivity becomes
even more about the evolution of individuality and creativity than
Mark Tribe of Rhizome has said
that works like Young-Hae Chang
Heavy Industries' flash animations might very well be the
future of net.art with the coming of broadband connections etc.
What do you think is the future of net.art?
I feel that a branch of the net.art tree will definitely grow and
bend in that direction. Have you seen flash's new version, flash
mx? It's main upgrade is the ability to incorporate video into it's
palette. There's also a net.film exhibition going on right now,
and it'll be interesting to see the impact of that show. I personally
have never let the lack of broadband limit the size of my work.
I know that that is a concern for many net artists but I've never
really cared. I still have a 56k and I'll go to a big flash or video
stream site and wait... it's not that I'm a patient person, I just
like to multitask, so while the media is loading I'll just go to
some other app or e-mail I'm writing.
[While we are e-mailing Rick asks me to ask him about
the net.art scene based in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives, so
What is special about the net.art scene in Boulder?
Boulder has an interesting recent past with the arts, in the eighties
Allen Ginsberg's stay here brought a lot of poets and writers
to the area and Stan Brakhage's long residence has had a
major influence on the local film scene. Net.art can be found here
now by way of Mark Amerika's altx.com
and the University of Colorado's digital art department which
houses the histories of internet art: fictions and factions site
as well as the Techne Lab which features top net.art that comes
out of the program. Other artists like John Vega of dancingimage.com
and many up and comers live, work and/or go to school here. In late
April artist John Hopkins will be directing a 24hr digital
festival here called <di>fusion that will feature local
work as well as work from Lloyd Dunn of the tape Beatles,
London's Ambientv, and Berlin's Oima. Aside from all
that, I'm also getting together a night called bar_code where
boulder's digitally inclined can premiere their net.art works, listen
to music by local lap top technicians, and screen/stream films.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a sequel/addition to Swound called Snow,
where you navigate through variations of mfsb's (Mother, Father,
Sister, Brother - a 70's soul band from Philadelphia - ed.) 12 minute
early disco anthem "Love is the message.", You'll be able
to listen to the song with the pitch altered from +50,000 all the
way down to -50,000 (which would take over a year to listen to the
whole track at that speed)
Will you recommend three places on the Internet (aside from
your own site ; ) )?
http://turbulence.org/Works/groundzero/index.html - John
Cabral's Ground Zero came out in early 2001, and is a
masterpiece. It's a 24hr animation that works like a web cam when
you visit it at different times of the day.
- Poem by Nari is Ted Warnell's online poet persona
and Relization is his digital Cantos.
- Different themes explored in 5 hr long sets, I recommend the lp
show (June 8, 2001), the Hawaiian war chant (February
2, 1993) and the Planet of the Apes (July 27, 2001) shows.
More Rick Silva
Silva's two Frame works, which are currently part of the whitneybiennial.com: