Contemporary Art @ Boğaziçi - Interview Project, 2010

Bill Seaman

Şenay Çınar,

Bill Seaman is an internationally known media artist that has over thirty installation Works and commissions around the world, a dozen solo exhibitions, and numerous performance collaborations, video screenings, and articles/essays/reviews in boks and catalogues. He employs technological installation, virtual reality, non-linear video, and other computer-based media fort his body of work. The awards he won proves the success of his impressive-magnificant work.Seaman is currently a professor in Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University.

Şenay Çınar: What is the background of your artistic work?

Bill Seaman: I studied first fine art foundation at Rhode Island School of Design.I also studied sculpture and Video there. I left for the San Francisco Art Institute and studies Video, Performance, and Installation art getting a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1979. I went to MIT for my Master of Science in Visual Studies where I explored Video, performance and interactive video at CAVS, the new Media Lab and in the Film/Video Department. I also explored the Visible Language Workshop(digital graphics) with Muriel Cooper when she was alive. I began to use the computer in my work after MIT (1985) I also have a PH.D. from CAIIA – The Center for Advanced Inquiry in Interactive Art, University of Whales, Newport.(1999) where I wrote about Recombinant Poetics.

Şenay Çınar: And what is your purpose?

Bill Seaman: I am interested in meta-meaning systems and generative systems that have some form of intelligence. More recently I have been exploring Art/Science Relations and new forms of research into what I call Neosentience (embodied, intelligent and creative machines). I am deeply interested in image/sound/music/text relationships across different media as a new form of computational linguistics. My purpose is to explore these ideas, continue to learn, and share my ideas with students, nurturing their growth.

Şenay Çınar: What was the development in the technical equipment you have been working with?

Bill Seaman: I was using apple computers networked with laser discs for interactive work in the 90s, shooting primarily video – these works were elaborate navigational audio/visual poems/conceptual texts enabling interaction; I also explored computer music working with Macs and Midi – samplers and synths; I then shifted to work with high end VR systems (SGI) in the late 90’s and generative “recombinant” music and virtual world generating; I am currently working with large scale generative works on mac and pc; architectural scale installation; generative recombinant music; and developing a new computational paradigm related to the creation of an electrochemical computer and related robotic system; I am finishing a book with Otto Rössler (theoretical Physicist and Biologist) on Neosentience / The Benevolence Engine – primarily a science/conceptual art book about approaching the technologies/concepts to create such an entity; I also have written many papers about media and new technologies including Nanotechnology. More recently I have used Ableton Live for Audio creation and have a band called SEA- Thoughtbody, and Songs and Dances of the Neosentient are the albums on itunes. I have also explored notions surrounding multi-modal sensing systems.

Şenay Çınar: Where does technology come into play?

Bill Seaman: I use it as a vehicle to point at the ideas I am interested in.

Şenay Çınar: Has interaction with the viewer played an important role for you?

Bill Seaman: I have explored interactivity since around 1990 (See my Recombinant Poetics book – VDM press (and many papers). I will continue to do so. More recently I have been interested in autonomous machinic systems.

Şenay Çınar: Do you consider the development of technology is progress?

Bill Seaman: I am not sure if it is progress as much as bringing about difference in the world. Certainly new approaches to the computer and interface enable new ways to explore meaning. In art there is no hierarchical value of one kind of art over another. Each new technology is “of itself” in terms of the kinds of attributes/processes that they employ.

Şenay Çınar: You said in one of interviews that you picked up things from several diciplines. How do you choose them?

Bill Seaman: I am open to many different approaches and perspectives — a transdisciplinary approach... I pay attention to the things that I am noticing and that interest me across many fields. I read quite a bit from many domains and really enjoy this process. My interests choose me...

Şenay Çınar: What do you think about the relation between art and science? How do you combine them?

Bill Seaman: I am very interested in this area. I am making works that to some may not be considered works of art – especially the Electrochemical Computer but I think of this as a branch of Conceptual Art. Historically there have been a number of thinkers that have been both artist and scientist... I enjoy looking at the fruits of their research – both poetic and scientific. For the last decade I have had exciting conversations with the Scientist Otto Rössler --- I bring an artistic perspective to these discussions. In terms of work, I often take the ideas from science and abstract them in new pieces --- e.g. "The Architecture of Association" collaborating with Daniel Howe points at human and machine-based association processes. This becomes the driving force in the artwork – it is like looking at a machine thinking... The media artist often intermingles scientific ideas like artificial intelligence and computational potentials for authorship with poetic ideas.