MICHAEL SZPAKOWSKI


1.) Firstly, how do you define yourself as a composer, as an artist, as a net artist or a programmer? Which one is more close to you? Besides, which one do you most work on it and find yourself in it and why?


Definitely not a programmer! Although I’ve always done my own scripting &c. I wouldn’t claim any great skill. These things are means to an artistic end.
Most of my work these days I would broadly define as “art” – I tend to use music and sound in the context of projects that I think of as art projects. For example:
http://www.michaelszpakowski.org/mickiewicz/
I still do a little bit of straightforward composition/musical direction work in a theatre context.

2.) How did your career start, did you have professional education in art, music and media art? How long have you been working in net art area?

I’ve worked in the arts since I was 20, 35 years ago. I worked in the theatre as a composer for 13 years then I taught music and theatre and for the last 12 years or so I’ve been working mostly in visual art ( often with a moving image component, often networked).
I have no formal training in art –my degree is in mathematics.

3.) According to you, which one is better: publishing your works online or exhibiting them in an art gallery? And why?

For personal satisfaction I’m just happy to have my work where people look at it and the net has been incredibly important to me here, in terms of being able to post work and get feedback. Unfortunately with web 2.0 &c a lot of the informality which made the internet such a great place is slowly disappearing, being colonized by profit hungry corporations who want to marketize everything…
I also have to say, in all honesty, that in career terms a gallery show is more “credible” –doesn’t mean I approve of that fact but it *is* a fact.

4.) I know that you think publishing net art pieces in internet gives people freedom and a democratic environment, but are there any harm of this? About the rights of the artist or anything else?

I’m completely skeptical about copyright &c –all my work can be freely re-used by other artist should they so wish. Art is a social, collective phenomenon –this is not to downplay the importance of an individual perspective, style and contribution but simply to state the fact that we all stand on the shoulders of giants, we all depend upon each other and we are social beings.

5.) Are you influenced from someone, both areas in which you work?

Lots of people, and not just in the areas in which I work. I couldn’t even begin to list them. I constantly look at and reflect upon the work of others (both established artists and the work of my students have influenced me. Furthermore literary and musical creations as every bit as important to me as visual art). The world of *any* artist is a web of influence going in many directions. Any artist who denies this is simply deluded or a liar.

6.) Which software do you use when you make your net art pieces?

Specific software: Director has been important to me but just as important is simple html plus javascript. Other software I use daily - QuickTime Pro, Premiere, Sibelius ( for music), Photoshop, Soundforge or Audacity

7.) How do you define your process of visualizing the sounds?

I’m not sure what you mean. All my work is “hands on” in the sense I do very little advance planning and it arises simply out of the process of working. I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration. Make some work. Even if it’s bad work, it’s work and you can then make it better.

8.) What do you say about your work with Jo Thomson about a dance/music/video performance piece in a special school for children & adults with learning difficulties ?

I’ve done a lot of work of this sort and I spent a very fruitful five years collaborating with Jo, a thoughtful, imaginative, generous and creative person. Our interests in working with what is called in the UK “outreach”, that I,s working with people who would normally be excluded from the arts, were very similar. As with any experience of “teaching”, whether it’s people with learning difficulties, or graduate students, there is a mutuality to it which is crucial. In all honesty I can say I gained as much from the experience of work with people with learning difficulties as I hope they did from me. Questions like “what is that I do when I make art or collaborate with someone in making art?”, “How can people with very different perspectives and skills come together and genuinely collaborate?”, “How can I express what I do as clearly and straightforwardly as possible , without talking down or over-simplifying?” arise naturally in these contexts and demand to be answered…

9.) When I was reading about you I read that your parents were Holocaust survivors. Did you affect you works? It is too much personal but if you don’t want to answer my question, I would respect this. Besides what do you think about the notion of ‘nationality’ ?

No, this isn’t the case. My father was a survivor of the Soviet Gulag . This influences me to the extent that it makes me want to live in a world without war, oppression or exploitation.
I am totally uninterested in the nation state or “patriotism” – I have no particular feeling for the UK and its inhabitants over any other group of people. I’m with Marx on this –“the working classes have no country”. If I throw my lot in with anyone it is with the capacity of working people to effect real change and to resist oppression. This is not an explicit theme in my art works, nor do I think it necessarily should be. It seems to me that the human desire for culture (to both make and consume it, and preferably both) is in and of itself a progressive fact.
I look forward to a world where everyone has food, clothing, shelter, education and where being an artist is not a separate role for a few but part of every human beings birthright and nature…. 10.) Did you come to Turkey for an exhibition or any other reason? Do you know anything about our new media art artists and if you know, what do you think about them and net art environment in Turkey?
I’m afraid I know very little about what is happening in new media art or art in general in Turkey – I had some work in a show in Istanbul 5 or 6 years ago but I have, I’m afraid, only visited once and that for a vacation. In terms of Turkish culture Orhan Pamuk is one of my favourite writers and I love the films of Nuri BilgeCeylan. Perhaps you could send me some links to artwork by Turkish artists that you have found interesting?

11.) Nowadays do you work on a special project, if yes, what kind of work is this?

My next project is a “sound sculpture” which will be broadcast in a London park over the summer. It will use as source material children’s rhymes in the many languages spoken in a London primary school ( 5-11 years of age) school as recollected by the children and their parents and grandparents.

Thank you for spending time for me.

You’re welcome! Thanks for asking me!


Links:
http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/michael_szpakowski