ART & DESIGN BRIGHTON FILM MUSIC

ANTHROPOCENE – ARSHAVIER RAFAEL VARTANIAN

On the opening night of the Brighton University Grad show there was one project that everyone seemed to be particularly buzzing about – Anthropocene. We saw people coming out of a dark room with huge smiles on their faces and we just knew it would be worth following up. Having tracked down Raf through the wonders of social media we managed to get a little interview and the full video for you all to see! Make sure your sound is turned right up guys, its worth it trust us!

You studied Digital Music and Sound Arts at Brighton, What was it about that course you found most interesting?

I think the thing that I found most interesting about the course was learning to use programs such as Pure Data to write generative algorithms to create sound. The more I learned about programming, the more I began to realise that using these tools, you can do almost anything. This realisation opened up a world of possibilities for me and is one of the reasons my work moved towards creating audio-visual pieces and then into installation art.

Your final major project was projection mapping over cubes, what was the reaction you received from people? Tell us a bit about the thought behind it?

I’ve had an interest in projection mapping ever since I saw it being used a couple of years ago, I decided to try to use it for a project in my second year at University. I taught myself the technique and ended up creating sounds and projecting animations onto a cardboard box that I painted from Big Yellow Storage. I was really pleased with the results. I see my final project as the next step in this learning process.

The reaction that I got over the few days that I was showing my project was just amazing, there were so many lovely comments from people. It was such a great experience to see people go into the installation slightly hesitantly and come out absolutely astounded. I really really enjoyed the weekend, I can’t wait to do it again!

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

 

 

How long was the process of making the piece from start to finish? We imagine it would have been quite stressful trying to get it all lined up correctly?

The whole process took around five months. Although that included lots of experimentation with both sound and image. I made lots of different versions before I finally arrived at the final piece. Getting the image lined up is probably the most crucial part, it takes several hours to set up the installation including sound. At least an hour and a half of this is getting the image lined up accurately.

Do you do any music related work outside of uni? Whats the plan going forward?

I’m not sure you would call it music related but I have worked with Will Nash on his Noisy Table project – an interactive ping pong table that creates sound when you play it. I created visuals that reacted to the ping pong ball as it was being played. I learned a lot from this project, I got to work with Pure Data and Processing as well as projected visuals onto the table, it was a really fun and valuable learning experience.

The plan at the moment is to get my work shown at the upcoming Brighton Digital Festival, I’m currently in talks with the organisers about showing my project at The Old Market. I’m also working on another projection mapping project with Becky Lu so watch this space!

 

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We know there have been a few DJs incorporating projection mapping into their sets, particularly Amon Tobin. Do you see yourself creating something at that scale at some point?

Every project I have worked on has built on my previous work, and in my opinion improved upon it. I can definitely see myself working on larger scale projects in the future.

I would love to work on a project that uses a building or very large sculpture as a surface to project onto. I have had a lot of people talk about Amon Tobin’s Isam tour after seeing my work, I think that incorporating projection mapping into live music, dance and theatre is a really exciting area that I would love to explore.

Do you take influence from anyone in your work? Musicians/sound designers? Biggest inspirations?

Musically, I’m really inspired by artists such as Fennesz, Stars of the Lid and Tim Hecker. I really love Ryoji Ikeda’s audio-visual work too, he was one of the reasons why I started to work with sound and image in space.

Click here to hear a piece of music written by Raf
Finally can we take a peek at your workspace?

So this is my workspace, this is where I do the majority of my work, it’s pretty minimal. Just a laptop, field recorder and some nice headphones. I’ve got a midi keyboard too but it’s just out of shot, the other picture is of my piano. I’m not very good at playing it but I sample it a lot. I’ve never been that bothered about having loads of hardware to play with, I don’t have any hardware synths or anything like that. I prefer to work with real sound and field recordings, and then manipulate them with software.

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