JASMIN BLASCO: Supersonic
JASMIN BLASCO is an artist, musician and innovator. In addition to composing music and creating collaborative video projects with artists from a variety of disciplines, he is the founder of Catalog Records and Speak My Language, a periodic music event in Los Angeles. Jasmin is currently enrolled at the Pasadena Art Center where he is finishing his graduate degree in Digital Media Studies. He is also a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts where he completed a degree in Music Technology.
In 2013, along with Owen Vallis and Jordan Hochenbaum, he co-founded THE NOISE INDEX, a research platform that explores questions emerging from increased access to information, and the consequences of information saturation.
Interview by Melissa Unger
Unlike many other creatives who tend to write overly long artist statements, you have distilled yours to a concise phrase: “He is interested in the narrative and sculptural aspects of sound.” I love that. Tell us a bit about how you first became interested in exploring sound.
I suppose I’m gonna ruin it if I expound on it but here I go anyway!
I got into sound from music. Sound is an abstract material that is knowable as itself and precedes and transcends meaning. You can enjoy instrumental music or music sung in a different language because … it sounds good!
The timbre and register of sound account for it’s sculptural aspects while as a conveyor of emotional states through time sound becomes a narrative tool.
Language is included in theses categories, the sound of someone’s voice and their accent is the sculptural aspect while the content and the meaning of the words is the narration.
The Noise Index is a fascinating project. What first inspired you, Owen and Jordan to come together and join forces to create it?
We became friends at the CalArts Music Technology Program were there was a lot of emphasis on music created by one individual with an array of technological tools.
On the other hand we also have grown up on collaborative works. Films and bands and companies that develop the software and hardware that we routinely use.
We wanted to do something that combined our powers. And there was a common desire to challenge ourselves with creating an environmental or sculptural work after we were all on short trip in Japan.
The project’s central question is: Does access to vast quantities of information lead to an increase in understanding, or does synthesizing vast quantities of information simply yield noise? How do you plan to go about answering that question?
Our primary goal is to define a question. There might be an answer but first we look for compelling ways to illustrate a problem. One of the big question for The NOISE INDEX is: Given our perceptual limitations, can you synthesize large amounts of information and if so what might the strategies be? Furthermore, what happens if you can’t?
Convergence our first sculptural sound installation seeks to illustrate the obfuscation of meaning that occurs when one is presented with a cacophony of language.
Convergence houses an array of 15 speakers simultaneously sonifying individuals trending twitter feeds. These are pulled live from the internet and read by a multitude of text-to-speech engines. As you approach the structure, at first silent, Convergnce will rise in volume and invite you to listen and try to make sense of the noise.
There are a lot of departure points for Convergence but to give you some teasers:
There will be a web-based echo of convergence on our website.
Something participatory and site specific making use of mobile computing.
From Convergence also emerges the idea of dynamic maps—and now that we have talked to your ears we might talk about your eyes.
I saw these words as a shorthand descriptor on your Facebook page: Noise vs. Meaning. It feels like an aphorism for our era. I want a t-shirt with that printed on it. Which leads me to the question of how one should approach the Noise Index; is it an art piece, a philosophical exploration, a research project? Count me in to be on Team Meaning if you are planning on starting a revolution…
Well…perhaps I should let you decide, The NOISE INDEX is a critical examination and formulation of some of the topics and anxieties of our time.
Careful what you wish for with matching T-shirts saying Team Meaning and Team Noise because I am not afraid of merchandising and if we can’t start a revolution we can at least start a symbolic war. (or ping pong tournament)
Spheres and geodesic domes seem to be a recurring motif in the project, tell us a bit about your influences, mentors and inspirations.
When you a see a geodesic sphere it’s impossible not to think of Buckminster Fuller that being said we arrived at that kind of shape because we were looking for a design that could be assembled and disassembled in order to travel.
The shape was very important to me: circles and spheres tend to imply completeness—a full view of the world—this is where the idea of Convergence as a map begins.
It’s a press-to-fit kit that we modified from an existing design and is other wise influenced by a friend’s work (www.j1studio.com) he makes modular furniture for nomadic lifestyles. Modularity is a concept you are very familiar with when you work with music software so it seemed like a natural progression.
I am also noticing that more and more young creatives seem to be interested in scientific concepts and applications for their work. Artists seem to be more trans-disciplinary than ever. Do you agree and if so, to what do you attribute this?
This is very noticeable and is due to a couple things that come to mind:
Millennials as a generation have grown up on a variety of media, just as a by-product of being children of the 80s and 90s we are educated as consumers in sound, music, film and interaction so I think it makes perfect sense for us to wanna to express ourselves with our multi-media mind.
Artists are going toward the sciences as a way to discuss something else than the history of art or their own personal history. In a world of increased transparency, there is probably a growing dissatisfaction with the fine art market system in terms of how it fits or rather doesn’t fit with the democratization of the tools to produce and deliver creative work.
Simultaneously there is a will from the sciences and technology sides to be recognized as creative artists as their mediums becomes a driving force for self-expression and certainly outlets for creativity.
As for my personal interest in the sciences, I am more emotionally attached to the Museum of Natural Sciences than to the Art Museum. This is why for the time being I am opting for a fairly didactic approach in presenting Convergence and The NOISE INDEX. A scientific and investigative method is a great way to engage with the world at large so I think it is vital for artists to look outside the fine arts canon in order to find broader inspiration.
Let’s close out with a speed round of personal questions so our readers can get a glimpse into what makes you tick:
What music are you listening to right now?
Oooo that’s a big one for me. But to give you some highlights: Earth, HoundDog Taylor, Dirty Beaches, Witch, Biosphere, DeepChord, Ebo Taylor, Drexciya, The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines and uh… The Sword!
What’s the last thing you read that had an impact on your creative development?
Well in terms of sound, music and The NOISE INDEX I would definitely have to the say “Noise: The Political Economy of Music” by Jacques Attali and “Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock’n’Roll Group” by Ian Svenonius. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
What is your favorite place to be and why?
In Izakaya in Japan: Beer, meat and hand-painted calligraphy. Having to communicate with mostly hand gestures and being surrounded by sounds I don’t understand.
Finish this sentence: Jasmin Blasco is…driving up the Angeles Crest Highway.
Published: June 4th, 2013