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In a few words, how would you define your musical/audio practice? (as on a business card)

Teacher, producer, evangelist, (previously including composition and performance)

How did you train in that practice? (technically and artistically) What are your major cultural and artistic influences?

Montreal, 1970s ... electronic music studios and live electronic improvisation.

How do you disseminate your work? In what events/festivals do you participate?

I composed for myself.

Is "performing" an essential part of your work or would "exhibiting" be more appropriate?

"Performing" in the very broadest sense is/was better

What organisations do you know/are part of that is active in your field?


What is your general (not too much details!) experience / opinion of the Council programs structure regarding your field of work?

Lack of understanding, insight and vision. Artists live in communion / community. The failure of the CC for the past five years to recognize or understand the centrality of social structures / issues has been, and continues to be a major failing.

Some groups have 'special' privileges and access to 'extraordinary' resources. The battle to have 'sound' recognized is ongoing ... 25 years later.

What do you do outside of your artistic musical/audio practice?


How would you define your artistic community? What other artists do you consider part of your community (canadian and international)

The CC has thrown the work "community" about for a number of years without (as far as I can tell) explained 'what it is', and 'what it does', and now asks others to define it.

What is the function of community?

At core, a community works together towards a common(ly defined) goal. There may not be agreement on the details or the exact methods of doing it, but there will be agreement on fundamentals, otherwise the community will break apart, and likely form 2 (or more) communities.

How does 'community' differ from individuals working together?

This is a continuum, but one of the major 'markers' in this continuum is whether the 'individual' personality has (major) impact on the functioning of the community, over a long period of time. An example would be the Fire Department, where the 'service' (and obligation) is independent of the individual fire fighters.

Similiarly, sound artists / ea / cm practitioners have created 'community' organizations that serve the ea/cm/sa community independently of the specific individuals in their administration. This is done by establishing a Charter, against which objectives and activities can be measured and evaluated. With limited resources, this allows for the prioritization of activities.

In _very_ small communities, almost everyone must be capable of doing almost anything. With three people, they all must be able to cook, obtain food etc etc, because there is a minimal opportunity for 'specialization of activity'.

This was well-known in the ea/cm/sa (media arts) community in the 1970s when every artist had to be able to create, promote, produce and document their work. Slowly, with increasing numbers of creators, it became possible to 'group' functions so that a few people could act on behalf of others.

Presentation spaces became available meaning that the creator had an identifiable space to work in, and audiences knew to 'look there' for ea/cm/sa activity. (An example is the Music Gallery in Toronto).

Creators would group together in to 'concert production' groups, at first inside institutions, and later independently. Large institutions were able to provide infra-structural support that 'starting' groups couldn't. Equipment is a major example of this.

Distribution of work(s) has become less difficult with the development of web-based resources, and the dramatic reduction in the cost of digital equipment. But this has also posed problems for 'funding bodies', which are (by nature) very conservative in outlook and operation.

There was a time (not so long ago) when to talk about "music" clearly meant (to the majority of people here), that art form that had its roots in western european 'art' music. The CC was able to support the Canadian Music Center, as they both 'knew' what "music" was.

Along comes mediatic (sound) art, installations, performance art, sound sculpture, soundscaping, conceptual art, sound for dance, sound for film, sound for video, "electroacsouctics", radiophonic art, radio pieces ... etc etc, and the "institutions" have difficulty responding.

They need to have "definitions": need to understand, place and respect artistic boundaries. This is understandable as they deal with public resources and are responsible to the population at large.

But what was at one time a 'smearing' of the edges, and "fuzzy borders" has become the issue of a fullblown 'new art' form. Cinema underwent the same problem before "video art" became acceptable as a distinct discipline.

The Music Section and the Media Section of the CC have had an ongoing "discussion" (sic) as to where ea/cm/sa 'belongs'. Maybe it is time to begin to recognize that ea/cm/sa, while having elements in common with Media and Music, is an evolving 'independent' discipline.

It is possible to describe some of the parameters and the points along the various continua that will provide 'guideposts' for the mapping ... such as where does 'documentary radio' overlap 'radio art' (which is a question of 'sonic identity' ... a whole other topic that the CC needs to get into, but may not be ready to tackle!).

And there are forces within established communities that want to 'keep it all together'. As far as I understand it, ea/cm/sa was 'claimed' by the Music Section of the CC in the late 80s - early 90s, and then (in my experience), abandoned.

One way to see if this is a possibly valid interpretation is to see what happened to 'traditional' acoustic "music" composers, and ea/cm/sa artists.

The CEC which provides (provided) services to the the ea/cm/sa community had its funding stopped: the Canadian Music Center which provided parallel services to the "acoustic music community" [sic!!!] continued to provide those services to _its_ members. This was not fair: not equitable: not appropriate, but (from my point of view) happened.

Was it expected? Sadly, yes.

Is it appropriate to cut off the younger and emerging sector of an artistic community? Hhhhhhmmmmmm

Even during this review process, the CEC (which has been the formal national ea/cm/sa association in Canada) was informed of meetings (to quote a Music Section officer), "by word of mouth". [!!]

Did the Media Arts Section send copies of the questionnaires to the Board of the CEC?

In a previous posting I asked about the "invisibility" of the CEC in the Canadian ea/cm/sa scene, as recognized by the Canada Council. The CEC has visited Media Arts and Music Officers at the Canada Council every 15 months or so since the funding was cut off from the Music Section.

Understandably, and this is borne out by history, new art forms have difficulty in being recognized as independent disciplines (See the case of film and video).

What are some of the characteristics of the community encompassed by ea/cm/sa?

Sound (acoustic), and electronics. There will be a 'profile' of the amount to which electronics plays a 'significant' role: the radio news documentary can be 'well represented' by a printed text; a recording of the OSM, while ea in physicality, is largely 'acoustic' since the identity of the 'art work' is independent of its use of electricity.

And this could be carried on to find other 'markers' and 'signposts' to allow the mapping to go forth ... but you may need to find (and ask) the appropriate people.


Kevin Austin

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