In our final post of the MUTEK interview series, we talk to Tristan Perich about classical music, low-level microprocessor programming, interactivity, (pseudo-)randomness, and the imperfection of logical systems.
A composer, musician, programmer, and visual artist, Perich has explored the intersections of these disciplines for the past decade through sculpture, installation, and performance. Last year, he released 1-Bit Symphony: a 5-movement work delivered in a CD jewel case containing not an optical disc, but a circuit centred around a tiny Atmel microcontroller that “performs” his symphony through a standard headphone jack.
Atmel microcontrollers are at the heart of the Arduino open-source electronics platform commonly used to prototype creative hardware projects. But while Arduino programmers use a C++-like language, Perich programs his Atmel chips in assembly language – low-level language specific to the hardware it runs on.
Software developers usually program in higher-level languages like C++ and use a compiler to automatically translate their code into machine-executable assembly code. Assembly languages are typically more verbose than their higher-level counterparts and can be cryptic and non-portable.
If writing a symphony in assembly code sounds like a painstaking and laborious process, that’s because it is. However, Perich found something compelling in the process and has built up an appreciable body of work pairing low-level electronic and computer hardware with visual and aural expression. Read More