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Interview & Premiere: Holymachines

Holymachines X Aquiet, Image Version LP on Average Negative, interview on Cone Magazine

Berlin-based musician and sound designer Holymachines and motion designer and video artist Aquiet have collaborated on ‘Image Version’ LP, an audio-visual project.

Releasing 1st April on Average Negative, Image Version LP is a product of what Holymachines refers to as ‘genre observation’, a technique he defines as taking fragmentary influences as opposed to drawing upon them “wholesale”. When I ask Chris (Holymachines) what his influences were in Image Version, he tells me; “I feel I exposed myself to so much information and especially music during the process that it’s hard to pin down particular Albums / Artists.”

Holymachines X Aquiet have provided us with an exclusive premiere of ‘Plus’ from the album, which you can listen to below.

Chris tells me; “Conceptually, I’ve been reading a lot of texts by technologist- and information theorists like Gilbert Simondon, Bruno Latour and more recently, James Bridle, so I was thinking a lot about human-machine relations and networking culture. Further, Artists like Jon Rafman or Amalia Ulman with their observer’s view on social networks fascinate me. Concept-wise also Holly Herndon comes to mind, especially since I was very inspired by her Ideas regarding browser recording, which I did a lot in the construction process.”

A lot of what Image Version is based on is concepts of ‘digital alienation’. Something we all experience everyday to varying degrees. Our reliance on screens, for both work and socialising can often have a opposite effect to connecting us. Having just wrote an article on virtual reality and its impact on the music industry, I’m really interested in this subject, and I ask Chris if he thinks we’re becoming more alienated by technology. He tells me:

“Since the invention of the telephone – the first step into virtual reality –  I think we found ourselves in a kind of ‘in between’ state of things – compare it to early industrialization – which in fact led to digital alienation on a broad scale. With the advent of full immersion virtual reality I actually see this changing. In my view VR has the potential to be a very inclusive medium, leading to people experiencing the world together and opening a lot of new possibilities not only for entertainment, but also the way we educate and interact. Of course there’s also the danger of fully immersive observation and control, we will have to find out ourselves.”

And the computer really seems to play a large part in the narrative of ‘Image Version’. Even the studio equipment it was made on was to a greater extent computer based. Chris tells me:

“Everything was made on a 2013 Macbook Pro, with Live 9 and Max/MSP running. At a certain point I messed with some hardware, but found myself coming back to the computer again and again so I kept going with this. Deep inside I felt the urge to start a solo project where I could be in full control of all artistic decisions, which led to working in a computer environment.”

But production can be a lonely business and all too many times artists can suffer under this premise. But for Chris, he seems much more optimistic to its impact:

“I would even say I create the best work when I isolate myself. And it’s hard to find a balance, but I guess this is one of the biggest challenges in everyone’s life today.” 

This is Chris’ first release so he tells me he didn’t really have much of an aim with it:

“For me it was more about the process and during this process, you find out what you don’t want to do and which methods work best for you. For me, this was phase of transition, not only musically, but in general.”

Rounding our interview out, I was keen to confront Chris with a question that I personally ruminate on from time to time, and think is becoming ever more prevalent. This idea of technology replacing something. People finding comfort in technology and face-to-face communication becoming all the more alien:

“Well, for some it might be some kind of religion, a distant hope, that it would turn things to the better. At this point, I can only recommend Evgeny Morozows book ‘to save everything, click here’, which expertly deconstructs some of the underlying ideologies we find in the current quasi-religious tech-capitalism. For myself, I try to stay as objective as I can, and see technology as the thing it always has been: a tool to broaden our limited human reach. This ‘comfort zone’ you refer to when you speak of communication interfaces is – in my view – an illusion. These interfaces are designed to make you feel having a very deep and personal experience, but in actuality, users generate endless content to be monetized, not to speak of privacy issues.”

Image Version LP is now available for pre-order here, and releases 1st April.


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