AmbiEntrance: So, are you "obsessed" with near-silence? And where did this inclination come from? Were you the kid using the white crayon... on white paper?
Chartier: i wouldn't say i am obsessed with silence. the concept of silence and
its perception is a fascinating one. i don't think my work is all that
silent actually... much of the more recent work takes the form of
for example many of the sounds on series seem silent but if you
watch series on a level monitor on your amplifier you can see that
it is actually quite active or "loud"... a lot of energy in the
sounds but they seem quiet.
i do remember doing a white crayon drawing as a kid now that you mention it!
AmbiEntrance: Are my ears that damaged from my pre-ambient days, or are these deceptively-active sound energies at a level below (or above?) ordinary perception, or what?
Chartier: they are very high or very low frequencies quite often. they are perceivable... they just dont register as loud for example.
AmbiEntrance: decisive forms stays away from the overt clickiness of much microscopica; was this intentional?
Chartier: the work decisive forms is much more of a highly composed piece...
some have compared it to an orchestra piece which i find very
interesting. the title decisive forms is taken from a term that the
german artist jean (hans) arp used to describe, early in his career,
the biomorphic shapes that appeared in his work. as a counterpoint to
series which is more pointalist in a way, thus more clicky,
decisive forms is more of a slowly shifting and evolving piece. a
i am still not sure how i became lumped into the clicks and cuts type
genre... my cd post-fabricated is definitely of that mileau but
beyond that ... we have seen a lot made of the "click" and many people say it is an
expended form but there is still more that can be done with the
concept of a "click" or an error but it needs to places within a new
context or form and removed from its current formula.
AmbiEntrance: When you say "composed", obviously you're not penning the notes on a musical scale... how do you approach such a (seemingly loosely) structured piece?
Chartier: with the work i am creating a standard musical scale doesnt come into
play. the construction of a piece like decisive forms is intuitive,
it doesn't follow a strict compositional system. This is one of the
things i admire about the work of Morton Feldman, he created his
compositions without a systemic process, which someone like John Cage
would not have, Cage relied on chance... so Feldman's work is based
more on intuition, very subjective. there is a similar fascination
with the slow, the slowly shifting and repetition. with repetition of
sounds the listener can often become lost in the composition,
starting to hear new patterns, where there perhaps are not.. this
type of work creates a focus, and a need to focus
Morton Feldman's work has been very influential on my work, i think
it becomes more apparent to some in the more recent works i have
created. i share, but with a different palette and a different
"instrument", some of what i think are the sonorities that he dealt
with (especially in his later works), the attention to detail and
subtlety and his works' requirement of the listener to pay attention
to that detail and subtlety.
AmbiEntrance: How did decisive forms get released on Bernhard Günter's Trente Oiseaux label?
Chartier: After Bernhard heard series he asked me to a CD for Trente Oiseaux,
i have been friends with bernhard for several years as well.
AmbiEntrance: series has been re-released as well as garnered an Honorable mention at the Prix Ars Electronica; what do these achievements mean to you?
Chartier: They are definitely things that have made me happy. Its always
humbling when some one person gives you positive feedback or some
organization of your peers recognizes you in such positive way.
AmbiEntrance: Playing the Devil's Advocate here... why couldn't you record your sounds at a "normal" level and trust the listener to keep it turned real low?
As i noted about series much of the work is recorded at a loud
level or at least a level that helps to keep the sounds from
distorting... the last thing i would want is for people to play my
cds loud and have the dynamics of the sounds turn to squelchings and
rattlings as their speakers got fried : )
and i guess it just reinforces the aesthetic of the pieces as well.
with minimal works, volume can substantially alter the perception of
AmbiEntrance: While reviewers are saying such great things about your soundworks, do you ever get an "Emperor's New Clothes" reaction from someone claiming not to hear *anything*?
Chartier: i haven't gotten that... yet.... but i look forward to it. i got a
hate email that was close to that though...
two of the cds that taylor and i released on LINE have had this
effect to some rather amusing results... no names of publications
mentioned but one reviewer/fact checker called me and said that his
copy of Bernhard Günter's monochrome white... cd didn't have any
sound on it.. and asked "maybe you could send this recording to me on
audio tape".. it turns out he was listening to it on a home computer
with is internal speakers.
The Immedia CD 2|1 on LINE is one of my
favourites, i remember the first time hearing it in London while i
visited them one evening and just loving it, but definitely it has
confused some people.
AmbiEntrance: Your first self-release was 1991's that now hollow chamber how does that compare to your current discs?
Chartier: the early work is very droney with reverb. i was very influenced by
zoviet france during the late 80s.
between 89-93 i was working with synthesizers and filters. i stopped
in 93 to focus on my visual work...i felt i had done what i wanted
with that time periods audio work. then there were four years of
silence. i stared making work again in 1997 when i was pointed out to
some sound programs all shareware and started again... i missed
working with sound... but i didnt realize it until i started again...
and the progress in the visual work, in theory and work methods had
an influence on how my audio work began to take shape again.
debated recently on whether or not to release/digitally remaster the
tracks from 1991-2... some of it in hindsight i still like (usually i
cant listen to my past work... i just pick it apart) but i dont think
i will re-release it... maybe one or two tracks and rework them.
AmbiEntrance: Do you think you'll have the same reaction in the future to your recent releases?
Chartier: of course... the process of creating is a process of learning... when
i listen to my work i can find things that could be changed no matter
how small... but i think that is part of being an artist. if you dont
look/listen to your own work with a critical eye/ear you stop growing
AmbiEntrance: How/when did you meet 12k's Taylor Deupree?
Chartier: i met taylor through my friend nosei sakata who sent me a copy of the
AIFF cd ( it think) sent an email to taylor telling him how much i
had enjoyed the compilation. at that time nosei and i were working on
what became 0/r which was later released on 12k.
taylor and i are
very similar in our backgrounds, we also are both designers although
he comes from a techno background and i come from a very experimental
electronic background of listening and creating. we have been best
friends ever since. one of those people you meet and you just click.
oh there's that word again... "click"
AmbiEntrance: You co-founded the LINE label with Taylor; how was it conceived?
Chartier: i was working on series and wanted to release it .. taylor and i
had been discussing with the idea of sublabel or me starting a label
in the past ...so one thing led to another and LINE was born quite
fast. i wanted LINE to be a label dedicated to digital minimalism...
we are continuing to focus on artists who work in various mediums as
well and releasing work intended as installations or as documents of
installations. we have gotten great feedback from listeners. i am
glad to be providing a showcase for these works that taylor and i
AmbiEntrance: Did you design your www.3particles.com website? All that lovely white space certainly seems to indicate so... (and what does "3 particles" refer to?)
Chartier: i design the website. i haaaaaaate designing for the web so much
because there is never a sense of finality. a project is never
finished. i much prefer print design, i guess you could call me an
object fetishist. its still not as minimal as i would like... its a
very simple site... which i think is most effective for providing
3 particles ended up being a reference to the 3 families of
particles: electron, muon and tau. also refers to my track on the
"lowercase" compilation. i have always liked the idea of
delineation... particles, sections, compartmentalization. i think
comes from being a graphic designer.
AmbiEntrance: Sounds like you've got a bit of a scientific bent, too... If you weren't doing graphic and sound design... what might you be doing career-wise?
Chartier: i cant imagine not doing something creative or arts related. i was
interested in gardening and botany as a child... that is something i
could do... i miss not having a garden of some kind, creating
landscapes with living things that grow and evolve... i find that
AmbiEntrance: You mentioned Jean Arp, what other visual artists whose work particularly interests you (and why)?
Chartier: i have noticed that the things that influence my sound compositions
the most have been visual. i think of sound in visual terms which
stems from my education as a painter/designer. (and vice versa.. i
often describe visual works with sound terms)
harry bertoia has interested me for a long time... his monoprints,
his sound sculptures, his recordings, his design.
i have collected mid century furniture since 1990 so thats where his
work first entered my life.
marcel duchamp... because of the complete interrelationship between
his works and his life, and the different mediums he explored.
other visual artists: gyorgy kepes, william baziotes, agnes martin,
donald judd... off the top of my head
AmbiEntrance: Tell us about your DJing at the Blue Room... what would a visitor to your show find?
Chartier: well, the blue room event called FILLER that i host and curate
focuses on a wide range of electronic music. from tech house to
minimalist beats to electro... it al depends on the mood of the 4
it is definitely not a dancing night. we have a film theme on huge
wall projection screen .. basically a great friendly crowd, a loungy
type large space, and a fantastic sound system.
the reason my friend william alberque and i created FILLER was a
sense of a hole that was in between the two major scenes in DC
music.... punk/indie/hardcore and then the, what is still called,
"raver" crowd. we have dischord records and fugazi and we have Nation
voted the best techno club in north america but there is nothing in
between really. so william for example plays quite a bit of seefeel,
scala, locust-type work..dreamy droney crunchy, i guess you could if
you wanted to call it indierock electronica?
i play anything from
minimalist 12k/raster type work to odd bits of sound and the
occasional fad gadget or other vintage track. two other djs milo and
george spin techhouse and electro. so the evening is really a
showcase for a wide variety of what people would just lump as
plus guest djs...
AmbiEntrance: Does being in and around DC worry you in thse days of war and terrorism?
Chartier: yes, my home is less than 2 miles from the pentagon, i have walked
home from the subway station there before. it was quite terrifying
when it all happened. i actually didnt hear the explosion because i
was on the phone with friends crying, watching tv and generally just
losing my mind in incomprehension.
there is a different atmosphere here... tension... confusion...
people are now just starting to venture out into the night.. FILLER
has been substantially quieter... luckily we got a lot of people to
come out last month for a benefit for the red cross at FILLER.
AmbiEntrance: I see the 12k/LINE site also has a little PSA about supporting the Red Cross; do you see your (or general) music as an opportunity for healing, or
at least escape during times of crisis?
Chartier: music is a form of escapism but it is a positive form (in most
cases)... i think art in general has tremendous healing properties. i
used to work for an arts education/therapy organization so it is
something i strongly believe in.
music, especially music that creates a spacial sense, like many
minimalist or ambient works is a viable option from an overly
complicated world where it is hard to stay focused.. the media is
filled with diversions.. i dont really watch TV except for the
simpsons (my form of escapism)... so much effluvium out there.
AmbiEntrance: What projects are in your future?
Chartier: I am in a show of sound art entitled "Re:synthesis" at the Betty
Rymer Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago in December and
January. my work will be a headphone piece. Possibly doing a sound
installation with taylor deupree for the Lovebytes festival in
Sheffield UK next year.
i am currently finishing up my next cd of surfaces for LINE which
will be out in January. To me it sounds like cross between series
and Decisive Forms
Two collaborations are currently underway. Working with Nosei Sakata
(*0) on the next 0/r cd entitled varied which will be out on 12k in
april and with COH on a work called Chess Machine.
plus much much more which i cannot divulge right now.