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Friday, September 19, 2014

BAM Blog Questionnaire: Liubo Borissov of Landfall

Landfall. Photo: Marc Allan

Landfall, inspired by the experience of Hurricane Sandy, was written by Laurie Anderson for Kronos Quartet. Liubo Borissov programmed the software Erst used in Landfall—dense projected texts are triggered musically, lapping and overlapping as Anderson spins stories. Landfall is at the BAM Harvey Theater, Sep 23—27, part of Nonesuch Records at BAM. Borissov was kind enough to participate in a BAM Blog Questionnaire.

How did you meet Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet?
Laurie and I first met a few years ago when she was looking for some ideas redesigning her live performance setup into a more compact and streamlined system. In one of our sessions the collaboration with Kronos came up before anyone knew it was going to become Landfall.

What is unique about the software you have designed for Landfall? 
Typically software design has utilitarian connotations of a general tool with some practical functionality, e.g. a word processor, which is not really what I do. Instead, code is more of a means of expression, and the piece of software that is the result is much closer to a custom-built musical instrument or an open-ended score that one has to learn how to play. In that sense almost everything about it is unique because it serves the purpose of bringing a specific idea to life and is part of the work of art.

What other software have you designed?
Among a long list of collaborators, more recently I worked on a live video performance system for composer Tan Dun. The painter Kevork Mourad has been touring with the Silk Road Ensemble using on stage interactive video software that I created for him. Code is also an essential part of my artistic practice and each piece requires a unique realization.

You are an associate professor in the digital arts department at Pratt. What type of assignments do you give to your students? 
At Pratt I teach part of the interactive art curriculum. I try to teach the students how to create their own work, so most often rather than assignments, we learn how to use code in a similar way fine arts students might use paint or clay. What they end up doing with it is driven by them.

Which artist do you admire from a field other than your own? 
The artist who originally inspired me to take the path I am on is Iannis Xenakis, who in many ways was a multimedia artist before the term existed, but is mostly known for his contributions to music and architecture.

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