A Rough Mix: An Edge Conversation with Brian Eno and Jennifer Jacquet

Eno & Jacquet

Here is an especially lively and informative Edge Conversation. Who are the participants?

“Here we are in my studio. What I am working on at the moment is a rough mix for a piece of music for a totem pole. Usually one is asked to do music for films but this is for a totem pole. I call this piece of music Jennifer Financial Talk 3 and in fact it’s a soundtrack for the project Jennifer is working on which is called a Shame Totem,’ and we don’t yet know exactly what form this shame totem will be presented in which gives me a few problems as a composer because obviously I would compose differently for different scenarios.” Brian Eno

He is an Artist; Composer; Recording Producer: U2, Cold Play, Talking Heads, Paul Simon; Recording Artist.

“Throughout the 19th century, native tribes that spanned the north coast of North America erected shame totem poles to signal to the community that certain individuals or groups had transgressed. This art is resurrected with a modernized, garish, digitally rendered 3-D shame pole to represent the most shameful corporations—chosen with the assistance of 500 people based in the U.S. who surveyed about the corporations that have most negatively affected society.” Jennifer Jacquet

She is a Postdoctoral Researcher, Fisheries Centre/Department of Mathematics, UBC, whose research interests are in environmental sustainability (particularly fish), the evolution and function of guilt, honor, and shame, and the role of information technology in shaping environmental action.

Here’s John Brockman’s introduction to the conversation:

Composer/artist Brian Eno and Jennifer Jacquet, a postdoctoral researcher who studies “shame”, were brought together for the Edge-Serpentine Gallery collaboration for Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Garden Marathon, where Jacquet talked about on the role of shame in the original garden, the Garden of Eden, while Eno characterized “Composers as Gardeners.”

“The act of making art is something we share,” Eno says, and he embraces articulating his artistic process. Two-third’s of his voluminous life’s work has been done in collaboration, and here in his London music studio he sits with Jacquet to discuss the inspiration and creative process in their collaboration over Jacquet’s project: a “Shame Totem.”

As her research of shame, Jacquet has focused on the role of totem poles in native communities as a way of using public scorn and shame to instill societal cooperation. She points out that one feels shame, as learned through the story of Eden, only when one is being watched. She is in the process of creating a 3-D shame totem taking on the behaviors of many of today’s largest corporations.

For Eno, the purpose of adding music to an instillation such as a shame totem, is so that a viewer can understand how to experience the piece in time. In Eno’s work, music often serves an ergonomic function, it helps dictate the amount of time one should spend viewing a work of art. Absent knowing where the totem-pole will end up, Eno discusses the factors he considers in reaping a mix, a rough mix.

—JB

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To watch the video and/or read the transcript of the conversation, please click here.

To check out all the Edge resources, please click here.

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