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An Interview with Eric Lunde – Part Two: The 80’s

Eric Lunde: 33 Years of Assault & Chaos –
A three part serial conversation with TQ’s Aram Yardumian and Wisconsinite Eric Lunde.  We talk about nonlinear dynamics, noise systems, auto racing, and the roots of the Industrial scene in America. We do not talk about Ed Gein.

Introduction and Serial Three-Part Interview
Prolegomenon, Part One: Assaults on Culture, Part Three: The Aesthetics of the Crash

Aram Yardumian: Regardless of my probably under-developed efforts to understand where you’re coming from, what would you say are the artistic questions which interest you most these days?

Eric Lunde: Neuroscience and Quantum Physics, I’ve been engaged for the last ten years in a study of both. Fascinating, intriguing. Immense philosophical implications. I continue to be interested in philosophy and social systems. The work of Niklas Luhmann is of interest. David Lewis and mereology, which I recently encountered, that is of great interest. The study of part/whole relations, I think that’s a compact way of describing it.

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AY: And how would you say these have evolved from your thinking in, say, 1984?

EL: Those interests listed above? I think I evolved from ‘why’ to ‘how’. I’ve always had an interest in Science, but I didn’t have a suitable place for it. I think now it started with the question. “How do systems work?” Back in 1984 it would have been “Why do systems exist?” And I don’t concentrate on that question as much. They exist, so what is the dynamic behind them? Whereas I would have sided with the Nietzschean “will to power” sort of individualism I only see systems now. The individual isn’t as central to this interpretation; you’re dealing with parts that inform each other. Certitude is also up for debate, as is also any sort of conclusive explanation for any given circumstances. The world is accidental on so many levels. Therefore intentionality as a measure and force is not always applicable. We don’t always mean what we say; we don’t always mean to do what we do.

The method I think remains the same. How I work. Which leaves room for spontaneous events, happy accidents and such. But my motives and ideology have changed. I don’t “intend” to harm I guess, I don’t pretend to. This doesn’t interest me anymore. I think my level of misanthropy has altered in that it is now a matter of distrust. The misanthropy I had embraced before was based on a lingering revulsion with humanity that could only be resolved by, well, violence. Upheaval. Change. And I’d say I’m more tolerant now than I used to be out of resignation. This is how things are and I don’t expect them to change any time soon. In the irrational exuberance of my youth I was caught up in that exhilaration of threat and power. Now I’m more concerned about intelligence and reason. And when I do see incidences of this being displayed in the world it is usually, very promptly, negated by the unreasonable and idiotic. I’m far more indifferent and apathetic. I think that’s more effective.

AY: I have this idea—maybe erroneous—that Wisconsin in the 1980s, even Milwaukee, was probably not overflowing with bookstores where you could buy books by Virilio, Baudrillard, Burroughs, et al. What was your source for reading material, and for that matter listening material in those days?

EL: Oh, no, that isn’t entirely true. We had excellent bookstores, I think especially per capita. Woodland Pattern, which is still open, was an essential place for literature and experimental everything. They stocked Lovely Music releases, Richard Kostelanetz books and his compilations. There was this one bookstore, People’s Bookstore. Socialist bent, but he very often would stock with a lot of the more advanced philosophical thinking of the time. I loved that bookstore, and if he didn’t have it, he’d get it for you. And then there was the University bookstore itself. For records stores, there was Dave’s (he was in that initial BDC formation and continues with the newest formation) record store Earwaves, and Atomic Records. Knowledgeable staff. Sympathetic. Dave turned me onto everything. Its all his fucking fault.

And if push came to shove, you were on your way to Chicago to do some shopping. I was lead to a bookstore that still exists. Seminary Co-Op Bookstore. I’m still a member. Greatest bookstore in the Midwest.

You also have to remember that, being that all of this was before the Internet, we relied on magazines and word of mouth. And there were great magazines and fanzines about at that time. Art, music, literature, noise. And most were trying to fuse their chosen focus with philosophical positions.

The research, it was a lot of work, really, intensive. And you had to have patience, nothing arrived instantaneously.

Everything, art, music, the art the music was packaged in, was physical, material. Not ephemeral as it is now. Which does lead me to ask myself, what is better? Our current trade in ephemeral product or the old model of trade in material with physical dimensions? And would that matter in the future? I mean, we have a couple of generations who are entirely satisfied with Mp3s and JPGs. I’m not sure I can support that, but then again there are enough artisans of various disciplines that may not really deserve the attention. Even myself. This is how the system edits itself. Sometimes we have to forget.

Many of my compadres have now scaled back, opting for less units and more complexity in the product. Myself included, I’m trying to deal in smaller runs of more intensive concentration of quality. I’m afraid the days of mass CD releases are over, especially on the more specialized genre of noise.

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AY: What was the reason for having AWB Recording withdraw the De Sade tape?

EL: Odd you should ask this as Blake Edwards at Ballast is working on a complete overhaul and reissue of said work. Let me begin the answer with this “quote”:

For me, discussions of “The fear of appearing monotonous prevents us from recording expressions which upon such occasions, are all very apt to resemble one another,” otherwise known as LUNDE/DESADE (AWB 008, cassette release) over the past decade (or nearly three) have focused more on people asking why I worked with, and then withdrew the release, from the label. Which, as noted earlier, is more than disheartening.

So that being said, I think the answer is obvious. AWB’s goal was not the same as mine. My misanthropy was indiscriminate. I didn’t care about your ethnicity. Did I weaken? I suppose in some people’s eyes, yes. But the matter of race, this notion of White Supremacy, well, from my experience, it doesn’t add up. You’re not superior to anyone on racial or ethnic grounds because, well, there’s far too much variation in the gene pool to make this either a predicate for or premise of superiority. A stupid white man isn’t any better than anyone else. He’s still stupid. And, well, there’s a lot of stupid in the white end of the gene pool. What do they say? You can’t fix stupid. So, we parted ways.

AY: Tell us about the shRAD and the sound cannon? How do they work?

EL: Or not. They were both, one and the same. Simple battery operated amp/speaker. I’d input either a crappy Korg digital synth module or use recordings made on a Tascam mp3 recorder. We engaged it in a few location recordings where we’d record an initial signal then bounce it about in the field, degrading the audio a la reduplication. It worked. Wonderfully. But it failed as a focused sound instrument, like what it was modeled on, the LRAD. The notion of focused sound as a weapon of deterrence intrigued me. But after I fucked the unit up in Chicago, I lost interest.

The ShRAD was replaced by the opycay, a digital decay-recording unit I built and work with and rewarded certain artists with, Jeph included. Blake Edwards. Darren Brown. They are compact set ups for degenerating audio in 20 second increments.

Eric-Lunde-–-Audio-Demonstrations

AY: How did the ‘Athens Recording Field’ project come about and of what is it composed?

EL: Probably from a major misunderstanding between me and the gallery director. As a sidebar here I think ATHICA is a great venue. Athens itself a great little college town. Anyway, the gallery was doing a theme on place and I wriggled my way on board with the proposal of field recordings in the town, specific to Athens. But I think the perception was that I would passively record found items and pass them on. And I don’t consider myself a passive field recordist, I’m more aggressive I guess, Recording field versus field recording. I consider territory to be a field of which I introduce elements and see how they work in the field. The notion to me is to introduce a sound field into an environment and investigate its impact. It was intended to be like the Colorado Terrain Investigations, but I don’t think it worked well because of this misunderstanding, for one thing, and the final military-style debriefing session I staged at the end. That might have been a little off-putting for some of the spectators.

AY: You have mentioned the concept of chaos as theoretical underpinning in your work, and yet there are so many ways this could be taken, especially when so many of your ideas seem tightly arranged and executed. (Jeph has his own ideas about this of course).

EL: My encounter with Chaos theory pretty much altered my view of the world in a very fundamental way. It’s the dynamics of systems and subsystems that are generated in the world. I start with chaos, from initial conditions, and work my way with what results from them. I think a lot of us work that way but might not always admit to chaos as a starting point.

 

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