Artist, programmer and musician Luisa Pereira explores music through coding and design. She joined NEW INC in 2014 as a member of our inaugural class, and continued with us for two years.
For her presentation this Summer Demo Day, Luisa reflected back on her time here on the Bowery, taking the audience along on her creative journey and demonstrating how her projects and practice have evolved. We loved the talk and wanted to share it with a larger audience—so we've transcribed and condensed it here:
My name is Luisa. I’m an artist and engineer, and my practice focuses on creating new ways to engage with music. When I first started at NEW INC two years ago, I had two projects that I wanted to refine and develop, as well as several new directions that I wanted to explore.
I had questions about the hybrid pieces that I was creating as I looked at them through different frames. Were they artworks, design objects, or devices? Did they belong in the world of music performances? Or, maybe they belonged in the world of advertising? Would I use these pieces to help brands present themselves as more innovative and culturally engaged? During my time at NEW INC, I wanted to experiment with all of these frames to see how they would interact with my work and how they would affect its meaning.
So today, instead of telling you about one project in particular, I’d like to do something we do not often enough, which is to pause and observe.
If you came to previous Demo Days, you may have seen my project, the Counterpointer. It’s a synthesizer that generates harmonies in the style of Bach. This project has evolved—it began as a box that sent inputs to a computer that then did all of the work, and is now a stand alone device with a micro-controller in it that generates music, plays it in a built in speaker, and is able to control external synthesizers. In late May, I presented it at Moogfest, a festival in Durham, North Carolina, surrounded by products made by tech companies of every scale. The Counterpointer started as an art project. At NEW INC, I put it under a product design frame, I spent a lot of time doing industrial design and software and hardware development.
The second project I wanted to explore more deeply was The Harmonic Series, which is a visual and physical study of harmony. It could have been a product too, but I placed this one under the art frame. When I started at NEW INC in September of 2014 September, my collaborator and I showed this at the Dumbo Arts Festival here in New York City. Since then, it has traveled to the File Festival in Sao Paulo, to the Kosice Bienal in Buenos Aires, and to a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile. This all happened between last November and this January.
Another goal that I had for my time at NEW INC was to develop my networks in New York City. I’m from South America, and I have found that too often, the Southern hemisphere listens to the Northern hemisphere, while the opposite rarely happens.
While exploring new directions, I found new collaborators within the NEW INC community. With Yotam Mann and Kevin Siwoff, I created In C, a collaborative performance of Terry Riley’s piece that now lives on the web. With the band CAMPO, I created a generative, interactive version of their album cover extending it into a virtual, 3-D space.
I also wanted to make a phone-based project, when Jeff Crouse and Aramique Krauthamer invited me to join their team in designing and implementing a spaceship-like instrument for Swedish Band Little Dragon. They performed on this instrument instead of their own in the Skyroom here at the New Museum last year in a collaboration with Samsung.
In parallel to working on my projects and collaborations with friends, I also dedicated time to education. I’ve been teaching technology to artists, and art and design to engineers at graduate programs such as NYU ITP and at the School of Visual Arts. I have also been teaching at experimental, artist-led schools like the School for Poetic Computation here in New York City. I’ve been working at the Processing Foundation and the New York Department of Education creating curriculum and materials to teach programming through creating interactive creative projects. It gives me great satisfaction to introduce new voices into the development of technology. I really want to see more women, more artists working in technology and to help overcome these really nonsensical barriers.
My time at NEW INC has been a journey. I don’t really have any specific conclusions for you today, but I’m paying attention to make sure that I see the connections and new ideas that emerge when they do.
See Luisa's full Demo Day presentation: