Interview with Pauric Freeman
GH: We're so curious to find out: who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
Pauric: My name is Pauric Freeman, I am an interaction designer and new media artist based in Ireland. I work a lot with audio-visual art, visualising sound and data through realtime graphics.
As a freelance designer I work with clients and studios to help build interactive applications and installations, and I’m a part-time lecturer of interactive media at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
"rather than experimenting with film and sound recording technology, I chose to work with synthesizers and generative graphics"
GH: What is the underlying philosophy behind your work?
Pauric: I’m interested in cognition and how we perceive the world around us through our senses. One particular area is that of cross-modal perception, the interaction of two (or more) senses. It happens when we experience any audio-visual medium, be it film, tv, audio-visual art; our brain has a way of merging information from the two senses together into a single event if certain conditions are met.
The brain is surprisingly forgiving in this experience and it’s possible to push it quite far, which is something cinema plays with a lot through foley sound effects, not just using sounds to sonify what's on screen, but as a narrative tool to add value and extend feeling or emotion, or create audio-visual harmony or dissonance.
I was particularly interested in programming and electronic music when I was younger, so rather than experimenting with film and sound recording technology, I chose to work with synthesizers and generative graphics, and over the years I have explored this idea through abstract audio-visual art.
GH: Can you pick an artwork and describe your workflow?
Pauric: This piece is a section of a longer performance I’ve been preparing for an upcoming show. I began with the sound, building a patch on the modular synth that allowed me to play with tension and suspense, and then moving to TouchDesigner to expand it into a visual environment.
Recently I’ve been really into digital aesthetics, moving away from more organic forms trying to create hyper-digital environments that couldn’t exist naturally or in the physical world. I’m really interested in that idea, and it’s something I like to do with sound design too, for example using reverb in ways which couldn’t exist in physical spaces.
I input CV and audio data from the modular synth into TouchDesigner using my Expert Sleepers ES-9 module. In TouchDesigner I set some initial rules, usually working with primitive shapes that fit aesthetically with the sound sources, and I use the incoming data from the synth to augment the visuals, complexifying it. There’s usually a good bit of tweaking and processing of data to get a final result that ties in with the overall aesthetic.
GH: Tell us about your setup. Where do you create? What tools do you use?
Pauric: I have a studio in my apartment which I work from. For my audio-visual projects I use TouchDesigner, my modular synth, and Ableton. Other tools I use often on other projects are Unity, Processing, MaxMSP, React for web stuff, and various 3D modelling packages.
I’m using Processing and Max a lot less recently- getting to grips with TouchDesigner a year and a half ago has changed a lot for my workflow. It’s such a great platform; it’s quick for prototyping, gathering data from interactive devices, processing it, working with multiple outputs, and allowing you to expand with different languages like GLSL. It’s been a game changer. For teaching too, I quickly adapted it into the module curriculum and it’s worked out really well, the students are able to get to grips with it quickly and get complex interactions happening in a short space of time.
GH: What's been inspiring you lately?
Pauric: These are more just general inspirations, but the music of Caterina Barbieri, Taylor Deupree & 12K Records, Pan Records, Raster Noton, Tim Hecker, Lee Gamble and UIQ records, Mark Fell’s algorithmic compositions. On that topic, Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie’s Max4Live devices for algorithmic sequencing are very interesting.
In other areas, those working with very digital aesthetics and approaches like Tim Rodenbröker, Zach Liberman, John Burgess, Robert Henke, Weirdcore, Jonathan Zawada, to name a few, and studios like Schultzschultz, Soyun Park’s RGBDog, and Pitch Studios. I’m also really obsessed with Holly Herndon & Mat Dryhurst’s Interdependence podcast too, for discussions on technology and society.
GH: What are you working on next? Pauric: I’m currently working on live visuals for a theatre show called Rescue Annie which will be debuting next month at the Abbey Theatre. It’s about intimacy and autonomy and without giving away too much, it incorporates a lot of interesting audio and visual technologies.
Then at the end of September I will be performing as part of Lightmoves Festival of Screendance here in Ireland. It will be a live AV performance, and I will be supporting Beatrice Dillon whose work I’m a huge fan of so I’m very excited for that. And hopefully lots more live performances once things open up properly, that’s my main focus at the moment.
– Pauric Freeman, Dublin, Ireland