Leon Butler (in collaboration with Peter Power)
Leon Butler is an artist and designer working at the intersection of art and technology. Leon´s work has been recognised by The Type Directors Club, 100 Archive, the Future Makers awards, Digital Media awards, Young Directors Awards and the Irish Design Awards. Recent shows include Emperor 101 (SxSW and Dublin Theatre Festival), Shelter and Place (Cork Midsummer), Desired (Los Angeles).
Peter Power is a multidisciplinary Visual Artist, Composer, Sound Designer and Director from Waterford. He is the Artistic Director of the Award winning company Sparsile Collective creating immersive experiences led by music. He is also Director of Eat My Noise, a multi-genre audio duo that work in Composition, Event, Film, Television and Post-Production. He is the winner of the Arts Council of Ireland Music Bursary award, Music and Theatre Project Awards, Theatre Bursary Award and most recently the AGF award and Visual Arts Commission Award. His current interests are in the connections between Digital and Live art.
In Dialogue: Artist Talk with Agnese Baranova (RIXC, Riga):
Agnese Baranova: Generally the residencies offer a particular space in a certain time for the artists to create, to produce, to generate, to experiment their creative ideas and also develop the new artworks.
How is it important for you as an artist to be outside from your usual daily life to create, how it affects (or maybe not) your artistic development?
Leon Butler: I balance commercial projects and my work as a lecturer at the Yeats Academy of Arts, Design and Architecture at Atlantic Technological University with my personal practice, with the latter suffering from a lack of time, financial support and physical space. Having the opportunity to concentrate further on my practice and develop this project has pushed the envelope of what is possible if I was trying to fit the research, reading and development around my regular schedule. Coming to another city away from routine, friends, and familiarity has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and placed me in an environment where I am immersed and energized by development. Seeing the work of other artists while in Riga alongside the amazing work programmed by RIXc has definitely led to new avenues of exploration.
Agnese Baranova: You are working on the interactive media art installation using the CCTV feeds. What is your artistic research scope of interest in the humans relationships with surveillance, machine learning and technology as well as interaction among them?
Leon Butler: I have spent a lot of days cycling through feeds of IP addresses from cameras that I scrapped for the web; every feed needs to be observed as the work is durational. In most cases, the subject is completely unaware or passive to the camera’s presence. The face recognition software follows as they move around the frame and allows the subject to control the oscillation of the virtual instrument. Strange loops appear in the music that matches people’s pattern, and though the music or performance isn’t rehearsed, it generates interconnected feedback. It’s strange watching strangers but always surprising.
Agnese Baranova: Finally, you already spent some time in Riga and this is your first time here. What is your impression? Have you found something inspiring for you as an artist? Would you come again?
Leon Butler: Riga has been a massive inspiration; having never been to the city before, I have really been blown away by the beauty of the architecture, and its relationship to water, with rivers, canals and Islands passing through and connecting every aspect of the city. The parks that are dotted through the city are the perfect place to go to walk and take time away from the project and everyday life. The variety of museums and contemporary galleries and events in the city means the weekend and evenings are full. I took a slow route to the coast on a passenger boat; the train was faster, but the journey was amazing, the rich industrial outer lands of the dock not visible from the city give a feel of the industrial past of the area, and the beautiful beaches of Jurmala are another world away from the city and the perfect retreat.