Footnotes from a Brian Eno talk

On Monday night, I attended a lecture by Brian Eno at the Vogue Theatre. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Eno is a remarkable polymath–a composer, rock musician, painter, sculpture, producer, writer–but I’ve never really been an ardent fan of anything he’s done.

In broad strokes, I’d say his talk was on “Why I make the art I make”. It began with Copernicus and ended with surfing, and there were many, many points in between. Robyn wrote a summary of his talk, and here’s a piece from the Courier.

I made note of a few interesting artworks or projects Eno cited, and thought I’d share them here:

  • A great looking phylogenetic tree, made by David Hillis (who bears a more than passing resemblance to James Cameron) and available for printing. Post it all your wall for a humble reminder of our tiny role in the planet’s genome. Be sure to scroll down on that page for some really geeky tattoos.
  • Conway’s Game of Life is a cellular automaton. That’s all I’ve got really, on this point, save that Eno used it as an example of something complex that’s ‘organically’ built out of something simple.
  • Terry Reilly’s “In C” was an early musical influence on Eno. It’s a peculiar musical composition, in which musicians play prescribed notes (all in the key of C), repeated as often as they like. While <a href="the result isn’t calming, it’s not without a certain, uh, frothy urgency.
  • Eno referenced several of his own works, including one called 55 Million Cystals. I was, er, in the bathroom for this section, but here’s Eno talking about them on some rather irritating micro-site.
  • Eno also mentioned Bloom, a generative music app that he developed with software designer Peter Chilvers. It’s cool, in a trippy, ambient sort of way.

I wrote earlier in this post that I’ve never been a fan of anything Eno’s done. I’ve just remembered that that isn’t quite true. I quite like Oblique Strategies, a set of cards with peculiar little suggestions or quips on them. I often use them as a brainstorming tool. Here’s an online version of the cards.

Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.

1 comment

  1. I love Brian Eno. Thought the talk was fascinating. Thanks for putting up all those links. I of course let the whole thing wash over me then had almost no memory of the specifics the next day. Thank god for bloggers.

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