Interview with Felipe Otondo
Who is Felipe Otondo?I am a Chilean sound artist based in the UK. I am very interested in the spatial possibilities of sound design as well as interdisciplinary applications of sound like: site-specific works, installations, music theatre projects, field recordings and the use of the human voice.
What is Teocalli about?Tocalli is a about a surreal journey between the two very different kinds of environments: the urban city and the Mexican landscape. Where the Aztecs lived.
How did you start in sound/music? And do you have an educational background in this field?I started working with acoustics and the got interested in the artistic possibilities of sound. I took composition studies with Anders Broesgaard in Copenhagen and later with Roger Marsh and Ambrose Field at the University of York in England.
Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?It varies from work to work. In some projects I have tried to work in an organic fashion, trying to explore the timbral and spatial possibilities inherent in different kinds of sounds. My current project explores the timbral characteristics of a Javanese gamelan orchestra. In other projects like íTeocallií I have been more interested in the relationship between sound and various types of public environments in urban and rural locations.
How would you describe and categorize the soundworks you make?It is work based on the acoustic and contextual possibilities of sound.
How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?The title is important, sometimes it is a starting point and in others you might discover it when creating the work.
Which instruments do you play?I play guitar.
Is using different types of instruments important in your work?Not really, I am more interested in sounds than in particular musical instruments. I tend to work with percussive sound like bells and drums.
According to you, what is contemporary sound art?At this stage it could probably be defined as anything that is not music in the conventional sense: sound installations, media works, net art, text pieces etc.
What is your perspective on piracy and creative commons?I am not sure it is an issue for sound art. It is probably a more serious problem for people that want to make large profits with music, which is normally not the case with sound artists. I believe creative commons is a good thing and should be encourages.
What possibilities of the web are yet to be explored?The web has a huge potential, I think much more could be done to share sounds and have good platforms for artists for showcasing their works (this festival is a nice example of good practice!).
Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?It has changed the way I see things. It is great to be able to communicate with different kinds of people and to get out of the very conventional and dry musical environments.
Do you also work in commercial fields of sounds or music?I work in academia (which has become more and more a commercial field...).
How important is the reaction to your work by the audience?It is very important and helps to shape my ideas an my work and also understand ways of connecting with the listener.
What is your next project about?My next project will probably involve working with field recordings and radio interviews related to the topic of religious beliefs in three cities: Santiago, Mombasa and Mexico City.
Felipe Otondo - 2011