(b Concord, NH, March 7, 1940; d Cheektowaga, NY, April 9, 2016). American filmmaker, composer, violinist, and media artist. He began playing violin in his youth and studied with Ronald Knudsen. He became fascinated with the physics of sounds and interested in intonation, the harmonic series, long-held tones, and the act of close listening. He attended Harvard University and received an AB in mathematics in 1962. While at Harvard he met Henry Flynt and Christian George Wolff and became involved with the post-Cagean avant garde based in New York. In 1959 Conrad met La Monte Young, who became a frequent collaborator in the mid-1960s. Conrad credited an encounter with the music of 17th-century composer and violinist Heinrich Ignaz Biber in the late 1950s with a profound transformation of his musical thinking, drawing his attention to variable tunings and the role of timbre as an aesthetic concern. Conrad’s exposure to the music of Ali Akbar Khan also heightened his interest in drones as a basis for musical performance....
(b Madison, WI, 1979). American sound artist, installation artist, electronic composer, laptop performer, and visual artist. Based in Los Angeles, he has collaborated with Will Long, Mise_En_Scene, and Marc Manning, among others, and exhibited and performed throughout the United States and Europe. He owns and operates Dragon’s Eye Recordings, which promotes promising but under-recognized sound artists and composers.
Novak’s installations, along with his electronic compositions and performances, typically consist of quiet, subtly shifting textures. These sounds are often field recordings of environmental sounds, digitally transformed into exquisite drones or slow-moving melodies, as in +ROOM (2009). Novak’s work is often associated with Ambient music, demonstrating the fluid, and indeed questionable, nature of the boundary between music and field recording or, generally speaking, between music and sound art. However, unlike ambient music, Novak’s pieces are often programmatic. The goal, in many of his works, is to transform documentation into narrative by digitally altering prerecorded sounds and images. His alterations often consist not of fleshing out sounds and images by adding to their characteristics, but of digitally erasing their distinguishing features. He may obliterate the movement that we typically see in video, reducing it to a static expanse of color. Similarly, he alters environmental sounds beyond recognition into contemplative textures....