Robin Petterd phone chat - sonic objects, art practice, water and built instruments 23/10/2002

The phone chat is split into two parts & hosted on

part 1 page, where you can select the format to listen or download the mp3 via direct link

part 2 page, where you can select the format to listen / download or download the mp3 via direct link

I had written a profile for Robin on years ago, but unfortunately I don't have a copy any more.

we chat about his art practice, various projects he's worked on, sonic objects, working with electronics & computers in art, and his theme using water. the interview took place on 28/10/2002.

Robin's website is

His teaching blog is at

You can download, listen and view some of his works and educational pieces at or via his ourmedia page

There's photos and description of his 2002 sonic objects on Gail Priest's snagglepussy site as his work was part of the Unnatural Selection exhibition at the Manning Regional Gallery, Taree

(photo from
(I'm still looking for my photos from the workshop)

here's some photos of Electrofringe / This is Not Art 2002 where Robin held a workshop / session

::: interview transcription
partial raw transcription notes

robin petterd interview - 23/10/2002



k: about people who make their own instruments and create their own devices that produce music. so I thought your 'shells' device - I'm not sure what to call it - could fit in well with that article because it's an arts/music project as well as using technology to create sounds

rp: yep. and partly I actually do think they did relate to instruments, when I started. quite a bit. at first. instruments are quite often about controlling things. and these things are not very controllable. but yeah, it does relate.

k: yeah. there's different ways. maybe one time it could be modified to be controllable, but I think because it's so interactive while you're using it, that sort of, that does make it like an instrument, because it reacts to..

rp: oh yeah, because you could start to play it

k: yeah

rp: but it's maybe not the sort of thing that someone could become a virtuoso of. musicians talk about having a sort of level of expertise with. this maybe doesn't have that level though

k: yeah, but there's heaps of experimental performances where they just create their own little devices and they don't really know what the sound's going to come out of it.

rp: yeah. and there's more and more of that sort of stuff starting to happen in Australia [ed: actually it's been around for a while in Australia!] which is quite, for me it is quite interesting because I come from a visual arts background, and so, all of a sudden finding out that all this other stuff was happening. and some of it was quite interesting. yeah.

k: yeah definitely. and I think the two merge quite well too, especially when you have visuals to music, it adds that extra level of enjoyment for people.

rp: yeah. and there's software and stuff that can do that that's quite different

k: yeah. well maybe just a little bit about your background. I've been having a quick look on your website, and it looks like you've done heaps and heaps of projects, and have been working on collaborative projects as well, with other artists. do you want to go over a couple of things that you've done.

rp: yeah ok. umm.

k: there's been a lot of them. like, I notice you use a lot of textures, and spatial themes and things like that?

rp: yeah. ok. the way I think about it is, particularly.. I've mucked about in the area of media art for about 10 years and I was .. out and I had different concerns about what I do, and one of those concerns has been - trying to explore immersing people in different ways, and that's led to different paths. so, around the mid 90s, someone was crazy enough to give me some money to play with cheap VR technologies, so I spent some time working with those things, and quite often thinking about those things to do with reflecting what technology - how technology was affecting us. that was a nightmare to work with, technically, and the result from that was very satisfying. and I actually switched back to working with a lot simpler technologies, and then starting to work collaboratively as well. for quite a few years I worked - for the best part of three years I worked with a local Hobart writer called Diane Caney and we worked on a project called "Archiving Imagination" - which was.. it still feels... I'm not sure how it fits into what I did over a period of time but part of what was nice about that was that it was ambiguous and it allowed lots of people to enter it in different ways and I still really like the.. poetry as a way of working.. that is still being.. and the nice thing was the last .. to work with text as an artist - working with someone that was primarily a.. word person, was quite an enriching thing, so that sort of worked.

k: yeah, I guess you get to see how other artists work as well, and sort of, get an insight into how their minds work

rp: yeah. and the different sort of methods and ways that people work, and work in. I've even been thinking recently about even the way that we worked on that - quite often we didn't - we worked in a way where we'd swap versions of it, so rather than sitting there and saying, "oh this is what we're going to achieve with this piece", we actually, start it, and then slowly there's this process of flinging the versions across back and forth for to each other.

k: oh ok

rp: I actually realized, for a lot of people that's a different way of collaborating, but it's also one of those things that.. I think it probably makes for a better result in the long run

k: yeah

rp: yeah

k: yeah and I guess things change along the way, according to how your life's changing at the time and what things are happening around you, and how you're thinking

rp: yeah.

k: so another of your projects "Liquid Sensations"

rp: yeah. that's basically what I did after. even when I started that particular (07:56)

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