The Genius of Brian Eno On Display in 80 Minute Q&A: Talks Art, iPad Apps, ABBA, & More

Four years ago, I expe­ri­enced musi­cal poly­math, rock pro­duc­er, “drift­ing clar­i­fi­er,” and high-tech painter Bri­an Eno’s gen­er­a­tive-art instal­la­tion 77 Mil­lion Paint­ings in Long Beach. I also saw him give an enter­tain­ing talk there on his obser­va­tions of and ideas about sound, images, and cul­ture. This year, he brought the show to New York City, giv­ing it the largest stag­ing yet, and then sat down for an equal­ly enter­tain­ing 80-minute Q&A for the Red Bull Music Acad­e­my. Per­haps it sounds a lit­tle odd that a cre­ator who has based the past few decades of recent solo work on qui­etude, reflec­tion, and men­tal recep­tive­ness would appear at such length in a forum spon­sored by an ener­gy drink, but hey, we live in inter­est­ing times, and Eno has inter­est­ing thoughts, no mat­ter where he voic­es them.

Sit­ting back on a sofa (whose side table comes stocked with cans of Red Bull), Eno dis­cuss­es com­pos­ing music for hos­pi­tals after meet­ing a great many chil­dren born to his 1975 album Dis­creet Music; the ama­teur cho­rus he runs and with whom he some­times invites famous singer friends to sit in; “sce­nius,” or the spe­cial kind of genius that emerges when large num­bers of enthu­si­asts cohere into a scene; the DJ as cul­tur­al “lubri­cant”; his love of ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry Russ­ian paint­ing; what makes pop­u­lar music, from Abba to Bey­on­cé, sound pop­u­lar; the impor­tance of dead­lines; and his new iPad app Scape, which, to his mind, should soon dis­place the tire­some con­ven­tions of Hol­ly­wood film scor­ing entire­ly. While this pro­vides a stim­u­lat­ing intro­duc­tion to Eno the intel­lec­tu­al, long­time fans will want to catch up with his lat­est thoughts on sev­er­al favorite sub­jects, such as the val­ue of sur­ren­der in not just expe­ri­enc­ing but cre­at­ing art, and the coun­ter­in­tu­itive bursts of cre­ativ­i­ty that come when work­ing with few­er options, not more.

H/T goes to Heather

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bri­an Eno Once Com­posed Music for Win­dows 95; Now He Lets You Cre­ate Music with an iPad App

Bri­an Eno on Cre­at­ing Music and Art As Imag­i­nary Land­scapes (1989)

Watch Bri­an Eno’s “Video Paint­ings,” Where 1980s TV Tech­nol­o­gy Meets Visu­al Art

Day of Light: A Crowd­sourced Film by Mul­ti­me­dia Genius Bri­an Eno

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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  • mark says:

    nice inter­view, thanks.

    notice the last ques­tion asked by the audi­ence — the guy ask­ing (“i make elec­tron­ic music”) is ker­ian heb­den aka four tet, if im not mis­tak­en.

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