Scott Schwartz
Scott Schwartz

Scott and I met in New York some years ago, introduced by a close mutual friend who suggested we might have some common interests: mainly, our shared fascination with the concept of “measurement.” Needless to say, she was right. Part 1 of this interview — published here — took place between Summer 2020 and Summer 2021. It is our first formal discussion, a long time coming. Part 2 will follow, and at the rate we are going, there could be Parts 3 and 4 …

Scott Schwartz is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. He has a book coming out in Fall 2021, with Routledge, loosely based on the ideas explored here. Scott received his Ph.D. from the Anthropology Department at the CUNY Graduate Center. His research focuses on the methodologies and materials employed in the collection of environmental data, examining the epistemological history of climate modeling and algorithmic governance more broadly. He served as a Quantitative Reasoning Fellow at Baruch College from 2014 to 2016. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork centered on historical ecology and conservation in Scotland, Iceland, and Italy. He has had various projects featured in art galleries in New York and Los Angeles over the past decade, including a recent collaboration appearing at the Queens Museum as part of their Chance Ecologies exhibit. In the summer of 2017 he was awarded an Art-Science residency grant from the National Science Foundation and Pratt Institute.

PART 1: MEASUREMENT

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Marja Ahti
Marja Ahti by Niko-Matti Ahti

Marja and I met in January 2017 in Turku, Finland, where she lives and works, when I was there for a residency. We became friends through our different approaches to similar interests, and have stayed in conversation ever since. This conversation, centered around Marja’s 2020 record The Current Inside, explores some of those shared interests more broadly. This interview began in Spring 2020, was delayed and delayed again, finished in Winter 2020, delayed again, and finally published in June 2021.

Marja Ahti (b. 1981) is a Swedish-Finnish composer and sound artist based in Turku, Finland. Ahti works with field recordings and other acoustic sound material combined with synthesizers and electronic feedback in order to find the space where these sounds start to communicate. She makes music that rides on waves of slowly warping harmonies and mutating textures – rough edged, yet precise compositions, rich in detail. Ahti has presented her music in many different contexts around Europe, in Japan and the United States. She is currently active in the duo Ahti & Ahti with her partner Niko-Matti Ahti and in the artist/organizer collective Himera.

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Mónica Palma
Chac-mool, performance, Brooklyn New York, 2017

I have known Mónica since 2007 when we met in the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University. We were both enrolled in a seminar about sound that had a profound impact on both of our practices, and became friends exploring links between sound and experimental approaches to drawing. We continue to discover new moments of overlap and interest. This conversation — initiated in Fall 2020 and completed in late Winter 2021 — is wide-ranging, including volcanoes, the definition of awe, technically-illegal art performances, and how ideas of ritual play into Mónica’s work. Our conversation started in the Summer of 2020, was completed in early 2021, and published in June.

Mónica Palma studied visual art at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Veracruz. In 2008 she received her MFA in Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has been living and working in Brooklyn since 2008. Her work has been shown at TSA (NYC), 245 Varet Street (NYC), Ortega y Gasset Projects (NYC), the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), Soloway Gallery (NYC), Underdonk Gallery (NYC) and Essex Flowers (NYC).

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