interview with ezra buchla

featured May 23, 2013

both in performance and dinner conversation ezra buchla has an astonishing talent for the unpredictable and a knack for captivation. he is an intensely sincere musician, a jaunty encyclopedia, a worthy table tennis opponent, and a like-minded lover of sugary treats. as a collaborator we’re very happy to have a high level dual class mathematician/mage along for the journey.


i. Instrument, Utensil, Implement, Machine, or Apparatus? which? why? where? if you had to choose just one preindustrial tool, which would it be?

i have a dictionary problem and this question is totally feeding it. for some reason, all of these words are from latin. “utensil” and “instrument” are almost the same, but the former indicates necessity (“the necessaries”) and the latter indicates something more delicate, a specific agency.

well, necessity, what can i say, everyone needs a spoon and a pair of chopsticks and a vessel or two for holding fluids. oh! one’s utensils should be very smooth.

my main instrument is the viola. it belonged to my grandmother. it was made in italy in 1852. it is wood and glue. it is my favorite thing. i am not an instrument.

apparatus… what a strange word. in latin, it simply means “preparation,” but in english it is a “totality of means,” and something about that provokes unease. i could not use this word in a non-facetious way.

machine… well now, thats another story! “machina” : a thing that transforms energy. anything! machines can have a lot to say. i am a machine, of course.

pre-industrial tool? stylus. or singing? is that a tool?


ii. creativity has been redefined throughout the ages. our most modern tends to focus on process, placement, person, and output (or product). do you find your abilities within this realm of definition or do you see outside influences, such as divine inspiration, muses, daemons, or forces of nature as factors?

what a gnarly question! dang!

it seems natural but disingenuous to pretend not to think about audience and context– even if the preferred audience/context is (nominally) nobody and nowhere. but i always think the best art comes from mindlessfullness, which takes practice. personally i go in little phases of attention to this or to that or to very little, but there’s always something getting made. sometimes the things take a long time to make and assume a highly specific form, other times (more times) i revel in disaster and the practice of chaos (and yeah that takes a certain commitment too). and there is a lot of room in between. sometimes you stop wherever the deadline falls, and sometimes a thing comes fully formed from nowhere. wait, no it doesn’t! that’s impossible! in any case the raw material of time-spent-in-process is, i think, always perceivable, no matter how simple the final form or how sudden its emergence.

i’m sorry that this is not really an answer. i believe in silent oracles.


iii. sound energy is the form of energy associated with the vibration or disturbance of matter. work, a form of energy, is force times distance. in living organisms, energy is stored as polysaccharides. common terms referring to such magical energy include mana, numen, chi or kundalini. how do you derive energy? how would you define your own personal energy?

modulation. wait, no! vibration. vibration is better, even if you already said it.

speaker pushes air. heart pumps blood. both will burn out and die if pushed in one direction only.

periodicity engenders perception. movement establishes relative frame. disrupted periodicity is information. shared context is exformation, and can be discarded when communicating.

potential energy is only that. it just sits there until molecules are broken down and, one way or another, usually recycled into others (through some kind of machine, of necessity.) each cycle has a parameter-space, and trajectories within that space which maximize this or that. any complex system contains multiple periodicities, perhaps easily broken or modulated, perhaps tending inevitably towards unending oscillation, perhaps towards stillness and maximal thermodynamic entropy (or, if you like, minimal information-entropy…)

each periodicity has a frequency. some people would say each chakra is a frequency. chakra means wheel. (the tone wheel is a beautiful invention. machine. instrument. not an apparatus!) prana is breath (keep breathing. do it now!) numen is perception – of “divine will.” chi is flow – of “life force.” i don’t know quite what those words in quotes mean but, evidently they are each supposed to be doing something besides sitting there by themselves.

the sudden halt of car-crash-impact, or sudden audibility of loud-high-sine-wave, are most damaging to the ears. a slow enough swell of noise or tone won’t even be noticed. how much louder is the world today than 100 years ago? 500 years? 5000? 2 billion (maybe its quieter now)?

notes colors paths functions stories vibes. i wish i knew where it all came from. none of it belongs to me. there is a theory that organisms have “negentropy”, that they are attractors or generators of pattern. i don’t buy that but it’s a nice thought.

this machine runs on vibration. and magic. and coffee and angst and weird dreams.