On New Media

As one of a few artists and art professionals invited to discuss and present our work in the context of a panel about New Media organized by ArtCircuits and moderated by art critic Anne Tschida in October of 2011, I decided not to reference specific pieces but instead to organize a text containing some of my thoughts about sound and my experiences with it, each as a separate thought.

The idea was to illustrate without actually describing it, how i thought about “new media” at the time. As with other experiments i thought this could inform the audience about me while helping us learn or realize something else in the process.



ArtTable: New Media in Art Making
Panel Discussion
Wendy Wischer, George Sanchez-Calderon, Gustavo Matamoros, Antonia Wright
Director of Miami Art Museum:
Thomas Collins
Moderator: Anne Tschida
organized by Artformz directort/founder: Alette Simmons-Jimenez
Hardcore Art Contemporary Space, Wynwood

photo by Alette Simmons-Jimenez
Panel participants (left-right) panel moderator Anne Tschida; Director of PAMM, Thom Collins; artists George Sanchez-Calderon, Wendy Wischer, Antonia Wright, and Gustavo Matamoros


On New Media
by Gustavo Matamoros


  1. cut each paragraph of the compiled text into single strips of paper and randomly hand them out to the audience unnumbered and unmarked
  2. ask everyone to listen a few seconds while examining the text in their possession
  3. let the person with the opening paragraph decide to speak first, loudly and clearly enough to be heard by the others
  4. let the person with the next sentence decide to speak next in the same way
  5. the talk ends when the last person who finds a reason to speak, does


as artist i work with sound

technology is simply tools

words are sound-tools in the language domain … tools for communication of ideas, impressions, thoughts

we hear content in word form

i work with sound as a tool to help me understand the world around me
sound is the audible evidence of life … of nature in operation

PAUSE the world and sound stops

we hear through our ears and also with our whole bodies

air is the medium that causes sound to excite my eardrums in the sequence of shapes that represent what i hear

to illustrate how air molecules carry information from a source to our ears i’ll need some volunteers. let’s pause while i demonstrate …

a telephone (itself a sound-word) can extend the sound of my voice thousands of miles across the globe … as it also changes it

some languages have unique word-sounds for each idea

other languages have several words for one idea

and then there are languages having many ideas for one word-sound

structural and sound differences in the way languages communicate meaning imply different perspectives, interpretations and ways of thinking about a subject

in every sound we hear content (words as tools), technology (the agent that causes the sound to be), and context (architecture, space and environment)
i am as much of a sound artist as i am a sound architect, designer, maker, composer, monitor, urbanist, being

some people use a few words to clearly express what takes others a few sentences regardless of the language

triangle is an elegantly efficient word that belongs in the visual-language category

triangle does not translate well into sound-language for we can’t hear its shape

there is a sound we call triangle wave not because its sound is triangular, but because its draws a triangular shape in an oscilloscope

now, loud is a sound word that is as elegantly efficient in sound-language as triangle is to the visual realm

visual words paint pictures in our mind’s eye

sound words evoke sensations … understanding beyond pictures
yet we talk about sound in visual terms

the most interesting social spaces i’ve experience are acoustically beautiful
I perceive sound differently in German cities than i do in Miami… and i don’t know why

hydrophones are great for they allow you to hear things underwater

in art, the fundamental necessity for self-expression is handsomely celebrated and rewarded … sometimes in favor of art intended as a medium for learning and connecting with the world

far removed from the pressures of major centers of art criticism, Miami has been my home and until not too long ago, fertile land for the cultivation of an experimental attitude toward the exploration of sound free from the formal influences of an art-world-industry obsessed with shaping its own identity

in Buddhism, ego is an awareness anomaly that arises from our resistance to change and decay. suppressing the ego prepares us and paves the way toward a Buddhist way of life

sound is change and decay to silence

in music, sustain is a way of extending the life of a sound at the service of self-expression

living in Miami isn’t so bad after all … it is in fact blissful!

there are other paradigms in music making that result from the recognition that a sound is in essence a description of nature, that although not the only one, sound is certainly a wonderful tool for helping us relate to and understand nature

through listening, the experience of sound answers questions about intimacy, connectedness and relationship

to help my art i construct an history from my own sound experiences in the lab. you might call it a sound-history. what I learn this way, the intuition that results, I then apply to other realms including my own life

in my understanding, the word “interdisciplinary” refers to something common to all parts within a “whole”. that which keeps “the whole” whole. something like gravity or “the force” which may only be revealed when the “whole” is put back together after it has been broken into pieces, like a broken tea cup, for example

from R. Buckminster Fuller i learned the notion of designing yourself as the guinea pig of your own experiment … and i have practice it
from John Cage i learned to cultivate, not bad memories, but a bad memory … and it’s been very useful

in my work i experiment with sound’s ability to contain and deliver information and my attitude towards sound is such that the result of my experiments ultimately influences the way i live

sound is the audible evidence that something has occurred

every sound contains all the information necessary for us to understand an event

as such, sound is a very good tool for connecting with the world around us
in a world manipulated by concepts put forth by people that manufacture reality to make us question our own perception, it seems to me we do well to concentrate on things that keep us connected

i experiment with sound

these experiments are often inspired by questions that arise from my own daily experiences, questions like: “do people have a natural tendency to get along?”

in listening, sounds most always display a tendency to get along with one another so long as each individual sound is afforded the freedom to reveal its unique qualities, that which distinguishes it from the others

my commitment to art is such that when i make a piece, i then adopt and carry on with testing the results or conclusions of that experiment into the realm of human interaction … i put myself in the place of sound … i become the guinea pig

for instance, i now believe that people have natural tendency to get along, not to fight each other

it is when people find themselves unable to express or externalize their individuality and essence with natural fluidity that interaction between people becomes problematic

listening is a good habit to nurture and develop

i now approach people assuming they are inherently good. that, if they behave otherwise, it is likely they are not free

“all great artists are amateurs” Eric Satie

“things have a life of their own. It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls” Gabriel Garcia-Marquez

i am a person who cares about sound in ways that render language irrelevant. So, why would you want to hear me talk?

as “contemporary” beings, our interpretation of the world is mediated by new technologies and modulated by geo-cultural dynamics. we are now trapped in the whole world

there is a dissonance in the interaction between modalities of perception: sensorial v technological, personal v social, visual v auditory… this dissonance comes from an amplitude imbalance between modalities, an audio-mix glitch that emphasizes one over the other as in team-sports — a constant argument … a constant debate

here is how i think we tend to think about nature and its nature: the house that we built … with the tree that we cut … is now gone

what i call the sound mind is the mind’s modality necessary to understand sound for its soundness as well as all of the word’s meanings

a words such as “loud”, says David Dunn, is exclusively a sound-word, one that is sometimes borrowed to help amplify or clarify meaning in other realms, particularly the visual, as in a loud dress

sound is becoming

why am i using words now? simply because i can. that’s what i learned to do

just like the mocking bird by my window feels the need to outer mocking bird sounds. that is what I feel like doing. when i talk, i’m simply singing… singing sounds… sounds i have learned to make… and, as for printed words… i write… i compose

@ 2011, Subtropics Editions