In all his creative activities, Tristan Perich is inspired by the aesthetics of math and physics, and he works with simple forms and complex systems. The challenge of elegance impels his work in acoustic and electronic music and physical and digital art.
The Wire Magazine describes his compositions as “an austere meeting of electronic and organic.” His works for soloist, ensemble, and orchestra have been performed internationally by groups including Bang on a Can, counter)induction, the Calder Quartet, the New York Miniaturist Ensemble, Hunter-Gatherer, and Ensemble Pamplemousse at venues from the Whitney Museum, P.S.1, Merkin Hall, the Stone, Joe’s Pub and the Issue Project Room in New York to Zipper Hall in Los Angeles and Lentos in Austria. He has received commissions from Bang on a Can (the 2008 People’s Commissioning Fund), the Dither Quartet, Yarn/Wire, Transit New Music and Ensemble Pamplemousse.
In 2004 he began work on 1-Bit Music to experiment with the foundations of electronic sound, culminating in a physical “album,” a music-generating circuit packaged inside a standard CD jewel case, which has been released by Cantaloupe Music. The Village Voice calls the device “technology and aesthetic rolled into one,” and Surface Magazine calls the 1-Bit Music boxes “profound throwbacks to the traditional album, a response to the intangibility of iTunes and mp3s in the form hand-held artwork.” Working with 1-bit audio conceptually influenced his music for acoustic ensembles, resulting in dual compositions for musicians with 1-bit music accompaniment, pairing the performers with on-stage speakers. His new circuit album, 1-Bit Symphony (due in August on Cantaloupe Music), is a long-form electronic composition in five movements. Its music explores the intricate, polyphonic potential of 1-bit audio, uniting simple with complex and celebrating the virtuosity of electricity.
As a visual artist, Perich has had solo exhibitions at New York’s bitforms gallery in 2009 and at Mikrogalleriet (in Copenhagen) and Museo Carandente (in Spoleto) in 2010. His Machine Drawings, pen-on-paper works executed by machine, have been described as “elegantly delicate” by BOMB Magazine. His artwork has been shown in group shows at LABoral, in Barcelona; iMAL, in Brussels; MCLA’s Gallery 51 and Greylock Arts, in Massachusetts; the Dactyl Foundation, ABC No Rio, and the Philoctetes Center, in New York), and in a traveling science museum exhibit in Arkansas.
In 2009, Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica gave Perich the Award of Distinction for his composition Active Field (for 10 violins and 10-channel 1-bit music). Rhizome awarded him a 2010 commission for an audio installation with 1,500 speakers. Perich attended the first Bang on a Can Summer Institute in 2002, where his music was performed in the galleries at Mass MoCA. He was artist in residence at Issue Project Room in 2008, at Mikrogalleriet in Copenhagen in 2010, and at the Addison Gallery in Andover, Massachusetts in autumn 2010. He has spoken about his work and taught workshops around the world.
Perich studied math, music and computer science at Columbia University after attending Philips Academy, Andover. More recently, he received a master’s degree in art, music and electronics in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.
These two pieces are part of a continued exploration of the relationship between traditional acoustic instrumentation and primitive 1-bit electronics. Drawing upon theories of computation and my interest in the foundations of mathematics and logic, I work to create music that expresses a formal approach to structure and process, while also appealing to our poetic nature. Theoretical physics has driven much of my work, and provided a profound connection between the abstract world of mathematical logic and the physical world where vibrating air translates to sound.