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Tim Perkis

Associated since the late '80s with recordings of avant-garde improvisation involving live electronics, Tim Perkis has made a complex series of contributions to society that go far beyond twiddling knobs. In what he describes as a "checkered career as a researcher and engineer," Perkis has designed science and music museum displays in San Francisco, Toronto, and Seattle; created a type of robot gear for conducting auctions; consulted on multimedia art for the San Francisco Art Commission as well as the San Francisco airport; and invented a new apparatus for video and sound production as well as miscellany consolidated under the enhanced title of "scientific experimental apparati."

Although the latter sounds like it might make for a pretty interesting gig, the series of accomplishments listed above are a world apart, if philosophically connected, with Perkis' career as a performer. He is one of the most interesting of the live electronic and computer sound performers whose works have been presented over the last two decades throughout the avant-garde hotbeds of North America, Europe, and Japan. If a performance that is not boring can be said to "have life," then the following description -- provided by Perkis himself -- makes greater sense than the usual pretentious grant-speak: "His (Perkis') work has largely been concerned with exploring the emergence of lifelike properties in complex systems of interaction."

Improvisers who explore both complexity and interaction have sought out Perkis. He has performed and recorded with pianist Chris Brown, saxophonist John Butcher, guitarist Fred Frith, percussionist Gino Robair, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, among many others. He has started up his own or cooperative ensembles such as the League of Automatic Music Composers, the Hub, Rotodoti, and the Natto Trio -- not to forget the wonderful Fuzzybunny. As if he didn't have enough to do in his lab, Perkis has established himself as one of those unique musicians who are brave enough to write about the scene, publishing articles in The Computer Music Journal, Leonardo, and Electronic Musician. He has been composer-in-residence at Mills College in Oakland, CA, where he resides. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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