This is the thirty-third interview in the “Where are we now?” series and consists of selections from my conversation with composer Doug Ovens. Please take a moment to peruse the INTRODUCTION AND INDEX to this series.
Interview with Doug Ovens, composer
at Muhlenberg College
17 August 2010
IA: So what I like to do, generally, is start out by talking specifically about you, your music, your teaching, and then we broaden out and I start asking about larger trends. And I see that you are a great person for that, because you’re involved in a lot of cutting-edge music.
DO: Yes, yes, or as some would like to say, “bleeding edge”—I think that’s more right! Well, I come to this from a direction that is not that rare anymore. It used to seem like it was, but now there are so many people who are kind of like me. Basically, I started as a rock-and-roll drummer. Like many kids growing up today, the music I heard and was familiar with growing up, you could almost divide it into a bipolar experience: There was the music that I experienced in my life, and then there was the stuff I called sort of dismissively “school music.” And I wasn’t really interested in school music, but I was very interested in the music that I thought I was finding on my own.
The only reason that I mention that is that there are some things I kept from that music. I like a certain kind of energy to be present in music, even if music is slow, music can strive for energy. At the same time, the thing that took me away from rock was I began finding even as a very young man, the limitations of that language. It’s a very limited language. Pieces—they’re generally called songs!—are two and a half to three minutes long. The opportunity to explore musical gesture is very restrained, because in rock what’s always driving the song is the words. It’s not about music! A lot of song-based music is really about: it’s about the words! And for people who are really interested in the notes, rock in general kind of shortchanges that part of the brain.
And so that’s what I found myself struggling with. I was more and more frustrated when I was eighteen, nineteen, twenty. I was constantly frustrated. I was really enjoying being a rock-and-roll star, because being a rock-and-roll star did the thing that eighteen-year-old boys care most about, and that is: attract a lot of eighteen-year-old girls! That was the great part. But as I got more and more excited about what music could be, I found myself drawn towards this other music: that thing I had dismissed as “school music.” Because what school music really is about is teaching literacy. One of the things that happens in grade school band and grade school orchestra and grade school chorus is that you’re required to learn to read the language.
We have this very interesting current in our culture that is very staunchly anti-learning. We have this current in American life that stretches into our music, that there is this kind of valuing of the untrained. You hear people saying on the Today Show almost every day: “Isn’t this amazing? This guy doesn’t read a note!” Well, no, it’s really not amazing. If you’ve hung around music at all, for a week and a half, and then listen to what these people do: No, it’s not amazing. It’s just what a lot of people do. But there’s a strain that values this kind of music that is very visceral, very immediate, very short, and about the words.
So a lot of us found ourselves being drawn into the notes and realizing that these pitches are really exciting! We’ve spent the last thousand years inventing all these other instruments that are not electric guitars, that are not keyboards, that are not drum sets: these violins, these violas, these cellos that have been around since about 1500 in pretty much the same shape they’re in today; these trumpets, these clarinets: all of these incredible colors! And so for people who find themselves living in the world where I’m living now, that was the big discovery: there was a whole world of possibility.
So that is sort of my whole backdrop. I came to this whole thing from having played in lots of rock-and-roll bands as a teenager. I actually made my living briefly as a young man playing drums in bars. I played Country and Western. I paid for my Master’s Degree in Composition as a marimba player in a Mariachi band. I’ve done all that kind of stuff. But what I found myself drawn to, and what is really germane today, is the thing I love most, given all the things I do in the world, the one thing I love most, is sitting at a piano with a pencil and big sheets of score paper, writing music for orchestra. Because when we’re writing for the orchestra, we’re writing for one of the most incredible inventions of human thinking. The orchestra is far and away the greatest musical invention of human kind. Period!! And I’m a guy who does computer music, I’ve done electronic instruments. I have rooms full of those instruments. I spend every summer in New York learning the newest instruments. I really like all of these remarkable electronic inventions. Having said all that, though, the single greatest musical invention of humankind is the orchestra.
And of course it really isn’t a single invention; it’s the coming-together of at least 200 years of invention. You know, if we want to find the first pieces we would call orchestra pieces we look to the 1750s. maybe a little earlier. You go back to Bach, but Bach wasn’t really writing for a group that we would recognize as the modern orchestra. But right after Bach, in the early 1700s, this group starts to emerge, and every couple of years, probably some crazy person comes up with some instrument, and it finds its way into the orchestra. And some other instrument gets pushed out of the orchestra. There used to be instruments in the orchestra called serpents. There are no serpents in the orchestra anymore: they’ve been pushed out by clarinets and bassoons and various instruments like that. The orchestra from about 1750 until 2010 has been this constantly evolving organism, which just on every level kind of has within it all of the possibilities that a person can imagine to put into a musical construction. That’s a pretty astounding thing! So when a person is given an opportunity to write for that, I mean, that’s Nirvana!
That’s just really a fantastic thing. I’ve been very lucky; I’ve had about, now, seven or eight opportunities to write for orchestras. The best thing about this opportunity to write for orchestra is that when you’re commissioned, as I have been by the Allentown Symphony, the negative and the positive at the same time is that there’s a date by which I have to have this whole thing done! Because there’s a lot of labor. I’m writing this orchestral piece, this will be about a four-minute fanfare because that’s contractually laid out; otherwise they wouldn’t be able to get me to stop. But to write a four-minute piece for orchestra, I’ll probably send about four months working on the piece. And that four months is working on it sometime every day. And I wrote the Allentown Symphony a cello concerto back in the mid-nineties, I think it was 1996; that piece was about a twenty minutes orchestra piece. That piece took a year of my life, and that was pretty much the only thing I wrote that year. So it’s a tremendous process, relationship, experience, it’s all of these things, opportunity, blessing. It’s really a blessing. I said the negative thing is that by this date I have to have all this labor done, but the plus thing is that by this date, all of these musicians are going to learn my music, come together, and play it for a hall full of humans, bringing to a kind of culmination this entire process. It’s a truly stunning thing, the way this whole process works. I’m doing my work now; by about early December I have to have the piece done and I will hand it over to the conductor, Diane Wittry; by about a month later I have to have the piece in its final form and all of the parts copied; they will then be distributed to the musicians, and then along about, I think it will be March 12th is my premiere; they’ll play the piece.
And one of the most exciting things, actually, is not that date: it’s the two or three days before. Because the two or three days before are the rehearsals. And so the first day I’ll go down there, and you know, I have a really good idea of exactly how it sounds, because I spent a lot of time pounding away at the different parts at the piano, and howling away at the top of my lungs, sort of singing it; so I know, walking in; but still I don’t know. And so that first moment of hearing the orchestra play this thing that I’ve spent the last year of my life laboring over is a really wonderful thing. And then we get to have a little bit of give-and-take; I’ll say, “No, no, no, I need more of this; I need less of you” there might be places where my intention was not clear and I’ll have to clarify something; very likely there won’t be too much of that, because again I’ve been doing this a very long time, I know the notational language, and these people are professionals, they know the notational language. It’ll be more a matter of dealing with 20 different things happening at the same time; which of these things do I want to bring a little more to the forefront? So that’s a very exciting two or three days prior to the premiere.
And then the premier itself, of course, is an incredible time, because, again, I know what is going to happen, but nobody else in the hall does except the people sitting on stage all dressed in black, but the rest of the people sitting in the hall looking the direction I’m looking: they have no idea because it’s a brand new piece! That’s a very cool thing. It’s a very cool thing.
IA: Let’s talk a little technically now. You’ve talked about the limitations you overcame once you learned this great instrumentation that’s out there: these great timbres, these great layers together. Rock music also has a very specific formal structure that it follows, so I wonder if you found that limiting, and it also has a very limited harmonic vocabulary. So can you talk about formal structures and the harmonic language that you use?
DO: Oh, great; thank you! Before I knew anything about how Classical music works, I had heard some Classical music, I had been to some orchestra concerts that just knocked me out, even as a very young child. And it’s a real vivid memory, still. But I didn’t know anything about Classical music, still. But when I started playing rock, when I was about 10, by the time I was 19, I was a really experienced blues player, rock player, and so on. We were a pretty good band. So we’re having a rehearsal one day, and we’re playing the blues. You know, so we’re playing a 12-bar form, right? And I’m the drummer, and I’d played a little guitar, and I know a bit about guitar, and was getting interested in guitar, and I raised this philosophical/existential question about blues. It’s still one of my favorite memories. I was talking to our guitar player, and I said, “What happens, though, if we get to the turn-around, and you don’t want to turn around?” Because that’s the thing, you see? The thing that’s always been true in my music is I’ve always wanted to try to challenge expectations. So in 12-bar blues, you get to that 12th bar, and you’ve got two options; you either do another verse, or you stop! Those are your options. And I didn’t like those options!
So the idea of our band, though, was a pretty radical idea: we took all kinds of top forty tunes and we put them in odd time signatures. So we took the Young Rascals’ song “Good Loving,” which is one of my all-time favorites, and we put the verse in 3/4 [demonstration]—like a jazz waltz. When we got to the chorus, we did it in 4/4, and when we got to the guitar solo, we did it in 5/4. Just to mess with it! And about this time, the Dave Brubeck Quartet came out with “Take Five” in ‘63 or so; somewhere back in then; came out with a new record—this was about ’67 to ’68—called Time Further Out--that record had been called Time Out. On Time Further Out they had a song called “Unsquare Dance” in 7/4 [demonstration]. So what we did, we put some of our songs in 7/4, just for the hell of it, just to see what would happen. We were having great fun, and we all were great players, but we found that we would go out to play sometimes, and we would stick these things in a set, and the poor people who had come to dance would say, “Can’t you just play something simple? Play ‘Louis, Louis’; I don’t care, just none of this weird stuff you’re playing.” So, you know, we were smart enough to know that if you’re in a rock band and you’re being hired, you’re a worker. You’re being hired to do a thing, and if you’re going to do it in good conscience, you give the people who hired you, what they hired you for! But I couldn’t keep doing that, as much as I liked it. I would always do it when I got broke: “I’ll play whatever you want me to play.” But what I really wanted to do is I wanted to experiment.
So what I found was this really interesting paradox, and that was that Classical music, this most traditional of worlds, was actually a world which had an experimental wing!
What happened was—what actually got me into all this; it was my “religious conversion.” I was taking guitar lessons from a guy in Portland, Oregon. I was really lucky to line up with a guy who was a thoughtful musician and a great guitar teacher, but more important than that, he was a very thoughtful musician who was very inquisitive and interested in a lot of things, and so when I started studying with him, I wasn’t interested in learning to read. I didn’t think that was a big deal. What I was interested in was learning to improvise. So I was studying guitar with him, and every week we had this great lesson. He was listening very carefully to the things I was saying. I was a drummer, first, and I actually made money as a drummer. At some point he said to me, “You know, you being a percussionist—you being a drummer and interested in the kind of musical issues you are, you know what you should do? You should go and listen to…” and he gave me a couple of avant-garde composer’s names. One was Edgard Varèse, the guy who wrote “Ionization,” 1931, this piece for 13 percussionists playing about 50 percussion instruments: a mind-blowing piece. (It was just performed in New York last week; it’s actually finally beginning to come out of just the avant-garde after 70 years). But anyway, he said “Listen to Varese; listen to Schönberg; listen to…” and he gave me all these names.
I got stacks of records from the public library. I would take them home and listen to them, and it was just mind-blowing. I was about 20 years old, I’d been playing music since I was 10, so I really thought I knew something. I really did; I really thought I knew something. And I was kind of a shock to find out that I didn’t. It was a really shock to find out that there was this whole universe that I just wasn’t even dimly aware that it existed! I listened to Edgar Verese; dynamite! Amazing! Fantastic! I’d listen to Schönberg—Schönberg made me furious!! If I didn’t have this incredible respect for public property, I would have broken those records. They made me so mad! It was his early piano piece, Op. 11, from about 1906; op 19 from about 1911; the first atonal pieces. Schönberg, if you know the story, Schönberg’s string quartets were premiered in Vienna: there was a riot that broke out; the police had to break up a riot over a string quartet! Well, that’s the way I responded to it! I was furious. I was so mad.
IA: Was this before his 12-tone phase?
DO: This was before his 12-tone music, yes. And actually, in many ways, I still think that this was his most ground-breaking music, because when he went into 12-tone, one of the things that he did, he went into 12-tone partly for a really sensible reason: he wanted the pieces he was composing to have the kind of weight of the Classical masters. So one of the things that the 12-tone row gave him was a long-term generating process that the little tiny aphoristic style couldn’t give him. But the aphoristic style was the style that challenged every preconception in music. So I still think to this day that the music from 1906 to about 1922 is the real radical stuff. Also, I think it’s the most beautiful.
IA: So why did you hate it?
DO: Because at that point I was a 20-yr-old rock star, and I thought he was putting me on! I thought he was flipping me off. It had to be the work of a charlatan. It had to be the work of a fraud. It couldn’t be right! It couldn’t be! To this day the thing I love about that moment is, first of all, why in the world would music affect any human that way? But it did! My life, my universe, my being was challenged all the way to its core. Everything—like the hippies used to say—everything I knew was wrong! But I could see, even in my anger, I could see that this thing that was so shattering, was powerful! Somehow I had to get my head around it. At that moment, I was at this crossroads, I didn’t know how to do that.
So anyway, I come through that moment, and the next piece, I think it was the very next piece I heard—maybe it was a week later, but the very next piece I heard was Belá Bartok's Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion. OK. So I heard this piece, and it’s like half an hour long, and again, I’ve been living in this rock-and-roll world. I’ve been living in this musical world where the length of a musical experience—unless you’re talking about the album version!—but the length of a musical experience is about three minutes. I had been living in the three-minute world. You know, I had been playing in jam bands, I know about that, but… So I listened to this piece, like thirty minutes long. First movement, second movement, third movement. Smoking cigarettes, listening to this piece. Started it over, listened to it a second time. First movement, second movement, third movement. Started it over. I started it a third time—I don’t think I got through it a third time—but at this point, I’ve been listening to this piece for about an hour and a half! I’m getting up to an hour and a half and probably two packs of cigarettes.
At this time, my day job was as a teacher’s aide at Marshall High School in Portland, Oregon. I walked into the principle’s office the next morning and quit my job. And he asked me, “Why are you quitting?” and I said, “Because I’m going to be a composer.” And I said, “I don’t know how to read music, I don’t know which end of a clarinet to blow into, I’ve been playing music for 10 years, but I’ve got to be a composer.” I quit my job. I stayed up all night long for weeks with my guitar charts, trying to memorize what the note-names were. After about a month of that, I went in, I took the theory test, I passed out of fundamentals, I went into theory one, and eight years later I had a Bachelor of Music degree in theory and composition, a Master of Arts in Composition, and a PhD in composition.
When I grew up I learned about Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus; that is my moment. It was that kind of moment in my life. Everything in my life changed. I went from not knowing what a treble clef sign was to having a PhD in Composition.
One of the things this story has continued to do in my life and my teaching is not to make any suppositions about what a student may or may not be able to do based on their background. Their background is irrelevant. What matters is this moment forward, and just exactly how motivated they are. The single biggest thing is motivation.
The thing that Bartok piece did that got me to complete change the direction of my life was that it showed me that musical gesture, all by itself—instrumental music, musical line—is a compelling language that can say everything. In Classical music, there is this recognition that pitches are enough. You don’t need anyone telling you a story. You want that: be a poet. Be a playwright. Be a songwriter. Many people have written that music is the freest of all the arts. Well, when they’re writing that, they’re writing it about instrumental music, because instrumental music had this freedom from verbal—not just verbal meaning, but verbal limitation. A word has meaning: it has all this positive stuff, but it also has a border: it only means so much. So words are as limiting as they are expansive. My bias is: we all talk too much. Clearly, I talk too much! But in our world, we talk too much. We talk to hide what we think, to keep people from finding out what we believe.
IA: Did you study a specific school of composition? And then if the answer is yes, how much have you stayed in it?
DO: I haven’t stayed in it. I did, actually, one of the things that –when Bartok pulled me in, interestingly it wasn’t Bartok that—I told you Schönberg made me so mad.
DO: But… that’s where I ended up hanging out my first three years, was with Schönberg. Actually, I was very lucky to get to study with a guy who studied with Schönberg. I studied with a guy named Roger Nixon, who’s mainly known as a concert band composer. Nixon was really an interesting guy; much more conservative in his compositional style than me. But he knew Schönberg, he had studied with Schönberg, he had talked to Schönberg! Schönberg was where I started. What I really liked when I got through that—I had to fight it out with Schönberg, a real Oedipal thing or something.
IA: Anxiety of influence?
DO: Yeah. When I first heard this stuff, I really thought that---here people now who go to an orchestra concert and they hear an avant-garde piece, and they think the reason they don’t understand it is because the composer is an idiot and that this composer is a charlatan. That’s the same response I had because I couldn’t hear the logic of the language.
The first two years you just work through learning the world of traditional harmony. So I learned that. I found that fascinating. Secondary dominants, modulation to distantly related keys, augmented chords—man, this is magic! But it’s also a magic that has that same blue-type of limitation! I use these seven pitches, not those five. Well, at some point you start saying, just as Wagner did and just as Schumann did and just as Chopin did, no no no no, I’ll use all 12. but they kept one foot in that world. But they’re leaning more and more out of that world. Finally you get to the point where Schönberg says “I don’t need those stinking key signatures,” and so you get to that point and you go, “Wow! Arnold! Yeah!” So I follow Arnold, and I stared writing 1-tone pieces, and I really liked it, but I got to this point where the whole world of 12-tone seemed to me to have a kind of aesthetic blind spot or an aesthetic weakness. And the aesthetic weakness was this: if you must use all 12 pitches in a certain amount of time, we call it chromatic, which means colorful, but it ends up being uncolorful, because of the sameness of it all.
So after I’d written about 5 or 10 12-tone piece, I started to realize that this is not doing what I want my music to do. I’m writing in this style, I’m writing in this style, I’m in this Schönberg thing, I’m in this Schönberg thing, but I’m messing around with loosening up the language. I come across this guy named Hauer. Hauer came up with this idea of totally chromatic tropes. And basically everybody thought he was a boob and his idea wasn’t nearly as powerful as Schönberg’s. And it wasn’t. But I liked it. Hauer says that Schönberg says that you have to keep the linearity of the serial order constant. He didn’t really say that, but that’s kind of the basic idea. Hauer said, no no no: take these six pitches and these six pitches, mess the order up any way you want, just keep this six together and this six together and use all 12. I really liked that, because I liked the notion of returning freedom. Beethoven didn’t sit at the piano (generally), and say, “OK, my scheme says the next note needs to be an A-flat.” Although he kind of did! But he basically didn’t. so I wanted to get back to this idea that you put all this stuff in your head and then your ear drives the piece. You write what you want to hear.
All of my composition teachers were very different, and all of them had, in a sense, come to their own point of recognition that we’re living in this totally chromatic world, but we each have this freedom to do whatever we want with that freedom. It’s like Schönberg was my Dad and I hadn’t yet gotten to this place where I could flip him off yet. And I had to get to that place, but I just had to work through it, because I knew that what he had done was so big that you couldn’t leave it without coming to terms with it.
You know what a major third is? OK. Applebaum had all these piece with lovely major thirds in them. It was this silly, simple thing…. I’m playing Ed’s music, and he’s writing all these lovely major thirds for vibes. All this other chromatic stuff is going on, but there’s all these moments with these beautiful major thirds. In Schönberg, he avoided things like third because he was trying to craft this new world where we weren’t implying the presence of a tonic. That’s real hard to do! And in retrospect, we’re all saying, “And why bother? Tonics are good.” But again, I can’t criticize Schönberg. He was too brave. What he did was too brave. But those thirds were just revelation. I’m a student, I’m mimicking these thirds, I’m putting them in the midst of stuff. And then I’m coming to this realization that what I am interested in is really kind of a yin and yang notion, because at the same time, the big deal in new music was Philip Glass.
IA: I was just going to ask you how much you listened to him, because I can hear it in some of your pieces.
DO: Yes, well, the thing is, I hate his music. But again, I really admire Philip Glass! There’s a definite Philip Glass influence in my music, because I steal from everywhere. I’m an equal opportunity thief…. There’s a story about Philip Glass, and it’s really a story about courage. Philip Glass was a pretty successful young composer in the international totally chromatic style, who totally turned his back on that to do this other thing. That’s brave! That’s brave. When you can simply follow your ears and do what you ear is telling you to do—I just don’t like what his ear was telling him to do.
IA: You have a different ear.
DO: I have a different ear. My ears are all messed up. so, in answer to your question: I started in this totally chromatic thing, and I picked up all kinds of influences along the way (one of my influences is actually a piece rather than a person: Lucas Foss’s “Time Cycle”; Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. How can anybody get past that? It’s a very hard piece to get past. 100 year old piece, very hard to get past.) So I worked through Schönberg and if as an undergraduate it was almost like being 10 years old in the 19th century and having to pick Brahms or Wagner; in the late 20th century, you have to pick Schönberg or Stravinsky, and I went Schönberg. But I found myself working more and more towards Stravinsky, because what Stravinsky brings back in every one of his different styles, even in a funny way in his very very late music after Schönberg died and he let himself write some 12-tone music; what Stravinsky lets himself do, though is: always have a center present. and I think that’s maybe what you hear when you hear some Philip Glass in my music: Philip Glass is all about always having the center present. Stravinsky’s all about the center being apparent. Schönberg was about fighting the center. I like the center. I think we like a center, but I think we also like to constantly challenge the center.
If I have a problem with the Minimalists generally (I like Steve Reich’s music much more than Glass because he has much more rhythmic interest) is that I really like music which is developmental. They’re not interested in development. That’s fine. You don’t have any business not liking somebody for something they don’t do. Like or dislike what they do do!
But I really like music that in some way is about the idea of organic growing. That’s where I would say my music came out in the end. I write music that embraces Schönberg’s discovery. I think there’s a real beauty in some of the gem-like little gestures that he wrote. But what I want to do is to take those little gem-like things as little eruptions that then have a growth that my ear finds logical. So often what I found in the 2nd Viennese School and atonal composers generally after the 2nd Viennese School, Milton Babbit, Donald Martina (whom I also studied with briefly; like him a lot, really crazy guy) is that the 12-tone structure almost exists to defeat expectations. I don’t want to defeat expectations! I want to set up expectations, and then I want to fulfill expectations—but with a twist.
IA: What about your fanfare? Do you want to just describe what that will be?
DO: Oh, sure, sure.
IA: When I talked to Diane Wittry, she said, I think, there are five fanfares commissioned this year. She said your music is the most complex of all the composers.
IA: No, that’s true!
IA: So how is that going to work? What am I going to hear?
DO: Can you read music?
DO: Well, there it is! Turn around!
Here he showed me the score in progress
DO: Diane will probably be pleased. It looks like pretty complex score, but it’s actually going to be kind of simple. Here’s the simplicity: This happens [brass], then this happens [strings, etc.] ; This happens [brass], then this happens [strings, etc.] ; This happens [brass], then this happens [strings, etc.] ; So there’s a kind of a real conscious effort, where what I’ve been trying to do in my more recent music, is I’m trying to sculpt what I think is a really beautiful moment that is not complicated by other things going on. There’s a scalar passage [he played it]. It’s kind of Locrian-modish; it’s kind of pentatonic, but basically what’s happening here is I’m using seven pitches a little bit like an A-minor scale, but with a B-flat in it. So it’s kind of like Locrian mode. My music has gotten a little bit more momentarily diatonic. At this moment, you could understand this whole moment as one scale. It’s seven notes. At this other moment, there’s a different seven notes. So it’s not fully chromatic. Nixon said a really good thing to me when I was still writing 12-tone music. I brought a piece in and one of the lines was a cello line. It was a very virtuosic, pizzicato thing. And Nixon looked at that and he said, “You know, a cellist can do that, and you’re writing for a good cellist. She can do that. But that’s not what a cello does best. Write gratefully for the cello.” And I just loved that. He said that to me probably in 1977 and I remembered that for the rest of my life. “Write gratefully.” This is for the first trumpet; this is for the second trumpet; I hope they just have a gas playing that. This is their fanfare. And I hope they just go, “Man, that’s fun to play.” That’s what I’m shooting for. And I hope the violists really like this line, and I hope the clarinetist really likes this line, and I hope that when the trumpets come back, they go, “Oh, boy, we get to do more!” So basically the first several pages area fanfare duo by the trumpets, with a responding gesture in the horns, duet of horns, duet of trombones, duet of trumpets. So there’s this succession of duets in the brass. It’s virtuosic, but at the same time I think it lies very well on the instrument, and it’s very fanfarish. A pretty significant chunk of the opening of the piece is these little duets.
IA: I like your title: “Endless Possibilities.” That’s kind of what you’ve been talking about all day.
DO: Well, that’s exactly right, and that’s how I think about all this. People have asked me what I think my music is about of what I’m interested in, and the short answer is: Human freedom. That’s what I’m interested in. that’s what I think art should be about. Art should be about, essentially, illuminating the world of the possible. and it’s always growing. It’s always bigger. All we can ever do it point to something and say: “There it is!”