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Michael Pisaro

What makes artistic collaboration work?

There’s no formula. One thing I have learned with each good collaboration is that it is different from all the others. It’s a bit like love. Something should come from a collaboration that neither could foresee without the other.

How important is the context, in which your work is performed, to you?

I think of it as a compositional feature, but one that cannot always be determined by me or the score I write. I try to give indications, but every environment is so complex that it will inevitably require judgements made by the people who are there doing it. I do not like “dead” (or stable or fixed) contexts, and generally like it when performers and presenters think through the options in a broad enough way that novel solutions can occur. (We once had a very nice series of concerts in LA in a cold storage construction that was open to the sky.)

Is music science? Why, or why not?

It is not a science – not even the music of Alvin Lucier (which I love). Music can have something to do with science, as (for example) Hermann von Helmholtz demonstrated. But they are after different things, as a glance at an acoustics journal will confirm. I agree with Deleuze that science creates “functions” and art creates “percepts.“


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