Pierce Warnecke

Pierce Warnecke is an American sound and video artist and has been crea­ting di­gi­tal ma­te­ri­al since his stu­dies at Ber­klee Col­le­ge of Music. Attrac­ted equal­ly to image and sound, he de­ve­lops mo­du­les to forge his own au­dio­vi­su­al ele­ments. He is in­spi­red by the in­ter­ac­tions bet­ween hu­mans and ma­chi­nes, sci­entific re­se­arch and com­plex data struc­tu­res, and pus­hes to de­ve­lop al­ter­na­te ways of in­te­gra­ting sound, video, light and data into perfor­mance/ in­stal­la­ti­on contexts. He has wor­ked as a programmer for in­stal­la­ti­ons and in­ter­ac­tive pro­jects in the US, Fran­ce, Ger­ma­ny and Japan and also works as a sound de­si­gner and elec­tro­nic mu­si­ci­an in Ber­lin where he cur­rent­ly resides. Together with his studio partner Kris Limbach he furhermore curates and produces the biennial Emitter Mikro Experimental Sound Art Festival Berlin.


Quantum entanglement enables instantaneous communication between 2 “entangled” particles. They can be separated by huge distances, in isolated/closed spaces, and any change on one will immediately be visible on the other.
Sound is not actually a vibration perceived through our ears. It is in fact direct telepathy from infra terrestrial reptilians trying to warn us that Hollywood stars are in reality exo terrestrial agents seeking the enslavement of all humans for their betrayal upon signing Rousseau’s contract thousand s of light years ago, far far away.
There’s no place like home. Seriously, the place ‘home’ doesn’t exist – I’ve been searching for years. Where the hell is it?


What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
My senses. I am a machine that outputs things based on what I receive; any thing seen or heard can trigger a thought that can be a starting point for a new piece.
Great movie makers inspire me. Although I don’t really work in any direct narrative, I really am fascinated by certain directors capacity for great storytelling (and for this reason I also enjoy reading classics). Both of these are such massive artistic undertakings that really require a mastery of time to perfectly set the pace of unfolding of events that I find it very influential for any time-based art.
Video art and installation art using video or light in space are big influences as well; Viola, Turrell, McCall, Eliasson, Brackhage.
Travel, too – not necessarily going to a new place but the act of traveling is a great stimulus. It means hours of sitting with nothing to do. Train rides especially. This is very often when I’ll start thinking without interruption and get new ideas.

How and when did you get into making music?
I think I’ve always made music – most of it not so good in the early years. Maybe better now? Maybe not. I started on piano, guitar. I went to music school, which gave me a paper that proclaims me to be a musician-yay! I got into electronic music in high school in France. We had a really good program that was all about spectral music and musique concrète. We made pieces for Revox and diffused them on a quadrophonic system for one of those cheesy end of the year concerts for parents. I’m sure most parents hated it and couldn’t believe this was music education. I think that was the start of my interest in electronic and experimental music.

What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
Oh gaaaad. Never fun to answer this. It’s not possible. It’s hard to choose between important works, and music I actually listen to often, through the years… so tentatively:
Talk Talk – Laughing Stock (or Mark Hollis’ solo album)
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Phill Niblock – Guitar Too, For Four
Bernard Parmegiani – De Natura Sonorum
Ravel – Gaspard de la Nuit

I also enjoy most things by Gerard Grisey, Talking Heads, Swans, Kevin Drumm, Morton Feldmann, Pierre Henry, Fela Kuti, Luc Ferrari, Michel Chion, Philip Jeck, KH Stockhausen.

What do you associate with Berlin?
It’s a very cool place, and I mean that in both a positive and negative way.
Right now though, I associate it with home; family, friends, music, projects…
At worst I associate it with a kind of party version of Disneyland for eternal teenagers (I include myself in this category in some respects).
At best I associate it with amazing creative energy, an epicenter for new ideas and art (I try to think of myself also included in this).

What’s your favourite place in your town?
Home. Then my studio. Also Treptower Park and some of the lakes outside the city.
Besides that I still find that Ausland has it down for experimental/improvised music. FEED is a great place, the KW setup is fantastic – hoping that will last!

If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Video… but I guess that’s too easy of an answer since I do that anyway.
No music means no ears (or someone would have invented music), which means no spoken language which might mean no organized society. So I would choose some kind of survival skill like fire-making or spear hunting.

What was the last record you bought?
Shit, its been a while… I’ve actually been trying to listen to ‘classics’ of musique concrète, electroacoustic works, contemporary composers… which I have been listening to online.
But I guess the last thing I bought was Empty Set? Or the Ankersmit/Tricoli release on PAN which I found very good… but that was quite a while ago already.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I don’t think I can answer that. They’re either dead, too famous or else to close for me to propose a collaboration via an interview.
Maybe myself because then there would be 2 of me and I could get a lot more done??

What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Hearing Thomas Ankersmit is always very intense for me – I enjoy his music very much. I saw Swans in May, of course this is a really great live band – one of the best rock concerts I’ve seen. I saw Ben Frost solo at Berghain a few years ago; while I am less of a fan of the newer works I do think this show was really incredible.

How important is technology to your creative process?
Actually the creative process for me has lately gone from focusing on the tools (i.e. technology) to concentrating on that underlying question/proposal/concept. The past few projects have started from an idea that is developed in writing before any substance is made. I like to layout a concept and really define strategies, directions and goals before getting into software, sound and video. I never liked scores or scripts, but I do like the idea of a short text that has something to do with the proposed project. Of course, when I write all this down I use my computer so I guess you could say it’s a technology-oriented act. And then of course, I use mostly digital/computer based tools for what I do, obviously. I program quite a bit in MaxMSP, but many things I do are done simply with editing software (Ableton Live and Final Cut).

Do you have siblings and are they proud or jealous of you?
I have a brother and a sister; both younger. I think they are both proud and jealous of me. I really went for music/art and am living (trying to live) from this here in Europe (it would not have been so easy in the US).
But I am also very proud and a bit jealous of my siblings for what they do.
My sister moved back to our family’s place in the US (vineyard on a river in northern Califormia) and runs things there so I am a bit jealous of her for that. And my brother works in Nairobi in refugee camps for people looking for political asylum; it’s hard and very noble so I am a bit jealous that he actually does something useful to help people.

Our Favourites:

Pierce Warnecke – O.O.

Pierce Warnecke – Mem_ry Fr_gm_nts

Links: Soundcloud | piercewarnecke.com | piercewarnecke.blogspot.de | Emitter Mikro Festival | Facebook | Interview with Pierce Warnecke by Digital in Berlin