404.zero is the pure generative art collective of Kristina Karpysheva and Aleksandr Letsius. Melding code and math into complex shape-shifting installations and audiovisual performances, 404.zero’s work reflects their transitory experiences in life and their fastidious skills sharpened by years of creating and experimenting within the realms of generative audiovisual art. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, Kristina and Aleksandr have taken their mesmerizing A/V works as 404.zero all over the world. I was able to talk to Kristina and Aleksandr over email after I experienced their “JetLag” performance at Mutek in Montréal during the first night of A/Visions. The visuals, while purely digital, seemed as though they were breathing like living organisms. Their pulsating drones further propelling an out of body experience. Notions of space and time melt away as you become fully encompassed within their work, drifting to another realm.
Boston Hassle: I was curious about how you began working within these realms of audio/visual performance, what type of work were you doing before forming 404.zero?
404.zero: We were nothing before 404. It was kind of humility. Of course, we were making a lot of work behind “now”. A long time ago it was architecture, design, painting, light installations, etc and sometimes it gives us some satisfaction. But we were feeling all time something wrong. Around these days we meet each other. One day we just quit all.
We were making installations and visuals and of course we were not satisfied with the sound around us and we realize to spend all our money on modulars and start to produce our music and sound design. We bought one case of Eurorack and one case Buchla. It was a nice day.
Boston Hassle: How did you begin working with each other? How has 404.zero evolved through your time working together?
404.zero: We just started working together. Our first project was “No Time. No Future. I am here. RIP.” This is installation with lasers.
It was fast and simple. Without any issues, emotions, and questions. It was comfortable.
We spend most of the time trying new and old approaches, algorithms, ideas. And it is most of our life.
But from time to time we just quit everything to do something that we dreamed to dive in.
Boston Hassle: What are some of the central ideas or philosophies behind your project?
Boston Hassle: What do you hope that people experience in your work?
404.zero: Death experience.
Boston Hassle: Can you speak a little on your process? How are you creating the visuals and sounds for JetLag? What is the underlying force driving this piece?
404.zero: We are working with Touchdesigner for creating visuals and with modulars for sound. We have no base or home, all the time we are traveling around the world and most of the time we are in Jetlag. We didn’t do something special for Jetlag live and there is not any idea, it is just our feelings. We want to create something new, this is our force driving.
Boston Hassle: How do you create such a symbiosis between your audio and visual? Are both processes woven into each other simultaneously or does one aspect come first and then influence the other?
404.zero: Its depends on all the time. Sometimes visuals analysis produce our sounds sometimes sounds analysis produce visuals, sometimes this is symbiosis. We didn’t use any samples or footage, just math and code.
Boston Hassle: I understand that you create your software and hardware for your performance? Could you speak a little about this?
404.zero: From time to time we make special tools for special boring tasks. One was Zerror – is a kind of preset manager with the ability to mix presets while performing. It saves tons of our time and let us focus on creation but not on managing control parameters.
Boston Hassle: What are some new projects that you are working on for the future?
404.zero: We have recorded our music album in Iceland at Greenhous Studio. This is our first album with a great engineer (Francesco Fabris) and with the all-analog recording process. Gonna publish it soon.
Thanks for the great article. 404.zero is doing some amazing work. Looking forward to catching their live AV set again soon.