Joel Ryan could serve as a paradigm
of a strain of American inventor/composers. Starting from
a scientific rather than a musical education, he moved into
music by degrees from physics via philosophy, studying with
Herbert Marcuse, and Albert Hofstadter, and instrumental
study with among others Mexican film composer and guitarist
Jose Barroso and Ravi Shankar. This was in California at
a time when it was possible to regularly attend performances
by Subbulakshmi and Jimmy Hendrix, John Cage and Harry Partch,
Thelonius Monk and John Coltrane, experiences which released
him forever from the spell of academic modernism. He enrolled
at the infamous Mills College Center for Contemporary Music
near San Francisco where, by way of composers Robert Ashley
and David Behrman he joined the emerging community of artist
hackers which helped define Silicon Valley. Ryan sought
to bring a concreteness to digital electronic media through
the intelligent touch of the performer. Performance was
the essential missing ingredient and he became a pioneer
in the design and playing of real-time interactive digital
signal processing instruments.
He has collaborated extensively
with composers and artists such as Evan Parker, George Lewis,
Bill Forsyth, FM Uitti, Steina Vasulka, Jerry Hunt, Michel
Waisvisz and ArtAngel. Formerly a Research Associate at
the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories of the University of
California, he has taught philosophy, physics, and mathematics.
He currently works at STEIM in Amsterdam, tours with the
Frankfurt Ballet and is Docent at the Institute of Sonology.
His music has been performed in the Theater Chatelet in
Paris, the Concertgebau Amsterdam, the Akadamie Der Kunst
and VolksTheater in Berlin, the Kitchen in New York and
at the Alameda Festival in London. Most recently he has
collaborated with William Forsyth on EIDOS/TELOS, Tight
Roaring Circle, Sleepers Guts and Kammer Kammer for the
Frankfurt Ballet; and with James McDonald on Roberto Zucco
for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Other works include The
Number Readers, Hat Moon Joy, and The Effect of Noise on
the Sleep of Children.
Joel Ryan wrote the essay MuViz - Visualization Notes for Making Art of Databases (V2_, 2003).