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Camille Altay | Studio Visit

Brooklyn, NY

November 2013

Along with being trained as a painter, Camille is a lifelong student of electronic and experimental music. Her visual work finds analogy with field recording, soundscape and electronic synthesis by applying a range of manual and mechanical processes to digital snapshots of landscape. The visual record is fed back on itself, oscillated and bent, glazed in oil paint or printed in layers and subtle phases until its meaning becomes one of transformation. The work is a continuous experiment in the generation of new forms out of old signals - forms which are untethered to the past, and exert the gravitational force of a truly unique and pressing now.

Camille is devoted to the study of the intersections of art, music, science and technology, and when not in her own studio she provides technical assistance to students at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York.


Tell us a little bit about what you're doing in your work now.

I have been digging into all sorts of classic artistic tropes - bodies and the abstraction of movement, and natural landscapes - to figure out where newness comes from, and how to create the conditions for something new to occur now. Right now I am experimenting with methods similar to those used in signal processing as a way to generate new work from a snapshot I took in Point Reyes in California. Sometimes I will paint or draw on top of these images because they seem to want to interact, sometimes they seem happy to be left alone. I’m interested in finding the point where one thing evolves naturally and branches off into another - images that contain the instructions for the next form they will take. A good visual example of this is Muybridge’s photos of Human and Animal Locomotion.

Did you have breakfast today?

If you count butter in my coffee as breakfast.

What is your favorite quote?

“So, buttons on your underwear.”

What kind of medium/camera are you using these days?

Sine waves, gesso, graphite, instagram, oil paint, digital printer, opaque projector. Soon, goat skin parchment and hopefully an oscilloscope instead of a computer.

When do you make your best work?

After I eat steak.

What is your favorite color?

A hard question… right now probably graphite - though I suppose its more of a sheen…

What is your favorite instrument?

Another tough question… Maybe a Hammond organ or an Arp 2600 synthesizer. Or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Or my dad’s piano.

What do you think photography does to a moment or place?

I think we’re all still trying to figure that one out, which is why its so fascinating.

What is your least favorite sound?

The high tone a TV makes when its left on. Or that car alarm that cycles through the different beeps and bwoops. Car alarms in general. TVs in general. Also, angle grinders.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Anything thats made with lots of real cream.

What is the one thing you wouldn't eat?

I had the opportunity to eat monkey brains and couldn’t bring myself to do it. It seemed wrong.

What is your biggest demon?


What is your happy place? 

Gramaphone records in Chicago.

What do you love most about traveling?

Being lost. And trains. But not at the same time.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

A print my friend Nick Wallin gave me that says “Boo Fuckin’ Hoo” and has a cartoon of a guy with his guts spilling out.

What puts you to sleep at night?

1001 Arabian Nights.

What would you draw a lover?

A ghost with a thought bubble that says “have a great day boo!”

Whats your ideal life at 60?

I am hoping everything becomes cordless by then.

Where is your ideal life?

Somewhere near the people I love, next to a river, with plenty of stone and trees.

What do you most admire in a man?


What do you most admire in a woman?


Who is your favorite artist?

At the moment I’m kind of glued to Muybridge’s Human and Animal Locomotion and some drawings and writings of Henri Michaux, and I’ve been listening to David Lynch’s new records. They go well together.

Why do you make art?

To try to figure out why I make art. (This sounds like I am evading the question, but its the truth.)

Who is your hero?

My grandmother.


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