conducted by hamish mackintosh

Russell Mills is an artist/ designer and a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art. He has just released a CD of his music Pearl and Umbra featuring collaborations with David Sylvian, Peter Gabriel and Robin Guthrie

What computers do you work with?

For design work we use an Apple Mac 8600, an iMac and a G3 laptop. For sound work Tom Smyth (my collaborator and engineer) and I have primarily used Cubase VST with PC and Logic Audio with Mac.

How important is technology to your art/design work?

In the primary stages of any image making, technology is not important to me. As an editorial tool it becomes increasingly important, its strength being that of speed. I'm generally wary of the trap that many fall into of perceiving technology as the be all and end all of any creative process; it is nothing without human impulse and idiosyncracies.

How important is it in the creation of your music?

As the music on the Undark - Pearl & Dream album tended to grow from a contextual base, technology became essential in the collaging and editing of appropriate sounds, but in its primary stages its usefulness was only exciting when it threw up occasional oblique pointers. That it can create sounds that are simply weird is of no great importance.

How do you feel about computer-generated/based art?

While computer generated art is potentially phenomenal, I find most of what I see to be numbingly boring as its practitioners attempt to merely replicate what has already been done in another medium. This is compounded by an over-reliance on the use of stock library photos which leads to a lazy mediocrity. A combination of flabby thinking, lazy application and a lack of risk on behalf of those who commission work has led to a plethora of Photoshopaholics. I miss the visceral properties of paint and real matter in flux: the alchemy of paint and its autonomy can't be rivalled.

Any favourite websites?

Most of the ones I've seen are pretty pointless, tiresome, and are no more than digital rags for trainspotters with nothing better to do with their lives. Peoplesound ( and musicunsigned ( main.html) - I'm curious to see how they evolve and whether the acts that they are brokering will succeed or have any effect on the major record corporations.

What's your view of the internet?

Enormously important in its potential but at present I suspect that it might be in its honeymoon period, fraught with misunderstandings, mistimings and awkward fumblings.

What are you working on?

CD art and design for Bill Laswell, the Tony Williams Lifetime, Graham Haynes and the re-issue of my first Undark project for the Bella Union label (Spring 2000).

Interviewed by Hamish Mackintosh. GUARDIAN 04/11/1999 P4