Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Music/Sound 1996

Paul DeMarinis

  • 1996 Grants to Artists
  • Music/Sound
  • Visual and Sound Artist
  • Born Cleveland, OH, 1949
  • Lives in Palo Alto, CA
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

My work often traverses untrodden areas of communication technology where the interplay of meaning, materiality and encoding dance 'round in figures that suggest the uneasy struggles and yearnings that underlie our officially sanctioned notions of utility, efficiency and consumer desirability. I mean to pose questions about the world we have created, to ask how material devices weave their way into our personal relationships, our understanding of the physical universe and our origins, as well as our notions of possible futures.

For most of my career I have focused on a core group of ideas and images: the human voice and it simulacra, electronic and mechanical systems of encoding and decoding, and, for lack of a better term, devices of wonder. These underlying themes unify my work across seemingly diverse media and have served to propel my intellectual and artistic life into new areas. It has been this wide variety of interests and activities that has made it possible for me to create the major works of recent years—works that combine visuals and sound, interactivity and wonder. In these works I aim to suggest a view of the historical technological imagination that will offer the viewer unique insights into the way that scientific thought and technological products circulate as a living currency in our aesthetic, social and unconscious lives. The materials I use are often unconventional—talking fire, musical holograms, and melodic water.

- 2014


Paul DeMarinis has been making noises with wires, batteries and household appliances since the age of four. One of the first artists to use microcomputers, DeMarinis has worked since the 1970s in the areas of interactive software, synthetic speech, noise, and obsolete or impossible media.

DeMarinis has created installations, performances, and public artworks throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia at venues such as Shaffy Theatre in Amsterdam, The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Kitchen, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His large-scale public artworks have been shown at Park Tower Hall in Tokyo, the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Expo 1998 in Lisbon, and the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport.

DeMarinis created music for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and has taught computer, video, and audio art at Mills College, Wesleyan University, San Francisco State University, and New York State College of Ceramics. He received a B.A. in Music and Filmmaking from Antioch College and an M.F.A. from Mills College in Electronic Music and Recording where he studied with Robert Ashley and Terry Riley. He is a Professor in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University.

Two bird cages, one in the further front and one in the back, have fires lighted blue inside of them. Next to the birdcage furthest behind a small red tank is situated linked to a cable connected to the bottom of the cage. A brick wall sits behind the two cages.

Installation view of FCPA-supported Firebirds, 2004.

Grind Snaxe Blind Apes, 1997.
Four figures clad in dark clothes stand underneath transparent colorful umbrellas on a wooden runway. Rain falls atop them from machineries hanging from the ceiling.

Installation view of RainDance (sound installation), 1998.