«Infinite Music»
Brian Eno in Conversation with Thomas Oberender


Thomas Oberender: One consistent aspect of your work is the shift from an object-based understanding of art to a more process-oriented interest in art. And this shift changes a lot: it affects both production methods and presentation styles and alters our understanding of what the artwork actually is. It opens the experience of art a lot more towards the agency of the audience. Works of art are no longer regarded as finished products, but rather situations in a constant state of flux. Everything began, I would say, with your education at Ipswich Art School. What kind of art school was it that you attended in the late 60s?

Brian Eno: I had a very lucky choice of art school. In fact, I originally chose another school, because the well-known art school in my part of England was in a town called Colchester. But my parents didn’t have any money and I couldn’t get a grant from the local education committee to go to Colchester. So, I rather reluctantly ended up going to this other art school, called Ipswich Art School. I went there in 1964 and I was there for two years. It was a very small college and it didn’t really have a good reputation. But it just so happened that at exactly that time a very charismatic teacher, Roy Ascott, had taken over that college. And he had hired a whole lot of new staff, very interesting new people, who were cyberneticians, mathematicians, painters, sculptors and installation artists. They weren’t the kind of people you would normally find in an art school in the 60s. And the whole approach of the college was very surprising to me as a 16-year-old turning up with my little box of paints thinking I was going to do pictures of nudes, if I was lucky. There were no nudes (laughs), we didn’t even use the paints. We were set projects that were very, very different from anything I could imagine at the time. For instance, we were told to go out and buy all the newspapers that were available for a particular day, to find one topic that they all had in common and then make a presentation of that topic but not using language at all.