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Mouse Maze

Laurie Spiegel's intricate website is a marvel of interconnection

By Val Hall

FOLLOWING THE instructions of my Artificial Intelligence in Music professor, I went web hunting for information regarding the brilliant underground composer Laurie Spiegel. What I found was Spiegel's www.retiary.org, a collection of eclectic and provocative art, music, philosophy and software.

Laurie Spiegel--who has always viewed the computer as a new and powerful folk-instrument--founded the NYU Computer Music Studio and became famous in '80s rock circles for the Music Mouse, a computer/music interface that transforms even the most hopeless musical novice into a composer of large-scale electronic orchestrations.

The experience of any exploration through the retiary's ample selection of pages and links is like being ricocheted around in some vast intellectual pinball game. The majority of subjects are categorized through anagrams of "retiary" and "org." By selecting "Ayre," you are presented with a Spiegel piano piece of the same name and style. Clicking "terra" yields a range of biological links and environmentalist images through systematic definitions of the Latin word for earth. Everything from theories of art to extensive information on the rescue and breeding of fancy rodents (think Music Mouse) is addictively accessible. Spiegel's own algorithmic compositions--galaxies of sound that swell and recede with glacial momentum--are also available for those looking to lose themselves in a universe of lush timbres.

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From the February 28-March 7, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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