William Duckworth/Electronic Music Foundation Interview August 2004
EMF: What is Cathedral? How do you describe it?
Duckworth: I have both long and short answers for that. The short answer is that it is an on-going, interactive, work of music and art designed specifically for the Web. Media artist Nora Farrell and I created it.
EMF: And the long answer?
Duckworth: The longer answer involves a description of the whole Cathedral Project, and its three primary components-the website itself, which features a variety of interactive musical, artistic, and text-based experiences, all focused on 5 mystical moments in time; the PitchWeb, which is one of the virtual instruments designed for the site to allow listeners to play together online; and The Cathedral Band, a group of improvising musicians that gives periodic live performances from venues around the world, during which our global PitchWeb players frequently sit in.
EMF: How did you think of this project? When did it begin?
Duckworth: Nora and I had our first talks about the project in Amsterdam in March 1996, talking about the Internet and what we might be able to do with it artistically. When we came back to New York we began working on Cathedral immediately, but it didn't actually go online until June 10, 1997.
EMF: You're working in such a new medium on the Web, what's the artistic concept of Cathedral and how do you express it online?
Duckworth: The Web presented me with a unique way to experiment with the concept of asynchronous time, something I'd long been interested in exploring. There are, after all, only a few ways that we can escape the limitations of time. Experiencing art, particularly online, is one of these ways. And with Cathedral, because there is no fixed beginning, middle or end, there is less of an emphasis on location and less of a need for everyone to coexist in the same physical space. As Cathedral slowly unfolds, there are, all along the way, a myriad of points in which players can influence the outcome, and events are allowed to inform other events as the piece continues to grow.