Jeremy Hanson-Finger: We normally think of the spreadsheet as an office tool, something the federal government uses. When I was 19, I worked for the Navy and spent a summer filling in coloured boxes in an Excel spreadsheet. It was 20,000 lines long. That’s what I think of when I think of spreadsheets. An Excel workbook, however, can be a really creative tool not just for organizing information that already exists, but also for creating something new. So my question is, do you find you use spreadsheets more to contain information or create it?
Kristel Jax: I recently used a spreadsheet to index samples for my band’s album (pictured above). I had 30 hours of found audio I needed cut to a manageable amount — some files were three minutes long and some were 20. I needed to be able to say, “Okay, I want to use this file from 5:00 to 5:36 because it includes this,” without cutting each file as I went along, since that would mean having tons of programs open. So I used my spreadsheet to locate things. One way I organized was colour-coding everything, and using particular words that meant something to me. After I’d finished a few rows, I realized it was this really intense thing of its own. The words I was using were very emotional words, so it kind of became this spreadsheet of terror.
Jeremy: When I first saw your spreadsheet, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. It seemed like its own art project — a structure of unsettling feelings with time notes.
Kristel: Because I was working with so much material, I think I had to make it engaging. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten through. Sometimes I’d have to listen to a sample five or six times to pinpoint what I wanted to hold onto. The idea that I was creating something of its own also helped. I work with my partner, Mark, and would be sending him things and be like, “Oh, look at this. It looks strange.”
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