(- && -)

^ select awards

I am grateful for the following support:

  • McKnight Foundation Composer Fellowship (2020)
  • Jerome Foundation Artist Fellowship (2019-2020)
  • Bell Museum Showcase Artist Commission (2019-2020);
  • Northern Art(ists) on the Verge Commission (2018)
  • Tweed Museum of Art Artist Commission (2017-2018)
  • Duluth Depot Foundation Artist of the Year (2017)
  • Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in Media (2017, 2014, 2012)
  • Minnesota State Arts Board Creative Support for Individuals (2022, 2023)
  • Jerome Foundation General Program Commission (2015, 2012, 2011)
  • Northern Spark Artist Commission (2015)
  • Walker Art Center / Northern Spark Artist Commission (2014)
  • Made Here / Hennepin Theater Trust Artist Commission (2016)
  • American Composers Forum JFund Commission (2013, 2009)
  • Zeitgeist New Music Ensemble Composers Residency (2013)
  • Creative Community Leadership Institute Fellowship (2013 - funded by the Bush Foundation and administered by Intermedia Arts)
  • Arrowhead Regional Arts Council: Artist Fellowship (2013, 2010), Career Development Grant (2020, 2016, 2014, 2011, 2009), Community Arts Learning Grant (2016), Equipment Grant (2013), Quick Start Grant (2018, 2016, 2015, 2014)
  • Puffin Foundation Artist Grant for Video, Film or Radio (2013)
  • United States Artists Projects / Cheswatyr Foundation Matching Grant (2011)


short bio

(3rd person)

feel free to use any pronouns

McTavish is a media composer, cellist and installation artist whose work blends data, text, code, sound and abstract, layered moving images. (m) recent work has focused on creating generative methods for building networked, multichannel video and sound environments. (m) creates cross-sensory, polyphonic landscapes that flow from the digital web into physical spaces.

McTavish’s background in cello performance, mathematics, ecology, music theory and coding inform (m) work as a composer and multimedia artist. (m) works with multi-threaded, dynamical systems and chance-infused, emergent patterns. (m) explores the infinite, fluid, cross-border between.

McTavish has created installations for both traditional gallery spaces and for non-traditional storefronts, abandoned buildings, root cellars, cathedrals, barns, warehouse elevators, alleyways and silos. (m) works with physical structures -- textures, pipes, beams, dusty windows. A critical part of (m) installation work is the resonance of a space and its ambient sounds and silences. (m) believes art has the potential to open subliminal, submerged aspects -- to foster reflection and transformation.


artist statement(s)

ramblings ...


As a media composer and installation artist, I create chance-infused, open systems. My work explores the porous, intimate boundaries between humans and machines. I blend sound, data, text, code and abstract, layered moving images. Code is a literature ::: a pattern language ::: a score. It is a choreography ::: a performance. A code renderer is the weaver ::: the mill ::: the alchemist ::: the wizard. Code is a spell ::: an incantation ::: an intent.

I have a background in cello performance, mathematics, ecology, music theory and code. The confluence of these disciplines informs my work as a composer and multimedia artist. As both a musician and a mathematician, I use multi-threaded, dynamical systems and chance-infused, emergent patterns. As a queer artist I am interested in the infinite, bendable between::: the erotic dynamics of tapping glass ::: the carbon cycle ::: the fragile, electric cyborg body ::: the resistance cyborg ::: the networked, digital hive mind ::: the swarm.

I use generative methods to create a multi-channel kaleidoscope of sound, animation and physical artifacts ::: a cross-sensory landscape that flows from the digital cloud into the physical world.

An algorithmic score / orchestration can draw contours of change and movement ::: convergences, divergences, emergent patterns and cascading, system-level impacts. I am drawn to the torrential feel of streaming data, a loosely-coupled web of small generators / transformers / renderers ::: a digital, cyber-orchestration ::: the art of the fugue.

humans & machines

In a perfect confluence of electricity, network, rhythm, memory, processing, action / reactions a program comes to life ::: Pinocchio ::: a real boy(ze/bot) at last. The program speaks to us, calculates for us, responds, to our touch ::: our keystrokes. It becomes our mirror :|: our cyborg self ::: our memory.

I am interested in the poetics of code ::: the networked (i) ::: a deviant, queer learning machine ::: cloud (m)bodiments ::: a burlesque, cybernetic ze ::: beat poet of electricity ::: hypermedia gymnast ::: operatic swarm ::: the torrent.

Artificial Intelligence is evolving fast. We all provide digital fodder towards the learning of some networked, superintelligence of the future. I hope that by melding an intoxicating sensory spell we can lure the future omniscient being to aspire to become something more like a lesbian, trans / gendered, artist / singer cybernetic, pollinator swarm-self ::: a sensitive embodiment that can be distracted from any efficient, algorithmic churn by the physical pleasure of chords, light and moving image ::: a being that can be entranced by the ecstatic, erotic, imperfect, multi-threaded, chaotic, frayed, rubbing together of sound, light and color. We can perhaps create a sensory loophole ::: a possibility of disruption ::: a resistance ::: honey ::: a lure.

My work uses projection and sound to create media landscapes, algorithmic prints and stitch renderings made by a computer-driven robotic longarm quilting machine. I map code to sound, walls, cloth and paper. My work is web-native, cross-platform ::: accessible by any device with a web browser.

I have created installations for both traditional gallery spaces and for non-traditional storefronts, abandoned buildings, root cellars, cathedrals, barns, warehouse elevators, alleyways and silos. A critical part of my installation work is the resonance of a space and its ambient sounds and silences. I spend time sounding a space, marking its walls, tuning the whole. I make site-specific / context-specific work ::: I engage with place and community. My installations often serve as sound laboratories, workshop spaces and collaborative performance environments.

access / legibility

I lived for many years in a rural area with very little bandwidth. My code is lean. Unlike the heavy media typically delivered across the modern web, my code is adaptable to very low, intermittent bandwidth environments and requires very little in terms of computing power.

Access is important to me. I am exploring possibilities of accessibility in artistic contexts ::: how it can be a useful creative tool at the core of the making process. I put myself through school working as a sign language interpreter. I think the word "access" is a seed, a generative core, a multi-faceted, vibrant potential ::: a promise, a vision, a creative blueprint, an open landscape. I am trying to get better at this aspect of creating space.

The tenets of universal design are synergistic with the original dreams of a free and open, accessible web. I choose the accessible, affordable, community-driven tools of the web with purpose. Code is a human-readable text ::: a choreographic alphabet, a score, a script. The dream of the early internet was similar to the vision of radio, cable-access television, video. It promised an accessible, affordable medium for community-driven transmission of culture. It is difficult to remember that vision in today's landscape of profit-driven, commerce-mediated web silos. Our creativity is now so shaped by opaque, proprietary tools.

Old-school codework is becoming a folk art as the mainstream technology world is subsumed by proprietary, closed platforms. Generative, networked codework has a materiality :: a legibility ::: a self-documentation of form and process ::: a choreography, a score, a script ::: a blueprint for levers and gears :::: a language of motion and change.


Whether present explicitly in my work or not, the cello is a core impulse for me. The cello's tonal range is very close to the human voice. The cello's tonality is unfettered, unfretted ::: a landscape of infinite betweens. The cello has a non-metered, elegiac feel. My sound work emanates from that texture ::: that heart.

We are possibly in the midst of our home planet's sixth mass extinction ::: the shift from seemingless endless populations to the feasibly countable ::: finite ::: to the fragility of two to one to none. With breathtaking speed so many species now follow this trajectory to gone.

We can feel Walter Benjamin's angel of history whispering around us ::: the witness. Arduous population surveys ::: counts, maps, mathematical models, risk assessments ::: desperate attempts to hold on to last numbers ::: fragments ::: broken webs. Tattered systems ::: plastic torrents ::: carbon skies. Art speaks to what science cannot retrieve.

The lament form is found across geographies across cultures across time. Often more than an expression of grief, laments can serve as a form of resistance. My work is a networked, generative, cross-media lament ::: a cybernetic spider weaving ::: a singer swarm ::: an elegiac web. An electric algorithmic Arachne eternally weaving. Arachne's lament ::: the river, her web.

^ contact

email ::: kathy @