His instruments range from cutting edge digital devices to contraptions pieced together from tape recorders and helium balloons. His compositions include solo works for electronics, the repertoire of his various ensembles, and works for other ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet. His creative and unorthodox work with digital sampling and recording has established him as an influential pioneer in these media.
Ostertag's collaborators have included John Zorn, Fred Frith, Mike Patton, Justin Vivianne Bond, Jon Rose, Gerry Hemingway, Roscoe Mitchell, Otomo Yoshihide and Pierre Hébert. . He is the recipient of numerous commissions, from the US National Endowment for the Arts, German radio (WDR Koln), Austrian radio (ORF), Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC), and others. Over 20 CDs of his music have been released. He has performed throughout North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and the former Soviet Union.
In 2006 he made all of his recordings to which he had the rights available on the internet for free download, and wrote an influential essay explaining his motivation for doing so, ?The Professional Suicide of a Recording Musician."
Ostertag also writes non-fiction books. His most recent book, Raising Expectations, co-authored with Jane McAlevey, was named the ?most important book of the year? in 2012 by The Nation magazine in the US. The British music magazine The Wire called Ostertag?s previous book, Creative Life: Music, Politics, People, and Machines "the most lucid philosophical book on music, culture and politics since Steve Reich's Writings on Music.? His next book, scheduled for publication in the fall of 2016, is The Chemistry of the Soul: A Social History of Estrogen, Testosterone, and Identity.
Ostertag is also an accomplished sea kayaker and in 2015 attempted the only circumnavigation of Sardinia in an open ocean racing kayak.
He lives in San Francisco and is Professor of Technocultural Studies at the University of California at Davis.
He is rumored to have connections with the shadowy media guerrilla group The Yes Men.
Sendungen im ORF-Kunstradio:
1. 4. 1993: "Stuck here for a While"
17. 2. 1994: "Say no more in Person"
20. 10. 1994: "Where are your angles"
1. 2. 1996: "Say no more III"
5. 9. 1996: Bob Ostertag bei "Rivers and Bridges"
8. 1. 1998: "Happy Birthday KUNSTRADIO ALLSTARS"
4. 9. 1997: "FAREWELL ETUDE NO.2"
24. 10. 1999: "Where are you angels" - Ein Bob Ostertag SPECIAL
10. 12. 2000: "A Doughut in Four Hands", gemeinsam mit Phil Minton
15. 12. 2002: "Desert Boy on a Stick" von Bob Ostertag
20. 06. 2010: “Creative Life”
02. 08. 2015: Radio-Music for Gamepad and Aalto