Homebrew Electronics

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Kitteh! Steve’s cats Perrey and Kingsley’s homage to CatSynth

Homebrew Electronics is a series on the Rhizome blog. For these posts, I will be conducting studio visits with artists and inventors who create unique electronic instruments.

Last week, I met with Steven Litt of CrudLabs at his Greenpoint apartment. While a graduate student at NYU’s ITP program, Steve developed a machine known as the CrudBox. Central to his installations and performances, the CrudBox allows users to plug electronic or electromechanic devices into a 16 step, 8 channel step sequencer. While normal sequencers draw from a set bank of sounds, the CrudBox allows one to plug in devices such as turntables or solenoids or power tools, opening up the range of sounds one can sequence.

In his living room, Steve had plugged in seven portable turntables into a CrudBox.

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Portable Turntables plugged into a CrudBox

The exterior of this version of the CrudBox was designed by Steve’s friend artist Panayiotis Terzis, who silkscreened all the imagery on the exterior.

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The CrudBox

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Detail of Panayiotis Terzis's silkscreen on the exterior of the CrudBox

The turntables operate off AC voltage, and the CrudBox runs off DC, so Steve had set up a system of high voltage relays so each turntable can be individually activated without any issues. These relay modules allow any wall powered devices to be easily plugged in and sequenced by CrudBox.

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Close-up of one of the relays

In order to control a turntable, the switch at the top left hand side of the CrudBox must be pointed toward the turntable one wants to start.

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Knob on the top left side of the CrudBox

The sequences are controlled by the bottom row of buttons, and the tempo by the knob. The sequences tell the turntables when ...

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Conrad Ventur Interview from INSIDE/OUT

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This Is My Life (Shirley Bassey) by Conrad Ventur was one of my favorite pieces in PS1's "Greater New York," so I was delighted to come across this short interview with the artist on MoMA/PS1's INSIDE/OUT blog. Burrowed away in a small room in PS1's basement, the work involves a number of projectors looping performances by singer Shirley Bassey sourced from YouTube. Slowly rotating crystals hang over the lens of the projectors, refracting the images and illuminating the room in a soft, hazey light. Ventur discusses his interest in connecting to the past through repurposing old performance footage and the affective quality of his installations.

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Call for Applications

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IRCAM in Paris is seeking applicants for their 2011 cycle. Read more about the opportunity below or visit the original call here. Deadline is September 30th, 2010.

Via the music research residency program, the Department for the Coordination of Scientific and Musical Research seeks to reinforce the interaction between the scientific and musical community by appealing to the computer music community at large. This program offers scholarships to artists and young professionals wishing to take advantage of a period of residency at IRCAM in order to pursue their music research projects in a stimulating collaborative environment.

Each year - via online submission - a limited number of candidates is selected by a panel of international experts based on the following criteria: project content; scientific and artistic motivation; quality and innovative character of the project; mastery of the technologies needed for the project; demonstrated ability to manage a collaborative research project.

Each selected candidate will benefit from a residency at IRCAM for a specific period, associated with one or more of the institute’s project teams. The candidate will receive a scholarship of 1200 euros. IRCAM does not cover travel and lodging expenses.

During the research residency, candidates will work in the context of the Research and Development department in order to pursue their work. They will collaborate with members of one or more teams thus enabling them to deepen the musical and technological issues explored through experimentation as well as participate in the intellectual life of the institute.

At the end of their stay, the selected candidates will be asked to document and share the results of their work via written publications and public presentations given to the IRCAM community as well as the international computer music community at large.

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Days of Our Lives (2009) - Restless People

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A Roundup of Online Art Radio

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For those long trips you make take this summer - or for those long stretches in front of the computer - I've assembled a massive list of art-related podcasts, online radio stations, and more. I encourage readers to post their recommendations in the comments.

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Performance, All Over the Map: On Chris Salter's "Entangled"

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Chris Salter's Entangled is a massive undertaking and a book long overdue. In this ambitious project, Salter sets out to provide a historical overview of the intersections between technology and artistic performance in order to demonstrate the profound entanglement in the historical trajectories of both sets of practices and developments. Entangled seeks to address how technological developments have altered our making and perception of artistic performance and the socio-political, cultural and economic contexts of such developments (p. xiii). Furthermore, Salter understands the histories of new media arts, theater, and other stage-based artforms as divided in a tension between the technophilic and technophobic, and his investigation is an attempt to fill this gap.

Peter Sellars describes, in his Foreword to the book, Salter's approach as radically inclusive. Indeed, Salter sets out to frame an impressively diverse range of practices as performance. Those practices include, but are not limited to, theatre, opera, scenography, architecture, video art, installations, environments, sonic arts, robotics, media arts, live and body art, expressions of popular culture such as music gigs, and more. Entangled consists of eight chapters, each focusing on a different form. This distinction is not designed to separate disciplinary trajectories though; instead, it challenges disciplinary boundaries through its fluid narrative that consistently foregrounds intersections, crossovers and common histories.

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Norman McLaren: Synchromie. Musique Optique at WRO Art Center on Vernissage TV

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Last month, I posted Norman McLaren's 1971 work Synchromy to Rhizome. Vernissage TV visited the WRO Art Center in Wrocław, Poland, where the exhibition surveying his career "Norman McLaren: Synchromie. Musique Optique" is currently on display. In this clip, curator Piotr Krajewski discusses McLaren's technique and relationship to sound.

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The Night Sounds (1999) - Shawn Decker

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The Night Sounds by Shawn Decker

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mandalas para la vida moderna (2006) - Ivan Puig

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mandala I

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mandala II

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Fold Loud (2007) - JooYoun Paek

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Fold Loud is a (de)constructing musical play interface that uses origami paper-folding techniques and ritualistic Taoist principles to give users a sense of slow, soothing relaxation.

Fold Loud interconnects ancient traditions and modern technology by combining origami, vocal sound and interactive techniques. Unlike mainstream technology intended for fast-paced life, Fold Loud is healing, recovering and balancing.

Playing Fold Loud involves folding origami shapes to create soothing harmonic vocal sounds. Each fold is assigned to a different human vocal sound so that combinations of folds create harmonies. Users can fold multiple Fold Loud sheets together to produce a chorus of voices. Opened circuits made out of conductive fabric are visibly stitched onto the sheets of paper which creates a meta-technological aesthetic. When the sheets are folded along crease lines, a circuit is closed like a switch. Thus, the interface guides participants to use repetitive delicate hand gestures such as flipping, pushing and creasing. Fold Loud invites users to slow down and reflect on different physical senses by crafting paper into both geometric origami objects and harmonic music.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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