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Entries in objects (21)


Peter Vogel - The Sound of Shadows Documentary

We’ve seen some work by Peter Vogel on the site before, but for some reason I forgot about it, until I came across this documentary on the sound sculptures of Peter Vogel. His interactive installations are quite magical, and what I like about the documentary is that every part of it is demystified.

“Fascinated by the work of English neurophysiologist William Grey Walter (1910-77), who invented small robots (called Machine Speculatrix) that simulated basic neurophysiological behaviour, Vogel was intrigued to discover that, with the help of sound and light sensors, such machines could react to the world. Thus, at a time when many artists were pursuing the idea of the viewer as active participant, Vogel began to embrace interactivity as a major theme in his work. And all of this prompted him to move away from painting and start to create picture-like interactive objects.”

– Jean Martin. Full essay:

From very simple components, Vogel creates complex interactive works with a lot of character and depth. Very inspirational to see.


Electrostatic Bell Choir

Darsha Hewitt is a Canadian artist who makes electromechanical sound installations, drawings, videos, an experimental performances. See her other unique work here (take the brilliant “20 Oscillators in 20 Minutes” for example, which is part experimental music performance, technical challenge, and comedy act!). She has an interest in demystifying the invisible systems embedded throughout domestic technology. This is also visible in the above artwork, Electrostatic Bell Choir (2012).


Static electricity affects everyday materials in curious ways – hair stands on end when rubbed with a balloon; laundered clothing clings together if an antistatic sheet is not tossed into the dryer; a static shock transmits from a finger after one drags their feet across the carpet…
The Electrostatic Bell Choir is an electromechanical sound installation that plays with the static electricity emitted from discarded CRT TV monitors. This static, that can be felt when one places their hand on the screen when the TV is turned on, is gleaned for it’s potential to generate subtle movement. Sets of static bells are mounted in front of twenty television sets. A control circuit cycles the TVs on and off, which causes static to build up on the monitors. This static charge agitates hanging pith balls, causing them to lightly strike the bells ‐ resulting in quasi‐melodic compositions.

The TVs are muted, tuned to various channels of white noise and physically spacialized in order to devise a dynamically layered soundscape textured with the sound of the cathode ray tubes warming up. The glow of the screens and the subtle resonance of the bells magically punctuate the dark surroundings of the installation.

Volumes for Sound

Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson came up with Volumes for Sound while looking to find a physical representation of immaterial things. The objects can be seen as sculptures which can form all kinds of different structures, but are equipped with speakers as well.

This summer Volumes of Sound is exhibited as part of the 2012 Reykjavík Arts Festival in Iceland. Various sound artists will be asked to compose a piece specifically for the installation, which plays eight channels of audio. 


Paper Note

Another nice looking physical representation of a sound wave is created by Andrew Spitz from { sound + design } in collaboration with interaction designer Andrew Nip. Paper Note is made using a laser cutter to create discs of paper who form the waveform when joined on a piece of string. 

The video below gives a good impression of the process of creating the Paper Note:


Sonic Business Cards

Richard Eigner was the man behind Denoising Field Recordings. He is also part of the electronic Music duo Ritornell. Katarina Hölzl designed some wonderful new business cards for them. By giving someone their business card they now give away a tangible piece of their music. Sadly, not everyone has that nice custom built wooden music box at home to play the cards. It’s a lovely idea though. 


Phonograph CD Player

The Phonograph CD Player has been around for a while, but I had never seen it before. In these days most music we play cannot even be touched anymore, and the CD is slowly becoming obsolete. This Phonograph CD player created by Yong Jieyu & Ama Xue Hong Bin brings us back to the world of vinyl and the phonograph.

The player is made from the insides of a portable CD player. The CD has to be put on the player upside down, so the laser on the ‘tone arm’ can access it and it moves fron the inside out. This is what the player looks like with no disk: 

Click to read more ...


186 prepared dc-motors, cardboard boxes

Another wonderful installation by Zimoun, this time created using 186 prepared dc-motors, cardboard boxes 60x60x60cm, apparently this is also the title of this sound installation. The audience can use their imagination.

If you have not done so already, be sure to also read Zimoun’s answers to the Five Sound Questions, and while you’re at it, the included video gives a nice overview of his work. His work can be seen at upcoming events in Venezuela, Switzerland, Germany, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland and the United States.

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The BoomCase

I am a friendly man, but The BoomCase by Mr. Simo makes me fantasize about a smartly dressed man carrying this suitcase, entering a train, sitting next to one of those kids playing inferior ‘urban’ beats on his inferior mobile phone speaker, waiting five minutes, than hitting a button to blast him away with 200 Watts of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

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Rechnender Raum

At this year’s Sonic Acts festival I had an encounter with Rechnender Raum, a wonderful, seemingly living installation created by Ralf Baecker, operating similar to a basic artificial neural network. The open construction allows visitors to see every single moving detail of the machine. 

I was amazed by the complexity of the fragile wooden structure and the network of strings, all connected to the moving outline of a torus in the center of the installation. 

While Rechnender Raum (German for calculating space) gives us a lot to look at, and it is nice to walk around the structure and inspect every small element up-close, I also enjoyed the soft, insect-like chirping of the small electronic motors keeping the network alive and slowly moving.  

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Earworm Assault Devices

Although I consider myself a pacifist, these Earworm Assault Devices are quite funny and (well, moderately) harmless. We probably all know the experience of having a song in our mind that just does not want to leave and keeps repeating compulsively. That is what we call an earworm. 

While most of these earworms arise naturally in our mind, a few years ago the German interface designers from Fur came up with the Earworm Assault Devices. Small weapon-like machines constructed with the sole purpose to plant unwanted song phrases in a victim’s mind. They record samples up to 12 seconds and ‘shoot’ them at your ears repeatedly.

These earworms, if chosen carefully, can stay in your head for a long time. You just have to sing that song, or whistle, over and over again. I heard there is only one way to get rid of such an earworm. Sing the song all the way through, until you reach the end, and after the last notes it will be gone. I never tried this method myself though.   

Via Richard van Tol