Electromechanical Perspectives of Sound and Music
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From a technological necessity in projects like the Telharmonium, to a creative opportunity enjoyed by current sound installation artists, the electromechanical condition is a mainstay of electronic and experimental music and sound art. As a core component of loudspeaker technology in a fully electrified and digitised sound world it is also likely to remain a mainstay, as long as hearing continues to be linked to the mechanical world of acoustics. In this way the electromechanical is simultaneously both outmoded and future-proofed. This paper will trace the electromechanical condition throughout electrified sound and music, identifying its role in sound modification, transmission and production. This provides a non-human centric perspective of electronic music making that aims to avoid technologically deterministic and linear historical narratives. Certain music technologies that have made particular use of electro-mechanics such as the speakers of the Ondes Martenot, the rotating Leslie loudspeaker and mechanical reverberation devices will be explored as a general technological context. Particular examples of creative practice that forefront the electromechanical condition will be presented from the canon of American 1960s sound art and experimental music practice, including the work of practitioners such as Alvin Lucier and David Tudor. Connections will be made between these examples and the work of kinetic artists such as Len Lye, Jean Tinguely and Takis. Here the electromechanical will be presented as a kind of transitionary media between materialised and dematerialised modes of sonic and visual art practice, making its presence felt at a time of burgeoning computer power and systems thinking. Current sound art practice that uses the electromechanical as a core creative element will be discussed. This will include works by practitioners such as Peter Bosch and Simone Simons, Daniel Wilson, Andrea Valle as well as original pieces by the author. In the context of easily accessible digital technologies of synthesis and control these current electromechanical approaches are used to explore tensions between the control and the autonomy of sounding objects and materials.
Alternative Histories of Electronic Music conference 2016;
Pigott, J. (2016) 'Electromechanical Perspectives of Sound and Music', Alternative Histories of Electronic Music conference, 14-16 April 2016. Science Museum Dana Research Centre, Queen’s Gate, London.
This paper was given at the AHEM 2016 conference. Article published in 2017. Across Fields: sound, art and technology from an electromechanical perspective. Organised Sound 22(2): 276–285
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Showing items related by title, author, subject and abstract.
Pigott, Jon (Cambridge University Press, 2017-07-12)This article follows electromechanical technologies through different contexts of electronic and experimental music, sound art and kinetic art as well as through parts of their industrial development and application. The ...
Murphy, Ingrid; Pigott, Jon (Plymouth College of Art, 2016)This paper explores intersections of technology, making and material process in ways that go beyond the current paradigm of digital fabrication techniques and craft practice, through an artists report on a collaborative ...
Pigott, Jon (2016-08-31)This paper will report on an art practice based research project that takes the idea of ‘material systems’ to explore electromechanical sound art. By focussing on intersections between the mid 1960s revival in kinetic ...