I made a little sound sculpture – a sort of wind-powered banjo – for this weekend’s Figment Festival on Governors Island. Here it is installed on the island’s waterfront by Castle Williams, with a spectacular view of downtown Manhattan. (If you’re in the New York area, come to the festival this weekend – it’s free, and there’s eight million things to see.)
If the wind really picks up, the flowers will spin.
And here’s a video from when I was testing it on my deck.
Lev is named after Lev Termen (Leon Theremin), a Russian scientist who invented one of the first electronic musical instruments, an instrument which is played without touching, and which bears his name.
Lev is made out of an old floor lamp, some plumbing supplies, a few empty mint tins, and some microprocessors. Lev will never replace the human theremin virtuoso, although, as there are so few of the latter, a mechanical substitute may someday be vital to our economy.
“On March 25th, 2006 the Flux Factory space in Long Island City was transformed into a giant, interactive music box.
“A group of seven sound artists, musicians, and sculpture/installation artists gathered together by Flux Factory have created kinetic sculptures that all work together to play a single song. Viewers activate the box with a crank. Inside the Box, a veritable funhouse of sound can be discovered in each artist’s contribution to the overall song. The viewer becomes an active participant in the experience, subtly altering the song produced.” —flux factory
Nexus Gallery in Philadelphia commissioned the Silence Organ for Innovative Instruments, a show of artists’ instruments presented in conjunction with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Citycircus, a celebration of John Cage.
To exploit rooms full of interesting instruments making interesting noises, I wired the gallery with 13 microphones, each set in a resonating tube tuned to a note of the diatonic scale. The viewer would put on headphones and play a tune on an antique keyboard, in which each note was made of filtered sound from elsewhere in the gallery.