MoMA John Cage Day this Thursday

This Thursday, August 9th, is John Cage Day at the Museum of Modern Art. Lots of great stuff going on – all the info is here:

My toy piano robot will be playing Satie’s Vexations throughout the day, trying to reach 840 repetitions. Here’s a teaser video:


I hope you can come to John Cage Day!

Other stuff: My sound sculpture for the BWAC Outdoor Sculpture Show is up at East River State Park for another month or so. Here’s a video:

Coming up in September: a sound installation at the Asian American Artists Alliance festival. No video yet, maybe soon…

(mailing list archive) Spring update

Things are happening!

* My robot toy piano has a couple of gigs coming up:

This coming Wednesday, June 6, at Roulette in Brooklyn:
Satie and Satie-inspired music from John Cage, Federico Mompou, Toby Twining and Milos Raickovich
Margaret Leng Tan, piano and toy piano
Roberto Rossi, narrator
Ranjit Bhatnagar, sound artist

And then on Thursday, August 9, at the Museum of Modern Art’s John Cage Day:
Celebrate the centenary of legendary artist, composer, philosopher, and writer John Cage with a series of readings, performances, musical compositions, and personal reflections by poets, writers, musicians, and scholars. Participants include writer and editor Richard Kostelantez; Joan Retallack, John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Humanities, Bard College; pianist and toy-piano virtuoso Margaret Leng Tan; and poet, editor, and curator Roger van Voorhees.

* The Music Box, the sound sculpture shantytown I worked on in New Orleans last year, is open to visitors again this summer, and the final performances there are happening soon. If you’re going to be in New Orleans, check it out:

* My wind-powered sound sculpture, “Trumpet Marine”, will be hanging out in Williamsburg’s East River Park this summer as part of BWAC’s Outdoor Sculpture Show, probably starting in July. More on that soon! Meanwhile, here’s a video of the thing at the Figment Festival last year:

* I made a little algorithm that uses Twitter’s Streaming API to read millions of tweets per day (about 500 per second!) in search of the tiny fraction that happen to be in iambic pentameter. Out of those, it selects rhymed couplets and retweets them in an endless crowdsourced sonnet. You can follow it at and
Pentametron got some nice coverage from the Poetry Foundation –
And this interview in Gawker explains how it works:
It even got a tweet from the Globe Theater!

* In September I’ll have an installation in the Asian American Arts Alliance’s “Locating the Sacred” Festival, and I’ll be doing a residency at Albuquerque Open Space as part of the ISEA electronic arts festival.

* …and I discovered that Electric Violin Lutherie has created a real violin inspired by my amateur 8-bit violin. That’s the kind of thing that makes me love open source design.

(mailing list archive) toy piano fest tomorrow — and more

Tomorrow is the first day of the Uncaged Toy Piano Festival, organized and curated by Phyllis Chen. I don’t know how I can share a stage with heroes of toy piano like Phyllis and Margaret Leng Tan, but I’ll be doing a few pieces with toy player pianos that I developed at the Queens Museum Sound Art Residency this summer. I’ll also be bringing my robot toy piano to perform Satie’s “Vexations“, and demoing the Resistor JelTone, a working toy piano made of Jello. The festival runs tomorrow (Tuesday 11/29), Thursday (12/1) and Saturday (12/3) at three different venues in Manhattan, and you can get all the details at

In a week or so I’ll be going back to New Orleans to see a performance at the sound sculpture shantytown I worked on in September. The New Orleans Airlift brought a bunch of artists to build a little village of musical instruments out of the wreckage of an 18th century house, and invited local musicians to perform with/on/in them! There’s a teaser video from the first performance — you can hear & see my piece, a set of amplified squeaky floorboards, providing the bass line starting at about 1:22. The project was covered in the New York Times last week, and you can read all about it at Next week will be my first chance to hear and see the completed shantytown!

In October I set up a show of my greenmarket scanography images at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library at Grand Army Plaza, along with two amazing photographers in the (Un)Still Life exhibit. There’s just one week left before the show comes down after this weekend, so please visit if you’re in Brooklyn. I had some of my images printed huge for the first time – more than 5 feet tall for one of them! And I had fun putting together a grid of almost 200 little tiny prints – check out the installation timelapse. By the way, all the prints are for sale, and a portion goes to benefit the library.

…and then I went to Europe, to talk about my work at VU Amsterdam’s lecture series with the Metamatic Research Initiative, and to show a piece I made for Artbots in Gent, Belgium. I haven’t really had time to collect my thoughts – or my photos – since I got back, but you can see a recording of my talk at, and I have a silly video demonstrating the Voice Extruder, an installation which translates visitors’ voices into little sculptures, which are immediately fabricated for the visitor to take home. The Voice Extruder is an offshoot of my work for Metamatic, about which I’ll have much more to say soon! The day after I got back from Europe, I took the Voice Extruder to Baltimore for the Exploratorium’s Tinkerers’ Ball.

And what are you up to? Keep in touch!

* shantytown photo by Mellissa Strkyer — see lots more photos from the New Orleans project at the dithyrambalina blog.

greenmarket produce scans at Brooklyn Public Library

A selection of my prints from the greenmarket produce scan series – ranging in size from 3 inches to 5 feet! – will be in the (Un)Still Life show at BPL’s Central Library at Grand Army Plaza, opening tomorrow! The show will be up through December 3.

Many of the fruits and vegetables I use in my images came from the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, just a few steps from the library, so it’s especially nice to see them in the beautiful lobby gallery there.

More information at

Some guy checks out the biggest print moments after we hung it

Timelapse: installing almost 200 tiny prints covering 9 years of veggie scanography

busy summer!

Last month I went to the Lightning Field, brought Sketching Device #1 to the Peabody Essex Museum, and spoke at the Sketching in Hardware conference. Now I really have to get to work.

In September, I’ll be making a wave-powered sound sculpture for the Dumbo Arts Festival (September 23-25). Also showing a bunch of big prints from my produce scan series in the show “(Un)Still Life” at the lobby gallery at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch (September-December). And going to New Orleans to install a sound sculpture in Swoon’s musical house project (opening October 15th). Hopefully I’ll have time for Maker Faire in there somewhere (September 17-18). And I’ll be sending good vibes (and probably laser whistles) to the Festival of Music for People and Thingamajigs in the Bay Area (September 22-25). Then in October, I’ll be going to the Netherlands to speak at VU University Amsterdam and to show a piece at Artbots Gent (October 7-9), and in December, I’ll have a couple of pieces and maybe an installation in Phyllis Chen’s Uncaged Toy Piano Festival in NYC.

So now I’d better get some rest.

meet the JelTone!

Over at NYC Resistor, we put together a little team to enter the Jello Mold Competition at Gowanus Studio Space. The team members were me, Astrida Valigorsky, Mimi Hui, and Catarina Mota. After a false start or two, we ended up making a working toy piano out of jello (and some electronics). The Resistor JelTone tied for the Creativity Prize, and you can see it in the videos below.

That same weekend, I took some of my homemade instruments, including the 8-bit violin and a second JelTone (built in haste at the last possible minute), to the Solid Sound Music Festival for the CDM/Moog Handmade Lounge. After all my jello melted, on the second day of the festival I rebuilt the JelTone with fruit salad instead, and here it is:

You can download construction plans and arduino code for the jeltone on thingiverse.

The jeltone was a finalist at the 2012 Guthman Musical Instrument competition.

(mailing list archive) noises of summer

I saw a firefly a few days ago, so it’s summer now, whatever the calendar says. Last weekend was the annual Figment Festival on Governors Island, and I brought back my 2008 wind-powered sound sculpture in a new cyborg body. Here’s a video:

I was lucky to be chosen as one of the Queens Museum of Art‘s sound art residents this month, so I’ve been working with my collection of vintage automatic music toys, and I’ll give a presentation/performance this Saturday (June 18th) at 5pm. The performance is free, but come early and check out the rest of the museum, including the famous Panorama of the City of New York! Event into:

Here’s the toy collection:

The following weekend, I’ll be at the Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA (North Adams, MA) as part of Peter Kirn’s Handmade Music Lounge:

Coming up in July: a workshop at the Peabody Essex Museum near Boston, the Sketching in Hardware conference in Philadelphia, and a field trip to the Lightning Field in New Mexico!

What are you up to?