Technologies for Sound Art

Over the past few years, a strong reaction against the sterile world of laptop sound and video has inspired a new interest in “dirty” analog processes. With this renewed analog interest comes a fresh exploration of the electronic art pioneers of the 1960s and 1970s. Artists and inventors such as Steina & Woody Vasulka, Don Buchla, Serge Tcherepnin, Dan Sandin and David Tudor all constructed their own unique instruments long before similar tools became commercially available or freely downloadable–and often through a long, rigorous process of self-education in electronics.

Their work is archetypal for the contemporary media artist, who also must oscillate between the creative and the learning processes.

I’ve always maintained that the only thing that separates artists using technology now from Tudor and his contemporaries is the internet. Whereas they had much more limited channels to find the information they needed, we have an almost limitless supply. Which is of course the other half of the problem–trying to get the signal out of the noise.

My main area of focus is technologies for sound art, with an emphasis on areas which cannot be covered by off-the-shelf commercial hardware and software solutions. DIY analog electronics, “circuit-bending/hardware hacking”, sensors/physical computing, obsolete technologies (such as the overhead projector), field recording techniques and the Pure Data programming language all find a place in my workshops.

Some recent workshop topics have included:

EXPERIMENTAL SOUND INSTRUMENTS annual electroacoustic instrument workshop for the Sound in New Media program of Aalto University (3-5 days)

NEANDERTHAL ELECTRONICS primitive analog noise machines (3-5 days)

PURE DATA programming for sound and image (1 or more days)

REGENWALD a performance/installation inspired by David Tudor’s transducer-based works from the 1970’s (with Mads Bech Paluszewski-Hau) (5 days)

SOUND+SPACE AWARENESS listening exercises and field recording techniques to explore one’s environment (1 or more days)

SOUNDBOXES small, noisy electroacoustic instruments created from found wooden boxes. (1-3 days)

TONEWHEELS optoelectronic audiovisual synthesizer for the overhead projector (2-4 days)

Click the links above for more details on each, including video documentation when available.

Workshop descriptions and requirements for arts spaces, festivals and academic institutions are available on request from macumbista AT THE DOMAIN

I give workshops regularly in Europe, and sometimes in North America or elsewhere as well. Those interested in taking part in a workshop are recommended to subscribe to this blog, where all future workshops will be announced. To see posts related to previous workshops, click here.

You can watch a video interview about my work with electronics here:

Derek Holzer–Circuit Bending & Beyond: Build Your Own Instrument by Maren Sextro from macumbista on Vimeo.