by Ben Grossman
Presented in Guelph Ontario 11-15th April 2018 as part of Kazoo! Fest
organistrum:prototype is a long-string sound installation that is bowed by rosined, rotating wheels: a principal borrowed from the vielle à roue (hurdy gurdy/Drehleier/zanfoña/ghironda/etc). The piece is notional and is intended to be adaptable to different installation environments. Therefore it will always be a prototype.
In this iteration, six strings of between 20 and 32 metres (about 65-105 feet) in length are activated by rosined wheels under computer control. They are amplified by a resonator made of a large arch of fibreglass. Strings of such lengths behave in many unusual ways and the sound you are hearing is completely acoustic and untreated.
Research and creation of organistrum:prototype was graciously supported by the Ontario Arts Council, and to them I am very grateful. Presentation and promotion was by Ed Video Media Arts Centre and Kazoo! Fest, and my deep gratitude is due to Scott McGovern for his advice, help, and support. Thanks to Alexandra Gelis, Diyode Community Workshop, Alanna Gurr, Chandra Boon, Fron Reilly, and Wolfgang Weichselbaumer for support, advice and encouragement. Thanks to Nicholas Loess of Loess Media for making it look great in this short film. And thanks to my inspirations for this piece, Ellen Fullman, Gordon Monahan, and Alvin Lucier
invitation by Ben Grossman
at Sounds Like Festival of Audio Art,
Saskatoon SK, 2015
Video documentation by Scott McGovern
This is documentation of a piece of 'sound sculpture' in one of the many senses of the meaning.
I have long been intrigued by arts practices that allow for the viewer or listener to create his or her own experience of the work. Art that doesn't try to be dictatorial or monolithic – that allows for and even invites individual pathways through the piece: movement rather than stasis; multiple trails rather than one way through the work; mobiles rather than painting; freedom rather than restriction.
Inspired by the idea of 'seeing through the ears' or that “Hearing is another form of seeing” (cf. W. Hellerman), invitation seeks to combine the auditory and the haptic through the use of sine waves tuned to the harmonics of resonant tones of the room in which it is installed/performed. Through a combination of difference- and sum- tones, standing waves and phase distortions, the goal is to create a sculptural presence in the gallery that can be perceived by the ears and, indeed, the whole body, uniquely from any angle. In response to audience/attendee movement in the space, adjustments to the tones will be required to construct, maintain, and manipulate this sonic/haptic image.
invitation is at once an installation, performance, and continuous creation for the duration of the exhibit and thus seeks to erase the lines usually drawn between artist/composer/architect and performer/improviser/builder.
Rather than a rigid, immobile object or inexorable linear composition, Invitation becomes a performative striving to create an ephemeral yet almost tangible sculptural form, through the use of sound.
As this piece is tuned to the room into which it's installed, audio-visual documentation is, unfortunately, not representative of the experience of the piece in person.
Many thanks to Ed Video, Sounds Like, Scott McGovern and the Ontario Arts Council for Exhibition Support.
Excerpt of a three-site telematic performance for the Guelph Jazz Festival, September 2010.
Guelph: Pauline Oliveros (v-accordion), Anne Bourne (cello, voice), Jesse Stewart (percussion), Ben Grossman (hurdy gurdy)
EMPAC: Doug Van Nort (GREIS, transforming input streams), Jonas Braasch (sax), Curtis Bahn (dilruba+processing)
Bogota: Ricardo Arias (balloon)
Even with the occasional dropouts the musicans are able to listen across time and space and form a musical whole. In fact, as I was capturing the remote signals thereby including the occassional dropout, I feel that these became included as part of the music. Almost like the "surface", as with a vinyl record....
An explorer adventures into an unknown world, yet it seems that he has been there before.
A short animated film directed by Malcolm Sutherland in 2010. With music by Alison Melville and Ben Grossman, and foley by Leon Lo. Sound design / mix by Malcolm Sutherland.
The animation is all hand-drawn; a mix of drawing / pastels on paper and digital animation with Toonboom Studio and a wacom cintiq tablet, assembled in After Effects 7 and edited in Sony Vegas 8.