19 February, 2009

Two Machines: 2 - Oramics

The Oramics system is currently residing in my workshop, until it gets moved to a permanent home. As you can see, it's in a bit of a sorry state, having had several owners since the passing of Daphne Oram, and having spent the last few years in a barn. My reason for posting these images was partly so that I could talk about patina; and I use this word in its broadest sense. The Oramics system (it is in fact two machines, a rack of amplifiers and two speakers) wasn't designed in the normal sense of the word, it is an agglomeration of small inspirations and problem solving, tweaks and bodges. As such it has an aura of endeavour and complexity which is impossible to fake or design - a patina of many, many meaningful decisions and actions effected over years.
This patina is not about surface and age (as the dictionary would have it), but rather it is a composite of visual noise, manifest functionality and guessed-at heuristics; a personality transmitted as though a radio signal, or more pertinently, modulated light.

As with the ANS, there were things going on with Oramics which will most probably remain unsolved - small modifications, planned but never realised features. Amongst the odds and ends that have accompanied the main instrument is a rather mashed up Ondioline. Why was Oram planning on adding a keyboard element? It's been retro-fitted with a lot of wiring, terminating in multi-pin sockets, so this part of the project got to a reasonably advanced stage. Odd, considering the incredible amount of ingenuity and resources directed toward producing a sound who's every parameter could supposedly be altered with a paint brush. Perhaps Oram got bored with having to define pitches with carefully placed little squares of electrical tape stuck to film, and just wanted to tickle some ivories... We may never know.


BA DRAWING said...

Hi ROB thats amazing you actually have the oramics machine !

I wrote my dissertation on the link between sound and drawing Im on the (BA drawing course at camberwell)
I really interested in examples of connections between the auditory and the visible

Im defiantly bookmarking this blog

I would love to see it in person if thats even possible ?


Chris King

Alexandra P. Spaulding said...

Hi Rob,

We chatted briefly after symposium at Goldsmiths on Tues. I was wondering what the best way to get in touch with you would be to talk to you further about recording. I went to Maplins and got the kit but I am having trouble getting things to click. Your blog doesn't have an email....mine's alex at noisefornothing.com


Rob Mullender said...

chris - if you want to come and see the oramics machine, then contact me at robmullender@hotmail.com


derek said...

Hey Rob, I'll send you on the remarkably similar photos I shot as well ;-) You should really charge admission for this kind of stuff... D.

Glass Genie said...

Hi Rob
Im working on a architectural glass work relating to Daphne Oram for her old house Tower Folly and would love to see the machine in real life, your photos are amazing! Will contact you by email to arrange possible visit if you stillhave!
best Wishes