05 February, 2009


Images: (cc) Danja Vassiliev & Will Scrimshaw

Last week I had the good fortune to be invited by Derek Holzer and Martin Howse to participate in the xxxxx_09 workshop - part of Club Transmediale in Berlin. Provisionally themed 'Structures', this turned out to be an intense week of activity with some very talented people. Anyone glancing through this blog will quickly grasp that coding and digital control/instrumentation systems don't enter into my work - I have a GUI-level relationship with an aging Macintosh, and that's normally as far as my interests lead. What I enjoyed about the workshop was some peoples' ability to work across the soft and hardware genres in order to get what they needed done, regardless of the type of laptop or platform being used.

So in response to all this digital activity, after a week, I produced what amounts to a piece of 2 by 1 leaning against the wall with a copper wire stretched down its length, one wooden bridge, and a small speaker acting as the other. That was the orientation the piece of wood was in when I arrived, and I thought it best not to upset it.

Pointing at the wire is a small red laser and directly the other side a photodiode feeding a tiny amplifier, which drives the speaker. This generates a feedback loop which has slightly chaotic tendencies, as the string is very slack, so you hear a slowly shifting drone, with occasional Tourette's. The thing has two outputs - the acoustic of the wire, and the laser being modulated by the wire (the second photo - notice the diffraction pattern, which I was, er, rather pleased about). This recording drifts between the two; you can tell the photophonic output by the fact that it cuts out occasionally as people wander in front of it. At the beginning one can also discern the irrepressible Derek Holzer kvetching about his hair, and lasers...