Musical Automata

Publik Secrets member George Rahi has developed a collection of kinetic sound installations at the Hadden Park fieldhouse studio, blending acoustic instruments, mechanical systems, and electronics into sculptural forms that interact with their environment.

frequencies (2018)

frequencies is a sound installation comprising a chorus of 15 custom-made robotic bells. The array of bells perform a new composition for each location, using their autonomous sounds to bring a mosaic of moments into focus. In reference to the historical role that bells played as an organizing rhythm and spatial-political tool within urban environments, the installation re-imagines the roles of bells by staging new forms of interactions between their temporality, resonance and a listening public. The distributed nature of the installation creates a dialogue with each environment, folding along its contours and exploring its spatial qualities as a sculptural and malleable element. Through this strategy of ambient diffusion, listening is provoked both outwards towards the wider “acoustic commons” and inwards towards one’s moment with the geography of each site.

 


 

aisatsana (2017)

Composed by Richard D. James (Aphex Twin), ‘aisatsana’ is a Satie-esque piano piece inviting stillness and careful listening to one’s surroundings. This mechanical reproduction uses a 100-year-old player piano to sound a custom-made paper roll of the piece. Set in Hadden Park, the piano is recorded alongside visiting starlings and crows in the canopy above, creating a “live” version of the bird song heard in Aphex Twin’s original version on the 2014 ‘Syro’ album. An homage to Richard’s signature blurring of the acoustic, electronic, and automatic realms of sound, the meeting of the programmed player piano and the park’s incidental ambiance invites one to reflect on notions of soundscape composition, ‘liveness’, and automation.


 

 

Formation (2016)

Formation is a kinetic sound installation that explores the sculptural dimensions of rotary speakers, using the emergent qualities of their movements to invite listening across the visual and tactile dimensions of sound. The work re-configures technologies associated with early 20th century era organ building, when electronics were attempting to synthesize and recreate the acoustics of pipe organs. During this time, a radio engineer invented the ‘Leslie’ rotary speaker to mimic the sonic quality of large, spatially dispersed pipe organs. In this piece a 4 channel rotary speaker array sounds a 25-minute chorus of pulses that create a choreography of morphing space.

Formation was featured at Vancouver New Music’s 2016 Mechanical Music Festival.