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Saturday Art: Bleep Labs’ Noise Explorer 5000 (#ArtOutside)

1:09 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

More of the art of Art Outside 2012: Flam Chen New-Circus Troupe, the Web of Wishes 

Saturday afternoon at Art Outside 2012, electronic artist and musician Thomas Fang took me on a tour of the Noise Explorer 5000, an interactive sound installation. Created by Austin’s Bleep Labs, it features homemade electronic musical instruments combined with ‘circuit-bent’ classics from the 1980s — Casio keyboards, drum machines, and childhood ephemera like the Speak & Math.

Two Bleep Labs Noise Explorer Users play with the instruments

Thomas Fang (right) guides two users of the Bleep Labs Noise Explorer 5000.

The Noise Explorer can be used by up to two explorers at its side-by-side stations. The users listen on headphones and can mix the levels of individual instruments or warp the sounds with effects pedals. The results can be recorded and played back later. The DIY art of circuit-bending  — modifying existing electronic objects into quirky instruments and aural art —  has been growing in popularity, but Fang suggests that an installation like this lets new people gain hands-on experience of its possibilities.

Circuit-bent Touch & Tell instrument with a photo of Snoop Dogg added

Circuit-bent Touch & Tell instrument

One of Fang’s most well known installations is the Furby Youth Choir, where he skinned and altered the childhood toy to create a flock of undead furbys that chirped, babbled, and sang in shrill tones to each other. In the Noise Explorer, repurposed toys like this Touch & Tell beep and talk in otherworldly, glitched up voices.

A tiny blinking 'robot' like box, the Thingamagoop features a blinking LED and light sensor

The Bleep Labs' Thingamagoop

One of the stars of the Noise Explorer soundscape is the Thingamagoop. Unlike the circuit-bent devices, it is a homemade creation of Bleep Labs. An LED light hangs from a tentacle-like protrusion at the top of this whimsical synthesizer in a box. Its blinks fall upon the device’s light sensor, creating a panoply of weird sounds that the user controls with the many knobs and switches. The Thingamagoop’s output can even be used to control other instruments.

A user of the Bleep Labs collaborates with Thomas Fang

Thomas Fang (right) collaborates with a user of the Bleep Labs Sound Explorer 5000 at Art Outside 2012.

You can listen to and download recordings of the Noise Explorer 4000, a previous installation from Houston’s Free Press Summer Festival, or hear more from Thomas Fang on Soundcloud.

Find more from Bleep Labs at bleeplabs.com

Photos of Art Outside 2012 and the Bleep Labs’ Sound Explorer by Kit O’Connell, all rights reserved. Creative Commons-licensed video by Kit O’Connell, with additional audio from the Bleep Labs Noise Explorer 4000 and Creative Commons-licensed photos by Jon Lebkowsky and Church of the Friendly Ghost.

Watercooler: Katie Gray (#ArtOutside)

5:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Art Outside is a beautiful experience this year — cold, but full of warm and open-hearted people. In addition to the warmth of human companionship, there’s also lots of gorgeous fire performance and even flaming art.

Katie Gray on a handmade wooden stage

Katie Gray performs on the Folk Stage at Art Outside 2012.

Last night I was really stunned by Katie Gray‘s stunning voice. Unfortunately, I am still working out all the kinks from my audio recording setup, and my live recordings weren’t what I’d hope. Here’s a lovely recording of a past performance by Katie, and a brief interview I conducted with her last night:

Find more from Katie Gray at katiegray.com.

This is the latest myFDL Watercooler. What’s on your mind?

Saturday Art: Web Of Wishes (#ArtOutside)

1:57 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

Sarah Stollak with the Web of Wishes

Sarah Stollak and the Web Of Wishes (Photo: Kit O'Connell)

One of the interactive art installations at Art Outside this year is Sarah Stollak’s Web Of Wishes. This work is based on yarn and paper and uses the trees on site to create a web of interconnection between participants and the world at large.

The web between trees

Photo: Kit O'Connell

Sarah says her inspirations for this work include Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s landscape artwork and the work of Yoko Ono. It also recalls wishing trees which appeared at some Occupy encampments including Occupy Los Angeles.
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