Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Water Instruments, Gordon Monahan, Steve Mann


I think most people I can safely say love to hear beautiful sounds and  there have been studies that give evidence that sound evokes many emotions and responses in the human psyche. My recent exploration of performance which certainly isn't expansive, none the less I have a renewed interest in it, however I am not exactly certain why, other than for the enjoyment of creative exploration and process.

A friend a few years back gave me a cassette recorder that was old but in excellent condition. I visited an artist friend in her studio and conducted three interviews with her and on the last occasion I used the recorder to tape our interview, followed by photographs of her in an out of her her studio and now I intend to do studio photos of her as my subject matter. 

Upon my return home I immediately proceeded to play back the interview. I was annoyed because of the quality of the sound  had been affected by the recording of the machine itself. The longer I thought about  the recording of the actual machine itself, I became some what curious about it. I asked myself why? I think it has to do with the purity of the event itself machine noises and all. There for me lies the rub, the questions I thought were effective and illicited the responses I had hoped to acquire.  I thought to myself how can I  push this further, and what is it that makes me want to? After further consideration I came to the conclusion it's about sound for me, and about process, without placing value judgement on creative expression regardless of the machines technical glitches.  I have the freedom to choose to leave the noise in and use this as part and parcel of the piece or scrap it and do another. There is something curious about old recording devices even the sounds picked up of the recorder by the recorder itself. The recorder almost becomes an instrument of sorts. Sound is language and music, each tells a story.


I found an interesting video online about the hydraulophone  or water flute, which was a very cool instrument invented by Steve Mann, a Professor of  electrical and computer engineering in Toronto Ontario. This reminded me of a sound installation  Gordon Monahan  did in 1990 involving water entitled, Aquaelian Whirlpool to make music. Both individual concepts involving sound are very curious to me. They extend and push the boundaries of preconceived notions of what music is, involving combined elements of water and air. 


"The Aquaeolian Whirlpool demonstrates that the music of aeolian harps can be transposed from the medium of air to the medium of water; that the music produced in both cases is a kindred phenomenon; that the flowing of water and air is fundamental to our production of music; and that in many cases, water and air are interchangeable substances in the generation and transmission of sound."

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