Recently in sound artists Category

Don Ritter

Don Ritter is a Canadian artist and writer living in Berlin. He creates interactive installations that become social portraits through the participation of audiences. The content of his work is conveyed to audiences experientially, through the physical actions they perform within the installations. His subject matter includes hegemony, servility, commodification of tragedy, and mechanisms of authority.

find his works here

In his sound installation 'O telephone', six modified 1960's telephones are installed in circle on black pedestals within a darkened room. They randomly ring, each with its own distinctive sound. If you pick up a phone that is ringing, a powerful yoga-like "Om? is heard through the handset and through the speaker located where the dial of the phone used to be.

If other people answer other ringing phones, the resulting "Om? sounds will pan through all the answered phones. Like the ringing, each phone has its own "om" voice, some male, other female. The telephones will eventually begin a composition comprised of the ringing and "Om? sounds if they are not answered by viewers. The best way to enjoy the piece is to stand in the middle of the circle of phones, then it feels like the sounds are turning around you. There are 35 different voices. The artist actually used the voice of the people in his yoga class when he lived in New York.

visit O telephone- here

Ikue Mori

Ikue Mori was born, raised, and lived in Japan until 1977 at which point she came to New York initially on an impermanent basis. Upon her arrival she became a member of the New York experimental music scene as drummer for the band DNA. Having had almost no prior musical training, Mori's arrival, retrospectively, seems rather serendipitous in that the artistic climate at the time had an interest in the results produced by "non-musicians" working in music. After the dissolution of DNA Mori remained in New York beginning her transition toward a more improvisatory approach to performance, as well as working with drum machines. Since then she has been working alone and collaboratively with artists like John Zorn, as well as working with the laptop as an instrument.

Mori with DNA
Mori performance and interview
Mori recording w/ Catherine Janiaux

My interest with Ikue Mori I think comes predominantly from 3 places. One is my background in working with music as an approach to art making, another is my interest in the operation and evolution of artistic movements and communities that exist (at least to an extent) outside of institutional settings, and the last being her work with improvisation. What intrigues me about improvisation is the idea that it can create a certain kind of distance between a piece of work and its author: the idea that one can decide a set of parameters for a project that will dictate the nature of further movements can be liberating in that it puts responsibility for the project on the framework rather than directly on the author. By creating a framework to operate in, individual movements also become less significant because they're continually working within the context of a larger thought. By removing this conceptual weight from individual ideas it allows them to function in almost mechanical ways, but also develop strong personalities when they fit within the larger structure.


For my presentation I chose the artist Gerhard Trimpin because I find his merger between physical objects and digital components as both very interesting and in a way creatively inspiring just from possibilities of sound creation that open up considering his approach.

I became interested in his work by what I see how much you can do with the manipulation of physical objects when you add an electrical and digital component. Seeing how it leads the invention of sounds that cannot exist through at least any other practical means is pretty exciting. And I think part of it is the balance he has found between the computer and the sound-making object.

I find Trimpin's invention of the musical instrument that functions beyond what a human being can physically be capable to be one of the more compelling concept behind his work. I also enjoy how he then implements these instruments with technology along with the scale, unfamiliarity and unusuality in both sound and appearance turns these objects from musical instruments into functioning pieces of art.

Trimpin is known for creating sounds exclusively with physical objects but often uses computers to digital construct and control how those physical objects create sounds. He does not work with digitally produced sounds and often uses objects them selves to produce sounds rather then speakers. Trimpin also often creates musical compositions with his invented instruments that simultaneously accompany the exhibited work.

You can see one of his installations in the Minnesota Science Museum. It's a collection of xylophones and other instruments that play to real time data of seismic activity from around the world. You can listen to a sample of this from .

As for other installations the pieces titled Shang high and Liquid Percussion are both pretty good illustrations of Trimpin's sound art. You can see he uses the computer to initiate the action the causes the object to produce noise. In the Shang High installation motors are activated that cause the elevation of the tubes resting in buckets to lower and rise. This act either causes air to push out of the tubes or be sucked in because they are resting in water. This creates the noise you here.

.In Liquid Percussion specific objects for mechanized drips are used each having a specific sound and pitch. The computer controls a nozzle that allows droplets or water in and out in a perfectly timed manner.

Other Instruments and installation: - Fire Organ - Cello Turntable Klompen Guitar Tower clip

For those interested in where some of his ideas came from two of Trimpins stated influences are Conlon Nancarrow and Harry Partch. Conlon Nancarrow was one of the first composures to use an instrument through mechanical means producing a piece of music that could not be played by a human.

The inventor and composer Harry Partch also seems very influential in his work. Harry Parch created a number of instruments that use entirely different tonal systems then we are familiar to such as an instrument that uses an 11 note cycle rather then the 12 we know and would create unique musical compositions with his instruments.

Spark Festival


Spark is here now.

We will be visiting the installations during class on Thursday.

Look at the schedule of events to find one that interests you.

Attend that event and create a blog post that enables us to benefit from your perspective as you describe:

  • What was the event you experienced? - describe it such that we can imagine being there with you
  • How did you responded to and engaged with that sonic experience?
  • How do you relate this experience to concepts that you are exploring in Sound Art?

I encourage you to experience the performances of as many of the featured artists as you can fit into your schedule.