November 2011 Archives

"Sound Zen Garden"

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In Japanese, there are multiple alphabets, but one in particular has particular shapes/images which are interpreted to have meaning, but a specific set of sounds. I had thought it would be interesting to take sounds and make their inherent natural shapes they produce visible.

I did an experiment in which a contact microphone with prerecorded sound was attached to a pane of glass with light projected through it. The vibrations from the sound through the glass made the light move into particular shapes, effectively making the sound visible.

I had thought that this idea could be used to create a shape to sound through particular media- in particular fluid or fluid-like media seems very viable. By projecting a particular or set of particular sounds through things like water, oil, sand, I can make visible the particular shape to the sound, creating a sort of Sound Zen Garden.

I would still need to select what sound or sounds, and what media/medium to project them through, which will require experimentation. I do think I am leaning towards utilizing more calm/meditative tones, and media associated with the natural world or elements.

I do need to figure out how to both get and attach speakers or similar apparatus to what will effectively be some kind of vessel(s) for the mediums, so I am more than willing to hear if anyone has any input on where/how to (inexpensively) get this sort of materials. I do think the vessels themselves will also be very important to the piece, but I will likely select those based on what projects the sound best and what creates the most stimulating experience. But that is the general idea- Sound Zen Garden.

Tower of Babel

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Tower of Babel.mp3

This is the Tower of Babel sound file compressed down into an easy playable mp3. The actual Tower construction has been put on hold due to material and financial shortages, but it should be back underway. . .eventually.

Dist/Intimacy Documentation - Sam Fuentes

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Here's the recording.

Being, Interpreted

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Click here for documentation / the performance

The more I think about this project, the more it seems to become cohesive to me. This project was an exploration of human expression with the "human" facet removed as much as possible; this wasn't so much embodied sound, or disembodied sound, as it was a re-embodied sound. I was interested in the concept of remnants, that whatever produced the sound would still be around in reality, and no longer stored in our memory; I didn't want a recording to be played. I wanted music to occur and to have the generator of that sound still existing with us in the present.

And the more I think about that goal, to have an "objective human expression", the more I like to see how much I failed. It's the most striking visual aspect of what happens here; my body is the framework for the art, and it's obvious that a human is there under the "negation layer" of the costume. No matter what we say, our reality is filtered through our consciousness; nothing can ever be perfectly objective. So my attempt to make an "objective performance" is and always will be doomed on the theoretical level. And I like that. I'm okay with us being stuck with human infallibility.

It's also really funny how my boxers are visible the whole time. There's something to say about that near-nudity; I'm almost being radically honest with the audience, but I am still hidden. The implication of something taboo is there, and nothing more; it's all in the imagination of the audience, it's all in the interpretation.

That's why I wrote "Being Interpreted" on the mask. No one saw it, but it's a detail to keep in mind, all things considered. I think it's a good punny sort of way to explain it; I am a being, some kind of consciousness, and you are interpreting me; that's all there is to it.

Music is a good medium for this kind of wild interpretive experiment, because music has no inherent meaning; we interpret it on an individual level as we please, and have differing tastes in it. And yet, it has the power to shape our mood. This is the basis for my change to this project from the last one I had in mind; the communicative event can only be interpreted, it is not truth transmitted with no loss in understanding between people.

It's all up to your attitude.

I was going to try editing the audio to make it "better", "cleaner", but i decided i really liked the lo-fi approach. It's just so creepy and creative. This isn't how people in the room experienced it, but I like this video representation of how strange people can be. Honestly, how can you not watch and listen to this video, know it is a graded performance at an academic institution, (If you were wondering, the University of Minnesota.) and not wonder about a few things?

The title is Being Interpreted, because that's all I will ever be to anyone.

Embodied Bird Party - Sam Fuentes

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Every time I leave Sound Art I walk by the East wall of Rarig, and my reflections of class are interrupted by a festival of bird calls spilling from the 7-story wall of vines. I'm never able to see the birds as they crouch between the blanket of leaves and the bricks, but it's clear there are dozens of them, screaming, rustling, calling from every corner of the massive edifice. I've been entranced by the cacophonous evidence of an invisible party, and I want to capture this disconnect in my Embodied Sound project.

My approach is pretty simple, and I believe that will lend itself to the immediacy and starkness of the actual event. From an ethereal, transparent cage with undefined boarders, the bird calls will emit. I will be constructing a seemingly familiar, seemingly see-through form out of wire and thick plastic drop-cloths, and inside this form a recording of the birds will play. The speakers and audio equipment will be clouded and invisible by the slight opaque nature of the plastic, but the bird calls will be loud and clear, closely defined and detailed.

8 step wearable instrument

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nola music house

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Artist presentation - Renset

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The core ideal to be taken from examination of this artist was to me, the distinction between "sound art" or "noise" as it has been referred to in past readings, and music. Renset often plays with this ability of ours, or mine at least, to recognize auditory stimulation as one or the other; what I listened to oscillated between recognition and the unknown. This links the two together and creates a new space for contemplation; is one merely submerged by the other, or does this comparison make them the same? Are both just noise, or is it all music? Does it matter?

So this artist to me, offered a very specific philosophical query to be pondered about the nature of, or perhaps definition, of Sound Art.

theramin + arduino

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Leon Theramin playing his instrument the theramin.

Inspired by the theramin + arduino :::

Arduino Piano-Theremin from Michele Spagnuolo on Vimeo.

• Arduino-Theremin: A simple, minimalistic Arduino-based piano-theremin with code accessible via github.
arduino + processing

• Lucky Larry's basic theramin is well documented and reference several of the examples included in this post.


• Theremin as capacitive sensing device


• Arduino Photocell Theremin Synth (glitchamin)

arduino theramin

a view of the raw technology awaiting embodiment


and yet another approach to the ardunio theramin using midi communication.

Inevitable there are questions, problem-solving, frustrations, etc. Check the Arduino:Forum for help. Here is a string of Q&A's re: the the process of making an arduino theramin.

Body Waves

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Nobuho Nagasawa's Bodywaves imay be experienced as a multi-sensory, personal and public narrative that exists in the past and the present.

Bodywaves was presented in the exhibition Sonic Residues.

Sound Transit

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"After a 10 month hiatus the Sound Transit project is back, hosted by

SoundTransit is a collaborative, online community dedicated to field recording
and phonography. Phonography is the art of recording sounds from the
environment around us, with an emphasis on the unintentional sounds which often
go unnoticed in our daily lives. An international community of phonographers
collect and share their recordings, with interests ranging from recordings of
natural or urban environments to improvised situations or soundwalks, to the
resonance of solid objects or the Earth's atmosphere.

In the BOOK section of this site, you can plan a sonic journey through various
locations recorded around the world. In the SEARCH section, you can search the
database for specific sounds by member artists from many different places. If
you are a member of SoundTransit, you can also CONTRIBUTE your recordings for
others to enjoy. The Creative Commons Attribution license encourages the
sharing and reuse of all sounds on the website.

During 2010, SoundTransit's previous host in the Netherlands quadrupled the
rent for the SoundTransit server, forcing it to move or consider closing. offered its support and during 2011 has been working together
with SoundTransit to get everything up and running againTo listen to over 2,000 recordings by 471 artists from around the world, to
experience a unique way of traveling via sound, and to find out how you can
contribute to the SoundTransit project, please visit Sound Transit

Artist Presentation - Andrea Polli

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Andrea Polli

Andrea Polli received her Master of Fine Arts in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a digital media artist living in New Mexico who works with science, technology and media. Currently, she works in collaboration with atmospheric scientists to develop systems for understanding storm and climate through sound (called sonification). Recent projects include: a spatialized sonification of highly detailed models of storms that devastated the New York area; a series of sonifications of climate in Central Park; and a real-time multi-channel sonification and visualization of weather in the Arctic. In 2007/2008 she spent seven weeks in Antarctica on a National Science Foundation funded project.

Links to examples of her work
Heat and the Heartbeat of the City:
Particle Falls:
Cloud Car:

I'm attracted to Andrea Polli's work because of the way she reshapes and reorders information using data sonification and visualization to explore the relationship between humans and the natural world. She draws attention to specific details within large and complex systems and translates them into a digestible form. The transformation of the data is done in an aesthetically pleasing manner. It's poetic and beautiful. In particle falls, the piece spurs curiosity with the viewer and motivates them to explore the issue of particle pollution further. The art creates a space for potential interactions and participation.

I think Polli's work sits at the intersection of art and social movements that I strive for. She uses her art to highlight environmental issues, further sustainability, and to share ideas of what our future could look like. She believes it's important for the public to have a greater understanding of science, especially in the case of complex issues like climate change, and helps spread that understanding to lead people to make informed decisions. I like that her art embraces many disciplines and invites participation from a variety of people. The process of working with experts in so many different areas makes her pieces have lots of depth.

Sam's reflection of that time at the Bakken.

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The objects in the vault appealed to me on a visual level more than anything. I wished we could have seen a demonstration of some of the objects, or more clearly understood the thought processes behind why these machines were believed to have any medical merit. I wanted to experience their possible kinetic and/or sonic nature. The objects that appealed to me most were the theramin and the mindball game, purely for their encouragement of total interaction. I wanted to play and figure out how the toy works.

I'm having trouble making a practical connection between the museum's focus on the body/electricity relationship and our embodied sound project. I can see parallels in how we've been curiously morphing sound into/through physical forms and how scientists had curiously applied electricity to the body in lofty mechanical forms, but I didn't draw much inspiration for my project, to be honest. Perhaps I should consider sound as a sort of healing application for the body, like a form of sonic therapy? I guess that just doesn't interest me. I use sounds (mostly music) for pleasure, but not really in any bodily-healing sort of way. It just seems too homeopathic, or even alchemical.


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I really enjoyed the Bakken field trip. This was the second time I'd been in the vault and was impressed to see things there that I hadn't noticed the first time. My favorite thing, however, was the room with activities on the second floor for exploring static electricity. I like the idea of exploring a basic form of energy that is all around us and seemingly familiar. I like the confetti activity where someone would hold on to the static electricity generator and the confetti would float out of their hands. Such a neat way to make tangible something unseen.

China Blue and Sound Art Stuff

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Well, just so that everyone has access to the artist that I presented on, here is information on China Blue:

China Blue is a biomimetic and environmental sound artist, heaving using recycled materials as well as field recordings, depending on the project. She received her BFA from the California College of the Arts, and her MFA from Hunter College. She also teaches as an adjunct at Brown University.

She was the first artist to receive permission to record the Eiffel Tower during her residency in France. She has worked internationally, and currently looks at themes surrounding urban sprawl, environmental concerns, and the destruction of natural life. In particular, her Fireflies series works to show these concerns. Here are samples of her work and her speaking to NPR:

Embodied scale

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I've changed my project idea completely and decided to try something that would be very new for me. I plan on taking apart an old scale that I found at Savers and attempt to give it sound. Using an arduino, I hope to make it possible for the scale to play on a loop as people stand on it, or play more erratically depending on changes in weight as people jump or stomp on it.


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The most interesting object in the vault of the Baaken to me was the "aura goggles". I think that item encapsulated a large portion of the spirit of the museum, which is the discovery of a new medium of energy; electricity. The goggles ostensibly allowed one to make that which was invisible visible; auras could be seen. It is as if through science we have learned to detect more of the Earth we live on and what it is made of; what else exists with us that our biochemical toolkit cannot sense?

This sense of discovery is what I would connect to embodied sound. Thinking about communication between ourselves and the natural world is a strange concept, because we are left wondering "what it means"; nature doesn't have a moral to the story. This central idea of people as the creators of worth or meaning is very much what i am trying to manifest through my embodied sound project.

Bakken Museum

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Created with flickr slideshow.
The electricity box was especially interesting. We were told that by shocking different nerves (i.e. in your eye and gums) different hallucination-like lights could be seen. Electricity is a huge part of the human experience. I would like to further explore the relationship of electricity generation and humans. Creating a sonified interpretation of different types of energy production and their emissions would be cool.

Matt's Embody

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I want have an installation of my turntables/records. The embodied part is found in the very physicality of records. It is because of the way the grooves are shaped that produces sound. The needle drags over this shaped groove, turned into an electrical signal, and then the mixer amplifies the sound. I find all elements of using turntables to be embodied.

I do not wish to make this piece heavy conceptually. My hope is that people can simply enjoy some music for a while, and serendipitously experience record skips.

embodied sound by sara

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My project has changed quite a bit since we all talked about our ideas in class. I am interested in creating a communal event that involves exploration on both an individual and group level. There will be no pre-recorded sounds or tracks, everything will be created on the spot with contact mics, determined by group engagement. Don't eat lunch before class, and let me know if you have any food allergies or restrictions.

Embodied Sound Project Inklings

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My project is centered around one crucial technological function; playing a recording after pressing a button. I have been looking into arduinos as a possibility, but they might only be able to make tones or "melodies" out of those tones, which might be serviceable, if in desperation.

If an arduino cannot suffice, I will have to look into masking an iPod or similar mp3 player to create the sound; i really do not want to have this dimension added to the work, however.

If i can figure out how to get a thing to make a sound that I have recorded, the second aspect to my work is making a "duration"; I want to have a mechanical action press the button which would play the sound. The mechanical action must have a duration to it, to reference the passage of time. This could be done with a ramp for a ball to follow, or a trail for fire to burn. Some kind of rube goldberg contraption.

With these two aspects locked in, my artistic intention as author becomes solidified to a level i feel adequate. I don't know how other people will interpret it, but I feel I will have done my job.

Progression of Sound Project

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I already have a fair number of the languages recorded for the respective phrase(s). Synching up the meanings is proving more difficult than I imagined, but I suspect I will get that done soon. I would have liked to have had a tower-like apparatus to have projected the sound around, but I do not think current time constraints will allow for its construction. As a result, maybe I will have some sort of metaphorical tower space to project the various language sounds around, to recreate the confusion of the mythical Tower of Babel.

um-bodied sound

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turti copy.jpg

embodied sound

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Setting: rooftop
Sound: wireless microphone inside a weather balloon on a roof
Amplification: speakers on rooftop

Questions: Where do I find a weather balloon? Where will we have access to a rooftop?

Embodied sound update... [Candice]

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There is a lot of building to do this weekend. I am hoping to make a wind chime/ sculptural piece that reverberates sounds through piezo mics and their recordings in glasses and wooden objects. To make sound more interesting I may add objects inside the glasses, but I need work directly with the material to see what I can accomplish.

The Bakken Museum

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Overall, I found the Bakken relevant to most of my current interests and fields, though it definitely generated a great deal of interest in potential sound art (and also other art) projects.

I really did enjoy playing with the theremin, along with converting my heartbeat/pulse into music, albeit very simplistic beat-based music. I had thought perhaps it would be an interesting idea to convert biomedical responses (via EKG, medtronics, etc) into a beatbox generator style program. I have already found a beatbox generator, but if the same basic premise could be converted to alter pitch/tone/speed in response to the user's own body function, it could be a very interesting and unique experience for each user.

I also liked the steampunk-esque school of materials that could be used to generate static- which also inherently generate sound. These could also be used to generate electronic sounds- along with accompanying visuals.

The User- Sound Artist Presentation (via Candice)

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Background Information:

The User is a contemporary art collective comprised of Thomas McIntosh and Emmanuel Madan, who are best known for their work Symphony for dot matrix printers,Silophone and Coincidence Engines. The duo uses their collective knowledge to create projects that draw relationships between technological systems, culture and the human experience in striking ways. Thomas McIntosh was born in London, England in 1972. He studied architecture at Carelton University in Ottawa as well as the technical University in Berlin. Emmanuel Madan has a background in composing, sound art and curating shows in Montreal. He studied electronic acoustic composition under Francis Dhomont in the early 90's. In addition he spent time as a radio broadcasting engineer, journalist, and producer. Since 1998 both McIntosh and Madan have worked in collaboration to create works under the name The User.

Attraction to Artist:

First, the most striking was the name. Initially, it made me think of a tag name or Tron and I was just drawn to the idea. When I began looking at their work I was impressed with their presentation and idea of using technology and everyday sounds to create something new for people to view and listen to. In away it was much like my first impression of them as a tag name. Their presentation of their work reminds me of the same ideology a street artist/ graffiti artist might work. For example the Symphony 1 for dot matrix printers takes machines that we are so familiar with, that even may be considered junk. These artists use machines to reinvent our image of the objects and the sound they produce in the same way that I have watched street artist take ordinary or broken down walls and change them into and artistic or political expression.


Symphony 1

Coincidence Engines


The Baakan

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The Baakan museum was by far one of my favorite college "field trips". I was most entertained by the Theremin. This musical instrument was unlike any that I have had the opportunity to play with, simply based on the fact that with out physically touching the object our bodies were able to produce sound. I still don't completely understand how the combination of our bodies, electrical current, and the object work together to produce sound. However, regardless it was great to get to play with one. I was first introduced to the instrument while watching a Moog documentary. The documentary mainly explained the creative philosophy of the inventor of Moog synths and other products. Towards the end of the documentary he talked about a Theremin, it was short but very interesting. I needed to find out more about the instrument and strangely three days later Diane announced we were going to the Baakan museum to play with one. It was strange and perfect timing. The people I watched play the Theremin made it look so easy. I can say from trying to make it work for me, that it is most defiantly not as easy to manipulate as I thought. This machine defines the idea of embodied sound in a very literal sense. The electrical currents embodied with in our selves in addition of the theremin create unique and controlled sound. I still want to understand the mechanics of it. I need to look that up.
In terms of my Embodied sound project I don't know if any of the information I have taken in will directly connect what I am able to accomplish in my embodied sound project, because I don't have enough technical skill to use the science I have learned at the Baakan. However, what it this trip did show me is the possibilities of using science and sound to create interesting and entertaining projects for the future.

Christine Sun Kim

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A deaf sound artist explores the physicality of sound:

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Baaken to the future

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while visiting the "vault" at the Baaken I was very interested by the many radionics devices that they had in storage. How could technological medical device that is based on absolutely no scientific evidence have been so widely used by the medical community and public? Was the creator Alpert Abrams trying to pull one over on the patients who subscribed to his treatment? Like the shoe shop x-ray machine found in the vault the radionics devices were relatively common place but no longer fit into our collective understanding of our world/well being. I had never heard of these types of devices before my visit to the Baaken. Why? Why do disregard such creations? Is it that we are ashamed of our cultural mistakes? Heck, the word radionic isn't even recognized by this spell check. I wonder if other devices may have been widespread and counter-intuitive.

here is a link to the radionic association

i had a hard time trying to find any legitimate information on this website but apparently they offer classes

Artist Presentation - Ray Lee

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-Ray Lee is a sound artist as well as a composer and performer. "His work investigates
his fascination with the hidden world of electro-magnetic radiation and in particular how
sound can be used as evidence of invisible phenomena." He focuses on sound as a sort of
by-product to mysterious invisible forces. The structures he creates are often arranged in
multiples with spinning components and electronic motors or sirens or speakers. Some of
his most popular work has been produced with these spinning emitters that, when
arranged in a space and spun at different speeds, produce whirring, phasing ethers of
sound as a sort of minimalist music. Works like Siren allow you to walk into a
space and become enveloped in an eerie, thick, crystal chord of individual tones
produced either directly by the emitters or as harmonic consequences of the different
rotational speeds, proximity to other emitters, or acoustic interference by the architecture
of the space.

-What attracted me to Ray's work were these musical characteristics that felt like a sort
of byproduct of works like Siren. In his investigation of sound as a byproduct of electro-
magnetic radiation, he sort of discovered music in a minimalist form as a byproduct of
these sounds. And in my opinion, Siren is an apt name for the piece. I've never heard a
fuller or more hypnotizing chord, and I can only imagine the haunting clarity I would
feel if I were in the same room with the piece. And through these performances he turns
the space into a room with one purpose. The hypnotizing nature of being in a space
composed of the individual tones of one whirring chord seems to crystallize the space
and make it whole. I am fascinated with this idea of a room full of sound, the room as a

Bakken Mhoward

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I thought that the "shock machine" out in the lobby was the most interesting part of my visit. The device is very ephemeral in how it operates. The only way to experience the embodied nature of it is by connecting the circuit with your own body. Our class made it much more interesting by forming chains to get more people shocked. Then by shocking each other's eyes, nose, ears, tongue, etc.. I think this idea of interaction with each other via a machine is really cool. We further develop our relationships and a sense of intimacy among friends because of something so simple as an electrical shock machine.

Very cool.

Good thinking Bakken!

Baaken Visit reflections

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Baaken Museum visit with Juliet Burba, PhD, curator of the collections.

Following your visit, post your description of one of the collection objects that was
most interesting to you and what about this object captured your attention.

Add to your blog post your reflections on how the connections that you would make
between the museum's focus on electricity, the body, and healing and our
current focus on Embodied Sound.

Artist Presentation - Christian Marklay by Daniel Dean

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Radio Silence :: John Mowitt

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Music colloquium_Mowitt.jpg

Artist Presentation - Ben Moren

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Toy Deconstruction Workshop

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Taught by Asia Ward

FREE: Library Laboratory for Adults: Misfit Toys
Thursday, November 3 · 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Nokomis Library 5100 34th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55417

RSVP for this Free Misfit Toys workshop. Bring a toy to destroy (and put back together again) Deconstruct and rebuild unwanted and noisy moving toys. Find out about the electronics that make toys move and create your own moving and talking misfit toy to bring home. Supplies provided.

Register Online

or call (612) 543-6800.

schedule • Sound Artist Presentations

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Tuesday November 1

• Ben Moren
• Ryan Wurst
• Brian Garrow

Thursday November 3

• Dan Dicken
• Jake Rhode
• Nels Shafer

Tuesday November 8

• Sam Fuentes
• Shannon Lee
• Sara Nichol
• Daniel Dean

Thursday November 10

• Matt Howard
• Candice Hafalia-Yackel
• Szavio Raaum