The "Electricity is Life" machine was one of the most interesting parts of the museum to me because everyone had such different ways they wanted to interact with it. Some (like me) did not want to experience even the smallest shock on my hand, while others were experimenting with much stronger shocks to the gum, ear or eyeball. The museum made me think about how we normally experience electricity today. It is not something one can easily see or feel.....usually it just moves through wires and is away from us. I think that the difficulty in seeing electricity is precisely why people are fascinated with it at the Bakken Museum. The museum makes it "visible" through its effects on the human body with devices like the Leyden jar, Mindball, or the Electricity is Life machine, suggesting that electricity does not have to be confined to wires or individual study, but can be accessible to the public. This idea relates to embodied sound and makes me think of the contacts mic, which can introduce us to sound that is not normally audible.
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I really missed a majority of the explanation of what exactly they do in the lab, It is to my best understanding that they document frog reactions to sound. Being in the sound proof chamber was kind of exciting, I listened to the sounds of frogs, and I think that the rhythmic vocalizations of frogs is something worthy of exploring, the more interesting component of this was the acoustical explorations that the grad students created. I never used a bow to play cymbals before, but seeing/hearing/playing these in a sound proof room was far more interesting than a speaker playing frog sounds. I think that really awesome psychological effects of sounds and our mind state could be explored in these rooms, not sure exactly what I envision to be such an experience, and the lack of the surround sound that the chamber possesses was a slight disappointment.
My thoughts on the Bakken Museum:
The Bakken museum began as an exploration through the vault, containing a number of quackery machines, It was a fascinating experience to witness devices that astounded the people of the era, as well as exceeding the comprehension of the creators. I see a lot of potential for devices that employ principles unrelated to their intention. Perhaps devices that operate on black-magic. I find it very tempting to create things that operate on the unseen/impossible to identify their actual functions. Also the primitive sex devices incited my interests, being the first to combine electricity and sex would have been a remarkable at the time. The theremin was also exciting to see/explore, would really like to get intimate with one of those devices at some point. In many ways I was frustrated by this museum, I would prefer a similar type of place were you can touch everything. Albeit they had things that were interactive, The really wonky dangerous looking devices looked funner. Oh well.
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.
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.