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bakken entry and embodied sound

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In addition to my original post reflecting on the Bakken trip, some notes about how it relates to embodied sound:

I found the early scientific and medical explorations of the body and electricity really interesting. From the models in storage that would be filled with salt water and have nodes and wires attached to them as a way to map how electricity moved through the body to the more modern statement of praise of electro-shock therapy that was on display in one of the exhibits. I just think it's fascinating that while many of the properties and characteristics of electricity have been figured out, much of why it works particularly in the body remains mysterious. That's an idea to explore for a future embodied sound.

Bakken Museum

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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.

Bakken Museum is electric

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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.

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.

bakken

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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.

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.

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 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.

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

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!