[Microsound-announce] TONEWHEELS Installation, Access Space Sheffield

Derek Holzer derek at umatic.nl
Wed Jul 23 11:58:12 EDT 2008

TONEWHEELS Installation
Derek Holzer
Access Space Artist-in-Residence
19 July - 1 August, 2008
Access Space, 1 Sidney Street, Sheffield UK


TONEWHEELS is an experiment in converting graphical imagery to sound,
inspired by some of the pioneering 20th Century electronic music
inventions. Transparent tonewheels with repeating patterns are spun over
light-sensitive electronic circuitry to produce sound. This all-analog
set is performed entirely live without the use of computers, using only
overhead projectors as light source, performance interface and audience
display. In this way, TONEWHEELS aims to open up the "black box" of
electronic music and video by exposing the working processes of the
performance for the audience to see.

Up until now, TONEWHEELS has been realized as a live performance or a
workshop (at WAVES, Dortmund, May 2008). However, for Access Space,
Holzer has decided to create a playable installation based on these
simple optoelectronic principles. Users of Access Space will be invited
to produce patterns for the spinning tonewheels as well as graphical
scores to be projected on the instrument in order to play it.

The inspiration for this installation comes from the ANS synthesizer.
The ANS is a pioneering electronic music instrument conceived and built
by Evgeny Murzin in the Soviet Union during the late 1950's. It is also
one of the first experiments in direct graphical composition. To compose
with the ANS, the user scratches lines through the opaque black covering
on a glass plate. Light shines through these lines as the plate passes
through the machine, and activates photocells inside it. Lines at the
bottom of the plate produce low tones, while lines at the top of the
plate produce high tones.

The only existing ANS is installed in the Theremin Center in Moscow.
Soviet composers such as Edward Artemyev used the ANS to record the
soundtracks for Tarkovsky's "Stalker" and "Solaris", and more recently
the English group Coil released a triple CD realized on the instrument.
Outside Moscow, the legacy of the ANS lives on largely in the software
world. Any kind of software which allows the user to "draw" or "paint"
with sound, such as the UPIC softwares developed by Iannis Xenakis at
IRCAM, IanniX, HighC or the MetaSynth software, owes a great deal to the

The completed TONEWHEELS instrument (housed in a beautiful old wooden
Grandfather Clock cabinet) as well as the user-designed wheels and
scores will be presented on Friday, 1 August 2008 at Access Space, 1
Sidney Street, Sheffield UK. Many thanks to Jake Harries, Access Space
and Andrei Smirnov for their support and assistance with this project.

derek holzer ::: http://www.umatic.nl ::: http://blog.myspace.com/macumbista
---Oblique Strategy # 47:
"Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them"

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