Thrum I

pictures and video credit: Anna Lukala

Thrum was a more chaotic machine than Thrum II. It might have been happier in a more controlled, less visually rich space, much as I love the crumbling walls of the Safehouse 2 exhibition space.

Other things that have changed between the two iterations are that the discs, which have to be strongly lit for the zoetrope effect to work, were lit by PIR controlled security lights, which have low grade DC power supplies giving a pulse of lines that travel across the image at all times. Also, the bass string was struck by fat embroidery needles, that bounced with their own frequency and turbulence.

In Thrum I there were two discs, and only one was filmed and projected, the other would only animate if filmed by camera phone, and that disc is the most fragmented of all the discs I have made, with no clear registration points matching the frequency of the phone camera- none of the easy spectacle of the 3D zoetrope, no dancing figures, so of course, no-one did film it with their iPhones.

Nonetheless, I love the flickering hypnotic quality this misalignment of frequencies brings to the image and I am going to make a new, stand alone piece, with a camera and projector this time, to really hammer home that this is a deliberate effect. I’m hoping by holding peoples attention to it a bit more this time, that they will see how the repeating flicker of half formed images form slightly differently in your head as you watch, as well as the change caused by the different frequencies within it, so that the image on screen and in your perception develops and unfolds forever. I think it is a great discovery and I could watch it for a long time.

There are things that remain the same too, between the two iterations. The packing box the piece arrives in is a resonant chamber, like a Box Bass, that forms the body of the robot. The disc filmed has sequences of numbers, that allow me to find out the frequency of the disc in tandem with the frame rate of the camera, and show the trick of it, if you are willing to spend the time working it out, offering the promise even if you don’t. The machine makes a film, casts moving shadows and generates it’s own repetative soundtrack. I couldn’t live with the sound of Thrum I for long though, and that is one reason it had to go, cannibalised into Thrum II.

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