Thrum II

Video documentation of Thrum II in my studio/shed space. This is a mechanical artwork with projection, and is intended for a neutral white/black box gallery space, large enough that the projections of the very small zoetrope disks are projected floor to ceiling, forming it’s own three wall space.

The projections feature the flickering presence of rows of objects that appear to tremble in place, an ever changing unstable object that is in fact thirty separate nearly identical objects that spin at the frequency required to replace one object almost seamlessly with the next object when viewed through the digital cameras that are set up to watch the phenomena.

The cameras are feeding video live to the projector without digital intervention. The imperfect illusion of an object in real space co-exists with the viewers live space, so the viewer and the projected image can appear on camera, as well as the viewer interrupting the projection, so their body and their shadow forms part of the image on the wall.

This interaction with the audience is repeated in the mechanics of the piece, with the turntables spinning only when they sense movement in the space. The PIR sensor is labelled EYE in a comically literal equivalence between the viewer and the viewed. The piece also makes its own sound, two guitar strings are brushed into a rhythmic bass chord that visually features enlarged and distorted in the projections as a wobbling serpentine gold rope , a music box is turned very slowly, so that the tune is lost, and a button in pushed and released by the same slow motor that records and transmits any sound in the space, both the machine and the human presence, broadcast through a waxed paper cone, and recorded through a smaller cone marked EAR.

The mechanisms of Thrum II are supported in the most efficient way I can manage, using metal clamps and rods from lab equipment suppliers. To bring the discs up to table top level, the machine is mounted on a handmade packing crate that will hold the whole mechanism and cameras for transportation to a show space, so that a gallery only needs to supply three projectors taking HDMI connection, and a space of around 8m x 8m to allow for three 3m high projections.

The crate also acts as a resonant box to amplify the sound of the bass strings. A contact mic inside the box is patched in to an old guitar amp, the rebroadcasting of the rhythmic strum creates a thrumming pulse and the audio ghost of other sounds as the frequencies interfere.

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