Peter Flemming’s Instrumentation at Centre Skol

The Instrumentation exhibition by Folk-machine artist Peter Flemming at Centre des arts actuels Skol is based on the principle that everything has an electromagnetic frequency. Meaning even the most mundane and everyday materials reverberate with energy ever so slight that the human sensorial system (hearing, sight, and touch) can’t recognize these vibrations.

To illustrate this abstract theory, Peter Flemming assembled speakers from unusual materials, such as, buckets, drums, salvaged windows, metal garbage cans, and plywood. The style of these makeshift speakers concocted from common materials lends itself to the do-it-yourself aesthetic ubiquitous with assemblage art, but unlike most assemblage art, Instrumentation is not static, these speakers are playing music.

The sound gently pulsing out these improvised speakers comes from an installation in the back-room. There, a simple plywood work-table with crudely assembled pulleys, levers, and all sorts of other contraptions act as an acoustic transducer for electromagnetically activated piano wires. The sound being produced is not rhythmical; rather, it is more of a bio-rhythmic tempo akin to the sounds inside the human body.

The instruments reliance of solar power limits it ability to produce any kind of solid tempo. Especially since, the solar power is coming from lamps that seem to be having trouble staying lit. Each contraption on the table is independently controlled by solar panels, singing in its own key, with the drone being amplified by the glass panes.

Back in the front room, the modulation and pitch of the sound change depending on your position, and as each motor receive more or less solar energy. The fluctuating rhythm is so subdued and organic, it’s reminiscent of our own internal body rhythm that is dependent upon so many variables we cannot control.

This exhibition is part of the International Digital Arts Biennial (BIAN) and it runs until June 2nd.

All photographs © Juan Madrigal

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