Networked_Music_Review

Siren, Invisible Forces, and Ray Lee

siren.jpgSiren, by Ray Lee, is a whirling, spinning spectacle of mechanical movement, electronic sound and light. Twenty-nine large metal tripods, up to 3m tall, have rotating arms that spin around, powered by electric motors. Hand built electronic tone generators power loudspeakers at the end of each arm creating an extraordinary sonic texture of pulsing electronic drones. Small LED’s at the end of the arms trace circles of light as the arms rapidly rotate creating a compelling visual image.

The audience, kept at a safe distance from the whirling arms by a safety barrier, are able to move freely about the space and experience different sonic and visual perspectives of the work. Meanwhile the performers move about within the mass of swirling metal machinery, operating their machines and tuning oscillators to change the musical composition while dodging and ducking the rapid movement of the rotating arms.

This ‘choir of rotating sirens’ creates an audio visual spectacle that is essentially a live experience. Wherever you stand in the space it sounds different. As the arms rotate, the sound pulses past the listener with a Doppler-like effect, while the cluster of closely tuned oscillators creates a rich and pervasive sound world. A minimalist phasing of the rhythmic pulses emerges as the varying speeds of rotation of the arms makes the pulsing tones phase against each other in a constantly evolving polyrhythmic structure. The closeness of the tuning of the separate tones sets off a series of amazing overtones that evoke the sense of an ethereal choir.

spin2web.jpgIn an interview, Robert Ayers asked Lee what he finds so fascinating about invisible forces like magnetism and electricity? Lee replied:

I’ve had this preoccupation with invisible forces since my college work in the very early nineteen eighties, when I was burying walkie-talkies in piles of earth, and it continues right up to my current work where I’m seeking to make the existence of this invisible world concrete through using the Theremin.

In fact there are a lot of reasons why I am deeply fascinated by invisible forces. Some are to do with a kind of childlike wonder. How does a radio work? How do TV signals travel through the atmosphere? Why are magnets magnetic? I love this idea of influence from a distance. Magnetism is a physical property that has physical laws to explain it (but that don’t really tell me why) and magnetism surrounds us. We can make magnets by passing an electric current through a wire wrapped around a piece of metal. If you hit a nail with a hammer in the direction of north the nail becomes a temporary magnet. In the last house I lived in I was perturbed to find that all the nails in the floorboards were magnetic enough to influence a compass placed over them. The house, which faced north, had become magnetic. Then you get into electro-magnetic radiation and you discover that, low and behold, everything is part of this electro-magnetic spectrum which goes from cosmic rays through x-rays and visible light to radio waves. To me there is a magical and mysterious quality to magnets. We use them to alleviate rheumatism, to stop water pipes furring up, to improve the flow of fuel in engines, to cure back pain, as well as to levitate trains and take pictures of the insides of our bodies. Right from ancient times magnets have had a mystical, alchemical property. In the eighteenth century, Franz Mesmer was practising magnetic cures before he became known as a mesmeriser. Yet we seem to have retained this ‘primitive’, almost unscientific notion of magnetic cures. If magnets do work maybe we can influence people with powerful magnets, and if we ate enough magnets would we have a magnetic personality?” Read the entire Listening to Ray Lee: Interview by Robert Ayers.

Ray Lee is an artist, composer, performer and lecturer. Over the past twenty years he has made work that includes performance, installation, composition, and photography. Ray Lee’s work investigates his fascination with the hidden world of electromagnetic radiation and in particular how sound can be used as evidence of invisible phenomena. He is interested in the way that science and philosophy represent the universe and his work questions the orthodoxies that emerge and submerge according to the currently fashionable trends. He creates spinning, whirling and pendulous sound installations/performances that explore ‘circles of ether’, the invisible forces that surround us. He lectures in contemporary arts and music at Oxford Brookes University.


Nov 27, 2007
Trackback URL

Leave a comment

Interviews

Current interview:
Robin Meier, Ali Momeni and the sound of insects

Previous Interviews:

Tags


livestage music sound performance calls + opps installation audio/visual radio festival instrument networked audio interactive experimental electronic workshop video participatory writings event mobile exhibition concert live collaboration electroacoustic environment nature reblog distributed soundscape field recording net_music_weekly improvisation software history locative media space public noise recording immersion voice acoustic sonification lecture generative conference body tool sound sculpture net art art + science VJ/DJ light diy remix site-specific perception mapping film visualization listening laptop algorithmic multimedia city urban data wearable architecture open source game virtual biotechnology sound walk spatialization webcast hacktivism robotic image score platform electromagnetic new media cinema ecology found news composer telematic interface streaming residency interviews/other sensor dance circuit bending synesthesia physical political notation intervention object controller broadcasts conversation narrative second life responsive mashup place technology ambient social network symposium motion tracking hybrid intermedia augmented spoken word livecoding text phonography auralization acousmatic upgrade! gesture opera aesthetics mixed reality resource theory processing 8bit orchestra nmr_commission wireless device toy wireless network theater web 2.0 presentation community surveillance p2p 3D copyright soundtrack research podcast sample feedback psychogeography social chance interdisciplinary tactile recycle interview language systems code emergence presence cassette privacy free/libre software media play chiptune newsletter place-specific archives avatar education haptics activist surround sound audio tour glitch hardware tactical identity bioart asynchronous business tv tangible composition animation jazz transmission arts apps tag e-literature collective microsound relational synchronous Artificial Intelligence conductor convergence reuse simulation ubiquitous synthesizers im/material
3D 8bit acousmatic acoustic activist aesthetics algorithmic ambient animation apps architecture archives art + science Artificial Intelligence asynchronous audio audio/visual audio tour augmented auralization avatar bioart biotechnology body broadcasts business calls + opps cassette chance chiptune cinema circuit bending city code collaboration collective community composer composition concert conductor conference controller convergence conversation copyright dance data distributed diy e-literature ecology education electroacoustic electromagnetic electronic emergence environment event exhibition experimental feedback festival field recording film found free/libre software game generative gesture glitch hacktivism haptics hardware history hybrid identity im/material image immersion improvisation installation instrument interactive interdisciplinary interface intermedia intervention interview interviews/other jazz language laptop lecture light listening live livecoding livestage locative media mapping mashup media microsound mixed reality mobile motion tracking multimedia music narrative nature net art networked net_music_weekly new media news newsletter nmr_commission noise notation object open source opera orchestra p2p participatory perception performance phonography physical place place-specific platform play podcast political presence presentation privacy processing psychogeography public radio reblog recording recycle relational remix research residency resource responsive reuse robotic sample score second life sensor simulation site-specific social social network software sonification sound soundscape sound sculpture soundtrack sound walk space spatialization spoken word streaming surround sound surveillance symposium synchronous synesthesia synthesizers systems tactical tactile tag tangible technology telematic text theater theory tool toy transmission arts tv ubiquitous upgrade! urban video virtual visualization VJ/DJ voice wearable web 2.0 webcast wireless device wireless network workshop writings

Archives

2017

Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2016

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2015

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2014

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2013

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2012

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2011

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2010

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2009

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2008

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2007

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2006

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2005

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2004

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul

What is this?

Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

Read more...

NMR Commissions

NMR commissioned the following artists to create new sound art works. More...
More NMR Commissions

Net_Music_Weekly

"Two Trains" by Data-Driven DJ aka Brian Foo

Two Trains: Sonification of Income Inequality on the NYC Subway by Data-Driven DJ aka Brian Foo: The goal of this song is to emulate a ride on the New York City Subway's 2 Train ... Read more
Previous N_M_Weeklies

Bloggers

Guest Bloggers:

F.Y.I.

Feed2Mobile
Massachusetts Cultural Council
networked_performance
Networked: a (networked_book) about (networked_art)
New American Radio
New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.
New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency
New York State Music Fund
Turbulence
Upgrade! Boston

Turbulence Works