Bent Circuits

Bent Circuits is an interactive installation that offers ‘hands-on’ exploration of sounds hidden in technology. The technologies include electronic toys and an instrument that makes no sound of its own. Participants are asked: can you coax sound from all three? Two have been modified to extend sonic and interactive capability beyond presupposed use. The third is an unmodified mixing desk, which would usually be used to balance and adjust sound. However, the outputs of this mixing desk have been connected to its inputs, which leads to audible feedback; with careful twiddling the hidden ‘voice’ of the mixer can thus be brought to the fore.

Hidden sounds and the appropriation and reuse of existing objects is at the foreground of this project, which is intended to comment upon the prevalent cultural assumption that technology should offer fast and effortless gratification. The work presents familiar objects, which involve sound, but their new functionality is either hypersensitive to touch or requires careful activation at specific times in a specific order. At Tyalgum Music Festival and Listening Museum III some participants struggled to operate the devices. Those that persevered figured out how to ‘touch’ or otherwise operate the instruments and many were able to elicit sound in a surprisingly virtuosic manner. Overall, this project reminds us that a saxophone or violin being difficult to master is culturally acceptable and suggests that a similarly open-ended and non-reductionist approach to technology may improve our relationship with it.

Bent Circuits was created as part of Hidden Sounds 2018, a series of 7 sound installations curated by Clocked Out with funding from the Australia Council for the Arts. Hidden Sounds have appeared as part of National Science Week and the Eco-Acoustics International Conference, been installed at Tyalgum Music Festival, and presented at The Listening Museum III in association with Clocked Out and Urban Arts Project.

Links to online documentation