Mark Bain: Works X 2

markbain.jpg[1] The Omnisound Generator :: Electric motor, mechanical sound generator, spherical mixing chamber, plastic tubing, industrial headphones :: 34″ x 24″ x 10″ :: Warning: extended use with the headphones may induce slight nausea, vertigo and mental confusion in some sensitive persons. Use at your own risk.

Seven octaves, 84 discrete tones, all at once all the time, a history of western music as played back in its entirety as one incessant chord. This drone, this filler of space and monster of the twelve-tone scale, is unrelenting in its ever pervasiveness. As a pneumatic sound engine, the Omnisound Generator allows for remote placement into the machine via air coupled headphones. Monitoring the insides with stethoscopic precision, hear its heartbeat, its scream, its infrasonic rumblings and the wind rushing by. ALL SOUND ENGINES ARE GO!

9811e0011.jpg[2] The Live Room – Transducing Resonant Architecture

The Live Room is a temporary site specific installation, distributed across the exhibition space, in which machines fuse into architecture combining forces of action into form, structure and space. In this project, small acoustic intensifying devices are used which are mounted to the structure of the building, engaging the architecture and running impulsive energy throughout. The system is designed to produce sound and vibration in direct relation to the building and the dimensions of the space.

The Live Room utilizes seismic induction equipment to activate the interior (or exterior) surfaces of the site and create a large scale “tectonic charging” by means of vibration. By using a variety of transducing devices and signal generation equipment, Bain can effectively “tune in” a space by delivering its resonant frequency to its different parts.

Normally we think of sound as waves of energy traveling through a medium (such as air) on its way to the ear. Because the molecules are more spread out, gasses like air are in fact less efficient mediums for sound to travel than liquids or solids. Therefore the solids which make up most architectural forms can be thought of as very efficient conductors of vibro-acoustic energy. Though these electro-mechanical devices don”t actually produce their own sound, the energy they impart changes the surfaces into what, in essence, are an infinitely large acoustic radiators or speakers. By using multiple transducers, the room can be driven with energy which is derived in response to the shape and material makeup of the room.

Buildings, human bodies and all other materials, have their own particular resonant frequency. If this frequency, also known as the value of efficient excitation, is accurately located, it is possible through mechanical means to literally “ring” the material, like striking a bell. If this “ringing” is reinforced through a feedback system, it is possible to produce a phase aligned addition to this wave form where potentials are present for the material oscillate out of control. In 1898 the inventor Nikola Tesla was working with similar energy imparting devices which was said to be so small “you could put it in your overcoat pocket.”

“I was experimenting with vibrations. I had one of my machines going and I wanted to see if I could get it in tune with the vibration of the building. I put it up notch after notch. There was a peculiar cracking sound.

I asked my assistants where did the sound come from. They did not know. I put the machine up a few more notches. There was a louder cracking sound. I knew I was approaching the vibration of the steel building. I pushed the machine a little higher.

Suddenly all the heavy machinery in the place was flying around. I grabbed a hammer and broke the machine. The building would have been about our ears in another few minutes. Outside in the street there was pandemonium. The police and ambulances arrived. I told my assistants to say nothing. We told the police it must have been an earthquake. That”s all they ever knew about it.” (Nikola Tesla, 1935)

This notorious event was said to have also produced a similarly intense sympathetic vibration two blocks away from Tesla”s laboratory.

Mark Bain’s notion of “transient architecture” describes a system of infection where action modulates form and where stability disintegrates. The Live Room project seeks to intensify these sites with hybrid-machines, fusing architecture with dynamic systems. This act of “site charging” is intended to create resonating spaces which are normally thought of as static. This action is an attempt towards the liberation of tectonics from typical inertial limits; where resonant structures vibrate in sympathy to induced frequencies. With this work, Bain suggests a model for transducing architecture, i.e. defining the space with external influences of a vibro-kinetic nature.

The Live Room in addition generates infrasonic sound, i.e. sounds at frequencies below the threshold of hearing which still affect the body and perception in ways which can seem unpredictable. There is a subtle strangeness to this project which revolves around the production and injection of these unique low frequencies. When the body comes in contact with infrasound and vibration, unique phenomena develop. Parts of the body can be excited through differing frequencies allowing the spaces within to be felt. Certain feelings and tendencies can also be elicited, whether it is nausea, headache, the gag reflex, or the urge to defecate. These physical responses have induction components which relate to certain cycle rates. In the Live Room, a common occurrence related to the vibration is the effect on the vestibular system and the sense of orientation and balance. When positioned on active floor panels a feeling of shifting horizon may be felt. While standing, balance can be altered and suddenly your perception is that of surfing the architectural plane.

The Live Room constructs a topological space composed of virtual objects which haptically interface with the audience. By interacting with the cycling wave forms the visitor is occupied, infested with frequencies, modulated by vibrational energy and imparted with the volumetric sensibilities inherent within the body. The audience are the activated objects, traversing the site and feeling the liveliness of themselves, others and the space within.” From The Art of the Accident by Arjen Mulder.

Mark Bain works on the interface of acoustics, architecture and actions of conceptual / experiential integration. For some time Bain has been involved in an ongoing research into the area of sound and architecture and how sonic events condition bodies and buildings they occupy. Sculptural aspects of sound are also investigated in the way resonant materials can define structures in space. Other installations involve living systems and investigative devices, which position the viewer into rarified experiences. In this work, he designs hybrid apparatuses, which engage both locations and the viewing public. These are not necessarily products in themselves, but rather tools developed which lead to certain ends. His research can be thought as a kind of divining, a loosening, or search for living entities, defining a presence within that which is normally thought of as static and dead.

Sep 30, 2007
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