[ISEA2011] Paper: Peter Flemming – Vibrations and Waves


I propose to discuss ideas explored in a current research project tentatively entitled Vibrations and Waves. The presentation will take the form of an artist talk with audio-visual documentation of work in the studio, residencies and exhibitions.

Vibrations and Waves considers:

  1. sound as a natural byproduct of all machine activity
  2. sound as a physical and mechanical phenomena
  3. that all materials have resonant frequencies at which they most naturally vibrate

Vibrations and Waves is compendium of recent experiments in electromagnetism, mechanical resonance and acoustic vibration inspired by the simple physics of oscillatory phenomena. They originate in an accidental discovery in the studio and form the basis for future artworks involving mechanically produced and amplified sound, as opposed to recorded or electrically amplified sound.

Vibrations, and sound, occur when machines do what they do: wires hum, motors whirr, gears grind, metal clangs. In general, this is not the intention. It tends to be ignored, actively suppressed or even considered dangerous. A notable exception to this is in the field of certain types of sound based artwork.

Vibrations and Waves contributes to this tradition with swinging pendulums, vibrating wires, singing motors, spinning glass sheets, rusted resonators, oscillating electromagnets, mechanically produced and altered sound. Video: Vibrations and Waves

General Artist Statement
I see what I make as the electro-mechanical equivalents of short stories. Instead of words, sentences and paragraphs, I use bolts, batteries, metal and custom electronics. These machinic texts create tension by mixing natural and technological systems.  My work is rooted in hands-on experimentation. In constructing automata that make use of subtle and/or repetitive actions I hope to open a small space for contemplation in which the audience can become temporarily absorbed.

  • Peter Flemming is an artist who makes machines. His work has been featured across North America and Europe. He currently resides in Montreal, Canada, where he teaches electronics for artists at Concordia University. . peterflemming.ca

Full text (PDF) p. 827-830