Martin Howse: Detection

Workshop laser interferometer setup.

Blowtorch, framed glass, goggles, onstopper, salvia officinalis…
A short residency (from 30th November to 7th December 2012) culminating in one performance, and an intense two day workshop; all of these events and situations at STEIM exploring and refining the notion of (audible) detection, of sonic archaeology – sound as a revealing of the material world. Throughout this work, first phase, excitation, an action within the world, is paired with subsequent detection or revealing, decoding the history of substance and attempting an animistic relation to the world.
First days, shopping for glass and safety gear, becoming acquainted with the local suppliers of ontstopper, hunting for zwaelzuur to be used primarily in performance and during the workshop, in the light; simple sonification of (electro-)chemical reactions using a discount laser and failing solar panel.
Six hour train window gazing suggested a strong link to glass to be explored during the residency (forgetting that some similar experiments were conducted on the floor of a certain record shop in Berlin many years ago): stacked or hanging glass radio transmitters communicating vibration, arrayed lines of delicate glass scattering the beam – divided by hung mirror galvanometers, dribbles of acid, melted glass channels, tongues of copper and aluminium plugged in to the transformer. Ready for scraping, and heat shattering.

With framed glass and some chemistry in the bag (graphite spray withstanding), the first glass transmitter (an auto-destructive instrument) was quickly prototyped, proved surprisingly effective after careful (literal) trimming of the legged capacitance. Brushed and scalpel scraped at the optimum angle to the receiver (above).

Glass electrolyte dribble.

Closely followed over the next days by glass electrolytic cells (alternating metal tape strips), and a glass white noise generator (dipping into the cookbook).

Plant leaf pierced.

As an adjunct the potential detection possibilities of living plants were returned to during the residency, attempting to create and document one of the most simple electronic setups to monitor micro-voltage potentials within plant leaves/cells and thus to able to compare these with monitored changes within the human psyche.
Future work in glass/detection suggested: conductivity of silver nitrate/gelatine solutions, glass membranes (pH), electroplating (after coating), melted glass channels in the earth, rochelle salt in the earth, copper taped skin ground glove pulse,
Aside from seismometer repair, preparations for Friday’s performance (recording perhaps soon on soundcloud) focused on integrating some kind of pulse excitation (555) with the salvaged HD coil electrolysis and dumped earth, and some not so positive tests with glass/foil charge accumulators.

Tuning the interferometer.

With 15 eager attendees the two day Detection workshop defies  easy and concise description. Some impressions: metaphase divination, flickering retroactivities, rain-drenched transmission-excavation (on a bridge), excited interferometer tuning in the darkened room, doors slammed, air movements transformed into humming, drone feedback, hand wound pencil coils wrapping and hiding one end of the circuit.
And for reference:
The workshop document pdf

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