Nathan Thompson

NoizeMaschin resident artist April-June 2012.

I.n0jaQ Artifactory Noisemaschin Residency. April 2012.

I guess I will use this place to document the progress of my residency as it is often the case the things I build usually go undocumented. It always travels as follows: I have a hair-brained idea, I manically build the device, I perform with it, I fine tune it and perhaps perform with it again, this usually gives me a better understanding on what Im really after, I plan the new build, I move off into another direction tenuously linked to the previous, I harvest parts off of an older device to manifest my new plan thus rendering it unusable and as a result never get around to documenting anything.

I am taking this opportunity to change my workflow a little so as to have something to show for the hours invested and also perhaps inspire or assist others to get out there and make stuff. I thank Noise Maschin and the Artifactory, especially Sam and Skot for allowing me this…

An abbreviated background. I have been performing/exhibiting under the name I.n0jaQ since 2001 and have been more or less focused on building, installing and performing with sound devices of a physical, tactile nature. Although my work, over the years, has implemented many things I have recently been moving towards self playing stringed instruments, be it by natural elements such as wind or light or through electronic means. Some ten years ago I experimented with custom made Aeolian harps connected to industrial fans. These experiments led me to develop a controlled environment where 36strings of various thicknesses could be individually dampened and excited by means of position and variable wind speeds. Each Harp was amplified and fed through effect pedals. I installed, toured and played with this setup for about 2years.

Pic 1

Fast forward a few years and I discover a cute little circuit design that is able to store energy from the sun, via a PV(solar) panel and drain it quickly at a predetermined voltage limit. Look up BEAM BOTS and there is a world of information on building little robots and cars using similar circuits. Not knowing anything about electronics I experimented for a while, made many mistakes, and in true maker fashion tailored things to my specific needs. Here is the circuit I drew so I could understand it…

Pic 2

I wanted to shoehorn this thing into my sound performances so I was pleased to learn that some PV Panels are sensitive enough to work under artificial light. As most of my shows are indoors, usually in a basement and always at night this was a revelation. I eventually came around to a way of making the motor strum a string and “Don't Greenwash Me You F#cker” was born… a 10string Solar Harp instrument with a resonant body made of disposable chopsticks.

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Originally made for an installation as part of a solo exhibition I did do a few live performances with this setup and, thankfully, one was documented!:

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Fast forward again a year or so and I had ironed out some issues from the first incarnation… I wanted the strings to be longer (more Bassy) and I wanted separate effects for each string. The first prototype!

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“Don't Green Wash Me You F#cker. Ten Sou” was conceived…a 6 String Modular Solar Guitar System with parabolic mirrors and bass cello strings. Each unit has its own isolated magnetic pickup (of my own design) to feed into effects/channels. Resonant bodies were old tin drums. Because each is separate and self-sufficient they are able to react to different ambient conditions, even if very close by, differences in their behaviour is evident. Something along the lines of a Sonic Sundial. By means of the PV panels, their angle and orientation, different evolving rhythmic patterns slowly blend and harmonise. This got me interested in Chaotic processes and hidden patterns, the potential to embrace the uncontrollable and make it stand on its own. “Ten Sou” was shown at a short group exhibition with a live performance done on the final day. Sadly I haven’t been able to track down any recordings of this. I remember it sounding quite good.

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Ten Sou has changed constantly since its first outing. It now stands as a 4 String Drone Pyramid of Doom… Heavy.

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Next up I will write about my initial involvement with Noisemaschin and the Artifactory. Sound Off…

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