Analog Frequencies

Interactive sound Installation . Sound Cells (Analog frequencies)

Photo: Graham Waite 

In Sounds Cells: An Electro-Magnetic Orchestra, Magdi Mostafa riffed on early experiments with electromagnets and square-wave sound technology, an innovation of the 1950s-60s. A dark, laboratory-like room housed a cellular structure covered with vibrating, shuddering, and twitching hand-made electromagnetic kits, which interacted with several other elements to emit “square” sound waves of various tones and values through different-sized speakers. The result was a visual, auditory and visceral interactive experience, as the viewers/listeners could feel the rumbling sounds as much as they could hear them. Viewers were encouraged to play with the sound kits on the table, as well as to move around the room to find their “golden wave” spot, where they would be hit by the ideal sonic value. The artist thus made palpable and tangible that which is otherwise invisible. This first iteration of the Sound Cells series also encouraged a heightened awareness of the act of spectatorship, even as it almost nostalgically brought to life a now outmoded technological innovation, thus touching on the politics (and fetishization) of modernization and progress.


-The work consisted of the following components:

Group A: Consists of 15 small electronic circuits with independent control of volume, frequency and square wave tone depth, resulting in 45 controllable parameters. The sound that comes from these interactive cells are patched into a multichannel mixer for equalization and level control.

Group B: Contains 30 vibrating electromagnetic circuits, moving on top of a 6m x 4m sheet of wood.   Different speeds and weights unit allow for the vibrations to produce different tones. Various boxes made of materials such as glass, paper, plastic, or wood, were mounted underneath the sheet of wood, which gives a different resonance and identity to the sound depending where the vibrating electromagnets are placed.  The viewer is able to rearrange the electromagnetic enclosures as to hear these variations.

*In case of the non interaction by the viewer, the installation has a large sub-woofer underneath Group B, which works with timer that can rearrange the dynamic vibrations automatically as well as affect Group A frequency values.

Group C: Contains 100 voice range speakers mounted on a wooden wall. The speakers connect to an amplifier that takes a signal from an interactive tone generator, similar to the one in the first group, but with a different sound value. Within the installation, this particular unit plays the role of the chorus in the analog frequencies orchestra.

In addition to the physical design of the piece, the structure of the room that contains the work makes every spot inside the installation have different sonic qualities, the audience is encouraged to move around the space and listen to these constant fluctuations of sound. Lastly, the lighting was also designed by the artist using Xenon LEDs to highlight the visual field of the work. 



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