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12 Motor Bells

12 Motor Bells
Ken Gregory
February 3 – March 3, 2001



acceleration + position = Dream Divination by Oscillation

Thursday, February 8, 8:00pm. Wine & Cheese.


Tinkering, Sensors, Machines, and Methods

All workshop dates are in February: Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Thursday 15 & Friday 16


Artist Statement

– computer controlled electro-mechanical audio installation

– Microprocessor technology, machines, intimacy and the human body collide in this exploration.

12 motor bells is an audio installation consisting of 12 fire alarm motor bells with their original ringers removed and suspended from the ceiling on long wires. Small AC motors with soft brush wheels attached to the drive shaft are suspended beside each bell. A computer activates AC relays attached to each motor which when current is applied, start spinning the brushes. The brush mechanism rubs the bell edge causing the bell to ‘shimmer’; vibrating acoustically at a low volume. Over time, the computer switches the motors off and on in with various combinations, creating a performance of layered bell vibrations radiating through out the space. The motor bells sway and pulse creating movement physically in the form of ryhthmns and modulating timbres. Temperature sensors and infrared heat detectors installed in various places in the room monitor the ambient temperature and the movement of heat in the space. The computer monitors the status of sensors and influences the performance of the motor bell system. As the sound of the bells emanates into the room, the room dimensions and material makeup affect the way the sound emenates throughout. Harmonic resonance’s and standing waves build up at different frequencies as the waves of sound from the motor bells reflect off the walls, ceiling, and floor. The motor bells resonate harmonically with each other. As bodies move through the room, the sound is subtly modulated by their presence as the human body absorbs sound and radiates heat. As the temperature rises in the viscinity of the sensors, the computer responds with more ‘alarming’ activations of the motor bells.

Ken Gregory wishes to acknowledge the support of the Manitoba Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts Inter-Arts Program.