Mat Janson Blanchet's academic works

End of Program Project Accepted!

Posted on September 24, 2017

Advanced Practices in Video, Performance and Electronic Arts

This Friday I met with Amanda Dawn Christie, the professor of my final Intermedia class. For that course, not only do we have to create an artwork, we also have to plan and present an end of year show.

Project Description

Originally, I wanted to prepare a performance that would merge boxing and contemporary dance, with augmented gloves and ring floor. even with this short description, it’s easy to see how overly ambitious this is for the time available—two semesters.

A few weeks ago I was explaining my independent study project to a friend, and he suggested that it may be interesting to use all sorts of sound-related components for a sculpture that would be meant to emit amplified sound.

With that in mind, I started sketching ideas about a device that would slowly tighten and loosen guitar strings.

Prototype Idea Sketch

This motion is done when stringed instruments are to be tuned, and it inherently creates some sort of noise, as many strings are usually made up of a bronze coil wound around a steel core.

Make up of a guitar string

When tuning—tightening or loosening—the string, friction causes noise. The tension put on the body of the instrument also sometimes emits noise. When too much tension is applied to the string, it breaks, which also emits noise.

In many kinetic or electronic artworks, breaking parts is a problem. With that in mind, I starting thinking that the artwork could willfully break strings. Breaking a string is usually a frustrating moment when tuning an instrument, and sometimes could be dangerous: a violinist’s face is really close to the instrument, and a string flying away randomly could poke an eye out.

In-gallery Sketch

My first idea was to keep the “danger” present in my sculpture, as the audience would have to wear protective glasses in case the tuning of the strings would cause them to break. Afterwards, I ended up thinking that it could be more audience management than I would want to handle.

Empty Wooden Cabinet/Case

It made sense to then have the artwork include the protective glass, so that the audience could approach it at will, without risk to them. Display cases and cabinets oftentimes are made of a container and a glass door, and so this would probably be how the mechanical parts and the strings will be housed.

I do want the artwork to play with the visual language of how musical instruments are presented. For example, the grand piano is pitch black with a slick lacquer-like texture. Guitars are also oftentimes colored and presented in that manner.

Meeting with the professor

As mentioned above, I met with Ms. Christie last Friday to present my idea before starting to work on the project. She offered a few suggestions on how the work could live or interact: maybe there are multiple instances of the work reacting to each other, maybe there are some microphones or piezos to sense the noise, etc. At this time, I believe the piece is meant to live on its own, but maybe react slightly to the presence and proximity of the audience, which could cause tightening/loosening of the strings. I will develop this idea further as the work progresses.

She also suggested I look into a few Canadian artists whose work could inspire me:

I’m eager to get started on this project!

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