Ars Electronica 1988
Festival-Program 1988
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Festival 1979-2007


Speaker Swinging

'Gordon Monahan Gordon Monahan

Speaker Swinging is an ongoing experiment for three "helicopter-style" rotating loudspeakers, six audio wave generators, pre-recorded tape, and a large enclosed room. It derives inspiration from hearing such things as Leslie speakers, automobiles with broadcasting sound systems, airplanes, and other moving vehicles; the subsequent acoustical processes of phasing, vibrato and tremolo; and various effects produced by stationary synthesizers. Sweat, struggle, fear and seduction are integral to the realization of this piece.

Speaker Swinging grew out of a desire to animate the typical 'electronic music concert" and in effect, to recognize the loudspeaker as an electronic musical instrument on which one can "perform". The rotary speaker motion and the resulting Doppler-shifts become metaphors for the molecular movements of electrons that occur within transistor and IC tremolo and vibrato circuits; it mimics those miniature synthetic processes which not long ago were modelled on human-scale mechanical-acoustic systems. By making reference to the atomic, it necessarily acknowledges the celestial.

Speaker Swinging was first inspired by hearing Trans Am automobiles cruising on a hot summer night with Heavy Metal blaring out the windows. As the cars cruised by there was that fleeting moment of wetness, of fluid music, when one key melts into another.