I was invited to give a talk about circuit bending at the Intermedia MFA program at the University of Maine at Orono in September 2013. It was the first artist lecture in their new building.
Circuit Bending is the practice of altering readymade electronics to expand their sonic vocabulary, subverting the intentions of their designers through creative short-circuits. In the 1960′s and 1970′s musicians like Sonic Arts Union and David Tudor embraced the serendipity that arose from an improvised understanding of the circuits they were building from scratch. Buoyed by the growing acceptance of indeterminacy and the proliferation of digital technology, successive generations have re-purposed the sophisticated circuits inside sound toys and musical instruments. There are now circuit bending music festivals, sculptural installations based on hacked hardware, and numerous guides to the craft itself. My talk situates the work of some well-known circuit benders within the history of electronic music, culture-jamming, remix culture, and the emerging “maker” ethos.
We also did a workshop where participants brought electronic noisemakers to cajole and mangle into otherworldy contraptions. It was great fun. Thanks Orono IMFA!
For further research, see the relevant page from my Sound Art class syllabus.