03. October 2008

Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche

Gordon Monahan Theremin Pendulum


Sound installation

A project by Gordon Monahan

The sculptural aspect of sound generation has always been a central element to the works of the composer, pianist and sound artist Gordon Monahan: just remember the kinetic live sculpture Speaker Swinging, in which performers have speakers rotate above their heads, or the Aeolian harp with its long strings screwed up in old piano frames and left to the outdoor play of the wind. Monahan, student of, among others, John Cage and James Tenny, has been developing computer-operated kinetic sound environments for quite a while now. In his work, technology plays an integral, visible and comprehensible role.

His Pendulum consists of a moving, flexible theremin antenna which, driven by a motor, describes whip-like whirls through the dark room like a pendulum. Controlled by the complex software MAX/MSP multiple sounds are generated over a delay system. One may believe to hear the sound of ten different theremins—the “etherophone” invented back in the 1920s by the genius inventor Lew Theremin. Upon entering the dark room nothing but a small LED light cell on the tip of the antenna is visible, swinging through the room in an unpredictable, chaotic pattern, as if a tiny point of light hovered through the Chapter House ether and created magical sound waves.

© Charles Fox

© Charles Fox