You wouldn’t realise it, but celery is a great conductor of energy.
But that’s exactly what electronic artist and researcher Pia van Gelder proved in a recent workshop building bio-synthesisers at MAMA.
“A while ago I went on this residency in Indonesia where we erected a synthesiser on Mount Merapi,” she said.
“In working on that project I arrived at a bunch of different ideas to react with biological energy.
“In this latest workshop we used a really simple electronic circuit and the synthesiser generated various notes depending on how conductive the thing was you plugged it into.
“We start out by measuring conductivity of our own skin and then we open that up to other biological or non-biological samples; for instance celery is a great conductor because it’s very moist on the inside and has a semi-dry skin.
“The closer you put your probes the higher the note – you can play the celery like a keyboard.”
The same concept is behind one of van Gelder’s pieces in Material Sound; a synthesiser built into a chair uses the skin on visitors’ feet to create sound, which changes depending on how conductive the skin is.
“I think this exhibition is a timely one; there’s a lot going on at the moment about materials and involving science,” she said.
“I’m really interested in raising peoples’ awareness of the electrical nature of our surrounding environment.
“There’s a connectivity between all things around us – that’s the motivation of the workshop but it has this fun musical element to it as well.”
Van Gelder’s synthesiser class was one of the final events taking place for Material Sound, which has been showing since February.
It finishes this weekend with two events planned for the finale.
- Brisbane-based Ross Manning will run a ‘seeing sound’ workshop from 10am to 1pm on Saturday transforming an old electronic device. For details and to purchase tickets, visit www.mamalbury.com.au
- A free dance party to close the exhibition will be held at MAMA on Saturday from 5pm to 10pm.