LEGO Musical Sculpture, Alex Allmont

Presentation on Thursday 4th of October, 7pm.

Alex Allmont’s playful LEGO musical sculptures draw upon the tipping points in nature. Exploring the boundaries between dissonance and consonance, stability and instability, his pieces offer an opportunity to consciously untangle complex systems. They aim to capture and sustain the moment of realisation, where overwhelming detail melts away into simplicity.

His current research at Oxford Brookes focuses this attention to complexity onto rhythmic structure, in particular the moments of synchrony when the brain determines that a rhythm is ‘consonant’ as opposed to a dissonant flurry of events. An exploration of polyrhythms in traditional drumming and phasing effects of composers such as Reich has led to the development of mechanical, software and electronic tools to engage with rhythm indirectly. These playful approaches allow a performer to explore and sculpt rhythm freely, relaxing the boundaries between them and the audience.

This in turn led to questions about the relationship between the audience and performer, and in recent work this is  addressed by removing the performer altogether. The music is generative but the character of performance comes through; the artist existing as a meta-performer with the audience picking apart the music by mechanical proxy.  By being absent there is no rallying into context, the audience is not confronted by ego and is allowed a more personal exploration of sound.

Alex’s LEGO work has shown at BEAM, Raven Row, the Museum of the History of Science, the Mechanical Art and Design museum, Kinetica and Festival of the Spoken Nerd.  His most recent work is being developed for Kinetica 2013.

Alex will be talking about the practicalities of developing machines within the constraints of LEGO and how this playful constraint can lead to happy accidents.  Examples of various actuators and means of introducing pseudo-randomness will then be used to demo the electronic and software principles used to connect these machines to instruments, using transducers and AVR microcontrollers.

This early work-in-progress is being developed for Kinetica 2013, so Alex will talk about some earlier work and it’s motives and how this relates to his current research and his non-LEGO projects.

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