PHASE RING

RING OF HANGING MUSICAL PENDULUMS, 2013

ANDREW CAVATORTA [US]

All natural oscillators work by converting one form of energy into another and back again: the kinetic and spring-potential energy in a plucked string, the wave energies and spongy compression and rarefaction of air in organ pipes, the electric charges and magnetic fluxes of an LC circuit in an analogue synthesiser. 

Pendulums are natural oscillators. They convert gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy and back again. Their natural steady periods would make them ideal for producing tones, except for the fact that the periods of all practically-sized pendulums are far below the human hearing range. Indeed, to produce a tone as high as 500Hz, a pendulum would need to be about one micron in length, or 1/20 the width of a human cell. So in this experiment with music and pendulums, we use the pendulums for another aspect of music: rhythm. 

The Phase Ring is a very physical interactive music installation and a hypnotic exploration of the infinite within the finite. It is comprised of a large circle of free-swinging pendulums, which each play a note as they swing through the bottoms of their slow arcs. A viewer sets the pendulums moving by hand. The notes and periods are predetermined. But an infinite number of simple songs can be discovered by changing the order and timing of the swings. 

How much feeling and meaning can we discover in music when the oscillations are so simple that only the phase of the notes can change? Phase Ring will allow us to find out. 

PHASE RING

About the artist: 

Andrew Cavatorta grew up largely unsupervised in the pine-covered Northeastern United States. He moved to New York City at the age of 17, where he encountered great pressure to acquire entirely new manners, hygienic habits, and an outward persona. He found this process was much easier if he secretly pretended to be a robot. This left him with a lifelong interest in how we use robots and the idea of robots as a lens through which to see ourselves. He now creates robots, experimental musical machinery, museum exhibits, big ideas and lots of software. He is the former Director of Engineering for Ensemble Robot and holds a master’s degree from the MIT Media Lab.

ANDREW CAVATORTA [US]