Art &Technology
- Neo Futurism

The ideas of italian and russian Futurists can still be found in contemporary artistic production, especially in the field of noise music and excentric musical instruments as used by David Moss, Jimi Tenor a.o..

Jimi Tenor and Matti Knaapi: Instruments. 1985-2001

Fig.: Live performance of Jimi Tenor and the Shamans

Jimi Tenor has an array of various musical contraptions and custom-made instruments which originate from the wild ideas of Jimi Tenor and inventor Matti Knaapi.

The Liberace

The Liberace is a custom-built stainless steel thing with coils from a Fender Rhodes piano hanging from it. It sits over a turntable on which special metal record spins, thus activating the coils. And out comes a noise, the tone and rhythm of which can then be altered using different records.

"Unfortunately it soon became evident that the Liberace wasn't capable of producing anything but a sub-bass sequence, though impressive as such." (Matti Knaapi)

 

The Photophone, light sensitive synth, is constructed from a rotating fan, a photocell and a piece of specially exposed black and white film. Through the film travels a beam of light which then hits the photocell, producing the sound. The pitch is controlled by the intensity of light which changes according to the tracks exposed onto the film. The current range is one octave.

"All-in-all it's a promising concept - we'll be looking into multi-channel possibilities using colour lights, producing soundfilms directly from samples, and a large solar- and wind-powered ecological model, which could be connected directly to speakers without using an amplifier." (Matti Knaapi)


Jimi Tenor and his Light sensitive synth - Photo by CG 1999

 

The Noisemachine by Jimi Tenor and Matti Knaapi. Inside a plywood box lurks a Sony Walkman powered by a hand-driven dynamo. Equipped with a line out and a strobo light. A tape in the walkman and hands on the crank - out comes noise, a sample of which you can hear in this excerpt from Muchmo, recorded live at Montreux Jazz 1999.

The Russian Synth was first spotted by Jimi in 1985
when he was visiting Estonia. He saw it in a shop but did't buy it until five years later when he went back and noticed it was still there, covered with dust. He didn't have enough money with him let alone a certain certifacate which was required to buy stuff like that. Anyway, the shopkeeper was quite happy to take a pound in place of the certificate and a tenner for the synth.

"I don't know how to use it because I can't read Russian. After I turn the power on and push the keyboard, I play with whatever sounds come out from the machine. It was broken when I bought it, but a friend of mine fixed it beautifully." (Jimi Tenor)

Sirkka

Sirkka, a man-sized mechanical drum machine, was a sturdy device consisting of a couple of oil drums which were hit by two large hammers. It was powered by an old washing-machine motor which gave a steady tempo, but could also be operated manually. The hammer system turned out to be too rough, wearing out the drums, so it was later replaced with a large-scale champagne bottle corker -like mechanism.


The automatic trombone
Vera is made of an old vacuum cleaner, a rubber glove and a trombone of course.

It's operated by the vacuum cleaner set to blow rather than suck. The rubber glove acts as a pair of lips between the vacuum and the trombone and can be controlled by hand to vary the pitch.

 

Jimi & Vera. Photo by Antti Viitala