Each of the research stations in the KARF installations has its own sound system. I record and mix a soundscape that is specific to each station in addition to the sounds the equipment makes. Station 2 ( that will be installed in Shed 2 due to be built the first week of February, 2018, in Joshua Tree, California, where it will reside permanently), being themed around fluids and solutions, has a sound track that features voice transmissions of technicians and scientists talking about the science of Station 2. I wrote a script, recorded myself reading the parts, modified each voice track, and mixed in some other segments from other soundscapes I have done for other stations. The end mix will play from a 4 gigabyte mp3 player amplified through a scavenged car stereo. I had to hack the player so it would waken and go into play mode without anyone having to press the buttons on it. The photo shows the prototype setup on my electronics bench.
This is a sketchbook drawing from 2010 of one concept for Station 1 of the KARF installation. I look back at old sketchbooks and notes to refresh my ideas and sometimes solve problems I am up against. I like the spindly look of this station-how it has a slight unsteady cant. Nearly all of my sculpture has some part that juts out or leans away from the base. In the real world as I built this I had to center more of the weight over the casters on the bottom. It was that or actually having to deal with it falling over. I found a way to compensate for the teetering feeling I was after by crowding elements onto the upper section of the station, mounting them at slightly cockeyed angles, to get that feeling of precariousness I wanted. Also see the new website about the KARF installations: https://karflab.wixsite.com/mysite
Kinetic forms have long been a staple of my sculpture. The stations in the KARF installation each will need a number of kinetic devices that indicate information in action like a computer screen munching data. I have built a box for Station 2 that has a motor driven loop of canvas with small documents stapled to it. When the motor runs it slowly drives the loop and draws the documents past an opening that is framed with an antique bronze frame. I made the documents from scraps of junk mail, old tax forms, defunct carbon copy receipts, all that I drew on with my crabby symbols, scratches of figures, smudged glyphs. Matching up distressed materials and quirky technology like this brings up this mood in me that I think other artists and inventors may have experienced. It’s a feeling of jubilation at overcoming crude materials to succeed at a sculpture that previously had only seeped around in my mind. Here it is mounted to Station 2. Wiring still to be connected that will run the motor and a small light that illuminates the document inside the opening.
The optical reader is a component of the document scroller that is added to the front. I wanted a slightly random device that would mechanically move a small lens back and forth, at varying intervals in front of the document scroller window.
I recently got to working with servo motors-the kind that hobbyists use to operate parts of remote controlled toys- and developed a circuit that would make the servomotor move the way I wanted. I like most of the motorized devices I make for my sculptures to have a bit of their own personality. Certain kinds of motors, like servomotors or gear motors and the custom driver circuitry I develop for them gives them the personality I’m after. It can be a consuming challenge involving lots of tests and adjustments to make the motor move in a special way.
The main challenges are the mechanisms that the motors move and the timing of the motor’s operation. I start with some mechanical elements that I hope will give me the movement I want such as a linear slide, in the case of the optical reader. I long ago found some really nicely engineered slide parts in old computer disk drives.I scavenged one from a disk drive I’d stuffed away in a box, welded the chrome shaft to a small mounting plate, screwed that to a chunk of wood and mounted the servomotor to the opposite side. Then I joined a bit of stiff wire between the motor’s rotation linkage and the carriage that slides along the chrome shaft. Three circuit boards provide timings to the servomotor telling it to go left or right at various times and durations. Testing with various values of electronic resistors, knowing a basic range of what would give me the movements I wanted quickly gave me the results I wanted.
The carriage holds the antique lens and a little sculpture I named the ‘optical reader node’. Here’s a sketch I made as I was playing with the parts I thought might work on it.
You can see how the actual optical reader node evolved from the sketch.
More about the KARF installations:https://karflab.wixsite.com/mysite
Specimen Case finished
I finished the specimen case. In the two photos you can see the left and right sides and front with the lighting activated. The main addition was the little grouping of wires and components on the right front corner. When I looked at it more recently the details on the left of the glass vacuum chamber and other coils seemed to heavy. I played with some old capacitors and coils around the right lower corner but they were too big and demanding visually. I found the green resistor that seemed to balance my attention more, but not quite enough. Scouting around the pile of scrap electronics on the bench revealed the small gold colored lump shaped capacitor. That had the right scale and color to add with the green resistor. Together with the extra wires and a custom bracket to hold the resistor made a neat little nest that balances the left side components. Sometimes balance can be gotten from unexpected combinations of color, form and intricacy-not necessarily matching volumes. This specimen case unit will get mounted somewhere on Station 2… I think.
Among the clutter of my electronics bench today I have this specimen box taking shape. Specimens, especially ones that look organic, alive, pulsating, wet, get under my skin and grab my need to explore them at the same time. I must still have the little kid in me who needs to poke at worms and dig up gooey stuff from under the sopping ground. My girlfriend Erika showed me how to make play putty out of Borax, glue and food coloring. The resulting blob dried over weeks to be the blue specimen in the box at the bottom. I thought the box needed some layers of ramshackle circuitry over the top, and some vintage components on the side to give it a more invented look. A thank you goes out to Richard at Leeds Radio in Brooklyn who still sells old radio era parts. Those lovely, cast metal feet are from a little shop in Williamsburg Brooklyn. I think this object is nearly finished. It has a light just under the lower circuit board to illuminate the specimen that I will show in a later post.
More about KARF Installations:https://karflab.wixsite.com/mysite
I am progressing on the initial construction of Station 2 for the Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility. The feeling I want this station to get across is about my curiosity of chemistry labs, apothecary shops, research about fluids, all in a somewhat Victorian mystery mode. I identify with those who admire Steampunk culture, have nostalgia for the old corner apothecary, those who wonder what goes on in those secret labs up in Los Alamos…Station 2 might work as the bridge to those ideas and wonders. I have most of the metal frames welded onto the old school desk. The frames have lots of mounting holes drilled in them so I can mount boxes, other frames, equipment, and brackets to them. The steel arch crane I just installed swivels nicely on its steel peg. I’m pleased with the odd curve and the triangular bracing that gives it a Victorian iron-work appearance. Somehow I don’t yet know the object that will be at the end of it. I have drawn sketches of extension devices like periscopes, encrusted with small optical contraptions that could descend from the end of it. I have made sketches of baskets that hang from it holding small boxes and objects that could be used in analysis.
More about KARF installations;https://karflab.wixsite.com/mysite
Background on the KARF Installation.
KARF (Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility) is an immersive sculpture installation I began in 2010. Phase I was completed in 2011 and exhibited at ART123 in Gallup New Mexico. Phase I included a shed measuring approximately 8 x 8 x 8 feet, resembling an old distressed shack where some type of secret research was enacted. Viewers were invited to step into a narrow hallway at the rear and peer through smudged windows to see the interior. Inside was a research workstation made of an old school desk with metal frames welded onto it and encrusted with a wide assortment of electronic gear from multiple eras. Most of the equipment and associated labels, binders, charts and other ephemera laying about the interior was modified to be unfamiliar in context. No explanation was given for what the shed, its contents or the purpose for the installation. The first exhibit featured two performers. The artist, Steve Storz, dressed in somewhat academic shirt, trousers, and tweed jacket, sitting inside the shed at the research station. He appeared to be working the instrumentation, reading and marking in the charts and binders. He made no acknowledgement of the viewers who were looking over his shoulder at him through the windows. The other performer; a woman, dressed in dowdy woolen grey skirt, white blouse, hair done in a severe bun and peering through heavy black rimmed glasses greeted visitors and directed them to enter the viewing hallway as she consulted a clipboard with papers attached to it. Along the walls on either side of the gallery were placed drawings by the artist that were interpretations of the work going on in the research facility. Each drawing was displayed by metal clamps on weathered wooden boards and lit by individual homemade light fixtures resembling the lighting strung on wires in temporary military camps.
Phase II of the KARF installation was hosted by the UNM Klauer Campus in Taos New Mexico as part of the International Symposium on Electronic Art 2012. A second research station was added inside the Shed that was placed in a vacant lot next to the campus amongst sage bushes and chamisa plants. The Shed was embellished with a complicated dish antenna like object on its roof that rotated slowly. Near the shed a folding barricade sign with blinking amber lights on yellow and black caution stripes read Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility. The same drawings from Phase I were displayed inside the nearby campus gallery of the art department.
Phase III was begun the winter on 2012 and is currently in progress. More about KARF installations:https://karflab.wixsite.com/mysite