Tag Archives: Steve Storz

Grunge Machines

Grunge Machine is the name I gave to an early electro-mechanical sculpture I made in 1984 when I had a studio in the Citadel Cannery in San Jose California at the edge of Silicon Valley. A broken, run-over-by-car, cassette boom-box called to me as I was “scavenging” with art buddy Raymond Avalos. Our frequent scavenging tours took us along alleys and train tracks where we’d find marvelous materials to make art out of. I felt like the damaged metal framework, abraded wires, cracked plastic should be memorialized in some way that could incorporate the still-working motor. It needed a reanimation that would harken to its previous existence while infusing it with reckless form, rending, tearing it, re-birthing it. I tore down most of what was left and built it back up. New forms and shapes seemed to start oozing out of the scraps. Bending some metal freed up the flywheel, little parts turned erratically-life! Wires tangled into parts of circuit boards, caked with road grime. Some gloss black spray paint began to unify the jumble of junk. Bright red LEDs (many people didn’t know what those were back then) became a theme against the gloss black lending theatricality. It took on the feel of a robot in recovery, limping, getting back to work, though it now had a new mission. It felt a bit boring for the motor to simply run continuously so I wired them up to a custom electronic timer circuit I designed that featured slightly random intervals. Each Grunge Machine is unique, though there have been some sub series developments such as the “Blasted Cassette”. Cassette tape was the common way of listening to music back in the 1980’s so finding busted or discarded mechanisms, such as that first broken cassette machine, became fairly frequent. The humor inherent in rejuvenating wrecked or cast-off devices has long been a popular point with the Grunge Machines, especially along the lines of nostalgia.

To date, parts and mechanisms keep gathering around me so the series continues. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grunge Machine: Black Blossom, mixed mediums and electronics, 15 x 9 x 7 inches. 120 VAC. No on/off switch-continuously running. 1980’s portable cassette with static audio. Central tassel twitches (video cassette rewind mechanism) intermittently every few seconds. Red LEDs.

Shed 2 basic construction completed

Shed 2 construction east view 72

Shed 2 under construction at site in Joshua Tree California

I made the trip to Joshua Tree and completed the basic structure for Shed 2 over the week of March 17-25, 2018. A special thanks to Aimee, for assisting at the beginning of the week when I needed extra hands and Victor Vincente of America who also lent a hand and took lots of documentation photos for me. The next trip will be to deliver Research Station 2 and the Mansard roof and do the finish work on the shed.

A very special thanks to my collector, Linda who hosted me and has provided the site!

Station 2 sound system

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. Station 2 sound sys proto