Deerhorn





deerhornrug

The Deerhorn Project investigates invisible fields which surround architectural objects in the space.  It is inspired by the question, "what is a museum of the invisible like?"  The deerhorn antenna is a metaphor for other kinds of invisible fields- political, psycho-geographical, subterranean, esoteric, and aesthetic. 

The Deerhorn Installation shall utilize any number of Deerhorn circuits, which sonify movement in space.  These circuits consist of two radio oscillators, a Phase Locked Loop circuit, and a two channel audio synthesizer.  Each circuit generates two tones representing visitors' complementary approach to and withdrawal from the antenna.  These antennae shall be crafted from easily resourced material such as aluminum cans.  The body of each circuit shall be encased in fabric, carved wood, or other site-specific materials, or left suspended in the air.  The circuits are low-power, operable from Solar Panels, and able to cross-modulate to create more "animalistic" sounds.

During a Deerhorn workshop, participants will assemble their own Deerhorn circuits, fit them into cases, and help in the final assemblage/installation at a suitable site.  Afterwards, participants may keep their handiwork.  Some may want to build multiple copies, to yield a "sub-organ" of their own, and this is encouraged.

The design of the Deerhorn circuit has evolved much since it was first created to answer Clara Rockmore's original complaint with the Theremin: "Can there be more than one pitch?".  Lev Theremin responded that one would need more than two arms, but the Deerhorn makes this possible by extracting gestural information from the radio fields and using it to control pitch and envelope.  In fact the first Deerhorns used the same heterodyne as the Theremin, adding additional control circuitry.  Several revisions were built as paper circuits until the design became formalized, eschewing the simple heterodyne and instead using a PLL-type detector for enhanced stability.  Currently, in workshops, the Deerhorn circuit is assembled on a fiberglass circuit board, avoiding the precarious step of building delicate paper circuits.

The naming of this project Deerhorn, implies the idea of "wild".  In fact in can create very wild, untamed sounds as an analog synthesizer, and we will  further develop "the wild sound" by inter-modulating Deerhorn circuits within the organ.  Finally the pure synthetic tones may become somewhat like a giant organic flock of deer within the space, responding to the humans that visit it.




“Deerhorn Tapestry Installation”,
The Marriage of Art, Science & Philosophy,
American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore
October 4, 2008 - September 6, 2009



Deerhorn Workshop (installation view)
SOMMERKAMPWORKSTATION,
Berlin, Germany, August 2009. 
paper circuits, components, wire, rope, aluminum.



Deerhorn Workshop (paper circuit/schematic)
SOMMERKAMPWORKSTATION,
Berlin, Germany, August 2009. 
(click for hi-res)


cavewatersanimalrogers


bulgejourney


rollretreat


spiel




Piece with Beatboxer Shodekeh
Demonstrating deerhorn with articulation.



Site-Specific Installation in New Jersey
Electro-Music Gathering, 11/2009



Deerhorn Installation/Performance in Providence
@ Stairwell Gallery, 2008




Deerhorn Making Workshop, SOMMERKAMPWORKSTATION,
Berlin, Germany, August 2009. 
paper circuits, components, wire, rope, beercans.




Deerhorn Installation, Moltkerei Werkstat,
Cologne, Germany, August 2009. 
circuits, tapestry, "distressed" aluminum foil, weather balloon.



“Deerhorn Tapestry Installation”,
Curators Incubator, 2009.
MAP Maryland Art Place, September 15 – October 24, 2009.
Curated by Shelly Blake-Pock, teachpaperless.blogspot.com



Deerhorn Appearance for Charter School,
Washington DC





Present for my mother,
a single deerhorn piece.
wood, circuits, paint, silkscreen, brass, etc.



Deerhorn Circuit #2
@ Stairwell Gallery, 2008
(click for hi-res)



Deerhorn Circuit #1
American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore
October 4, 2008 - September 6, 2009
(click for hi-res)


Ciat-Lonbarde

Without musical intention, there is still your body intention, and how you place it in space.  Firmness reflects, and so do all your other movements.

Stand still within the fields until they are silent. Move one hand slowly towards an antenna, and stop resolutely so that the resulting tone is steady.  Also try wobbly.
Move hand away from antenna, so that resulting tone is steady/wobbly. Move both hands towards and away, and try to make the same tones. Move one hand towards, one hand away, to hocket these tones.
Try to make steady tones on three antennae, by juggling hands.
This Exercise in sound

Now try to play along with a CD of things such as Gamelan.
That Exercise in sound

As it hangs, I am still trying to understand how it reacts to secret gusts of energy in the room.  But I know the shape of the antenna has something to do with it.  It seems to respond to something secret, beyond what the air flows, the dog barks, or the bird knows.  When Tropical Depression Hanna rolled through the windows and the bendy trees, there was a lot of energy release.  You see, before the storm the heat built up energy beneath the sky.  In the eye of the storm all that energy is released and there are certain side-eddies, like the a roughness of bark as its pulled off the tree.  There is the main current of energy up off the ground and out into the storm, that is what you feel on top of the roof, on a global level so to speak.  But down in the inane corners of the buildings, that same heat energy has to snake around to get out, making ghosts, which dance up hopefully to make cloud calligraphy which hopefully gets dissipated.
Two deer horns travel the land with boys and generals, for wars and ping pong tournaments.

Four deer horns decorate the palaces of dogs and kings, for ice cream parties and dancey things.

The Deerhorn project is aimed at creating new instruments out of the original radio Theremin concept.  The main inspiration is Clara Rockmore's desire to have more than one pitch come from the theremin, to which Lev responded, "well then how would you control the volume of each tone?".  Well, the Deerhorn idea is to derive amplitude and dynamics from the changes in pitch of each radio-tone, thus creating an automatic envelope for each. 

It is inspired by Rockmore's "feminine wisdom" of wanting more than one tone, to transcend Theremins "male hubris" of technical impedances, thus a deerhorn installation should consist of a multiplicity of devices- an ORGAN.

Besides these installation pieces, the Deerhorn is an ESSENTIAL component of the ROOLZ_GEWEI.

  #1: Installed at the American Visionary Art Museum, it hangs on the wall, in the basement, a nice cement space of cellular forms, between two bathrooms and the correspondant "sound of running water".   It has four modules which generate radio fields in the space around the antennae.  In this space, any movement by person or cat or other entity will activate the instrument.  When no-one moves, it is silent.  It has excellent response to slow movements due to the dynamics of the envelope follower, thus it is appropriate for dance. There is a provision for chaos in the radio fields, as you can control the amount of cross-modulation via an FM input for each one.  Each module also makes light based on your movement: video of that. Here are some sounds created with the Radio Windchime in various species of self-modulation: fingeringfrogholez, heavymodulation, lament

#1 is constructed out of wood, leather, aluminum, canvas, and circuit components built on paper. 
#2 Was built as a demonstration piece for SOMMERKAMPWORKSTATION BERLIN, and toured Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
#3 was built for a show with local beatboxer  Shodekeh.  It has a microphone input, and due to the hard encasing, it is portable and precise.  I have played it out much, and it is a good complement for trombone playing.  It has two modules.
#4, a present for my mother, is a single module device, exhibiting the fundamental circuit board, and using a new technology for the speaker, a multi-layer piezo device. There are many deerhorn devices not shown here and the majority are single pieces like this, which were constructed by participants in "Deerhorn Workshops".


Peter Blasser: Designer of Electronic Tapestries and Garments. (Click on Image for High Res Shot)