Brooklyn-based UM Project aimed to give the Theremin a new visual look to match it’s distinctive sound.
Odd Harmonics is a new exhibition featuring a collection of custom one off designed Theremins by François Chambard of UM Project. The exhibition celebrates the launch of Butterscotch Records which partnered with Chambard on the project. Butterscotch is inspired by the analog era of music making and will offer releases on vinyl. They were looking for a unique way to introduce and approached Chambard after his Craft System series show at Wanted Design in 2012. One of the pieces from that exhibition was a redesigned Theremin. Butterscotch founder Allen Farmelo asked Chambard to create a series of objects that merge art, design and performance.
Chambard designed a total of twelve different Theremins. While the series looks cohesive as a whole, inspiration came from diverse sources including mid-century design, Bauhaus-Pop, Memphis and Steampunk. A wide range of materials and fabrication processes were employed in their construction. Wood, steel, aluminum, brass, concrete, Corian©, felt, linoleum, carpeting, and even sheepskin were brought together. Traditional woodworking was used alongside digital fabrication techniques like water-jet cutting, CNC machining and laser engraving. The resulting designs vary in appearance from robotic to playful.
Moog provided the Theremin kits and technical expertise, which because of the tricky nature the ‘hands free’ playing meant getting the installation just right. If you’ve never seen one played before, essentially there are two metal elements separated by a fairly set distance. Performers use their hands and bodies to interact with a field around each of the metal elements to vary the tone and pitch of the sound. While skilled Theremin performers can play actual songs, the instrument is more famously known for making those eerie sounds in vintage monster and horror movies.
Odd Harmonics runs through November 10th, 2013 at the Judith Charles Gallery, NYC. In addition to being able to see all new designs, there is also a rare original Theremin from the late 1930’s on display. The gallery is hosting several free music performances, all focusing on what the Theremin is capable of. A listing of artists involved and dates can be found here.
Judith Charles Gallery
196 Bowery at Spring St, NYC
October 16 – November 10, 2013
Studio Photos: Francis Dzikowski/ Esto
Gallery Photos: PSFK