The Electrostatic Bell Choir is an electromechanical sound installation that plays with the static electricity emitted from discarded CRT television monitors. The work questions centuries of technological innovation by bridging history of obsolete technology. Static electricity affects everyday materials in curious ways – hair stands on end when rubbed with a balloon; laundered clothing clings together if an antistatic sheet is not tossed into the dryer; a static shock transmits from a finger after one drags their feet across the carpet…
Electrostatic bells were invented in 16th century and largely used to demonstrate how electrical energy can be converted into mechanical energy. It was popularly used at the time to predict oncoming thunderstorms by sensing static electricity in the air. The Electrostatic Bell Choir aims to focus the sensibility of this invention to a more personal scale where it demonstrates the intriguing effects of the invisible environment that constitute our domestic spaces. The artwork is at once mysterious yet can be tangibly deconstructed as the relationship between the static charges and the bells is observed as the TVs illuminate and catalyse the effect.
The Electrostatic Bell Choir, gleans static charges from the surface of television screens and uses it for its potential to generate subtle movement. This is used as the driving kinetic force in the artwork. Static bells consisting of ultra lightweight pith balls and bells from old clocks and rotary telephones are mounted in front of an assembly of twenty reclaimed Cathode Ray Tube television sets. A control circuit cycles the TVs on and off in alternating sequences which causes static to build up on the monitors. This static charge agitates the hanging pith balls, causing them to waver and lightly strike the bells ‐ resulting in quasi‐melodic compositions. The TVs are muted, tuned to various channels of white noise in order to devise a dynamically layered soundscape textured with the signature high-frequency hums, pops and buzzes of the cathode ray tubes warming up. Although compositions are programmed into the piece, it inevitably takes on a character of its own as the static fluctuates and dissipates in response to ethereal nuances (i.e.: changes in air quality such as humidity). The glow of the screens and the subtle resonance of the bells magically punctuate the dark surroundings of the installation.
Darsha Hewitt is a Canadian artist working in new media and sound. She is known for her examinations of communication technology in the domestic sphere and her use of DIY aesthetics and practices as an artistic method. She makes electromechanical sound installations, drawings, audio-visual works, how-to videos and experimental performances with handmade electronics. Through deconstruction and experimentation with failed and obsolete technology, her work demystifies hidden systems within machines as a way to trace-out structures of economy, power and control embedded throughout capitalist culture.
Darsha is a fellow at the Berlin Centre for Advanced Studies in Arts and Sciences at the Art University of Berlin and a Guest Professor in New Media and Sound at Karlsruhe University of Art and Design. From 2015-16 she was a guest professor at the Art University of Kassel. She is also a Lecturer in the Media Arts Environments Research Chair at the Bauhaus University Weimar. Recent presentations of her work include: Future Flux Festival (NL), Transmediale (DE), Asia Culture Center Gwangju (SK), Elektra Festival (CA), Resonate (RS), Spectrum (DE), Goethe Institute (CA), Halle14 (DE), Modern Art Oxford (UK), WRO Media Art Biennale (PL), FACT Liverpool (UK) and CTM Festival (DE).
她是柏林藝術大學柏林藝術與科學高級研究中心的研究員，也是卡爾斯魯厄藝術與設計大學新媒體與聲音顧問教授。從2015-16年，她一直擔任卡塞爾藝術大學客座教授，並同時兼任包豪斯大學魏瑪媒體藝術環境研究組織的講師。 近期參展的包括：Future Flux Festival (荷蘭), Transmediale (德國), Asia Culture Center Gwangju (南韓), Elektra Festival (加拿大), Resonate (塞爾維亞), Spectrum (德國), Goethe Institute (加拿大), Halle14 (德國), Modern Art Oxford (英國), WRO Media Art Biennale (波蘭), FACT Liverpool (英國) 和 CTM Festival (德國).
Production of this work was made possible with the generous support of Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst in Oldenburg Germany, Le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and Hexagram Concordia.
Presentation of this work and the artist at this Festival was made possible with the generous support of Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong and Macao.
該作品及項目由德國的奧登堡（Eden-Russ-HausfürMedienkunst）、Le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec 和Hexagram Concordia的大力支持下製作。