Terrain Instrument SIGNAL
DISC New Music Chicago 1976July 02
Plans for interactive installations in two counties.
photograph by Gary Mortenson
solo, duo and
trio playing performance (incl. 2nd left disc) using traditional drum felt-hammers and rubber
coated 'minature red icebergs' (center)
, a rubber-tiped ceramic rod- with SHADOW sensor atop- signal
disc and aided by the 'BRUSH red-for-what-preamp box', Goodman
Signal Disc is listened to in the sideyard of Leif and Gloria's
Coralville Iowa home 1973
Janet Burns Duluth News Tribune Minnesota US 80s
dual Signal Discss each w/Shadow sensor
for vibration ptint through monitorings from top to bottom during
unique and isolated rain drops from overhead canopy
Disc V 2/mod= Construction commemorates Harry Partch And "His
above three, contextviews w/interactive,
Signal Disc (background) w/terrestrial Whistlers are in foreground
used in the area of the Treesway A B
Treesway space was created for a onetime only two-way satellite
networking between this location and the Hudson River Museum in
Younkers, New York. In
1973 I bought five @ $5. in Cedar Rapids Iowa. A magneyized epoxy
coating covers the magnesium base. These IBM hard drives held
DeFilipps Brush photographs
video) Signal discs above were free-floating
above and below the pine boards. The version 2 construction supported
a variety of hardware soundings, and each added unique qualites
to the sonorous rain droppings falling on the mylar-coated surface.
Shadow sensors and solar-powered pre-amps were
used to activate the different vibrational sources and a variety
of Shadows were used at selected nodes on each disc.
fro/to Signal Disc version 3.1
Daily November 21, 1975
by Jennifer Heath-- Wagner's Ring Cycle exploded ("...Surf
the Ring. It's quite a ride.") at the Music Hall on Tuesday
night without benefit fo vocalists or melodies. Instead, the jarring
atmospheric sound effects that Wagner might have used--had he
access to electronics and Leif Brush's Terrain Instruments--were
performed alone. Brush, the University's visiting artist this
week, makes these effects with what he calls Audible Sculpture.
Chord Monitors," glass rods, transducers, magnesium "Signal
Discs," modulated lasers and scanning electron microscopes,
Brush records the movements of water, wind, bushes, thunderstorms,
insects and snowflakes. He then spontaneously blends the sounds
on tape, unorchestrated and un-choreographed. A synthesizer was
used in his second piece, 1975-1976 Network Mode: Brush Passaround--not
by Brush, but by a friend. However, much of the concert had the
sonorous purity of a synthesizer rather than the soft subtle redundancies
one associates with nature's voice. Nevertheless, Leif Brush's
technology and art is stong and original.
A scuffed assistant
professor of art at the University of Iowa, brush began his career
in radio and television announcing. The army taught him basic
electronics--he claims to know very little electronics and calls
in engineers or physicists to help put his ideas to work--but
he dead-ended because "there was nothing I was doing that
was my own."
Finally, he enrolled
at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received
a Masters in Fine Arts, found "thinking time" and an
outlet for his "science-art."
Directed by the premise
that there are "scores in nature" that can be tapped
with the "right kind of sensors and interceptors," Brush
began in 1968 to organize the trees, bushes and grasses into an
earthly symphony. His obsession is the scientific methods for
using these "instruments."
Excited by technology,
he appears to be a man divided between science and art. His philosophy
of art, however, denies art's restrictiveness to itself. "After
my visual training, I'm kind of prejudiced against the eyes having
it always and always. Art is probly going down for the last time
if it overlooks some kind of integration. Science is going to
steal the show. There are more things that have greater impact,
as a body, than visual art. Science is bearing down on us. You
need a force to match a force and the artistic force alone isn't
going to do it. Creativity is up against the phenomena and imagery
that science is coming up with.
"After four years
at Iowa, my decision is to devise a curriculum so that the art
student has access to any resources in the university--no door
would be closed. For example, there would be something going on
in physics that the art student could use in the form of a foundation
Leif Brush is one
of the very few artists who are developing a technological art,
though there are others who are using sound, John Cage, for example,
recorded traffic, footsteps and silence. Brush is "bored"by
man-made sounds, except where man is reacting to the rhythms made
by natural instruments.
The player of the Signal
Discs is not inventing his rhythms, but responding to those of
the tree. Brush does not necessarily use musicians either but
people who are "really curious to satisfy the nooks and crannies
of their minds and have never met satisfaction with any other
kind of sound. It triggers some really dormant things in the head."
Brush is filled with
ideas about recording more sounds--the growth of a tree root,
for instance--but he is not (sic.) interested in making visual
images from his recordings. He feels that he has opened up new
subjective images for the exploring artist to experience and use.
But if most man-made
sounds are garbage to Brush, he also says that "a lot of
stuff I'm interested in, science regards as noise. If they're
seeking these enormous large-scale computer models, there's lots
of noise they don't want--interference. Their by product stuff
is of interest to me."
Science's trash, in
other words, is used in the same way that some artists are using
video feedback. And, of course, Brush is not only anxious that
artists look outside of art for inspiration, but that scientists
look into art perhaps for humanization. Brush doesn't want anyone's
mind "cheated out of anything."
In the fall of 1976,
Brush will receive a grant to further his explorations--this time
with a satellite to receive the noises made by people in Iowa
counties. The noise will be specific to what the noise-makers'
choose and will culminate at the satellite in one full symphonic
sound. Whatever the results, Brush's vision is to "survey,
explore and overhear the natural dynamic goings-on." He would
like to take his tapes to Germany next summer and use them in
an upcoming performance of Wagner's Ring Cycle. That would probably
suit Wagner just fine.
Anyone who is interested
in hearing a 90-minute cassette of Leif Brush's Terrain Instruments
is invited to write him c/o the Unversity of Iowa, Iowa City,