Meet the Makers: fluxmonkey
The Joy of Improvised Electro-Acoustic Music
The 4th Annual Cleveland Mini Maker Faire (CMMF), taking place on November 5 at Cleveland Public Library’s Main Branch, celebrates the Maker Movement – bringing together creators, inventors, crafters and techies who strive to inspire, unite and inform.
CMMF will bring together Makers from all backgrounds and skill sets to showcase why Cleveland is an important part of the Maker Movement and how public libraries can be a natural convener of makers, companies and people who are simply interested in learning more.
One such Maker is Bob Drake, Founder and Creator of Fluxmonkey – Cleveland’s own electro-acoustic musician. We spoke with Drake about electroacoustic music, the joy of collaboration and improvisation, and the value of curiosity and community.
Who/what is Fluxmonkey?
“Fluxmonkey is kind of an umbrella project name for various work I do in and around electro-acoustic music: performance, recordings, installations, workshops, printed circuit boards, and custom-made electronic instruments.”
What excites you most about this genre of music?
“What I do is primarily improvised electroacoustic music, using original instruments. The instruments I build generally have elements of indeterminacy built into them – not random, but not always knowable in advance. So they essentially become active collaborators with me during performance, surprising and challenging me with unexpected sounds and opportunities to interact. Expanding that situation into an improvised setting, especially with other performers, adds a hear-and-now intensity and interactivity that I find really exciting.”
Why is it important to be a maker?
“I personally find working with my hands and making things intrinsically rewarding and satisfying. Being creatively involved with the process of making my own tools/instruments, and knowing not only what they do but how they work, helps me to extend their potential through non-standard techniques and even ‘misuse.’ I also had the good fortune to learn from some generous master craftsmen at a very early age, and I really value the traditions of mentorship and apprenticeship. I think they would appreciate the spirit of shared knowledge and ‘passing it on’ evident in today’s maker communities.
An apropos quote I read in a new book, Experimental Music Since 1970 by Jennie Gottschalk, talking about David Behrman, a pioneer in the area of experimental electronic instruments:
There are two key points here: (1) In Behrmans’s view, making is making, whether it is music or an instrument. The construction of the instrument can be a significant part of the musical process. (2) You don’t have to know what you’re doing. The process and the result are not invalidated by an initial lack of expertise, but can become even more interesting as a result of behaviors that are not fully understood.”
What do you hope people learn/discover at this year’s Mini Maker Faire?
“The value of active curiosity and community.”
Bob Drake is a 2016 Creative Workforce Fellow with the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture/Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Discover more at fluxmonkey.com.
Meet the Makers: Corey Johnson
The Maker Movement is made up of creators, inventors, crafters and techies who strive to inspire, unite and inform while celebrating the DIY community. One such Maker is Corey Johnson, founder and creator of Art of the Glitch. Johnson’s use of limited tools (most of his equipment is either hand-built or purchased from thrift stores) and techniques to craft glitch work provides a narrow but deep meditation on the relationship between humanity and technology.
We recently spoke with Johnson about glitch art, why people who like to “break things” will find it exhilarating, and the importance of the Maker Movement.
What is glitch art?
“Glitch art is a form of artistic expression that involves the exploitation of errors in systems. My specific form of glitch is commonly referred to as ‘circuit bending,’ which is a process by which an artist creates errors in existing electronics to produce new and interesting visual results.”
What excites you most about glitch art?
“I love glitch because of its accessibility. From the phones in our pockets to antiquated and obsolete technology rotting away in thrift stores and garage sales, glitch is a cheap and user-friendly art form that just about anybody can pick up. All it takes is a desire to break things, and a curiosity to explore the unexpected. The ability to create imagery through the manipulation of electrical current feels like wizardry on a good day.”
What will happen at the Art of the Glitch workshop?
“The workshop will run through the general artistic and political reasons behind the glitch art movement, and then explore three levels/projects of glitch art: an exploit of the panorama function on the iPhone, a simple signal-interruption cord that allows the artist to create static and fractured imagery, and an exploration into more complex circuit-bending techniques.”
Why is it important to be a Maker?
“As a visual artist, ‘Making’ is a natural extension of ‘Thinking.’ Making is the fire that is ignited by the sparks of thought and intention, and allows a greater exploration of artistic possibility. In glitch, so many pre-made, circuit-bent devices can be purchased by many talented Makers in their own right, but I believe that the act of creating those pathways for oneself is a vital part of understanding and discovering the world of glitch art.”
Art of the Glitch Workshop @ Cleveland Mini Maker Faire
2:00 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016
Cleveland Public Library, 525 Superior Ave. (2nd floor Learning Commons),
Cleveland, OH 44114
Space is limited and registration is required.
Early bird registration: http://artoftheglitch.eventbrite.com
Day-of-event registration: visit the welcome/registration table at the entrance
Corey Johnson is an award-winning graphic designer, art director and glitch artist working out of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Discover more at artoftheglitch.com, then join us on Nov. 5 to make your own glitch art!