Sauerkraut Synthesizer

1st performance: Subtle Technologies Boat Cruise, Toronto Harbour, Toronto, Ontario,

June, 2010

This piece is based on a 'Lemon Synthesizer' prototype developed in collaboration with Akemi Takeya and Noid in Vienna, March 2009.

Fruits and vegetables become voltage input controllers for a software-based audio synthesizer. Six fruits and vegetables are placed on a table. A zinc terminal and a copper terminal are inserted into each fruit and vegetable, so that each organic object becomes an acid battery that produces approximately one volt of electricity. The voltage output from the fruit/vegetable network is varied by attaching a second set of terminals arranged in reverse polarity to the first set of terminals. The second reverse-polarity terminals serve to ‘pull-down’ the voltage level of the first set, as the depth of insertion of the terminals is varied by hand, so that a potentiometer effect results.

These variable voltages are transmitted to the computer via an Arduino interface, which brings the signals into a ppooll software patch through the computer’s USB-serial port. The voltage signals are routed to various control parameters of the ppooll synthesizer, so that as the depth of insertion of the battery terminals into each fruit or vegetable is changed, parameters of the synthesized sounds can be altered in real-time.

A live video camera displays the real-time manipulation of the fruits and vegetables on a video projection screen. A second video projection shows the actual voltage changes in real time as the fruit and vegetable network is manipulated.

©Gordon Monahan 2010

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