A Magnet That Speaks Also Attracts

1st exhibition: Eye Revue Gallery, Union Station, Toronto, 1986

A mechanical performing sculpture that is part medieval weapon system and part modern audio system was installed in a window display case (5 meters x 2 meters x 2 meters) at Toronto’s Union Station. This work examines the loudspeaker as a magnetic projectile capable of imitating most sounds in the human audio spectrum. A catapult, operated by an automated program, throws a broadcasting loudspeaker at a magnet that catches the speaker through mutual magnetic attraction. The speaker is mechanically retrieved from the magnet and returned to the catapult to be blasted off again. This process continues until the operation breaks down, usually caused by the speaker missing its target (the magnet) and getting messed up in the mechanical parts of the machine. The sounds heard over the speaker are pseudo-space musics from the 1959 vinyl season, played on a repeating turntable attached to the machine. The piece was installed for four weeks and was open to the public 24 hours a day.

┬ęGordon Monahan 1986