He’s built an open-source, retro-tinged 8-bit sampler, “Where’s the Party At?” (I’m been building the second generation now, so expect a review by early August.) He’s had electronic instrument designs on shelves at the retail chain Target and on the walls of the Whitney Art Museum in New York. He just completed a set of luxury chandeliers, when he wasn’t making waves in the circuit bending scene. Todd Bailey is the kind of Renaissance artist at the center of the new DIY scene. There was a time when engineers and artists were separate groups, and big laboratories worked how to get them together. Now, they’re the same person, a bundle of creative power.

If that makes you feel intimidated, don’t be: an overwhelming common theme as we gathered Todd and other DIYers last month at the Solid Sound Festival was that almost no one in the scene planned to wind up doing what they were doing. Instead, an appetite for new sounds and lots of trial and error led them to teach themselves, aided by wealths of information and communities in sharing.

Todd has done a terrific interview for Art:21, a real champion for new and experimental visual art in the US, in a scene that often lacks the kind of quality independent, non-commercial TV and Web reporting the outfit does. Adding to Todd’s badass aura is the fact that he’s picked up some “gnarly” (his description) injuries from a bike accident. (The US needs better bike infrastructure, too, but we’re working on it.)

We’ll have more thoughts from Todd and others this month as I share video from Solid Sound, but I’ll let Art:21 get the first word:
A Good Engineer [interview w/Todd Bailey] [Art:21 Blog]

And for the sampler, see Todd’s site:

Populating the new WTPA2 open source sampler board, as I work in the laboratory at Amsterdam’s brilliant STEIM research center. All those extra holes? Bend points for turning this sampler into a circuit bend project. And, of course, aesthetically it looks very cool.
  • Siike92

    So impressed with all the DIY gear out today. I too would like to get into designing synths but aside from knowing my way around a soldering iron and a very little Arduino, I don't know much else. Is there any site or anything that can help me get started?

  • Dan Pat

    Awesome. Very inspiring and a well done interview. As a student headed to college for the first time next year (Computer Engineering major), I hope to come out of the other end just like this guy: an artist-engineer hybrid who makes toys, synthesizers, and whatever else and can still rock a bizarre haircut.