Try not to say anything sensitive while heating up that Hot Pocket. ()CC-BY) 
Ewen Roberts.

Could you spy on someone using a microwave oven as a mic?

While too much of our information streams have become infected with endless discussion of the current White House, this week there’s a direct connection to Leon Theremin. So – let’s dive in, shall we? In case you’ve managed to avoid US news, you might not know that the Counselor to the President of the United States recently speculated to an interviewer that a microwave oven could be used as a spying device, and specifically, as a camera. And that led to stories like this one: No, Microwave Ovens Cannot Spy on You—for Lots of Reasons [Wired] The problem is, what …

READ MORE →
crystall_1

Enter the trippy, fanciful world of Soviet light art studio Prometheus

Somehow, tucked into the Kazan Aviation University in Tatarstan, USSR, inside a Faculty of Radio Engineering, the Studio “Prometheus” explored experimental aesthetics. In short, while performing the complicated dance of keeping Soviet authorities and the KGB happy, Professor Bulat Galeev and his colleagues managed to create an enormous body of work in visual music. These projects included everything from small light organs to full-scale projections, in a seemingly endless parade of inventions. And lately, Russian and Western artists alike have been rediscovering them, thanks to ongoing curatorial work by Kazan’s surviving Prometheus Institute. So while a museum was lost, Galeev …

READ MORE →
yak

Duet for Singer and Jet Plane: A Soviet Airliner as Instrument

Watch as a Yakovlev Yak-42 jetliner* was transformed last month into a giant percussion instrument, allowing a unique duet between vocalist (our friend Jekka) and machines. As part of last month’s Polytech Festival in Moscow, the performance is one of a number of international collaborations taking place around the museum’s art programs. A small army of teenagers got to participate in getting the whole thing working – learning about sound, sensing, and physical computing in the process. The last time we caught up with the Playtronica collective, they were engaging kids in science and electronics through the power of vegetables. …

READ MORE →
krystall

Teaser: The Joy of Music with Light, From Russia and Beyond

::vtol:: “luminescence” workshop from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Artists are, in endless cycles, rediscovering techniques that might otherwise have been discarded. And that includes performance concepts in the audiovisual realm. I’m this week in Moscow as a guest of the Polytechnic Museum (specifically their Polytech.Science.Art program. There is, I think, no more historically apt place on Earth to explore the connection between sound and image than the land of Scriabin, Kandinsky, Ballets Russes, and constructivist art, this epicenter of the audiovisual revolution. What you probably don’t know so well is audiovisual experimentation from the later Soviet period, and that was partly …

READ MORE →
Nina_Kraviz

Go Record Digging with Nina Kraviz, Finding Emotion in DJing and Production

Nina Kraviz appears in a film from vinyl store The Record Loft. It’s short, but she’s strikingly economical and insightful in talking about what it means to mix records, find records, and make records. The Siberian-born PhD dental doctor-turned-DJ/producer is especially noteworthy at the beginning of 2015. Last month, she helmed edition number 50 of the legendary DJ-Kicks series – the gold standard of what a mix should be. What’s nice about the interview is how quickly Kraviz gets to the emotional essence of all the dimensions of her work. Feeling, and capturing a moment, is at the heart of …

READ MORE →
Marek Biliński live in Warsaw, 2013. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Robert Drózd.

Discover Poland’s Electronic Music Pioneers, Modern Artists: Boiler Room and Beyond

The setting looks futuristic — like Stanley Kubrick teamed up with Syd Mead to make a theme park. But it’s actually Warsaw and environs. And the path the future is via the past, and a history largely unknown outside of the country. Boiler Room, best known for webcasting parties, shifts gears from what’s new-and-hip to where it all began, and the result is inspiring. The film was directed by Marcin Filipek for Boiler Room with the input of Gosia Herman of Boiler Room Poland, and is the result of half a year spent gathering artists. The stunning imagery is the …

READ MORE →
IMG_2299

Tour Erica Synths in Riga, Where Vintage Tubes Live [Gallery]

Forget the notion that new technologies replace old, that design is a steady progression from past to future. Think, instead, of music – variations on a theme, modernity made from the spare parts of the past. Latvia may be eager to shed its Soviet past, and with good reason. But part of the legacy left behind is a history and expertise in engineering. Rīga, the Latvian capital in this Baltic country, was home to the mighty RMIF synth company and Blue Microphones, among others. The economic strain of the Soviet union sometimes required these makers to be even more ingenious …

READ MORE →