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Custom Instrument Turns Black-and-White Drawings into Sound

Sound artist Dylan j Marcus unveils his "Resonance Reader" at The Hollows.
Photo by Jessica Kingdon

Intricate ceiling visuals become sounds at the The Hollows art opening in Brooklyn, thanks to an experimental electronic music device known as the Resonance Reader. Created by sound artist, Dylan j Marcus, the interactive piece aims to “accidently create music.” What looks like a mystic wand with black fringe employs custom-software and barcode readers to convert light emissions into midi, allowing it to read the black-and-white lines of the massive ceiling art piece by Brazilian artist, Talita Zaragoza. Marcus even suggests the "wand" has the potential to be learned as a sophisticated instrument.


Credits: Video by Martin Loper

The Resonance Reader is part of The Hollows current group show, Auto-Chemistry, that exhibits work by over 25 New York artists curated around performance and movement. The Hollows situates itself in a Bushwick three-story house, that resembles a suburban home turned art space; the wooden stairs and modern fixtures juxtapose the hand drawn ceilings and newly built black rooms.

The artist and dancer Tania Leipold initiated a performance with the Resonance Reader piece by moving the device across Zaragoza’s ceiling work, creating haunting echoes and vibrations while gracefully using the lines of her body to extend to the ceiling with the new musical instrument. After Leipold finished her performance, she offered the device to the audience. Though hesitant at first, the audience members soon began to take it upon themselves—quickly, Auto-Chemistry turned into a frenzy around the sound-making performance piece.

Click here to learn more about the Auto-Chemistry exhibition, on view through June 28, and for more from Dylan j Marcus, click here.


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