Owl Project enthralled visitors by turning the Optikit in to an instument for a live performance at the Bury Sculpture Centre.
Combining ideas from the Symphonium music boxes with more experimental techniques of optical sound developed in Russia during the early 20th century such as the Variaphone and the ANS Synthesiser Owl Project created OptiKit.
The Symphonium music box was very fixed in its musical remit. The notes were set to a western scale and the sequences on metal disks, hard to change. In response we are developed a music box that can be reconfigured in a multitude of ways. Assembled from a bespoke kit of paper discs, synth modules, motors and fixings, Owl Project’s Optikit generates endlessly changing beats and rhythms.
The mechanisation of sound creation began as soon as technology allowed it. In the nineteenth century, mechanical musical instruments such as barrel organs, symphonions, orchestrions, euterpeons and miniature music boxes proliferated. Equally marvelled at and loathed for their tinny, repetitive reproductions of classical pieces and show-tunes, these programmable machines can be seen as the ancestors of today’s electronic and digital instruments.