Electricity to Sound to Art

The latest addition to Galen Richmond’s evolving sound sculpture was installed this month. Coming to visual art from a background in music, his work frequently involves sound sculptures built from discarded electronic parts.  This work is an interactive experiment in the transformation of electricity to sound and a look at how different electronic components shape and augment what sound is produced.

A young visitor helps Galen put the finishing touches on his new SmartArt component.

The science: the work is that it functions as a large model of a primitive circuit board synthesizer complete with oversized replicas of resistors, diodes, and switches. Inside, the work’s low voltage power is continuously running through an incomplete circuit board to a speaker (transistor) underneath the unit. Visitors can then add jumpers and electronic components to complete the circuit and create or change the sound. The sound produced is the result of the sum and order of the electronic components. This makes the work very open-ended and visitors can turn switches or change and remove parts to experiment and create a variety of different sounds.

The finished product! The signs help visitors understand how to turn electricity into sound!

The art: the music being produced is the metaphor that comes out of the explorative process that Galen provides the visitor. The art works by completing a circuit through experimental connections. This act of bridging or making parallel connections to create a new experience functions as a tangible metaphor for the modern artist. This relates back to the exhibition as a whole and the bridges that all of the featured artists are making between science and art.


Galen is our SmartArtist-in-Residence, and will be spending time weekly at the Museum prototyping and testing out ideas for a series of works that he will install in SmartArt, our current science/art exhibit. The SmartArtist-in-Residence program was established as a way to provide the Museum & Theatre’s young visitors with an ongoing collaborative art experience that connects them with a local science-based artist and enhances our SmartArt exhibit. The program will run throughout the SmartArt exhibition and Galen will be on site creating work and hosting workshops at select times through December 2010. Click here for upcoming SmartArt programs.