The Reorganized Organ mentorship project
The Reorganized Organ was a mentorship and collaborative instrument-building project that gave space for artists to consider the preponderance of e-waste in our culture by repurposing a discarded electronic organ to make an orchestra of experimental musical instruments.
Ten young artists collaborated over twelve weeks, with the help of lead mentor-artists George Rahi and assistant artist Sasha Ford, and special guest mentors Marc St. Pierre, Chris Anderson, Giorgio Magnanensi, Brady Marks, and Simon Lyons.
The project culminated in a final event on December 1, 2017 at VIVO Media Arts Centre, presented with the help of Vancouver New Music, in which participating artists demonstrated the experimental instruments they made. This free public event gave us a chance to discuss and experience the possible roles of repair and repurposing in relation to our technological culture and education. The evening also comprised remarks by Garnet Hertz and Brady Marks about repurposing electronics; screening a documentary by Devan Scott about the creative process of the mentorship; and performances by Lee Hutzulak, Sara Gold, and Gamelan Bike Bike, who each repurpose waste materials as part of their musical practice.
The Reorganized Organ offered a fun and inviting approach to learning about the extraordinarily complex subject of wasted electronics by unraveling and investigating the relations that artists have to the electronics they use.
Participants took on the challenge of learning:
→ how to make musical instruments
→ how instrument design affects sound-making possibilities
→ how different sonic textures are produced mechanically and electronically
→ how the electronic organ relates to modern day synthesizers
→ skills like woodworking, soldering, listening, and improvisation
→ the complexities of trying to determine what “e-waste” is and how it should be handled
→ about organizations that process electronic devices we throw away
→ how to collaborate with other artists
Further study below
See below for online resources about e-waste
This documentary shows parts of the creative process engaged by the mentorship participants. It was shot and edited by the extremely talented Devan Scott, who frequently teaches a variety of video production workshops at VIVO! Check out his other work at sadhillmedia.com
The outstanding photo documentation for this project was done by Jennifer and Seoyeon, as a work placement through their high school.
Take a look below at the photo stories they created. They also created the poster for the Reorganized Organ’s final event at the top of this page!
♦ Final Event ♦
♦ Story Three ♦
♦ Story Two ♦
♦ Story One ♦
George Rahi is the lead mentor-artist on this project. He is a composer, sound artist, and instrument maker exploring new hybrids between the acoustic, electronic, mechanical, and sculptural. He works across a diverse array of interests including electro-acoustic music, public space, the soundscape, and large-scale instruments such as the pipe organ and the Indonesian Gamelan. He is a founding member of the percussion ensemble Gamelan Bike-Bike and art collective Publik Secrets, in residence at the Hadden Park fieldhouse in Vancouver since 2015. He has produced work for the Western Front, Vancouver New Music, Miscellaneous Productions, and Vancouver Co-op Radio’s Media Arts Committee. Recent projects include pulses // patterns, a sound installation using re-purposed pipe organ and electronic organ technology supported by the British Columbia Arts Council and the Western Front. More info at georahi.com
Sasha Ford is a researcher, theorist, and composer. Her practice is broadly concerned with the psychic and political stakes of aesthetic encounter, and most often takes the form of experimental electronics, art criticism, and philosophical writing. Recent work includes the 2017 essay and hybrid writing collection Ephemeral Institutions, as well as performances at the International Noise Conference in Miami, FL; the Ende Tymes Festival of Noise and Experimental Liberation in Brooklyn, NY; and the Lines of Flight Festival of Experimental Music in Dunedin, New Zealand. She holds an MA in Media Studies from Concordia University. More info at sashaford.com
Marc St Pierre is a researcher and a community engaged artist in the classroom. His main creative medium is data, which he maps to sound in a practice called sonification. In his lab as well as his maker space, Marc blurs the lines between science and art by building technology to express environmental data as sound. Fostering an ecological and environmental sensibility through data communication, his practice challenges and extends existing systems of scientific knowledge distribution. Marc has won a handful of awards for his work, the most recent being Best Use of Sound at the International Conference for Auditory Display for his publication on air quality sonification. He regularly teaches in a range of topics including programming, sound editing and making, and has also been commissioned to work with community organizations like City Opera Vancouver, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the City of Surrey among others.
Simon Lyons is a physicist, engineer and experimenter who enjoys exploring the creative possibilities of technology, primarily electronics – both analog and digital. Having taught for four years in Vancouver, his priority now is to develop engaging and open-ended experiential learning opportunities that challenge the technology-as-sealed-black-box stereotype and get people involved in their own technological evolution. He is a cofounder of MakerMobile.org, a local collaborative venture featuring a unique multipurpose mobile workspace and hacker lab.
Born and raised in Italy, Giorgio Magnanensi currently lives in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. His diverse artistic practice includes composition, conducting, improvisation, circuit bending and video art. He is artistic director of Vancouver New Music and Laboratorio, and lecturer at the School of Music of the Vancouver Community College. He received the 2017 Mayor’s Arts Award for Music.
Brady Marks is a digital media artist working primarily in audiovisual practices, new media and kinetic art. She obtained an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and a Masters in Interactive Arts from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. As a graduate of Simon Fraser University taught by faculty including original members of the World Soundscape Project (WSP), and as a member of the Soundscape Collective at Vancouver Co-operative Radio, Brady Marks is an inheritor of the WSP legacy of Acoustic Ecology. She is a frequent host of Soundscape on Co-op Radio, as well as a member of the Vancouver Electronic Ensemble and a DJ working under the alias of furiousgreencloud.
Chris Anderson is a developer, composer, musician, and instructor. His recent interests and projects have been in investigating alternative approaches to music composition and performance using various generative based systems. Chris is a Master of Fine Arts graduate from the School of Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University and has a BMus. in Jazz Studies from Capilano University. He has previously worked at SFU as a research assistant on generative music projects and as a sessional instructor. He is currently working as a prototype developer at Dasz Instruments in Vancouver Canada.
Learn more about Electronic waste:
- The Story Of Electronics: https://youtu.be/sW_7i6T_H78
- The Cathode Ray Tube’s Strange Afterlife — An Object Lesson in how presumed-dead technology lives on (Josh Lepawsky): https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/a-terminal-condition/361313/
- Digital Rubbish (Jennifer Gabrys)–free online book and podcast interview with author: http://www.jennifergabrys.net/2011/03/digital-rubbish-a-natural-history-of-electronics/
- Urban Mining Innovation Centre (UBC): http://mining.ubc.ca/research/urban-mining-innovation-centre/
- “E-waste” entry in Discard Studies Compendium (Josh Lepawsky): https://discardstudies.com/discard-studies-compendium/#ewaste
- Electronic Waste Is Piling Up. Here’s Why You Should Care: https://globalnews.ca/news/2194391/electronic-waste-is-piling-up-heres-why-you-should-care/
- Death By Design (by Al Jazeera): http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2017/10/death-design-171019054750796.html
- E-waste geographer Josh Lepawsky’s talk at SFU:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr0MwogZdkA