T.H.E.M. (The Handmade Electric Machines) are human-powered electronic sound sculptures exploring the generation of electronic sound through the transference of energy from human kinetic action.
Three T.H.E.M. each comprise two different sound and light-making mechanisms to form an ensemble of electronic instruments that can be played together or separately to activate a range of sonic responses. The visual aesthetic of the specifically designed metal housing is inspired by early twentieth-century electrical enclosures and the imaginations of Nikola Tesla and Raymond Lowey. Each device is completely stand-alone, requiring only human energy to activate. Internal electronic circuitry explicitly responds to the power generated by audience participation. Bespoke handmade circuits then modulate electronic pulses of sound and light. The cranking interaction encourages participants to physically engage with the artwork and experience it in a more playful and immersive way. Each element is hand-powered, reinforcing our personal connection with electricity production at a time when societal methods of energy generation are in transition. Energy is produced by turning a crank attached to a dynamo within the device which, in turn, produces a low-voltage current powering handmade electronic circuits, amplifiers, speakers, and lights. Each device is completely stand-alone, requiring only human energy to activate. Internal electronic circuitry explicitly responds to the power generated by audience participation, which handmade circuits then transform into electronic sounds and light.
The project is designed by Daniel Della-Bosca, Andrew R. Brown, John Ferguson, and Timothy Tate, members of the Interactive Media Lab based at Griffith University. They are committed to sustainable concerns by maximising creative expression from limited materials and using small amounts of energy. Their intention is for the audience to appreciate their direct participation in generating renewable electricity and having fun being part of an ensemble of electronic instruments.
T.H.E.M. were commissioned by Curiocity Brisbane 2023 and displayed as part of the World Science Festival Brisbane from Wednesday 22 March to Sunday 2 April, 2023 in the Clem Jones Activation Space, Riverside Green, South Bank Parklands, Brisbane, Australia.