open studio

Songbirds on my lawn by kelly heaton

I just realized that I neglected to post this video to my blog…

Here are six transparent pepakura-style songbirds, each containing a unique, analog electronic sound generator. The birds are linked by rainbow cables to a breadboarded computer (i.e, “bird brain”) that uses shift registers, astable multivibrators, and transistor switches to achieve a pseudorandom sequence… so the bird’s songs don’t sound repetitive, of course. I’m chasing after the mysteries of life —the spark of life. Eventually these little fellows will perch in a sculpture called “Birds at My Feeder,” (2019).

Deep electricity (transparent birds) by kelly heaton

My transparent birds invite you to contemplate the electricity that flows through their being. The visible electronics are all discrete hardware — analog electronic sound generators that vibrate to sing a song (refer to the video in this post). There are no recordings or software involved in the making of the song, only an oscillating electronic circuit. To quote @melissadelzio regarding Shipibo-Conibo philosophy, “Existence is essentially comprised of vibrations, encapsulating the connection between the energetic and material worlds and expressing the link between light and sound.”

the return of magic by kelly heaton

I have spent the past five months working on a sculpture that required some serious engineering on my part, a task that I managed to accomplish by hyper-focusing and pushing myself through many days at my electronics bench. Meanwhile, my lack of energy to make art with my spiritual and physical self has been injurious. A new friend thankfully reminded me that I need these other facets of myself if I am to survive. Suddenly, I regained attention for the magical objects that I keep on display above my electronics workspace. These protectors and power objects became visible to me again after a blindness that I self-inflicted with my own mental intensity. It’s amazing how a shift in consciousness can instantly remove the wool from our eyes — the most dangerous form of blindness is not an optical condition, but a compromised state of mind.

I wish that hardcore stunts of engineering were possible (for me) without a serious bias for thinking (instead of feeling), but that’s just not the case… not yet. I need more practice in order to achieve a greater virtuosity and grace, but that’s the work of a lifetime I suppose. Anyway, now, as I approach the end of my latest intellectual challenge, I’m grateful that a restoration of balance is on my horizon.

Pretty Bird ver. CC 2019 by kelly heaton

Here it is at last: my edition of 150 printed circuit boards and associated components, “Pretty Bird ver. CC,” 2019. This multiple was commissioned by Creative Capital for their 20th summer retreat celebration. I designed the artistic circuit using discrete hardware to generate waveforms from a 12 volt DC power supply, visible as blinking LEDs and audible through an 8 ohm speaker. Under the right lighting conditions, the sound is reminiscent of “pretty bird,” a song of the Carolia wren. There are no audio recordings or software algorithms involved in this effect — it’s entirely analog electronic. In the upper left corner of the circuit is a light-dependent resistor that affects the frequency of a negator oscillator, as I demonstrate in the video by changing the ambient light. It’s fascinating to me that a small quantity of common transistors, resistors, capacitors, and diodes can create vibrations that are so life-like. Similarity or simulacrum? The spark of life.