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Ideophone 1

"Ideophone 1" (1970) is a sound sculpture made from loudspeakers by Dick Raaymakers (NL). [Work distributed by V2_Agency]

Ideophone 1

Ideophone 1

Ideophone 1 is an ensemble of 36 identically functioning speakers built into a chrome-plated metal case of about five by five by one foot. This case is part of a chrome-plated metal frame of about ten by six by two and a half feet, in which the case can slowly swing and revolve on an axis within a 90-degree angle. The case's two extreme positions are horizontal (like a tabletop) and vertical (like a blackboard). The frame’s pipe diameter is five inches.

A foot-long glass pipe about an inch in diameter is attached to each speaker cone at a right angle. Inside each pipe is a small steel ball less than an inch in diameter. Each pipe sticks out about ten inches past the cone. Inside the pipe, at the spot where it is attached to the cone by a small plastic plate, is a small spring-steel "fork," on which the ball sits when at rest. The two prongs of the fork are connected to the two poles of the battery, one making a detour via the normal loudspeaker connection.

When the ball touches the fork, the speaker cone jolts forwards and forcefully propels it away. The ball rolls back inside the pipe, depending on the angle, and is kicked away again. This process is repeated as long as the battery remains connected. The steeper the angle of the pipe, the faster the series of kicks from the speaker. If the case has reached the tabletop position and all the glass pipes are standing upright, the balls will be bouncing up and down at top speed inside them.

The sound produced by this contraption is a statistical addition of 36 more or less periodic series of impulses (which can be compared to a hailstorm). The greatest total impulse density is about 300 per second (the storm is at its climax), the lowest about ten per second (the hailstorm is drifting away).

text from Dick Raaymakers: A Monograph.

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