Steam Machine Music

Festival edition: 
Morten Riis
Morten Riis

Steam Machine Music is a homebuilt mechanical instrument made mostly from vintage Meccano parts. The instrument is driven by a steam engine that provides the whole instrument with energy. The sound material is generated from various strings, dynamos and music boxes but the most important sound generating part is the sound of the machine itself, the rhythmic patterns and pulsating drones of the steam engine, the squeaking of the gear trains.


The instability of the entire mechanism is extremely noticeable, and displays and reflects the physicality of the machine to an extreme degree. Everything is imminently about to go wrong, a cogwheel that jams, a screw that loosens itself, a chain falling of, water running out, the loss of steam pressure, gas running out. Steam Machine Music questions the whole practice and conceptualising of machine music in a historical perspective that points to the fact that machines always have been malfunctioning, they have always broke down, there has always been a “real” physical mechanism that challenged the predetermined functionality of the machine.


The artist can be watched building up the Steam Machine at the opening night, followed by the performance Steam Machine Music later on (20:30). The perfomance will be repeated in a shorter version on Wednesday, Feb 1, in the framework of the In/compatible Research Practices event, K1.


(Image: Morten Riis)


Related participants: 
Related events: 
Related texts: