Paul Panhuysen

Lost for Words

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An internationally recognized artist, Paul Panhuysen is known for his sound installations, his curatorial work, and his role in the famed Maciunas Ensemble. For the works on this record, an hour of sound culled from 14 hours of material recorded at concerts and installations, Panhuysen built a special instrument/machine, the Galvanos, derived from a scientific instrument, the galvanometer, which converts electrical current into mechanical vibrations, used in EKGs and in 19th century experiments in animal magnetism. Unlike home stereo equipment, the Galvanos are intended to convert pre-recorded sound into entirely new sound compositions. In each installation, a series of galvanometers connected to stereo outputs converts the audio signals into the vibrating motions of their pointers. Connected to each pointer is a long steel string; these strings, depending on their lengths and materials, more readily vibrate at certain frequencies, thus editing out and sending along signals from the galvanometers. From here the strings can be attached to any stringed instrument or homemade instrument -- Panhuysen has used guitars, cellos, sheets of paper, and kotos in previous performances -- and can be reamplified, sending the new sounds back to the audience. What this set-up produces is a long series of haunting, mesmerizing sounds that seem grouped by an indeterminate but indefinable principle. Ranging from clanging echoes to whispering hums, the sounds -- by virtue of their multiple, variable sources -- overlap, building a definite but limited architecture of coincidence and intention. Nine of the original sources for this CD come from Panhuysen's previous sound projects; the other two are from found sources, speeches by Stalin, and recording from the aviary in the Het Apollohuis.

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