Transjuicer represents the culmination of several years of work with the piezoelectric nature of the bone matrix in order to cause the bone to vibrate in such a way as to generate sound.
What initially interested me about this particular property of bone, was the way in which it speaks to the complex and dynamic entanglements that exist between life and world; to the incredibly fine resolution at which bodies are continually in communication with their physical environment. Paradoxically, in order to utilise the dynamic qualities of bone to make an audio speaker it was necessary to remove the bone from its living context and so a work that began as an investigation of living dynamism became a process of material transformation that proceeded from butcher to technological artifact. With each discrete stage in the process, we achieved a greater degree of refinement. And yes the bone responds, it vibrates at the nanoscale, generating sound which is softer than we can hear and has been recorded using a laser interferometer.
The installation Transjuicer documents some of the stages of this process of refinement and instrumentalisation, from the organic, through the theoretical, to the technical. Each tower is conceived of as a totem, to our belief in science, and to our belief in phenomenal interactions occurring beyond our capacity to sense. They are constructed to resemble laboratory rack mounts and present ‘research mess’ rather than the smooth surface of the science communication aesthetic. The bone speakers sit like antennas atop each totem. Recordings made of the speakers playing back the songs Dem Bones, Old MacDonald, and Good Vibrations can be listened to on headphones and function as the soundtracks to each of the videos. The videos of the cows enmeshed within the milking machine, and gazing back at us, tie together the device of the cow bone speaker with the instrumentalisation of the cow at the macro scale as part of our daily consumption practices.
A paper published in Leonardo Journal on the research that went into producing the work can be accessed here.