As technology continues to creep into or take over all aspects of modern music, some creators are pushing this concept to its limits. Experimental artist Ezra Teboul is one of these creators pushing this idea to its logical extremes by utilizing an unlikely piece of machinery to create truly unique compositions - the 3D printer.
It is likely that you know at least one person who owns one of these incredible machines. They have become an indispensable aid in prototyping new products and have also found a niche place for the average home hobbyist. However, Teboul cares little for the finished product of the printer. Instead, it is the unique sounds produced by the machine as it creates that he is interested in. Here is what Teboul himself had to say about the project:
"Stepper Choir is an ongoing experiment exploring what Nic Collins calls "the music implicit in technology," with a focus on 3D printers. There, the combination of stepper motors and resonating bodies of wood, plastic and metal actually constitute a form of instrument that perhaps most closely reflects our digitally-controlled industrial contemporaneity.
Anyways, I hooked up a 3D printer to lots and lots of speakers at EMPAC in Troy, NY so that audiences could hear the shape that was being printed: the sound begins sprinting around the floor of the room, and as the digital gets deposited in the model (the printer isn't actually given any plastic thread to deposit), the sound follows the shape of each layer until it ends as a point source in the ceiling. I ran a number of shapes, resulting in 12 hours of 60 channel recordings in various multichannel formats and encodings. A 16 channel and binaural recording are being assembled for a release later next year"
Teboul's process has been documented in short film format by veteran documentarian and composer Garret Harkawik. The documentary gives a wonderful introduction to Teboul's process and the aims behind the project. Harkawik is no stranger to documenting unusual artist practices as well as many other odd phenomena. He has multiple documentaries to his credit including one about a man's ten-year pursuit of the source of a low humming sound in his household titled Doom Vibrations. You can view all of his films on his website and hear his compositions on his Bandcamp page.
The documentary and the musical project it examines is an eye-opening thought experiment in modern musical composition. The use of this machine never intended for this use cleverly raises the question of whether something is music or more akin to a performance art piece and if the line between the two can even be effectively drawn. This distinction will ultimately be determined by the individual listener/viewer. I highly encourage you to watch the documentary and decide for yourself.
Red Thunder Audio (Ezra Teboul's Site)