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AIR Simon Whetham - Week Six

Week six (21-27 June 2021)

Location: Marseille, France

For various reasons, this week is not so packed with activities…

But I have my first COVID-19 vaccine injection!

Last week I showed the development of three new devices to add to the performance setup. For some reason I developed three more this week, which means that the whole project has changed. Not a bad thing, as I wanted it to evolve organically and without too much planning, more of a surprise.

So the fourth to be developed uses a small fan I kept from the donations in Sion, Switzerland, that I felt had some potential, and is small and light. Initial tests with a metal ‘meccano’ bracket were good but tended to result in very regular rhythmic sounds…

The fifth takes another computer fan, this time with a found CD attached. I drilled holes in the edge of the disc (so it could actually still be listened to!) and added lengths of dental floss. Using this device I get some nice tonal sounds from another small heat sink I salvaged from a computer tower found in Marseille.

And finally I took one of the objects from the original setup – the small cardboard box – and fixed a motor with a worm drive to the base inside. I then fixed a wire ‘stylus’ to the inside of the top, adjusting it so it hopefully sits in the groove of the worm drive when closed. As I can’t see inside when the box is closed, this has to be done by trial and error.

Open box shows motor with worm drive in base and stylus in top


And then I returned to the fourth device – the small round fan – and tried various other objects. The one that was most satisfactory in sound and unpredictability was a small round stone.

Small fan with round stone

I’ll save video documentation for week seven, as I develop the live performance.



I discovered a recording of the first test with the small round fan. As you will hear, the sound becomes very regular at points, which is fine but not for this project.

On Wednesday I met with Julian Edwardes, a Breda native and musician using mostly modular synthesisers.

Below is a transcription of the conversation, but one development since our chat is that Julian will kindly lend me some speakers and a mixer during my time in Breda which will help the development of the live presentation immensely!

Simon Whetham

Marseille, France

Simon Whetham is our Artist in Residency from May until July 2021. He will use his residency to further develop the activation of discarded mechanical devices using sound impulses to be presented as a live performance. The first stage of this project was carried out during the residency at Ferme-Asile, Switzerland.
This period of research involves collecting sounds from Marseille and Breda and utilising them in the activation of objects found or donated in both locations. The first six weeks will be carried out remotely with me recording sounds in Marseille and testing their properties in the studio. I am meeting with the team of Witte Rook on a regular basis to discuss the progress of the project, but will also be connecting with artists and organisations in The Netherlands to discuss all aspects of the project and find further opportunities to present the results.
During the final three weeks I will be in residence at Witte Rook, physically meeting everyone I have connected with and presenting the results in Breda and hopefully other places.

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