push-pole (2014) nolan lem
metal, wood, electronics, motors, speakers, magnets, sensors
push-pole (2014) is a physical system that focuses on the interplay of agonistic forces involved in the transduction of energy into movement, movement into sound.

This installation explores the perception of momentum as a restoring force: as energy is transferred into the system, the response of the system is made visible/audible as it envelops over time and space. As each hanging magnet is coupled to the others in the same structure, their behavior is governed by the system dynamics of coupled oscillation in both material structure and sound. Oscillations are at once the most basic and critical part of our physical world. They account for both the motional behavior governing the swinging magnets (e.g. pendulum) and for the waveform that accounts for each independent oscillator (sine and triangle waves). The magnetic field of each hanging magnet is picked up by a hall effect sensor affixed to a structure on the floor. This sensor’s signal forms a voltage controlled amplifier (VCA) with a host circuit that controls the frequency of the oscillation and how it changes with respect to time. A separate timing circuit controls when the motors kick energy into the hanging structures.

As such, this installation can be presented in both fixed-frequency mode (all-analog circuits, fixed frequency) and compositional mode (frequencies of the oscillations change over time (as indicated by frequency contours, see technical page for more information)). Because of the modular nature of the installation, it can be presented to accomodate a variety of site-specific locations.

push-pole (2014) from Nolan Lem on Vimeo.