Smart Appliances

    Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition


    A work for single screen HD video, electronic sound, mezzo soprano and cello.

    Smart Appliances takes the form of a concert performance for voice, cello, electronic sound and single screen video. The work re-imagines visual, sonic and written archive material from historical statements that have been made about machines in the home of the future namely the kitchen and the music studio.

    The song lyrics weave together past visions of the future of domestic spaces; a kitchen from the 1950’s ‘House of the Future’ made entirely of plastic, with a design from the 1980’s by the pioneering composer and engineer Daphne Oram, which anticipates a music programme allowing individual musicians to be at home and perform together across a virtual network. These components are brought together with the idea of contemporary ‘smart appliances’ that can communicate with their remote owners.

    The content of the music and the video image features the textures of technology and of the human: the resonant buzzing of a domestic refrigerator, the melodic extracts found in Oram’s 1964 electronic composition entitled ‘Food Preservation’, sonic jingles and the surface fingerprint patterns on touch screen devices.

    In the process of creating this work, audio, text artefact and photographic archive material was explored by Cunningham during her research visits to The Daphne Oram Collection held at Goldsmiths, University of London.

    Smart Appliances was commissioned by Contemporary Connections and was first performed at Sounding Food and Music at TOM (The Old Market) Hove, UK. A book of essays was published to accompany the concert programme. The essay 'It Started with a Dress: Amy Cunningham's Smart Appliances', was written by Dr Cathy Lane. An audio installation version of the work was subsequently exhibited at Brighton Public Library.

    The concert, exhibition and publication was commissioned and produced by Contemporary Connections and funded by Arts Council England.
    Original languageEnglish
    Media of outputOnline
    Size16:9 format, 9 minutes 40 seconds, stereo audio
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2014

    Bibliographical note

    The following information was provided about the Sounding Food and Music project of which Smart Appliances was a key work:

    'Sounding Food and Music:
    A Contemporary Connections project exploring food and eating in sound.'

    Saturday 6th December, 7.30pm,The Old Market, Hove

    Andrew Morley, Frances Bourne, Rebecca Hardwick and The Centenary Ensemble play works by Amy Cunningham, Daphne Oram, Nicola LeFanu, Helen Bowater and Pia Gilbert.

    Free Public Listening Lounge Exhibition, Brighton Jubilee Library
    19th - 31st January 2015.
    Hear works by women on the theme of food and eating through our musical dining table!

    Essays on the theme of sound, food, gender and sexualities.
    Contributions by Cathy Lane, Holly Singleton, Laura Seddon and Lauren Redhead with illustrations by Holly Jarvis, Peter Seddon and Amy Cunningham.

    Online Story Collection:
    We are collecting experiences and stories from all over the world, on the role music has in cooking and eating, and how food is used in performance and the creative process.

    We would like to capture everyday experiences of food and music - to contribute go to: contemporary

    Contemporary Connections

    Supported using public finding by Arts Council England.


    • video art
    • music composition
    • smart appliances
    • cello
    • soprano
    • print
    • installation
    • technology
    • Daphne Oram
    • women composers
    • synthesiser
    • Electronic music
    • music and the home


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