Smart Appliances

    Research output: Non-textual outputComposition


    Smart Appliances is an artwork by Amy Cunningham using single screen HD video and music composition for soprano voice, cello and electronic sound. It was performed live with a video backdrop as part of ‘Sounding Food and Music’ (December 2014), with a subsequent HD video available online. The work forms part of a series based on female pioneers in technology and representations of women in the assimilation of technology into culture. Cunningham juxtaposes the lives of technical innovators with features of domestic technology, developing sound and image combinations that foreground intangible textures associated with the experience of technological interfaces.

    Cunningham researched the life and work of digital sound pioneer Daphne Oram, using the archival collection held at Goldsmiths. She used this research to develop references to physical textures and fabric as well as sonic and digital texturing. Through a process of videography, sound recording, drawing and vocal improvisation, the work examines Oram’s vision for the future of domestically performed electronic music alongside two further visions of a digitised future: a smart refrigerator from 2014; and the appliances of the Monsanto 1957 ‘House of the Future’. The resulting audio-visual composition uses textures, including the resonant buzzing of a domestic refrigerator and the surface fingerprint patterns on touch-screen devices, that belie the smooth operations and invisible interfaces promised by technology.

    By bringing these elements together, Cunningham investigated relationships with technological devices in the home and generated new insights into the ways in which technology can be understood through its material properties. The performance was accompanied by an essay by composer, sound artist and co-director of Creative Research in Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP) Dr Cathy Lane, and an extract of the score appeared in Cunningham’s ‘Listening in the Middle Distance’, in ‘SOUND:: GENDER:: FEMINISM:: ACTIVISM’ (2016).
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationThe Old Market, Brighton, UK
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2014


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