Rare Earth Orbits

rare earth magnets, string, fishing reel, transistor radios, electromagnetic coils, roof vent, clamp, foot pump, bellows

Growing out of some basic questions as to what the simplest ways to produce an oscillating voltage might be, Rare Earth Orbits is a performance work that explores rotational energies, radio noise, and the performative possibilities of ‘handmade’ electrical activity. As such, it occupies a space between generating new signals on the one hand, and interfering with existing signals on the other.

Rare earth magnets are rotated in several ways — such as being spun by hand, being attached to either side of a fishing reel, and stuck to the vanes of a roof vent — and spun over and around electromagnetic coils to produce electrical pulses and constant sounds, and also conveying some mechanical sounds by induction. These sounds meet with those produced when the magnets are spun near and around transistor radios set off station, where they interfere with its operation, blocking the incoming ‘signals’ to make rhythmically pulsing noise.

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Energies in the Arts book launch, Black Box, UNSW A+D, 12 Sept 2019. Photo: Lindsay Kelley.