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Bass Ghost

Category: Self-indulgence

Jim Mason recently asked me to participate in a show he was putting together at The Shipyard, the artist space he founded in Berkeley. The show was of work suspended from cables, as part of a larger punk show called "How to Destroy the Universe, Part 4," put on by Mobilization Records. The Shipyard collective is producing some of the best and craziest technology art work around (while being totally off the grid, powered entirely by WWII-era generators running on biodiesel--so Berkeley, in that Whole Earth Catalog way), so it was an honor to be invited to show something there.

I've been thinking about a project based on bass shaker technology for several years and decided that now would be a good time to make it. Bass shakers and sound transducers (such as those made by Clark and Feonic's small SoundBug) are a nifty technology that resonates sound through surfaces they're attached to, rather than through soundwaves. I used bass shakers to make a small piece at Burning Man about 5 years ago (which I think maybe 5 people experienced before my amplifier blew) and enjoyed working with them.

As an aging raver, bass is close to my heart. Bass, as a visceral sensation of something that's normally perceived only aurally, has been fascinating for me since I first felt sound through my breastbone, and removing everything but the feeling of bass vibration seems like a pure distillation of that experience. For this piece, I decided to try and bottle that sensation, while simultaneously exploring my interests in casemod and lowrider technology. I also wanted to do something about loneliness, since hanging on a wire seems like the literal expression of being emotionally exposed.

Thus, Bass Ghost.


The ghost is based on a wooden frame of 2x2 pine and Home Depot metal corners:

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Inside is an Aura Bass Shaker Pro and a Bazooka ELA150.1 subwoofer amplifier, powered by a Demon 480 watt power supply. Sound is supplied by a Rio Cali MP3 player playing Bing Crosby singing "The Star Spangled Banner" in 1939, pitch shifted to subsonic levels, and some bells:

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The outside is made of 1/8" plywood, painted with white interior paint.

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Here's how it looked installed:

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And here's what the show looked like:

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Thanks again to Jim, to Tim and Patricia for loaning me their garage and tools, to Liz for helping me think through the thing and for encouraging me to finish it, and to the Department of Homeland Security, for the careful repacking of it after their examination at the airport. [And, I almost forgot, to Tod for the last minute power supply telephone tech support!]