Music Man


Douglas Repetto is a legend in New York City, where he has fostered a thriving electronic music and new media community. He is founder of the Dorkbot discussion series (which now has local branches around the world), the ArtBots Robot Talent Show, and Organism, a collective of people "making art with living systems." By day, he is Director of Research at Columbia University's famous Computer Music Center, and it's unlikely he'll ever be able to live down the glory of being deemed "sexiest geek" by Wired. But all of Repetto's accolades and extracurricular activities unfold from his position as a respected artist whose captivating installations appear deceptively simple, only to convey complex sonic experiences. Next week, the UB Art Gallery, in Buffalo, NY, will unveil two new installations by Repetto which "revel in madcap interactivity and DIY technologies." The first, action at a distance (2008) picks up and runs with Repetto's knack for making the ramshackle poetic. With materials that include "a bewitching tangle of motors and pulleys, zigzags of rope, an otter theater, jangling bells, fireflies, switches, breath activators, and rough steel," the pieces ensnare visitors as actors--or perhaps reverse, wireless marionettes--their gestures triggering amplified sounds and the movements of the ropes and motors. everything, all at once (2008) is similarly immersive, with hundreds of mirrors, motors, bells, and lights pulsing in response to the enveloped visitor. Repetto's work is a great example of how masters of the classical arts of music composition and sculpture are using new media to push their work into an interactive realm. - Marisa Olson

Image credit: Douglas Repetto, "puff bang reverb," (2005), photo courtesy David LaSpina