Phillip Stearns
Since 2009
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

Phillip Stearns creates at the intersection of art, philosophy, and science, drawing upon a variety of disciplines including installation, audio-video, circuit sculpture, writing, performance art and musical composition. Deconstruction, dissection, and reconfiguration are methods he commonly employs in the interrogation of materials ranging from electronic objects, biological systems, images, light, video, and sound. His process is that of reduction aimed at revealing hidden macrocosms of potential, new materials for expression, and new paths for inquiries into understanding the state of things. In his work with technology, the machine is understood as the living manifestation of human intentions where the development and application of our technologies, machines and tools reveals our desires and dreams—both conscious and unconscious. His work generates phenomenological experiences that become pathways for interconnecting metaphorical spaces implied in the selection of specific materials, processes and media.

Phillip Stearns received his MFA in music composition and integrated media from the California Institute of Arts in 2007 and his BS in music technology from the University of Colorado at Denver in 2005. His work has been exhibited internationally at electronics arts festivals, museums, and galleries including: Harvestworks (2010 NYC); (2010 Chicago, IL); Festival De Arte Digital (2010 Belo Horizonte, Brazil); FILE (2009 Sao Paulo, Brazil); NIME (2009 Pittsburgh, PA); Filmer La Musique (2009 Paris, France); FONLAD (2009 Coimbra, Portugal); Torrance Art Museum (2008, 2007 Los Angeles, CA); Optica Film Festival (2011, 2008 Spain). He has participated in residencies at Museums Quartier (Vienna 2010), STEIM (Amsterdam 2007), Experimental Television Center (NY 2009), Harvestworks (NY 2010), is the current AIRTime Fellow at Free103Point9 for the 2010-2011 cycle, and curator for the 8th annual Bent Festival (2011).
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correction: Phillip Stearns is spelled with two "L"s


Algorithmic Unconscious - Group Exhibition - Devotion Gallery

Fri Nov 04, 2011 18:30 - Mon Nov 28, 2011

Williamsburg Brooklyn, New York
United States of America

Opening: Friday, November 4th, 2011 6:30-11:30pm. On view thru November 28th, 2011.

Algorithmic Unconscious

Curated by Phillip Stearns

Digital is anti-noise. In the shift from analog, physical, or
chemical forms of art making—where physical agents operate on physical
material—to digital, the noise of the medium is minimized (controlled)
as a default of the technological substrate.

Algorithmic Unconscious highlights machine/human collaborations where
the primary material in the works exhibited is the inherent noise of
electronic systems. By emphasizing random fluctuations, the artists
explore the potential for electronic technologies to misinterpret and
re-imagine the signals they are processing in order to complete the
work. The featured artists work within and parallel to the Glitch Art
movement, recognizing that algorithms for processing signals function as
key materials of digital art. By feeding these algorithms
"unconventional data" or by putting them through unconventional
routines, noise is reintroduced as a signature of the machine.

Jeff Donaldson’s work takes analog VHS tapes and Flash video compression
and twists them into a system where the product is an "interpretation"
of noise that mirrors the phenomenon responsible for the noise of our
visual sense organs being perceived as visions in dreams. Dan Temkin
puts Photoshop’s dithering algorithm into a situation where it is forced
to get creative with incompatible color palettes in the production of
large scale, low-resolution images. Arcangel Constantini re-wires the
electronics of an Atari 2600 game console from the 70s so that the
internal memory is expressed in a fragmented machine style
stream-of-consciousness: a frenetically changing barrage of fragmented
geometries and saturated colors. The images of Phillip Stearns’s DCP
Series explore a machine dream-state induced by rewiring the brains of
digital cameras. The analog plotter drawings of Jeff Snyder utilize
technologies from which contemporary digital art practices originated:
analog computing, providing an elegant counter point to the digital
works in the show.

The algorithmic unconscious itself may not yet be something that we can
clearly define or identify, however, we may be able to view the works in
this exhibition and identify between them a revised metaphor for
ourselves and our relationship to our technology.

Schedule of Events

Opening: November 4th, 6:30p reception / 9:30p concert

Exhibiting Artists:
Jeff Snyder, Daniel Temkin, Phillip Stearns, Jeff Donaldson, Arcangel Constantini

Performance Lineup:
Richard Garet, Kamran Sadeghi, Phillip Stearns

Closing: November 18th, 8:30p - 11:30p

Performance Lineup:
Phil White, Dandelion Fiction, TwistyCat, Phillip Stearns


Subliminal Machines - Phillip Stearns - Solo Exhibition

Thu Nov 03, 2011 18:00 - Mon Nov 28, 2011

DUMBO Brooklyn, New York
United States of America

Subliminal Machines
03 NOV – 28 NOV 11

Opening reception: THU 03 NOV 11, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Artist’s presentation: FRI 18 NOV 11, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

“When the circuit is exposed, electronic technologies can take on an
organic appearance. In my work with sculptural electronics, the
components become crystalline lattices, skeletal structures, with wires
functioning as any blood vessel or nerve bundle would. By making
electronics physical, I invert the paradigm of miniaturization which
constantly seeks to embed ever powerful computational devices in
increasingly smaller spaces, choosing to explode the physical attributes
of the circuits to give them a bodily presence.

Under the banner of a “smarter world”, we are inundating ourselves
with objects whose functionality forms a dynamic interrelationship of
dependence. The devices are not yet autonomous, to be so would mean that
they are able to re-program themselves. What this means is that the
behaviour of the electronics is to an extent pre-determined, not by some
heartless machine, but by a group of humans (hopefully not heartless
ones). We cannot help but embed our value systems and biases into the
devices we build.

It is not necessary to accommodate every way of thinking, nor is it
very useful to create the ultimate swiss army knife, to do so creates
unwieldy and ultimately useless tools. However, it is important to
understand that a device can shape our thoughts, that we take on the
same thinking that went into the making of the device each time we use
it. They have their own internal logic, and we must conform to the
functioning of that logic to gain access to the intended utility.

In my work with electronics, I have not built devices to be used, but
experienced. They have their own internal logic, but it is not
necessary to access it. There are deeper metaphors embedded within the
design of some of my works, however, this should come secondary to the
experience. It is there that the meanings can be strung together,
without a deep understanding of what is going on and how it is

-- Phillip Stearns

View images of works


DIY Synth Building Course by Phillip Stearns @ Harvestworks

Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:00 - Fri Feb 11, 2011

New York, New York
United States of America

DIY Synth Building Intensive
Instructor: Phillip Stearns
Monday through Friday, Feb 7 - 11
11am to 5pm
$500 (members/students, $525 (regular) $75 for the materials (to keep, for sure)
Class Location:
Harvestworks - www.harvestworks.org596 Broadway, #602 | New York, NY 10012 | Phone: 212-431-1130Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R Prince, 6 Bleeker
5-day (6 hours each day) intensive course assumes a modest level of
electronics knowledge. It is designed to be friendly to those who are
just getting started in electronics and have a curiosity in making their
own electronic musical instruments. Over the course of the module,
students will review the basics of electricity, identify components,
learn how to read and write schematics, design and build their own
custom digital modular synthesizers from the 4000 series of CMOS logic
integrated circuits.
The 5-part course features modules with hands-on activities that will
immediately apply concepts to practical projects. Each successive
will grow in complexity and become increasingly open-ended and
self-guided. Students will be given simple example circuits and
encouraged to develop their own modifications or extensions based on the concepts and information learned in the related lesson.
the completion of the intensive, students will have a solid foundation 
of knowledge in basic electronics concepts, and the ability to create
their own electronic musical instruments from scratch using a hand-full
of components. The types of applications we will focus on as examples
will include: simple oscillators, drone synthesizers, simple gating, 2
methods of sequencing, frequency division, and a 1-bit synthesizer that 
incorporates several of the concepts covered through the modules.
Lesson Overview:

Day 1
Module 1 - Electronics Basics (Build a simple LED circuit)
Module 2 - Introduction to 4000 Logic ICs and Oscillators (Build a simple RC oscillator)
Day 2
Module 3 - Mixing Signals with Logic ICs (Build and mix together multipleoscillators)
Module 4 - Switching and Sequencing with Logic ICs (Switch between multiple oscillators)

Day 3
Module 5 - Counters (Build a Sequencer)

Day 4
Module 6 - Survey of other Logic ICs (Design Final Project + Begin BuildingCircuits)

Day 5
Module 7 - Designing Interfaces (Finish Building Circuits + Design Interface)" - for more information including video documentation of past student work and testimonials.


Massive Light Boner - Presented by STEIM and OT301

Thu Nov 18, 2010 00:00 - Thu Nov 11, 2010


Loud Objects (US)
Jamie Allen's Circuit Music (CA)
Pixel Form (US)
Jo Kazuhiro (JP)
Chung-Han Yao (TW)

Presentation by Artists
Wednesday, Nov 17 2010
Venue: OT301 Cinema Room
Location: OT301, Overtoom 301, Amsterdam
Time: 17:00 - 19:00 hrs.
Charge: € 3

Thursday, Nov 18 2010
Venue: OT301
Location: OT301, Overtoom 301, Amsterdam
Time: 21:30 (door open 21:00)
Entrance: € 6

The term “audio-visual” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The multimedia gallery installation artist and the video-jockey in a dance club have developed techniques that begin with the desire to fuse visual and audible experience. In recent and international performance practice, we recognize a move towards the use of material, non-representational approaches to this impulse.
Massive Light Boner (MLB) is a project which brings together a set of contemporary performance artists with an interest in the possibilities of minimal and maximal use of white light and noise aesthetics. Hosted by STEIM ( and organized by Jamie Allen (, the project is firstly an ensemble performance project featuring a collection of conceptual noise/white-light performance works together for the first time, live. Further, the project will culminate in a body of research, highlighting and documenting the approaches and motivations of an emerging and radical performance form.

“In a world of ever more powerful technology, it [is] downright inspiring to experience the sort of communication that [can] be accomplished with a simple on-off switch.” - Marc Weidenbaum,

Massive Light Boner at OT301 - Nov 17 2010 Talks and Presentations - Nov 18 2010 Live Performances


Loud Objects
Tristan Perich, Kunal Gupta and Katie Shima create electronic noise with minimal components: microchips, a power jack, an audio jack, and wire. The group solders custom audio circuits live, creating audible fluctuations of electricity with these bare elements. The New York City-based trio stage their lush noise constructions with soldering irons on top of overhead projectors, slide projectors, flourescent light towers, and remodeled guitars.

Phillip Stearns a.k.a. Pixel Form
Phillip Stearns works with sound, light, electronics, found objects and biological systems, working directly with material to produce phenomenological experiences. His work approaches electronics as complex artificial living systems - creating new creatures for an electronic ecosystem. Phil shapes his hand-made systems into complex, generative systems. This is the sound of billions of neurons firing at once. Darkness is broken in brilliant eruptions of white light.

Jamie Allen's circuitMusic
Jamie Allen’s circuitMusic project started as a exercise in radical improvisation - analog oscillators were built from bare circuitry and a breadboard while performing. Since then the live show has turned into an noise-synthesis project where signals from the home-made performance rig are offered to the audience as both audible sound and stroboscopic white light. Light and noise are shaped and into drones and pulses of raw static and electricity.

Chung-Han Yao
An active member of the new generation of sound artists in Taiwan, YAO’s works are mostly concerned with sound, while at the same time, searching for the ultimate connections between video, installation, space and various media. Yao’s live sets launch synchronous sound and fluorescent lamp elements via manipulation of a green laser trigger. The tiny noises emmited from the fluorescent lamps are manipulated and re-amplified.

Jo Kazuhiro
Kazuhiro Jo is a researcher and an artist. In his performance work, Kazuhiro subtly shifts sine tones and noise emissions with a set of self-built handheld luminescent orbs. The result is a meditative experience of sound and light being molested and twisted. A prolific researcher focusing on music participation and acoustic design. Jo was a founding member of the Sine Wave Orchestra in Japan as well as an organizer of Dorkbot Tokyo.