Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Before 3D Printing: Oramics Shape-Sound @ Ooga Booga

Ooga Booga is a punk little boutique in Chinatown. Just as their location skirts the fringes of the Los Angeles downtown scene, their tastes skirt the mainstream with a jagged pulse that sometimes inform future trends and sometimes is just plain out there.

Grassroots ‘zines, clothing, esoteric books and records: along with the occasional designer accessory and the occurrence of bands from The Smell playing out on the boutique’s tiny balcony, these are the wares you are likely to find at any given time here. Best new store addition: Oramics LPs. Oramics are the crazy antecedents to 3D printing in that one perception of sense is translated into a different perception of sense via machinery. In 3D printing, visual perception of an object is turned into tactile perection of an object. In Oramics, visual perception of an object is turned into sound.

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Oramics were invented in the 1950s by Daphne Oram, a British sound engineer who spent her days working for the BBC and her nights splicing film and modifying machines to produce experimental electronic sounds. The invention that she is most famous for involved “drawing sound,” that is, she would draw abstract shapes onto 35mm film and feed it through her machine, which would “read” the shapes and produce corresponding sound waves. Oramics essentially pioneered fully-electronic music making.

Just as the reigning Light And Space revival seeks artistic solace in work which becomes about perception rather than the object itself, this early experimental sound art creates auditory environments controlled by participant perception of what sound looks like. Ooga Booga has a set of 4 Oramics LPs at their shop and ArtNerdLA wonders if, yet again, the boutique may be setting the bar for a new trend.

Images courtesy of Wikipedia and the Ooga Booga blog.

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