“Vexation” is a musical instrument built especially to play Erik Satie’s composition “Vexation”. Satie apparently instructed that the same music should be played 840 times. I wanted to make a work that demands a longer attention span and cannot be produced and consumed immediately. I am interested in the experience of duration involved in the act of listening to repeated sounds. Repetition is difference, since the same sounds take on a different significance as they are replayed.
Inspired by Samuel Biderman’s octave spinet, which is a small and special type of harpsichord that combined keyboard with chess and backgammon board or jewel box, “Vexation” is an electronic instrument that builds upon traditional drawing pencils and woodwork together with modern electronics. I made a moving wooden cylinder wherein I drew marks using pencils of different lead sizes. These pencil marks function as a score. I also designed my own electrical circuit. The contact between the sound circuit and the pencil marks produces audible music. The cylinder can also be seen as a sculptural piece. Its cylinder shape evokes my understanding of vexation - an endless circulation.
In “Vexation”, I tried to collapse score and performance: The drawing in itself is the physical material that generates the tone without any human intermediary. The functional circuit is no longer split from the body in which it is embedded. The structure of the music is made clear to the visitor, since the score is displayed as an integral element of the sculpture.
I am interested in transforming existing artworks, presenting them using new forms of notation or mechanical instruments, in order to raise the question: is this the same artwork? When does something become a different work of art? Who defines the identity of the artwork? Is this work a new manifestation of the same composition? My main purpose is to raise the question concerning the identity of the artwork across its various physical forms, not to give a final answer to this question.