Tonewheels: A Brief History Of Optical Synthesis

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“The technology of synthesizing sound from light is a curious combination of research from the realms of mathematics, physics, electronics and communications theory which found realization in the industries of motion picture films, music, surveillance technology and finally digital communications. As such, it’s history is an interesting cross section of 20th century history, reaching from the euphoria of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century inventors (who often struggled between “scientific” and “supernatural” explainations of their work) through the paradigm-smashing experiments of the Soviet avant-garde in the 1920’s and 1930’s to the cynical clash of ideologies of the Post-war years and finally to the dawn of the digital era in the 1970’s.

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8mm Film Camera Converted To Experimental Optical Microphone

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“Recently I’ve begun designing electronics to convert film cameras into audio transducers, or optical microphones. Obsolete 8mm film cameras are exciting to work with, partially because their design aesthetics are so different than what you get with new products today. Besides that, the 8mm format interfaces nicely with the size of semiconductor light sensors – not too big, not too small.”

Iannis Xenakis Documents, Writing, Notation & Music

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“Iannis Xenakis (Greek: Ιωάννης Ξενάκης) (May 29, 1922 – February 4, 2001) was Romanian-born Greek modernist composer, musical theoretician, and architect. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth century. His music theory book, Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition, is regarded as one of the most important theoretical works of 20th century music.”

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