Michael Johnsen (Pittsburgh Modular, US)

Michael Johnsen



work description:


I’ll play an integrated menagerie of custom devices whose idiosyncratic behaviors are revealed through their complex interactions. My work is characterized by a relative lack of ideas per se, and an intense focus on observation, the way a shepherd watches sheep. Also like sheep, the behavior of electronic circuits is largely dependent on their social connections. This “kabelsalat” patching of large numbers of devices produces teeming chirps, sudden transients and charming failure modes; embracing the dirt in pure electronics.




Michael Johnsen lives in Pittsburgh which might/not be the midwest. His first love in electronics was a hitachi TRQ290 cassette recorder with a very slack pause button.  He was encouraged by a tinkering environment at home and gradually taught himself enough electronics to make his own equipment; then accidentally became a professional designer of analog synthesizers.

Recent research work concerns the circuit-level documentation of David Tudor’s “folkloric” homemade instruments. He also co-edits ubu.com/emr which is devoted to technical resources concerning the experimental practice of sound.

His work has been shown widely at MoMA, SF Cinematheque, Radio France, Idiopreneurial Entrephonics, Issue Project Room, Margaret’s House, Musique Action, and Bitche.