I will present brand new Sculpture/Sonics: Aero Dynamisms
April 11- May 31 at the Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago.
One system will present music through a choreographed duet of spinning horns
(creating an acoustic phase shifting/Doppler effect ) and two rafts of static horn
speakers connected to 10 channels of single-ended tube amplified audio from
iPod Nanos via my nano-sync apparatus.
Another system, is comprised of 8 beautiful,
never before seen individual horn shapes powered by
a single ended 8 channel triode powered electron tube Octoblock amplifier.
The music is mixed to 8 channels – and emanates from the
8 horn shapes, each representing different members
of a chamber orchestra. This system presents a new type of
compositional tool via a Mac Book Air.
Sound content for both systems will be new compositions by Glenn Kotche
with performances by eighth blackbird and Kronos Quartet - pre-recorded
as digital data on iPod Nanos and separate compositions on the laptop system.
This installation will create a spatial sonic atmosphere imbued
with a phantom chamber orchestra playing music through sculpture.
The digital technology feeds directly into 1940′s eratube technology/topology,
marrying the past to the present.
The stunning contrast between the two technologies represents
time travel and creates quite a beautiful sensation through a brand new
type of aural presentation that can only be experienced on location.
The show runs through May 31 and I dare say, that a visit apart from
the opening for a more private experience should provide
an astonishing and playfully surreal experience.
Aero Dynamisms opens Friday April 11 5-8 pm.
Packer Schopf Gallery
942 W. Lake St. Chicago IL 60607
Get Fueled is a collection of answers for the question : What is your creative process ? Founded by Brenda Bergen, the creative force behind Wink Design Atelier, the Blog includes interviews with numerous visual artists, interior designers, photographers, musicians, and authors.
Brenda interviewed Ian Schneller, Specimen Products founder/designer, asking questions about his creative process ranging from how he made things as a child, how he designs his present work, to whom he goes to for inspiration.
A handcrafted piece awakens something in human beings.
It was almost inevitable that Ian Schneller, a musician who trained at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, would wind up creating Specimen Products, a Chicago studio that creates handmade instruments, amplifiers, and horn speakers noted for their beauty and functionality.
Specimen Products employs six artisans along with 24 apprentices and interns, but Schneller’s hands are on every product. In the past 30 years, he estimates he has created 600 pieces. “This sounds corny, but I really see them as my children. They are a part of me no matter where in the world they have gone,” he said. “They’re my stab at immortality.”
Although completion time varies, a typical project from start to finish absorbs the better part of eight months. Because each piece is one of a kind, Schneller not only does a custom design, but often is called upon to find creative sourcing to get the piece exactly right. Take, for instance, a guitar he’s working on for Alex Kapranos of the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand, who asked him to make a guitar that would reflect his love of entomology. Schneller rose to the challenge by securing 600 pairs of iridescent beetle wings from Bangkok that will be incorporated into this guitar.
Schneller began making string instruments like guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, and even the occasional violin. Over the past decade, Specimen Products has branched into audio equipment such as horn speakers, tube amplifiers, and subwoofers. Using high-quality materials and high-level craftsmanship ensures good sound, and also longevity. And longevity, Schneller maintains, is all too rare in this era of mass production.
Repair work comprises about half of Specimen Products’ business. “I hate to say it, but poorly made, mass-produced instruments have kept me in business,” he laughed. “The repairs also have helped me become a better designer, because I am very aware of common design flaws and know how to avoid them in my own work.”
In the end, Schneller is convinced that thoughtful, handmade products are in such high demand because the contrast with most factory-made products is so great. “As mass products have become even more watered down, people have aha moments when they see something of quality, something that’s made with love,” he noted.
He’s so Original
Ian Schneller is a rare specimen who makes instruments the old fashioned way.
The idea of working with your hands until they hurt might not sound like the most appealing prospect. But if your making something you love — for someone else who will love what you’re making — it might not seem so bad. In fact, it might actually feel pretty amazing. It does to Ian Schneller, owner of Specimen Products. A sculptor by training, Ian designs and builds custom guitars, amps, and his signature horn speakers — reminiscence of the old-timey gramophones — on the second floor of a converted warehouse just west of Humboldt Park. ”Guitar-making black and white, regimented rules. It is an established culture yet at the same time a blank canvas.” Not only does he make and repair instruments, he also teaches his craft. ”I’m on a mission to uphold these hand-building techniques of the past. They’re in danger of going away and we don’t want to lose them.”
“What do you like about reading Skirt!? “I think it’s a beautiful concept for a magazine in a male-dominated world.”
“What do you like about wearing a skirt?” “Two words: natural ventilation.”
BY KYLE PETERSON
The custom creations coming out of Specimen Products end up in the hands of Jack White and the halls of the MCA.
The Wilco loft is populated with a thicket of guitars dense enough to pose a fire hazard. At least a few of those sprang from the imagination of Ian Schneller, sculptor, luthier and owner of Humboldt Park-based Specimen Products.
Schneller has counted Jeff Tweedy as a client since the days when both were struggling to hack it in artistic professions that aren’t always kind to the bank account.
“I remember Sue Miller, Jeff’s wife and the proprietor of Lounge Ax, coming into my old shop with a jar of tip money, mostly soggy singles, and buying that first guitar for Jeff as a present,” Schneller says.
NOW HEAR THIS
New speakers from Specimen Products
Our dinner parties have been suffering. Not because the food isn’t good or the cocktails are boring, but because our once-mighty–and now unsightly–stereo system has been replaced by the tiny speakers on our laptop.
Convenient, sure, but we need something that does our pitch-perfect summer playlist justice. So we’re pumping up the volume and the design quotient with a pair of Little Horn Mini speakers.
Read more: Pure Wow
Interviewing Buke & Gase for this weekend’s Artist on Artist is Specimen Products mastermind Ian Schneller. A few decades back, this sculptor and musician (formerly of Shrimp Boat and Falstaff) combined those pursuits and began building his own instruments; he made his first guitar in 1987. Since then he’s turned Specimen into a formidable institution, emphasizing nuts-and-bolts, hands-on techniques and beautifully whimsical but ruthlessly functional design (see Andrew Bird’s live setup for proof). Buke & Gase play Lincoln Hall on Fri 2/8, and Specimen is open every Monday through Saturday. –Kevin Warwick
Below is an excerpt from a feature about Specimen at inhabitat.com, a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future.
Founder of Chicago-based Specimen Products, Ian Schneller, and his team craft unexpected materials like dryer lint and recycled newsprint into sonically wonderful and highly sculptural horn speakers. These amazing sound vibrators are showing up on stage with indie music artists like Andrew Bird, table-side at the hangouts of Chicago’s most serious foodies, and winning space inside modern art museums and the tech-geek offices of Instagram. We recently spoke with Schneller to get the inside scoop on how Specimen’s speakers buck the electronic trends for miniaturization, high wattage output and planned obsolescence.
Material Assumptions: Paper as Dialogue
By Courtney R. Thompson
Columbia College commissioned Specimenâ€™s Ian Schneller to participate in a special exhibition titled Material Assumptions: Paper as Dialogue. For the exhibition, contemporary artists were asked to create new work using abaca and cotton paper handmade by graduate students of the collegeâ€™s Center for Book and Paper Arts.
The exhibit was reviewed in Art in Print, a bi-monthly journal and website devoted to the history, theory and culture of the print. The piece leads off with a great review of Ian’s submission to the show, a pair of White Hornlet Audio Speakers made from abaca paper and mounted on clear acrylic bases.
“Material Assumptions” is a provocation to reconsider paper â€” specifically handmade paper, and its potential to support, hold and challenge form. The exhibition was developed through an independent study graduate course at Chicago’s Columbia College led by Jessica Cochran, who with co-curators Elizabeth Isakson-Dado, Hannah King, and C.J. Mace, invited more than a dozen artists to imagine new artworks to be made from abaca and cotton paper by graduate students at Columbia. These commissioned pieces complement the second part of the exhibition that showcases the work of artists in residence at Dieu DonnÃ©, a New York-based non-profit paper workshop that has been providing opportunities for artists to engage with the process of handmade paper since 1976.
Ian Schneller’s White Hornlets is a wonderful introduction to the premise of the show. Schneller is the man behind Specimen Products, a company that originated out of his sculptural work in the early 1980s. As a producer of guitars, amplifiers and speakers, the company is a testament to innovative acoustic aesthetics and experimentation in technology and design. Here Schneller’s iconic speaker horns are made from handmade paper, resulting in the ethereal white horns atop acrylic cubed bases. They assert clarity, transparency and purity, conceptually aligning themselves with a criterion of desired sound performance. Additionally, there were intriguing parallels between ancient formal histories of the horn as a vessel for sound amplification and paper as a carrier of information. While the form was a familiar one for Schneller, the properties of the handmade paper were new, as the horns are usually constructed out of “recycled newsprint, baking soda and dryer lint,” and the change in material forced a shift in aesthetics.
Read the rest of the review by clicking the images below.