Benoît Maubrey is the director and founder of DIE AUDIO GRUPPE a Berlin-based art group that build and perform with electronic clothes. Basically these are electro-acoustic clothes and dresses (equipped with amplifiers and loudspeakers) that make sounds by interacting thematically and acoustically with their environment.
In his non-mobile sculptural work he frequently uses former public (disguarded) monuments and recycles them using modern technology and electronics.
Recycled and “found” electronics as his artistic medium. Since 1982 he has been conceiving and creating interactive sculptures in public spaces. In most cases the sculptures interact with their environment: quite often they function as “Speakers Corner” where the public can express themselves “live”.
My decision in the early 1980s to stop working with pigments and canvas came from a desire to interact directly with public spaces. Loudspeakers and media have long been integrated into modern life inside our homes, transportation systems, and public spaces. They are also common by-products of our modern society and can be found at flea markets, second-hand stores, recycling centers or in garbage bins.
Vintage and recycled loudspeakers reflect an aura of the past and personal: people relate to them and in most cases have grown up with them. Behind each loudspeaker is a history and a home: a personal “patina”.
Artistically I use loudspeakers much in the same way that a sculptor uses clay or wood: as a modern medium to create monumental artworks with the added attraction that they can make the air vibrate (“sound”) around them and create a public “hotspot”.
The audio part of my sculptures is also site-specific and flexible: in all my work the sound level is controllable and the interactivity is regulated via a mixing board (a bell tower or pendulum clock also make sound).
Participation : according to the sculpture site and purpose my sculptures can be equipped with a microphone (self expression), Bluetooth receivers (individuals can play their own tunes music), telephone answering machines (people can call and express themselves Live), radio receivers (for low-level cosmic white noise that sound like whispering pines), and “audio” twitter that allows people to send phonic messages. In some cases the whole system can be used as a PA system for announcements, concerts, open mike sessions, and DJ events.
Collaboration and cooperation: ideally the materials (e-waste and disfunctional electronics) can be locally collected. Neighborhood and youth organizations can be integrated into the project.
Book: Techno Textiles 2 / AUDIO JACKETS
Techno Textiles: Revolutionary Fabrics for Fashion and Design No. 2, by Sarah E. Braddock Clarke and Marie O’Mahony (USA and UK).
Now for the project I discovered (in this case re-discovered) through this book: it’s the Audio Jacket, a pioneering work by Benoit Maubrey.
In 1982, Maubrey started sewing loudspeakers to second-hand jackets. The first prototypes were equipped with portable cassette players and 10-watt amplifiers. Turned into into mobile loudspeaker systems, the jacket were playing prerecorded cassettes. The idea was then applied to a series of “Audio Uniforms”, suits for men and women equipped with a loudspeaker-corset inside the jacket and an amplifier mounted on the back. Seven people wearing these uniforms performed in various cities where the sounds of the suits were adapted into different urban landscapes: for example, pedestrian traffic signals were used to choreograph the uniforms at a major street intersection in Hamburg and parallel escalators were used to dictate their movements in an indoor shopping mall in Munich.
Some of the most spectacular variations on the Audio Jacket included 10 electro-acoustic uniforms based on the fireproof clothes worn by the workers in the local steelmills, the sounds were recorded at the local steel plant. The uniforms were then used to amplify a concert by Hans Peter Kuhn in Linz, for the 1986 Ars Electronica festival. In 1997, in cooperation with the Japanese performance group “Venus Show” Maubrey worked on Audio Geishas. Four Japanese performance artists were equipped with Audio Kimonos complete with guitar amplifiers, digital memories, solar powered radio receivers, and microphones.
Some of the artist’s latest works: Audio Peacocks, wearable electronic instruments made of polycarbonat plexiglass and equipped with 16 loudspeakers, amplifiers, and batteries. The “audio-plumage” functions like an electroacoustic radar dish. An Audio Peacock can either amplify its own electronic instrument and voice or receive sounds from outside sources via transmitter/receiver and disseminate them in a space by orienting his high-tech “plumage”.
Benoit Maubrey Takes “Wall of Sound” Literally.
MAKE has covered Berlin-based artist Benoît Maubrey’s prior work with Audio Ballerinas. Now he has created a similar, but stationary sculpture using over 1000 repurposed speakers. It’s called “Speakers Wall” and in the center is a genuine piece of the Berlin Wall. It has become something of a speaker’s corner for remote museum attendees who can call in and talk through a set of the speakers for 3 minutes. As an added bonus, the speakers are used as a PA system for DJs during concerts. One can only imagine what that would sound like.
Maubrey is in charge of Die Audio Gruppe and is an audio artist, incorporating various forms of music and electronics into living and stationary sculptures. He is also well known for his Audio Ballerinas – dancers who wear speaker tutus and make music based on their movements. The artist has also incorporated speakers into a model of the Berlin Wall, a discarded Stalinist monument, a shipping container, a guillotine, suitcases, apartment mailboxes and a bathtub. Most of the sculptures broadcast people’s voices as well.
The Speaker Wall, which was part of the Le Quai-Forum des Arts Vivants/Angers Accroche-Coeurs Festival in 2011, is a long wall that resembles the Berlin Wall. In fact, Maubrey incorporated an actual piece of the real wall in the center, which is then surrounded by 1000 speakers, amplifiers and tuners. People could then call up the sculpture and speak into an answering machine that recorded their voices. The recording was then played over the speakers, which functioned as a “Speakers Corner“ through which people could speak. The sculpture was also used as a PA for the festival.
Benoit Maubrey – A Pioneer of Electroaccoustic Wearables
Read the interview on knotwe.com