david bard-schwarz

Chimes is an interactive sculpture that I made as a final project for a physical computing class at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. I wanted to make an object that would be fun to touch and evocative to hear, partly intuitive (the pipes make a sound just like they would make if you balanced them on your hand and struck them with an object) and counter-intuitive (each pipe changes pitch each time it touches the central supporting pole).

I also wanted the electronics to be neither invisible nor obtrusive; so all the electronics are high up on top of the structure.

One of the Aha-Erlebnisse that I had while making Chimes was that when I first put it together and struck an outer chime to the inner pole, nothing happened. I checked the entire circuit and everything checked out. No sound (other than the naturally-occuring out-of-tune F-sharp). I replaced all the components on the board and still everything checked out. I went out for a cup of coffee, came back, tried again, and again there was no sound (other than the blue F-sharp) when I touched an outer pole to the central pole.

A fellow student had the idea that the thing may be working but that the signal may be too fast for the chip to hear. He suggested that I try different capacitors on the circuit to slow down the signal. I went to Radio Shack and bought one of every capacitor they had. One worked.


I made this musical instrument out of a real cello endpin, piece of mahogany, an aluminum neck, and a touchpad originally designed and built by the Canadian Space Administration to register fine dust particles in space. The touchpad collects data along X, Y, and Z axes and sends it out in serial packets. I made a patch in Max / Msp to capture the packets of serial data and turn the information into sounds. Listen to the noise and the extraordinary sensitivity to touch that "cello" renders.


This video tells its own story. My paternal grandfather emigrated to America from Austria in the 1920s in part to escape the growing anti-semitism in Europe and in part for professional reasons. Much of the family died in the Holocaust that followed. I discovered in my grandmother's attic a shoebox full of letters from family members, friends, acquaintances; some of the letters told stories of escape from Germany; some were more desparate. This video tells the story of one of those letters.

I made the work in Final Cut Pro and Photoshop. You will see bright colors in the close-ups of words, particularly yellows, blacks, and reds. I used no filters whatsoever to evoke these colors. The letter was typed on onion skin, with a manual typewriter whose ribbon had a horizontal red band and a horizontal black band. The red was used for emphasis and it bleeds through much of the text. I include pictures of me as a child, my father (as a grown man and also as a very young child when the letter refers to him), my grandfather, and my grandmother. There are short documentary clips of marching German soldiers, a yellow star with Jude written upon it in black, and an image of a body. There are sound clips of music, including my great uncle Joseph singing the Kol Nidre.

I tried for years to find the author of this letter--Lilly Weisz. She does not and seems never to have lived in the United States. I have searched through books published in Germany after the war, to no avail. Yad Vashem in Jerusalem found records of a Lily Weisz (with one "l") having been deported from Paris to Auschwitz. Was this her?