steve parker

artist // musician // curator

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LO-FI CYCLE Sketchbook

This is a blog about the progress of the LO-FI CYCLE, an interactive bicycle musical instrument.  Commissioned by the TEMPO AIPP program.

LO FI CYCLE is an interactive, playable musical instrument sculpture made from a bicycle.

The bicycle will be “prepared” in the manner of the 20th century practice of preparing a piano, first developed by composer / artist John Cage.  That is to say, the bike will be outfitted with an array of small acoustic noisemakers that produce a spectrum of unique sounds when operated.  For example, some of the spokes of the wheel will be replaced by guitar and bass wire that will be struck when the wheels are spun.  Bulb horns and bells will be manipulated with rivets that vibrate when they are activated.  The bicycle will also be equipped with contact microphones and a 1/4” input, providing the potential for amplification in live performances that are aided by a battery operated amplifier.

LO FI CYCLE is a tribute to Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades (including, of course, his Bicycle Wheel), John Cage’s prepared piano work, and Frank Zappa’s famous performance on bike on the Steve Allen Show.


Here is a link to the LO FI CYCLE Tumblr!



Prelim sketches




Marcel Duchamp's ready made:


A 3D printed version:


A great text about all things bike: Bicycle: The History by David Herlihy

Thanks to Pete from the Yellow Bike Project in Austin for the rec.

"The bicycle began life, in the nineteenth century, as a diversion for rich Europeans. Physicians, theologians, anti-feminists, and journalists condemned it as a hazardous fad—"Man is a locomotive machine of Nature's own making, not to be improved by the addition of any cranks or wheels of mortal invention," wrote one opponent—and cyclists were sometimes set upon by mobs. By the century's end, however, with a safe, efficient model available to the commuter and the Sunday pleasure seeker, the bicycle created thousands of jobs, spurred road construction, and transformed fashion, while daredevil, brandy-swilling racing cyclists acquired heroic status. Herlihy portrays the men who pioneered this gravity-defying wonder; they worked in near-obscurity, lit by the Industrial Age's spirit of invention, the capitalist impulse, and the utopian hope that the bicycle would "take men away from the gambling rooms and rum shops, out into God's light and sunshine." - New Yorker



Check out the Austin Bike Zoo, a collection of hand-built bike creatures, including  "our 80-foot Rattlesnake, a flurry of Giant Butterflies, the Beloved Bat, our Fanciful Owl, a Majestic Bald Eagle."



Bike pics:


Frank Zappa playing bike on the Steve Allen show.


A great use of old car and bicycle horns by Llyn Foulkes: