CELLOS find new home at the Gem
Rebirth, No Strings Attached
by Stephen Douglas
by Pam McKnight
Through the magic of electronics, Stephen’s cello, Rebirth, No Strings Attached, once again plays music! Stephen tells us, “First I felt it was important to preserve all of the stages of this instrument’s life, revealing all the different elements that allowed it to sing in the first place. Next I wanted to give it back the beautiful voice it had. I wanted to find a way to give the cello a pulse, a way to show all its moods while it sang.”
So, Stephen installed a bluetooth wireless speaker in the instrument and LED lighting with a bass sensor. Now, when you pair the cello with a smart phone or something like Alexa, it plays your music in the cello. The lighting flashes, changes color. It is a multi-media experience. Stephen enjoys playing everything cello on Rebirth, from Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach to a cello version of the theme from Mission Impossible.
Found object artist Pam McKnight’s cello art Unwoman also has a technological flair, but steampunk style. Pam writes about her process and inspiration: “A few years ago I was given a violin in disrepair to use in my art. I had fun turning it into an homage to a Native American violinist. Researching Zitkala-Sa, I used paint, found objects and collage elements to represent the musician. In this [project, I used] metal gears and chains and other cast off items to turn the cello into a steampunk cello. This idea sprang from my research on famous women cellists, and I came across a current cellist who plays in the style of Steampunk music. I was intrigued by the name she goes by: “Unwoman” taken from the book “The Handmaids Tale.” Unwomen are the lesbians, feminists and others who wouldn’t submit to authority. I related to Unwoman’s answer when asked about her creative process. She said each song might have a unique creative process since there is so much experimentation. Some of it is on the fly and some of it is labored over. In my art I enjoy taking items that no longer have an intrinsic value in and of themselves and relish turning them into something new to be enjoyed by someone else rather than end up the in the trash.”
To see how Pam put hers together, visit her blog at http://pammcknight.blogspot.com/2018/02/cello-art.html.