Shawn Decker uses recycled electronics to reveal the “gradual ebb and flow of a natural environment.”
Shawn Decker uses recycled electronics to reveal the “gradual ebb and flow of a natural environment.”
April 12

Nature and the Machine

In the April 11 edition of New City writer Annette Elliot (MFA 2012) profiles faculty member Shawn Decker (Sound), highlighting the artist’s current installation, Prairie, at the Chicago Cultural Center. Crafted from “microcontrollers, computers, motors and recycled cellphone speakers,” the artist’s “electro-kinetic soundscapes reveal an uncanny relationship between nature and the machine.” Algorithms derived from natural processes mimic the natural rhythm and variation of the Illinois grasslands. “If you listen to the distinct sounds very closely, you will notice they are actually extremely artificial,” Decker says. “All I’m doing is turning these small cellphone speakers on and off. When I send a 5-Volt pulse, and turn them on and off, I get a click. This is not unlike the syrinx in birds which vibrates to produce sound.” The Chicago Cultural Center will host a panel discussion in conjunction with Decker’s piece on April 18. Prairie runs through Sunday, May 5.