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Circuit Bending

Circuit Bending

Let's Take a Peek

Pale, forcep-like fingers pried at the bakelite case. A seam cracked and the green innards of wires and transistors spilled out. I knelt above this now-partitioned black box. D batteries still intact, music pushed through the speaker and filled the room with Katy Perry's latest hit.

"Circuit bending is a process of modifying electronic devices to make sounds they were not originally intended to make."

Curiosity drove me to open that black box and peer inside, unlocking an entire world I couldn't have fathomed. I saw green cities printed on circuit boards, with their towering capacitors and networks of silver track for the current to flow. A sense of grandeur filled me, but also a deep-seeded humility. My playfulness led me to wet my fingers and plunge them across various connections in the board, shorting the circuit. With my body providing necessary resistance and capacitance, I was now in control of how the radio waves were modulated through the speaker. Remixing "I Kissed a Girl" with a more alternative selection from KEXP made for a few hours of delightment. As the batteries cut out and the radio came to only a whisper I pieced together the box and set it back on the floor.

In breaking apart the radio I was empowered. Not in the sense that I could change the radio station at will, but I gained insight into the world around. Black boxes are all around us. The engine carrying you from place to place, the celullar GPS in your phone or even the printer's near-sentient stubbornness in the most needed of times. There are pieces inside that we cannot begin to comprehend, but the point is that someone tried. The process of taking something that was unknown to vaguely-desired, to technically-defined, to finally-implemented is the closest thing to the circle of life.

Making is more than just being creative, it is the point of living.

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