Crossman Gallery


This article was written on 06 Jan 2014, and is filled under Past Exhibitions.

Sonic Vignettes

Sonic Vignettes

January 23 – February 22

Opening Reception: January 23 from 5 – 7 pm

The Sonic Vignettes is a collection of horn loaded speakers and tube amplifiers created for a collaborative project between sculptor and inventor Ian Schneller of Specimen Products (Chicago) composer/violinist Andrew Bird The image included here is an installation photo taken at the Elgin Arts Center by photographer Zach Barner. A video of the installation can be seen here:  A second video showing the startup process is available here:

Sculptor/luthier Ian Schneller, owner of Specimen Products, has been designing and building custom guitars, tube amplifiers and audio horn speakers for more than 25 years. Schneller began creating his Specimens while completing a Master’s Degree in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While there he started building instruments including a full-line of aluminum guitars. His work soon expanded to include tube amplifiers and horn speakers.

Clients often describe Schneller as “an artist who happens to make musical instruments,” and “equal parts artisan, mad scientist, and gifted teacher.” In the guitar world, Schneller is considered a renaissance man for his penchant to create instruments wholly from scratch, preferring to build his own jigs, design his own pickups, and machine his own hardware rather than rely on conventional methods or existing parts. Schneller’s horn speakers and tube amplifiers have the unique distinction of receiving acclaim from both the design and audiophile worlds for their robust construction, captivating beauty, and ability to join 1940s-era technology with today’s iPods and computers. Schneller’s profound reverence for historic methods of industry and artisanship inform all aspects of his work and his use of traditional forms of craftsmanship and luthiery skills are an effective alibi for keeping these traditions thriving and respected.

In 2010, Schneller initiated a collaborative project with composer/violinist Andrew Bird. Titled “The Sonic Arboretum,” the project consists of a “forest” of dozens of Schneller’s horn speakers powered by his tube amplifiers. Arranged as a site-specific installation, the Sonic Arboretum serves as a compositional garden for Bird who creates new music for the exhibit. The Sonic Arboretum debuted in 2010 to a sold-out crowd at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 2011, it exhibited at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art for a month-long installation and two sold-out performances.

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