Ujino and the Rotators

Whilst in London last year I had the pleasure of seeing an exhibition and then a live performance by this fantastic Japanese artist/musician called Ujino Munetero. I took videos of his exhibitions in the Hayward Gallery and short clips of him performing live in the gallery next to it.

Ujino creates installations and performs live using a very fun and unique way of using a record player. He uses the rotary motion of DJ Turntables to create music – so far nothing extraordinary – by turning household appliances on and off. I can’t find my little phone memory card from my old phone with pictures of his “record collection” but there are some images of his tools on his site that I’ve borrowed.

One of his recordsUjino's records

His modified turntablesUjino's "rotatorhead" turntable setup.

The way it works is simple. the pencil nubs are arranged into rotary tracks on the vinyl. Ujino has clamped blocks of wood raised above a portion of the turntable with switches on the underside. When a pencil nub goes under the block of wood it hits a switch, turning an appliance on or off for a period of time. The next pencil nub to hit it turns it off. This makes the household instrument act as the musical note and the pencil nubs determine how long the note is held for.

For his Soutbank exhibit (Hayward Gallery) Ujino invited the public to help him by providing their old household appliances. He then created some very visually appealing installations to run during the day. Each installation was a set up of multiple appliances with a record player with one of his rotary discs playing them on repeat, with added visuals and showmanship of creating interesting visual ways of creating sound – One installation had a set of lights as well as the appliances, as well as a shreddder hanging from the ceiling with a huge paper-feed. It became a moving orchestra of retro appliances and it was fantastic to see. It reminded me of an electronic version of Fantasia and the appliance equivalent to the teacups and clock dancing in Beauty and the Beast.

His live performance was very visually appealing as he was very gestural whilst mixing. The stack of records was interesting to look at as it looked like a tall structure rather than just a lump of flat discs. he also entertained the crowd by making milkshakes as part of the performance – One of the appliances used was a blender. a repetitive chorus part of the music used a blender so whilst that was going on he left the turntables and poured milk, honey and bananas into the blender and it made a pretty good milkshake.

One of his installations
It really was one of the most exciting and unique experiences I’ve had. A thing that really appeals to me about it is that it is so simple. There was no really hard programming involved. Low cost as all the appliances were donated by the public. the scope for varying his performances was huge as well. He could do a different performance by changing the record or by changing the appliances.

Ujino performing


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