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Edward Ihnatowicz

Edward Ihnatowicz

Edward Ihnatowicz : 1926-1988

SAM (Sound Activated Mobile) was created by Edward Ihnatowicz (1926-1988) for the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition which was held initially at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 1968 and later toured Canada and the US ending at the Exploratorium in San Fransisco.

SAM consisted of an assembly of aluminium castings somewhat reminiscent of vertebrae, surmounted by a flower-like fibreglass reflector with an array of four small microphones mounted immediately in front of it. The vertebrae contained miniature hydraulic pistons which enabled them to move in relation to each other so that the whole column could twist from side to side and lean forwards and backwards. An analogue electronic circuit used the signals from the four microphones to determine the direction which any sound in the vicinity was coming from, and two electo-hydraulic servo-valves moved the column in the direction of the sound until the microphones faced it.

The resultant behaviour, that of following the movement of people as they walked around its plinth, fascinated many observers. Also, since the sculpture was sensitive to quiet but sustained noise, rather than shrieks, a great many people spent hours in front of SAM trying to produce the right level of sound to attract its attention.

SAM is currently not operational. It is displayed as a static historical exhibit, with a video clip showing it in motion.

Edward Ihnatowicz went on to develop a much larger piece, called the Senster, installed in the Evoluon in Eindhoven from 1970 to 1974.
Exhibited by Alex Zivanovic with thanks to Olga and Richard Ihnatowicz.