Showcase: Rundumadrum by Wagner Felipe Dos Santos

Performance at Café Exchange as part of Wienmodern 2021

With his current work ‘Rundumadrum’ Felipe dos Santos presents an electromechanical drum set – developed by himself — that uses the principle of electromagnetism in an unusual way.

In conventional electric instruments, such as electric guitars, electric basses or Fender Rhodes pianos, sounds are obtained through movement. You strike a side or key and alternating current is generated, which becomes audible as an electrical vibration. With Felipe’s drums, the exact opposite happens: Alternating current causes motion, which in turn is used to strike something that sounds acoustic. So it’s a musical instrument that needs alternating current to be activated. This is the jackpot of the whole apparatus. Because in our modern everyday life, alternating current is a dime a dozen. All you have to do is tap into it. The possibilities of activating this instrument, i.e. how it could be played, are thus almost infinite. This kind of control opens up a whole new approach to playing and composing music and revolutionizes the creation of instrumental acoustic sounds.

Wagner Felipe dos Santos is a musician and media artist. He studied at the University of Campinas, São Paulo, and at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. His work includes interactive videos and sound installations, electroacoustic and instrumental compositions as well as chansons and radio plays. In 2019 he exhibited Space as a field of tension’ an interactive video – the viewer is in a virtual relationship to the art object – at ‘Vienna Biennale for Change / Human by Machine’ at the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna and at ‘Designgalerie SATELIT’ – Slovak Design Center – Bratislava. His current work ‘Rund um a drum’ (in Austrian dialect it means around a drum kit) is a semi-automatic drum set, that can be played by artificial intelligence and people, was presented in 2020 and 2021 at the music festival Wienmodern. One of his best-known works is the swing bicycle ‘Swing & Roll’, which is presented at the Venice Biennale this year. His last works examines how far the artificial behavior can still perceived as ‘like human’ behavior, although some of these artificial behavior could not occur by humans. One might ask, how far can artificial humanity transcend us?