EMMETT PALAIMA, analysing modern technology through an innately spiritual lens, Christopher Michael, δημοσίευση CLOT Magazine [22/9/2022]Marilena Pateraki
Emmett Palaima is a multimedia artist whose work explores electricity as a divine force, analysing modern technology through an innately spiritual lens. His practice stems from a belief that technology and magic are essentially one in the same, the same force described with different terminology. Drawing on his background in the sonic arts — both as a touring musician and as a designer of synthesisers and guitar pedals — Palaima creates immersive sculptures where sound, and the processes of sound creation, take center stage. Viewing his work in person is a powerful experience, each piece generating a sense of reverence around the forces of electricity.
Palaima’s art has recently been featured in exhibitions in New York City and Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the Currents New Media Festival , he showed Modular Triptych: Great Wurm, a sculptural piece that experiments with electronics and silkscreen graphics on PCB (printed circuit board). The piece utilises mystical symbols of the Ouroboros and the Knave, recurring motifs in his larger body of art. Like most of his work, the sculpture serves a dual purpose, both as a piece of fully functional modular synthesis equipment and an aesthetic object. Utilising the “Shepard tone” — an audio illusionary technique used to create the impression of an infinitely ascending or descending pitch — the sculpture seeks to comment on historical ideas of progress and the passage of time.
In a similar fashion, Palaima recently presented a roaming exhibition, The Church of the Electric God  in New York, which he described as a psychoacoustic spatial drone temple in the back of a (U-Haul). At the center of this space was his piece CHOIR-64, a psychoacoustic instrument and composition system which broadcast the musical composition Spatial Etude No.1, a long-form generative drone piece where tones change gradually over time. The sculpture highlights Palaima’s belief in sound as a spiritual force and generates a profound sensory experience for those who experience it. Visitors to the The Church of the Electric God were transported out of their immediate reality and forced to reckon with the divine nature of electronics. The meditative chorus of CHOIR-64 drew one into a hypnotic state of worship.
Palaima’s work is conceptually rooted in ideas taken from science fiction authors, 19th and 20th-century mystics, and writers like Jorge Luis Borges. Sound is usually a dominant component, drawing from his musical background but always seeking to create a contemplative space that exists outside of contemporary music culture. His unique blend of influences allows him to create genuinely idiosyncratic work, which transforms one’s perception of their space in truly remarkable ways.
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