Dr Pia van Gelder presents new work exploring the history of Black Mountain College

Image of the artists hands knitting silver wire with electronic components visible.
Pia van Gelder, Knitting Experiments, 2020, Wire, butchers glove, electronics, prepared knitting needles, video card, video copy station. Image courtesy of the artist.
Monday 25 May 2020

Dr Pia van Gelder, along with other artists from the 2019 exhibition entitled Materials, Sounds + Black Mountain College, collaborate again for Material Sound at Home, a second iteration of the project exploring connections between sound and material practices and the history of Black Mountain College (North Carolina, USA).


The 2019 exhibition Materials, Sounds + Black Mountain College was curated by Caleb Kelly and presented at Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center (North Carolina, USA). The exhibition focused on the making of sound through materials, inspired by Black Mountain College artists such as Anni Albers and John Cage. Conceived by John A. Rice in 1933, Black Mountain College was born out of a desire to create a new type of college based on John Dewey’s principles of progressive education.  The founders of the college believed that the study and practice of art were indispensable aspects of a student’s general liberal arts education. Alumni of Black Mountain College went on to become well-known and extremely influential individuals in the latter half of the 20th century.


Material Sound at Home is a new virtual experience that expands these ideas within the context of the COVID-19 global crisis. Artists from the exhibition, Pia van Gelder, Peter Blamey, and Jenn Grossman, explore Material Sound through original performances recorded from their homes and home studios across Australia and in New York City. This virtual experience is presented in conjunction with the Downtown Asheville Arts District digital festival.


As part of Material Sound at Home, van Gelder presents 'Knitting Experiments'. The work features excerpts from a performance in the studio at home that incorporates some experiments with knitting using conductive materials and square wave oscillators. The knit has been integrated into an ongoing performance work sometimes entitled 'PvG sans PCB' (which stands for perforated circuit board). These performances are part performance and part demonstration of how to make simple oscillators. Here the act of knitting, the texture and pattern of knitted material are explored for their sonic qualities. There is also a video card that joins the performance unexpectedly, a happy addition.

Dr Pia van Gelder is an electronic artist, researcher and historian. Her art practice and scholarship investigates transdisciplinarity and historical and contemporary conceptions of energy and how these shape our relationship with technology, bodies and our environment. Her recent scholarship has concentrated on the influence of esotericism on electronic instruments of the 20th century. Van Gelder is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the Australian National University working across the School of Art & Design and the Centre for Art History & Art Theory where she is working on a critical digital edition of Jean Benjamin de Laborde’s Choix de Chansons, that examines its transdisciplinary nature. For more information on van Gelder’s research please visit her ANU Researcher profile.

To learn more about Material Sound at Home and see a full list of contributors, please visit the Black Mountain College Museum website.


Pia van Gelder - Knitting Experiments

Updated:  25 June 2020/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications