Microscope Music

by Ian Gibbins

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  • Large format artist book containing texts and images from "The Microscope Project". Texts by Ian Gibbins; images by Catherine Truman, Deb Jones and Ian Gibbins. Published by Flinders University Art Museum, 2014.

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And so I begin. All my connections are secure, I have appropriate power. My monitor is on, both indicators are green. I have folded over the edge, covered the other side. Now I follow your steps. Within a few hours, I will illustrate the instructions applicable to your needs. I drive first to the left, push until I lock. The master is secure, the right latch has been optioned. One at a time, my touchpads light up. I note the sequence and indicate when I am ready. I allow myself to get up to speed. I reset.
Assembly 01:18
Box 11 02:26
Our peripheral vision eclipsed, travel plans well circumscribed, darkness encroaches, binds. A welcome opportunity to unravel. One at a time, two at a time, this path, these paths: the garden, the hidden, the shortest possible. Until we come together as candle flames, solar flares, clusters of spiral nebulae. ...
Underground, under the midday sun. Either way, invisible heat blinds, stifles, blisters. We should have been protected. We, each and everyone of us, made precautions, took the requisite care to minimise risk, to reduce our exposure to danger. How could we have finished up like this? ...
Spares 03:53
... You have this sense, some kind of automatic logic, that cuts in, supports you in the swirling disequilibrium, the uncalibrated effort you need to make when everything around you seems ready to burst into flame, to threaten the integrity of your imagined life, the remaining future of your dreams. As tough as tungsten, you can only discount the chances of impending failure, the probability of unexpected shut-down, and effect your hard-won escape ...


The sounds heard here are derived mostly from samples collected from components of a suite of decommissioned research microscopes. Some were made by translating text or image files into sound.

Each piece is constructed from a single sample set from one instrument. The ETEC Autoscan and JEOL JSM-35 are scanning
electron microscopes; the Olympus Vanox is a fluorescence microscope.

Amongst the words are many samples from various manuals
and catalogues relating to these microscopes. Some have been
barely altered, others are deeply hidden.

The Microscope Project imagines, re-imagines the past, the future of these microscopes, and the lives of those who designed them, built them, used them...

"The Microscope Project" was exhibited at Flinders University City Gallery 25th July - 21st September 2014, with Ian Gibbins, Catherine Truman, Deb Jones, Angela Valamanesh and Nicholas Folland, curated by Fiona Salmon and Madeline Reece.


released July 25, 2014

Texts written / assembled by Ian Gibbins. Sounds generated / sequenced / performed / produced by Ian Gibbins. niteshifter productions 2014.


all rights reserved



Ian Gibbins Adelaide, Australia

Ian Gibbins is a poet, electronic musician and video artist, having retired in 2014 as a neuroscientist and Professor of Anatomy at Flinders University. His poetry has been widely published in print and on-line. He regularly performs his poetry with his music and videos. For more info see www.iangibbins.com.au ... more

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