About 25 PNWS members and guests gathered at the southeast Portland studio of PNWS member and board director Shelly Durica-Laiche on June 15 for an evening of connection and exploration of another artist’s interactive art installations.
In a departure from the usual format of these events, Durica-Laiche chose not to share her work, but, instead, that of fellow artist Myles de Bastion whose work space occupies the same building as Durica-Laiche’s studio.
De Bastion is not a sculptor in the traditional sense and may not call himself a sculptor. Still, his work is three-dimensional and possibly more. De Bastion, who is deaf and also a musician, works with sound and light. Specifically, he creates electronic devices that transform sound that he cannot hear into light and vibration that he can experience.
The most striking example of his interactive art installations on display was an upright piano that he had transformed into a light-generating device. He demonstrated at the keyboard, playing chords that were simultaneously transformed into rich rivers of flowing color on a grid of light-emitting diodes that he had installed where the piano’s front panel used to be.
Discovering Music in LED Interactive Art Installations
De Bastion’s audience was rapt, and a number of them later tried their hands at the keyboard. The LED piano was previously displayed in the main lobby of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland where visitors to its 2015-16 “Guitars: Science of Sound” exhibit also could play the piano and visualize sound.
De Bastion’s creative work with technology is part of a larger creative mission. As the founder and president of the nonprofit organization, he calls CymaSpace, he is committed, in the words of the CymaSpace web site, to “making cultural events inclusive for the deaf and hard of hearing.” His workspace is also a performance space for the kind of inclusive events he produces.
De Bastion has dual citizenship in the United States and the United Kingdom. He grew up in England where he graduated from college with a degree focusing on computer science and animation. Although deaf, he has a life-long interest in music. At university, he was chairman of the Musician’s Society for two years.
After settling in Portland, de Bastion was motivated to create CymaSpace. In the words of CymaSpace.org, “as a musician and visual interaction designer who also happens to be deaf, he experienced first-hand the challenge of participating in a world that for the most part takes for granted the accessibility of sound. “
CymaSpace aims to create bridges between the deaf and the hearing in a positive way that opens doors for underserved minorities, changes misconceptions about deafness, and strives to make a real, socio-economic difference. Through its work, it shows that everyone benefits by lowering barriers that prevent equal access to art and culture.
CymaSpace focuses on making cultural events inclusive for the deaf and hard of hearing. They develop art and performances that largely feature the synergy of sound, light, and vibration. The organization takes its name from cymatics, a term derived from the Greek word meaning “wave,” as in sound wave or sine wave.