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Circuit Bending & Recycling


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ROTH MOBOT | TOMMY STEPHENSON | PATRICK McCARTHY | CIRCUIT BENDING WORKSHOPS | ELECTRONIC MUSIC | EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONICS | EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC | HOMEMADE ELECTRONICS } CHICAGO
EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONICS, CIRCUIT BENDING, PERFORMANCES AND WORKSHOPS

Biography
ROTH MOBOT | TOMMY STEPHENSON | CIRCUIT BENDING WORKSHOPS | ELECTRONIC MUSIC | EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONICS | EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC | HOMEMADE ELECTRONICS
Tommy Stephenson
ROTH MOBOT | PATRICK McCARTHY | CIRCUIT BENDING WORKSHOPS | ELECTRONIC MUSIC | EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONICS | EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC | HOMEMADE ELECTRONICS
Patrick McCarthy

Roth Mobot is the Chicago based Circuit Bent musical duo of Tommy Stephenson and Patrick McCarthy. Roth Mobot's invention of "recursive jazz" controls the random juxtaposition of improvised dark ambient drones, languid melodies, randomly discovered rhythms, percussive accidents, the humorous language of toys, and common discarded electronic devices, in what they refer to as "strategic improvisation."

Roth Mobot has been performing musical duets on their own Circuit Bent devices and homemade electronics at galleries, theaters, festivals, bars, social events, clubs, and on the radio since 2005.

Circuit Bending (also called Hardware Hacking) is the creative recycling of common discarded technology, often children's toys, by opening the device and soldering in new connections within the device's pre-existing circuitry to create unique musical and video instruments.

Tommy has been at the center of the Circuit Bending movement since the early 1990's. His specialties include speed bending, mercury switches, capacitor cascades, and rehousing devices in trash-picked containers.

Patrick McCarthy has been conducting Circuit Bending workshops and courses in various Museums, Galleries, Schools, Symposium, Salons, and Corporate Seminars, since 1999. He is on staff at the Wanger Family Fab Lab at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. He's also on faculty at the Old Town School of Folk Music and teaches workshops at the school and at multiple residencies at various Chicago Public Schools via the OTSFM's Education Outreach Program. He currently conducts regular teaching residencies at Chicago's Experimental Sound Studio.

Patrick was hired as Designer of Informal STEM Learning Environments by Northwestern University to design an after school lab where Chicago teens can spend time studying science, technology, engineering, and math at their own pace and on subjects and projects of their own choosing. This STEM initiative was to become the model for a later city-wide program.

Patrick is the Director of the Rubber Monkey Puppet Company, a Chicago-based community arts organization. He curates the "Deus Ex Machina" Contraptionism festivals, hosts the annual MEECAS, and facilitates the weekly eSymposium. He has recently become a Teaching Artists Development Studio Fellow at Columbia College. He is also an accomplished painter, exhibiting works in multiple galleries in the Chicago area.

Tommy and Patrick make themselves available for any correspondence and questions regarding Circuit Bending, experimental electronics, and any other areas of the acquired technology arts. They may be reached via the Contact page on their web site, www.RothMobot.com.

Performances

Demonstrations and Lectures

  • Guest Speaker, Maker Camp, Global Teaching Conference
  • FIGMENT Festival, Garfiled Park Conservatory, Chicago, IL
  • Toy Hacking, MAKE: Magazine's Maker Camp, Global Webcast
  • Banter, The Reversible Eye, Chicago, IL
  • Hack Night - the weekly programmers' meeting, University of Chicago
  • OFFF Design Conference, La Grande Halle de La Villette, Paris, France
  • ORD Camp, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
  • The Department of Sound, the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL
  • The Association for Computing Machinery, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
  • The Boys and Girls Club of America's Science Club, Northwestern University & the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
  • The s.t.e.a.m. Student Conference, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL
  • Ephemera Festival, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
  • The Oak Park Arts League, Oak Park, IL
  • Fuzzy Math, Chicago, IL
  • Chicago Public Library's Words and Music program, Lincoln Park branch, Chicago, IL
  • Focus on the Arts, Highland Park High School, Highland Park, IL
  • ESS Annual Fundraiser, the Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago, IL
  • Midwest Inventors Music Festival, South Union Arts, Chicago, IL
  • Tuesday Experimental Music Series, Hotti Biscotti, Chicago, IL
  • Guest Speaker, Inventables, Chicago, IL
  • Rotary Club International, Lakeview, Chicago, IL

Workshops, Classes, and Courses

  • Build an Optical Theremin - Decoding Electronics Schematics, South Ridge School, Culver, MN
  • Modular Origami Geometry, Wrightwood-Ashburn Library, Chicago, IL
  • Become an Origami Ninja, Harold Washington Library Innovation Center, Chicago, IL
  • Introduction to Modular Origami, Harold Washington Library Innovation Center, Chicago, IL
  • Designing Laser Cut Chess Sets, Harold Washington Library Innovation Center, Chicago, IL
  • After School Circuit Bending Club, Near North Montessori School, Chicago, IL
  • The Circuit Benders' Ball, The Brick Factory, Nashville, TN
  • The Circuit Benders' Ball, The Idea Foundry, Columbus, OH
  • Intro to Circuit Bending and Recycled Simple Electronics - A ten-week residency for 5th - 8th grades, via The Old Town School of Folk Music's Education Outreach Program, Chicago, IL
  • Homemade Electronic Instruments - A ten-week residency for 5th - 8th grades, via The Old Town School of Folk Music's Education Outreach Program, Chicago, IL
  • Getting Bent, a six-week electronics course, the Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago, IL
  • Getting Bent - Kids!, a summer course in experimental music for 11-14 yr. olds, ESS, Chicago, IL
  • Experimental Open Sound Lab, a summer series of free and open education, ESS, Chicago, IL
  • Introduction to Circuit Bending, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL
  • Introduction to Circuit Bending, the Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago, IL
  • Introduction to Circuit Bending, the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
  • How to Build a Simple Contact Mic, the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
  • How to Build a Simple Amplifier, the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
  • Circuit Bending 101, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
  • The Green Side of Circuit Bending, the Eco Arts Fair, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Hardware Hacking, GLI.TC/h Festival, Nightingale theater, Chicago, IL
  • Creative Re-Use Workshop, Columbia College, Chicago, IL
  • Introduction to Circuit Bending, Festival de Música Electrónica, the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL
  • Introduction to Circuit Bending, Open Source Open Ear, the Mess Hall, Chicago, IL
  • Introduction to Circuit Bending, The Electrical Engineering Department, the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana, IL
  • Circuit Bending as a Team Building Activity, Research and Development Department, Accenture Technology Labs, Chicago, IL
  • Introduction to Circuit Bending, Lake Forest Academy, Lake Forest, IL
  • Circuit Bending as a Team Building Activity, Annual Research and Development Session, Firebelly Design, Chicago, IL
  • How to Circuit Bend, Freedom Festival, Lumpen Times, buddY, Chicago, IL
  • Open Hacking, the Peter Jones Gallery, Chicago, IL
  • Circuit Bending, the Rubber Monkey Gallery, Chicago, IL
  • Circuit Bending, the Leadway Bar and Grill, Chicago, IL
  • The eSymposium, An Experimental Electronics Club, Lizard's Liquid Lounge, Chicago, IL

Consulting

  • Designer of Informal YouSTEM Learning Environments, Northwestern University
  • Experimental Electronics Specialists, the Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow,
    the Chicago Dramatists, Chicago, IL
  • Experimental Electronics Sculptures, the Haunting on Marcey Street, Collaboraction, Chicago, IL
  • Circuit Bending Specialists, Research and Development Session, Firebelly Design, Chicago, IL

Awards & Positions

  • Educational Grant, Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund,and the Minnesota Power Foundation, Duluth, MN
  • "Improve Your Room" Contest Judge, Instructables, Global
  • Fellowship, TAD Studio, Columbia College, Chicago, IL (Patrick)
  • Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2011, (well, our classes get a shout out in another award)
  • Nominated, Prix Ars Electronica Award for Digital Communities, 2010, Linz, Austria
  • Best Presentation, google's ORD Camp, University of Illinois, 2010, Chicago, IL

Interviews and Reviews

Documentaries

  • “Bent,” by Delaney Hall, Third Coast Radio's Re:sound series on NPR, Chicago, IL
  • “Hell Bent,” by Matt Kordonowy, Loyola University, Chicago, IL
  • “Bent, Not Broken,” by Casey Clark, Chicago, IL
  • Agency Through Engagement: Circuit-Benders' Subcultural Resistance, Master's Thesis by Sahyda Edwards Naficy, University of Chicago, IL
  • Playing Well with Others, Bending the Rules: How a Hacking Club Uses Found Electronics to Lower Barriers to Music Use, Master's Thesis by Joseph Guisti, Northwestern University, IL

Published

Organizations Founded

  • The Guild Of Acquired Technology (aka the G.O.A.T.), an e-waste recycling organization
  • The Midwestern Experimental Electronics Conference And Showcase (aka MEECAS), an annual installation and performance platform for new and established artists and inventors from around the country
  • The eSalon, a monthly roving social pot-luck of electronics
  • The eSymposium, a weekly “lateral” lecture series on experimental electronics
  • The Random Duet Series, various locations
  • Hackers Holiday, A Circuit Bent Spectacular (on ice), charity compilation, Toys for Tots
  • The Chicago School of Contraptionism, machines autonomously generating art, Chicago, IL
  • The Experimental Electronics Engineering (E3) Salon, various locations, Chicago, IL

Commissioned Work

  • Animal Collective, instruments
  • Umphrey's McGee, instruments
  • The Benevento Russo Duo, instruments
  • Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, instruments
  • Mike Gordon of Phish, instruments
  • New York City's School of Rock, instruments
  • The Third Coast Festival's Annual Documentary Awards, circuit bent radio trophies
  • GetLoFi, circuit bent toys for fundraising drawing
  • Barrett Gordon, custom modified keyboard
  • Pivotal Productions, custom bent electronic greeting cards
  • TRANSISTOR Chicago, Theremin and other electronics repairs
  • Garage Spaces Gallery, custom instruments as gallery pieces
  • Permanent Records, Luma Theremin™, Chicago, IL
  • Jim Galoretto, Hacked Tube Radio / Tube Amp, Chicago, IL

Collaborations

  • With Bill Acuña of The Despotic Hall of Fame
  • Project #2, with Joe St. Charles and Khecari Dance People, Around the Coyote, Chicago, IL
  • Improv Performance, with Woody Wagon, the Gallery Cabaret, Chicago, IL
  • Bent Music For Dance, with Dan Demchuk, Antoine Katar, Daniel Wire, Zentra, Chicago, IL
  • Laser Dome, with Talking Computron and Spunky Toofers, the Be In, Cincinnati, OH
  • Duet for Open Source Open Ear, with Eric Leonardson, the Mess Hall, Chicago, IL
  • Workshop Prototype, The Museum of Science and Industry's Fab Lab, Chicago, IL
  • The Annual Experimental Garage Sale, with GetLoFi.com, Chicago, IL

Recordings


Roth Mobot, the Roth Mobot logo, associated images, video, and audio recordings are trade marks of, and copyrighted by, Roth Mobot,
and cannot be used or reproduced without explicit written consent of Tommy Stephenson & Patrick McCarthy.