Felix Thorn builds machines for art installations, live performance, commercials, theatre accompaniment, and shop window displays. Felix specialises in de-constructing real-life objects and creating new experiences with movement, music and light.
Felix's Machines were initially conceived in an experiment aiming to facilitate live music by transforming sound into a three-dimensional visual show. As an ongoing project, the music-performing machines built by Felix do not intend to match human potential. Instead they exist to test the advantages of mechanical instruments alone.
"Although my medium focuses on the development of acoustic sounds, I am continually inspired by electronic music - the countless abstractions act as blueprints for the construction of its acoustic counterparts. I aim to build a space where artificial and dream-like environments can become a reality." FT '08
Felix Thorn was born on 23rd December 1985 in Brighton, UK. At an early age he attended Brighton Steiner School where his affinity for the arts gave rise to a preoccupation with drawing, a passion that later developed into oil painting. Then at the age of 7 he was formally introduced to music as he began studying the piano. His lack of inclination towards reading music preempted an obsession with jazz improvisation in his teenage years.
At college, Felix developed this sensibility into a new media of music creation when he discovered a keen interest in electronic music production via computer software. He had a love for making music with computer synthesizers and an ability to create in a range of styles, something that often derived from his organic means of creation that lacked preconception. His continued passion for art saw him continuing sculptural and painting work during his art foundation course at Brighton City College in 2003.
In this time of music-making and painting Felix was primarily concerned with finding ways in which the two media could be united. Whilst a focus upon the theme of synaesthesia dominated the theoretical side of his work, he continued to exercise the more traditional types of art such as life drawing. The visual side was seemingly interrupted when he chose to study Sound Art at The London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, however this did not stop the artist from finding ways to incorporate drawing and sculpture into his sound projects. In order to achieve the effect, Felix began to teach himself electronics.
After graduating with First Class Honors, Felix's Machines caught the attention of the London Sinfionetta which led to his first installation in Autumn 2007 at the British Library. Since then, interest sparked and Felix's Machines have subsequently performed at venues ranging from the Great Hall at the Battersea Arts Centre to a soundproofed control room inside a turbine bunker at the Faster Than Sound festival. Although they are mainly intended as a performance device, they have proved successful as an installation piece for parties such as in the final year show at the Royal College of Art (2008) and in a solo public exhibition at the Gasworks gallery (2008-09). During 2009, exposure has brought Felix's activity over seas: an exhibition in Norway, a commissioned piece in Slovenia, and performances at Santarcangelo theatre festival, Italy.
All the while, Felix's Machines have been in development and were most notably upgraded for a live collaboration with Warp's Plaid for a live show in Bordeaux. Beside involvement with the arts, Felix was selected to lecture to an exclusive audience at TED in the summer resulting in worldwide recognition. 2009 ended with a performance at the Barbican Centre in London. 2010 included exhibitions in Berlin, Paris and a placement as artist in residency at during Ether Festival at SouthBank Centre.
A themed set of machines built using Moleskine products to explore their sound-making potential and kinetic manifestations. Diaries are clappers, glasses are drum sticks, and the brand's new range of items are animated in a multi-sensory display.
Tracks selected to form Felix's first EP, documenting the growth of the machines and the performance spaces they have been exhibited in. Available now on audio CD and MP3 download - FLAC and WAV versions and a bonus track are exclusive to Bleep.
In collaboration with visual FX company Mattes and Miniatures and engineering partner SlybyDesign, Felix's Machines designed and built the central sections of this fully mechanical ‘Twirlygig’ for a cadburys commercial.
The Pavilion has curated a nod to Cage; a seven-week programme of music, performances and installations in response to Cage's work and ideas. Artists include Margaret Leng Tan, Charles Atlas, Yoko Ono, Felix's Machines, Mount Kimbie + Creep, eighth blackbird, Brainwaves: Mira Calix, Anna Meredith, Aurora Quartet and Loop.pH and comedian Stewart Lee's reinterpretation of Cage's Indeterminacy readings. Events and installations take place throughout the Pavilion, most are free of charge.
The second live collaboration with music from Plaid written specially for performance with Felix’s Machines. An experiment of live amplification and processing to join acoustic sound with digital synthesis. Line Up: Felix's Machines vs. Plaid, Leafcutter John, Plaid (DJ set), Missaw
Short performances for a film festival, the Hague, Holland
SONATAS, MACHINES, AND INTERLUDES IN BRAZIL
Inspired by the work and the thought of John Cage, the English musicians Sarah Nicolls, Kathy Hinde, Felix Thorn and Frenchman Pierre Malbos present concert based on the prepared piano technique of the American composer. Felix's Machines presents a prepared piano using custom built solenoid attachments activated by Christmas tree light controllers with live processing through Logic.
Event held at Victoria House, London in partnership with INTEL and VICE. Lineup: Peaches, Mark Ronson, Kele, Yuck, Cassette Playa, Mumdance, Radical Friend, Jammer, Paul B. Davis, Felix Thorn, Rodaidh McDonald, Moritz Waldemeyer, Trevor Jackson.
On-site construction of new machines for a prepared piano. Various solenoid, motor and servo actuated machines built to hit, scrape and slide over piano strings. In collaboration with programmer Thomas Parslow