Who tells history?
Who tells history: Who knows about it or who has the opportunity to do it? We can find several versions about the development of electronic instruments and technologies associated with the media arts during the past century but it is unusual to find a reference to devices coming from non “first-world” countries. Why is this happening? In Argentina, Fernando von Reichenbach invented the Analog Graphic Converter (a.k.a. Catalina) in the 60s. It was used to transform graphic scores
from drawings done on a paper roll into electronic control signals adapted to work with analog equipment in producing electroacoustic works. Raúl Pavón, a Mexican engineer interested both in electronics and music, developed in 1960 a small electronic musical instrument that featured an oscillator with multiple waveform outputs, a variety of filters, an envelope generator, a white noise generator and a keyboard, among other materials. Pavón named the instrument the “Omnifón”. It was among the firsts voltage-controlled electronic sound synthesizers built. These are only a couple of examples. If you know about the history of the electronic arts and its associated technologies but never heard about these persons, it is clear that something has not been said. It has been lost (in translation?) or for some reason didn’t show up in the official history (story?). If history is written by winners: are those persons some of the losers of the electronic-arts history? And why is that still happening?
BIO Dr. Ricardo Dal Farra is professor of music and media arts, and Associate Director of Hexagram, the Centre for Research-Creation in Media Arts at Concordia University, Canada. He is also director of the Electronic Arts Research Centre (CEIArtE-UNTREF), Argentina.
Dal Farra has been researcher and consultant on media arts history (Latin America, Asia and Pacific) for UNESCO, France; and director of the Multimedia Communication national program at the Federal Ministry of Education, Argentina.
Funded by The Daniel Langlois for Art, Science and Technology he created the largest collection available of Latin American Electroacoustic Music.
Dal Farra has started the Understanding Visual Music international conference series; the Concordia Live and Interactive Electroacoustic Colloquium; and the Balance-Unbalance program focusing on how the media arts could play an active role in solving our environmental crisis. Jointly with the humanitarian organization Red Cross Climate Centre he has developed the “art! ⋈ climate” worldwide project.
As an electroacoustic composer and new media artist his work has been presented in more than 40 countries and recordings of his music are published in 20 international editions. Dal Farra is also an active member of several editorial boards: Leonardo/ISAST (MIT Press), Media-N, Organised Sound (Cambridge Press).