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Article

Michael Forsyth

Sound can be defined as audible vibrations within a relatively steady medium, and in buildings sound may be air-borne or structure-borne. The science of architectural acoustics is divisible into noise control and room acoustics. The following article is mainly concerned with the latter and the ‘desired’ sound generated within a space, because its design has had a significant impact on architectural form; it concentrates on examples of Western architecture.

For an extended discussion of acoustics see Grove 6.

Different acoustical conditions are preferable for listening to the spoken word as compared with different types of music. The shape, size and construction of halls and theatres—and to some extent other building types, including churches—developed historically in response to acoustical requirements. Room-acoustic design, however, is a relatively recent subject of study. Until the 20th century this relationship between acoustical requirements and the building form resulted from trial and error, involving the architect’s intuition and awareness of precedent rather than scientific knowledge. Acoustically inadequate halls were usually demolished within about 50 years, so that most surviving older halls are probably among the best that were built....

Article

‘Moving picture’ device invented by Loutherbourg [Lauterbourg; Lutherbourg], Philippe Jacques [Philipp Jakob; Philip James] de and first exhibited in London in 1782. Views of London and scenes such as a storm at sea were shown together with sound effects and various lights and coloured gauzes to imitate the different times of day....

Article

Laser  

Frank Popper

Device used to amplify light to an intense beam of a very pure single colour by stimulated emission of radiation. The theoretical basis for the technique of the laser was calculated by Albert Einstein in 1917, but it was not until 1960 that Theodore H. Maiman created the first active laser, using a synthetic ruby crystal. For practical and economic reasons the pulse ruby lasers were largely replaced by continuous wave gas lasers in their helium-neon, argon ion or krypton argon ion versions. The artistic applications of the laser appeared from 1965 in three main areas: in combined visual and aural productions, in long-distance environmental plastic displays and in holography (see Hologram).

Large-scale productions such as Video/Laser I, II, III, which took place in Oakland, CA (1969), Osaka, Japan (1970), and in several European towns in 1971–2, were the collective work of the sculptor and physicist ...

Article

Jeffrey Martin

Medium utilizing oxidized metal particles carried on a flexible substrate, in order to record an electronic signal, most commonly in the form of audiotape or videotape. Magnetic tape is also used in computers for the storage of data, but this usage is unlikely to be encountered in an art conservation context.

Magnetic recording tape generally is made up of a plastic film base (most tapes, including all videotapes, have a base of polyester terephthalate (PET)), coated on one side with a binder system containing oxidized metal particles. Often, recording tape will also have what is known as a backcoating on the reverse side, which reduces friction, dissipates the buildup of static electricity, and allows for the tape to be more evenly wound. Some early audiotapes had paper backing, while others may also have a backing of acetate plastic, which is subject to the same deterioration factors as acetate photographic film, including so-called ‘vinegar syndrome’. The binder layer, the most critical component of the recording tape, usually consists of metal particles suspended in a binder of polyester and polyurethane, although it can contain numerous other chemicals. Different manufacturers have used different binder formulations, and changed them frequently over time. For this reason, some tapes may be more subject to deterioration than others of similar age and format. In the 1980s, manufacturers began to produce tapes with no binder polymer, but instead a very thin layer of metal alloy evaporated onto the tape base, known as ‘metal evaporated’ or ME tapes. The binder system may also contain lubricants designed to minimize friction as the tape passes through a recording or playback device....

Article

Jeffrey Martin

Medium on which a series of photographic images are recorded on a flexible plastic base in order to produce the illusion of movement when reproduced by projection through a lens or other means. Although ‘film’ has been used by the general public as a catch-all term for any moving image medium, it actually refers specifically to photochemical reproduction.

Three different types of film base have been used in motion picture production. The first, cellulose nitrate, was used from the time it was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1889, through the early 1950s. Cellulose nitrate was durable, withstood repeated projection, and provided a high-quality image. It was also extremely flammable, requiring careful handling in shipping and storage, and the construction of special fireproof projection booths in theatres. It is always identified by the words ‘Nitrate film’ along one edge. Cellulose acetate film was first made available commercially in 1909, but was inferior in strength to nitrate film, and was not widely adopted for theatrical use. It was, however, used exclusively in smaller-gauge film for home and amateur use by the 1920s. In ...

Article

Term used in an art-historical context to describe art forms that include a variety of media, often unconventional. It is used mainly where a complete description of media would be too lengthy. Multimedia may also comprise live or Performance art, Happenings, Environmental art, Video art and Installation. The origins of multimedia may be traced to Dada, especially the activity in 1916 in Zurich of the Cabaret Voltaire. The concept was developed further by artists associated with Surrealism, for example at the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme (1938) at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Paris: works were exhibited in a series of ‘environments’, such as the display of Salvador Dalí’s Rainy Taxi, which was positioned under a localized rainstorm and contained a female dummy and live, crawling snails; in another room Marcel Duchamp hung 1200 coal-sacks from the ceiling, covered the floor with dead leaves and moss and installed a lily pond surrounded by firs and reeds. Duchamp in particular opened the way for artists to explore new art forms and combinations of multimedia. In the second half of the 20th century groups or movements that advanced the concept of multimedia included the ...