Pascal Wyse interviews Brian Duffy of the Modified Toy Orchestra in the Guardian giving some insight into why he does what he does.
Duffy started modifying toys nearly 10 years ago while hunting for unusual sounds to sample. But nagging away were some heavier concerns. “What is music for? What meaning does music carry? What’s the role of the ego in it?” he says. “I realised most of the popular culture around me, particularly music, seemed to be obsessed with personal narrative, self-expression, self-catharsis, and social commentary. Surely there must be more to it; there must be more to be discussed than these songs that start with the word ‘I’. I never dreamed when I started modifying the toys that the answer I was looking for would be in them.”
Inspired by experimental composer John Cage’s book For the Birds, and by the work of Buckminster Fuller, Duffy dug deeper, attracted by Fuller’s ideas of refining objects to a level of perfection, and of “finding the surplus value inside the seemingly redundant” – which is quite a philosophical way of looking at a Speak & Spell machine. But Duffy goes on: “There is only one amount of stuff in the universe, which just exchanges itself between matter and energy. Along the way, it rearranges itself into us. I started to wonder why – why does it rearrange itself into us?”
Photo by myself from Supersonic 06. Hat tip to Russ L.