uniPet 03: Silverman (aka: The Artifact)

This uniPet turned out really great.
I made it for my friend Phil "Silverman" Knight of The Legendary Pink Dots. I made an Opera Daisy for The Dots some years before (They used it on Alchemical Playschool), but Edward Ka-Spel, Phil's cohort in LPD, claimed it as his own, conversing with it late into the long Nijmegen nights, so I kept threatening to make a gadget for Phil also. After a doing keyboard bend that ended up being far too cantankerous to give to him, I built this uniPet for him instead. He calls it "The Artifact."

I enclosed the uniPet in a previously white makeup case from the 60's, painted the case black, stenciled dots onto it and made a custom luggage tag. I told Phil not to treat the case preciously but throw it into the mix with the rest of his road gear as the black will scratch off over time to reveal the white case below, giving the case an accelerated aged look.

The round thing at the bottom of the pic is a color changing LED light (also patinated) to be used as an optical sequencer on the optical resistor.

The beauty of this particular series of gadgets is that the electronic basis is an AM radio. Depending on where the gadget is played the sounds are entirely different. I've played my uniPet 01 in the mountains and have gotten beautiful pulsating soundscapes which are entirely different than the sounds I get when I am at home in Orange County, CA or in the Bay Area. I can't wait to hear the sounds Phil gets in Nimegen, Holland, or in other European locales. (hint hint, Phil...sounds please...)



I spent lots of time with the design, engineering and patina finishing of this uniPet.

The base is made from an old lamp and a 60's microphone holder with USB flexible lights used as cable runs to service the optical resistor behind the red LED cover. The silver ring between the lamp base and mic holder is the platter locking ring from inside a hard drive.

For human contact resistance points I used 2 punk rock spikes on the bottom of the ball radio and a handle from an old ice bucket on the top. The leathery trim under the punk rock spikes was cut from an old rotting trunk I had in my garage.

The rust patina turned out really great. Lots of layers and rough sanding in-between. I also learned the trick of spraying water onto the layers, letting dry, then re-applying patina agents. This gives it a really great left-out-in-the-weather rusted look.

This one also has a UV LED in the dial area which works like a magic eye as in old radio sets, glowing brighter with stronger signal and pulsing with audio volume changes.

Optical resistor placement.

Case design and luggage tag. Pink Dots!

More uniPet series construction shots here.

Here I just presented uniPet 03 to Phil at Cafe Du Nord, 11/14/10, The Legendary Pink Dots' 30th Anniversary Tour! He was floored! He has said that he really loves this gadget, takes it on tour with him throughout Europe (The Dots tour quite a bit) but is apprehensive of travelling by plane with it. Security people tend to get a little freaked out over circuit bent gadgetry. I travel by plane quite a bit too with circuit bent gadgetry and its always interesting to see the looks on the TSA workers faces when I show them my gear.

Phil says of uniPet 03: "We all name our house pets and my uniPet I've named "The Artifact"……because it looks like something that could be off-world technology, and what emits from its bended circuits between the radio stations can sound rather spectral and rather special too (btw: an early Silverman cd release bore the name "Spectral Artifact").

"Artifact's range of use is huge, I've found. On it's own with no processing it can be as brutal as a brick; sweeping the edges of station frequencies through simple delay/reverb will have you sounding like your favourite space rock band. The light sensor brings into play trance possibilities. Even moving your hands close to Artifact's body will subtly change the sound.
Altogether a most wonderful and versatile noisemaker."

Thanks, Phil.

Big City Orchestra (the art/anti-art noise group I'm involved with) opened up for the Dots, which we tend to do whenever they are in the Bay Area.

Phil and his uniPet somehow look alike! Just as pets and their owners resemble each other...

More shots from The Dots 30th Anniversary Tour, featuring Phil's shiny new uniPet.

The Legendary Pink Dots at the Doug Fir, Oregon on 11/22/10

Cafe Du Nord San Francisco Nov 19, 2010. Randy Wentzel short video





Dimensions: appx 11" high
Current Status:

Travelling the world with Phil Knight as The Artifact, no doubt scaring the European countryside and curdling milk for miles in Nijmegen, Holland.

AudioVisual Bits:

Here are two great videos put together by video artist Astrid Mutsaars (aka Snopesnails) with sound by The Silverman using uniPet 03: Artifact One & Artifact Two

Here are a few videos I shot featuring LPD's 30th Anniversary show at Cafe Du Nord in SF, 11/14/10:

Here's a show in Paris, Divan du Monde - 04/19/2011, with Phil playing the uniPet:

There are lots more out there on the interwebs.

Also, here's a little audiovisual journey I made for Phil just as I finished his uniPet 03: