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Reiko Yamada

composer & sound artist

Small Small Things:

Music and installation for Humans and Drosophilae

(2016 - 2017)

An interdisciplinary research project in collaboration with Dr. Robert Huber (Department of Biological Sciences, Bowling Green State University), Dr. Ronald Kühnlein (Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz, Austria) and Dr. Gregg Roman (Department of Biology, University of Mississippi)

Performed/Exhibited at:

Tresor Linz, Austria, March 9, 2017

Gallerie Memphis, Linz, Austria , March 10-17, 2017

CUBE, IEM, Graz, Austria , March 28, 2017

Misbits, Oxford, MS , May 23 - June 10, 2017

Netherlands Society for Evolutionary Biology       Conference, Ede, Netherlands, April 11, 2018

Cornerstone Arts Center, Colorado College, Colorado   Springs, November 28, 2018

Featured in:

Uni.on, Das Online-magazin der Graz (text in German)

Small Small Things: music and installation for humans and drosophilae is an interdisciplinary and artistic research project that emerged from a seven-month tenure as an artist-in-residence project at IEM (Institute for Electronic Music and Acoustics, University of Graz, Austria) in 2016-17. The products of this ongoing project so far are (1) performance/exhibition consisting in an orchestrated combination of site-specific acousmatic compositions and a digital slide presentation, (2) sound-art installation and (3) a series of sound experimentations with drosophila, each one of which allows the audience to explore surprisingly deep connections with drosophila. Three resulting works below have been presented in Austria and the States.

Small Small Slides

digital slides, 2-24 channel audio (ambisonics), approximately 30’ total play time


Small Small Slides is a performative and video work consisting of digital slides and acoustic compositions. Originally created for IEM’s 24-channel ambisonics environment, the work can be adjusted to 2-24 channel audio. It presents the audience with scientific facts about drosophila and my imaginative interpretation in acousmatic compositions, combined as a 30 minute performance presentation.

Audio excerpt (stereo, laptop version)

Performance at 0FF4N0FF (March 2017 at Trezor Linz, Austria). Photo courtesy of Florian Voggeneder

Small Small Experiments


live dorosophilae, Raspberry Pi, surface transducers, plexiglass, headphone amplifiers, web camera, cables, 

arena area = 20x20cm (for performance: 2-8 loud speakers) 


In a small chamber (20cm x20cm) outfitted with surface transducers, four different sound files in different frequencies are played for drosophilae. As animals enter one of the four areas, the sound file starts playing simultaneously through the transducers (for flies) and through loudspeakers or headphones (for the humans in the exhibition area). The work is a halfway between a sound installation and an auditory experiment for drosophila, and visitors are invited to draw their own conclusions about what they witness. This piece is to be presented as a live performance/discussion following Small Small Slides.

Performance/Exhibition at Misbits (May 2017, Oxford,  MS). Photos courtesy of Bailey Avrett​

The Wings that Bind


drosophila wings, microscope, vinyl lettering, text, petri dish, table, chair

The Wings that Bind raises the question of free will and freedom in all creatures, taking the sound production mechanism of drosophila (fruit fly) as its focus point. Male drosophilae are genetically programmed to produce sounds with their wings, a behavior that plays a key part in the reproductive cycle. In this work the classic association of wings with freedom is subverted and complicated by presenting these limbs as frustrating body parts for a strong-willed male fruit fly, providing mobility, itself a form of freedom, but also acting as an instrument of genetic predetermination. With a strong commitment to free will, what could a male fruit fly possibly do to break away from genetic determination? One possible answer, an extreme one to be sure, is the one presented here, leaving this sound piece without sound.

Installation at Gallerie Memphis(March, 2017, Linz, Austria)

Images from the project sketchbook


I would like to thank IEM (Institute for Electronic Music and Acoustics, University of Graz, Austria) for supporting this project in unusual circumstance through the institute's artist-in-residence program, especially Dr. Marko Ciciliani for his thoughtful assistance. 

Special thanks to Sibylle Irma and Karoline Rudolf for inspiring me to use a sketchbook for this project.

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