Friday, August 26, 2016: 7 PM

Reception for Imaginary Mechanical Instruments

Tickets: Free!
Tickets available at the door only

Imaginary
The Museum of Imaginary Instruments & the Window Gallery for Invented Instruments Present:

Imaginary Mechanical Instruments

Historical and Contemporary Prints

FREE Reception July 32, 26pm
On Display July-Aug
at the Center for New Music
53.7 Taylor Street, San Francisco

(Actual Free Reception 8/26/16, 7pm
55 Taylor Street, SF )

With images dating from 1618-1995, the variety of pure inventive genius on display includes excellent reproductions of JJ Grandville, Robert Fludd, and Johann Gottlob Kruger. Images from Experimental Musical Instruments Journal including Cloud 8 Archives by Hal Ramel contribute more contemporary works of fictional acoustic fantasy.

Join us for Drinks at our FREE reception and explore multi-touch applications by Ian Saxton, which virtually realize selected works from the exhibition, as well as a variety of previously imaginary alternate keyboard interfaces. Reception is followed at 7:45 PM by the New Music Open Mic .


In a time of unprecedented activity and innovation in sound technology, a museum of imaginary musical instruments may seem unbearably twee. What could these phantasms have to do with the real instrumentarium that expands dizzyingly around us every day?

We believe that these artifacts matter now more than ever, when our world is held so powerfully in the thrall of real technologies and the often deterministic rhetoric that accompanies them. Imaginary instruments are relevant not as a form of escapism or unhinged fantasy, but precisely because they highlight the permeable boundaries between the actual and the possible. Just as, according to Jung, everything that appears in a dream represents an aspect of the dreamer’s psyche, all that the human mind dreams up is a commentary on the mundane realm we inhabit. To conceive of a counterfactual technology—whether impossible or merely impractical—is to make a statement about the empirical world, to shed light into the shadows of the real, and to proclaim the possibility of things being otherwise.

Although imaginary instruments have a history probably as long as that of human technology itself, they share with the aesthetics of modernism and the avant-garde a certain visionary impetus. Like the best new music, they issue a challenge to convention and posit the existence of alternative ways of hearing, thinking, feeling, and being. With this special exhibit, we share some of the most outlandish, delightful and intricate imaginary musical instruments from the last 400 years; may they inspire many more.

Guest Curators Deirdre Loughridge and Thomas Patteson
Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments