Bio

Jonah Marrs has a background in history, architecture and electronics. He develops workshops to introduce students of design and art to basic electronics and introductory computer science. He also designs video synthesis devices called prepared instruments.

Apart from being a long-time student, Jonah has had a diversity of short-term roles. He was an intern architect in Berlin, an electro-mechanical prototyper at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a guest digital archival researcher at Montreal’s Canadian Center for Architecture, and an Artist in Residence at Autodesk’s Pier 9 in San Francisco. For four years at l’Université de Paris-Sud Jonah was a Research Engineer developing hands-on electronics workshops and kits for students of the Fab Academy. He now teaches workshops in culture numérique at Les Beaux-Arts de Paris, l’ENSCI-Les Ateliers Paris, and other design and art schools in France and Germany.

Jonah has been invited for either student- or department-organized conferences to present his research at Oxford University‚Äôs Internet Institute, Harvard‚Äôs Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Universit√§t der K√ľnste Berlin, the University of Southern California‚Äôs Art History Department, and the Architecture Schools of Carnegie Mellon, McGill University and MIT for the 2017 Schlossman Fellow presentation.

Research

I am inspired by the rich history of artistic experimentation with media technology from the 1960s and 1970s including Sonia Sheridan’s work bending Xerox photocopiers, Stan Brakhage’s hands-on 16mm films, and Steina Vasulka’s custom CRT controller electronics research. I also draw on the design hacking knowledge from a new generation of contemporary tinkerers and bricoleurs who share their technical methods on the internet, using devices like Arduino to give second life to e-waste.

My process begins by learning to control a historical media device (like an old TV or a pen plotter) and then bending it to do something beyond its original design intent. Of special interest to me is the uncovering of machine-to-machine interfaces deep within the device that are typically beyond the reach of the artist. I then explore the output of the machine when these newly discovered parameters are played like the keys of a novel musical instrument, recording the resulting visual effects produced. I finally curate the results in series of drawings, 3D prints, photographs, or videos and share my technical methods for reproducing these representations.

I want to convey the rich formal range and playful idiosyncrasies of these media machines liberated from the corset of their factory settings.

c.v. fr