Featured Artist: Walter Kitundu

A few weeks back, I wrote a piece about sound sculptor Gerhard Trimpin, after which I went on a sort of hunt for other sound sculptors/artists and found quit a few, none of whom stood out to me all that much. This morning, however, I happened to come across Walter Kitundu–funny how the stumbling is normally where the gems are found.

An artist is the brain of  the individual more than the tools he uses or even the creations he shares. Kitundu is a perfect representation of that: he is an amazing thinker. I often tell people drooling over my camera equipment while out shooting events that the camera isn’t what’s important: I could be using a one-time-use camera and, in the end, you would never know the difference. What really matters, artists like Kitundu show us, is knowing your craft like second nature.

Beginning as a DJ, Kitundu felt left out, or maybe just jealous of playing in the present rather than pre-recorded sounds. He began to create his own instruments by mutating others while attending school, starting with the turntable. Those of you who play vinyl know how important vibration isolation is. Kitundu turned that principle upside down by hitting his gear with chopsticks or attaching fishing line to the base and plucking it. The sound would then resonate through the turntable itself and become amplified, adding to the record already spinning.

This is where his artistry started to expanded. Kitundu took to inventing his own instruments by adding visual elements, hand-carving his bridges, using light sensors to regulate the speed of the motor, and eventually leaving behind the turntable entirely, creating instruments powered by nature or reinventing sound altogether. I could go on talking about his work for a long time, but instead I’ll link you to a 20-minute presentation put on by Kitundu himself explaining his body of work and even playing some of his instruments. Be sure to turn the sound up all the way; despite being a musician, he never once speaks into the mic.


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