Lucas Abela – ‘Pinball Piola’ Installation

Not even sure where to start talking Lucas Abela, madman artist of all kinds, over two decades playing music. Best known to many as an experimental noisemaker under the name Justice Yeldham, destroying his face with sheets of microphoned glass, it’s actually his installation work that’s grabbed us as of late.

A very healthy obsession with mutating pinball machines means this is the kind of art we can get behind. First there was the two-player Flip Off followed by an ingenious pentagram shaped pinball machine, titled Balls For Cthulhu.

In line with these projects getting more complex and stunning in looks, came Pinball Pianola, which we had the pleasure of playing with recently. The coming together of a piano and pinball, the keys are connected to a series of flippers around the outside of the play-surface, locked in on the far end by the exposed piano strings.

As you hit the keys the flippers knock the ball around, striking the strings almost randomly. The perfection touch comes from the soundboard on the left-hand side, controlling the array of filters. It’s a two-handed instrument to that degree, and played right you can make some nice sounds.

Check the video below.

A Frankenstein experiment combining the greatest musical invention of all time, the Piano; with the coolest amusement machines ever conceived; Pinball, to create an interactive sound installation like no other; Pinball Pianola, a musical instrument constructed by replacing the hammers and front paneling of an upright piano with a pinball cabinet butted up perpendicular against its exposed strings.

Embracing high and low culture the game allows virtuosos and wizards alike to pit their skills in a game where musical compositions are created as metallic balls jettisoned into the game clash with the pianos wires as players joggle them about using twenty individual flippers triggered by the pianos keys.

The traditionally loud pinball experience is created by amplifying the soundboard with contact microphones connected to audio processors like fuzz, ring modulation, envelope filters etc. These are controlled via six pinball targets situated in the playfield turning them on or off when hit. The parameters of the sounds can then be adjusted via a console mounted onto the games cabinet.

Pinball experiments aside, Lucas Abela is also the creator of Vinyl Arcade, a simulation of a video game almost (think about that one for a while and see if your brain doesn’t explode). The gameplay as such takes place in your typical Daytona style booth, though the cars (with cameras mounted, relaying back to the LCD screen in front of you) race in real-time. The course itself is made of discarded vinyl, Abela again finding new ways to get sounds from old records. What’s not to love about this.

These are just a few of the amazing projects from one of Australia’s top talents. Abela also runs the dualpLOVER label (which literally translates as double-ended dildo), releasing his own projects and others since 1995 in fact. Stay on top of his experiments, installations and the rest of the label’s movements here: