Music for the Monster

As the long, wintery month of February begins, the Harrison Center, in partnership with Indiana Humanities, focuses on one of the most renowned pieces of literary art — Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Approaching its two-hundredth anniversary, the story of the frightening yet misunderstood creature has haunted and inspired (and continues to do so) a plethora of readers, writers, producers, including the HCA staff. Recently, our Executive Director Joanna Taft met with Josiah Alstott to brainstorm ways he could contribute to the Harrison Center’s mission, and soon he was creating music for MANmade, a Frankenstein group show that opens in Speck Gallery this Friday, February 2nd.


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Josiah has been working to develop his art through sound design and collage. For the Harrison Center show, he is creating four separate movements called “Concerto for the MIDI Keyboard and the Internet” with a synthesizer, various electronic sounds, and string music. (Listen to a sample here.) He is also adding spoken word from interviews with philosophers and excerpts from books and movies to add the themes of “terror of existence” and “prolonged agony,” both omnipresent in Frankenstein. Josiah chose not to include excerpts from the actual text so that he can represent other artists’ feelings and themes that they applied to their work for this show. In addition to the thematic inference, Josiah also incorporates Mary Shelley’s ominous and industrial tone throughout the book. He accomplishes this by warping the time and typing in certain phrases/sentences via a “Siri-like” machine that creates robotic, atonal vocals. Thus, through his impressive and creative sound design, Josiah produces a unique and modern interpretation of Mary Shelley’s two-hundred-year-old Frankenstein, acknowledging its ominous and anguished themes.


The “MANmade” show, filled with both visual art by various artists and Josiah Stott’s music, will be in the Speck Gallery at the Harrison Center, so come and celebrate the story’s two-hundredth birthday with us on First Friday, February 2 from 6 to 9pm! The Harrison Center is open Monday-Friday from 9-5, and the show hangs through the 23rd.