City Paper Rocks Out a Feature on DATA Artist of the Year, Robotic Artist Eric Singer

Metal Riffs

Imagine, based on every sci-fi film you’ve ever seen, a factory that produces robots. Now imagine the opposite, and you’re getting close to Eric Singer’s workshop — a dank, low-ceilinged Squirrel Hill basement where he turns out not droid armies, but robotic musical instruments.
There are the power tools: a bench-top mill, a drill press, a band saw. Ranged around are the instruments. Some are being stored, others repaired. Some are still in the process of being invented. On a workbench sits the main mechanism for the XyloBot — a long rectangle of dark wood, bristling with metal rods and dozens of small mallets. When fully assembled, the mallets strike tuned lengths of plumbing pipe, which generate the clanking, alien overtones Singer prefers to more conventional xylophone sounds.

Nearby is the in-progress HydroBot 1, which Singer says could be called a “hydrocymbal”: a cymbal that has water in it, and swirls around once it’s struck, changing the timbre. In the shadows, meanwhile, lurks the GuitarBot — the first robot instrument Singer tackled — and the Sonic Banana, a two-foot length of flexible hose equipped with sensors and a cord, which can be bent and twisted to control electronic sounds. Playing it, says Singer, “is like DJing with a yellow rubber tube.”

Many of the instruments are based on the solenoid, an electromagnetic plunger that moves when current is applied — in turn moving a drum stick, or plucking a string. Solenoids are commonly used in cars and laundry machines (which can also be found in Singer’s basement, beside a pile of laundry).

Rather than passive appliances, the robots here can interact with their surroundings and human musicians. “Any type of action-reaction thing you can conceive of,” Singer says, “you can program and create an instrument that you can jam with. Very literally, it’s a duet improvisation for human and robot.” Earlier this year, famed fusion guitarist Pat Metheny took to the road, with a backing band made up entirely of robots, most created by Singer and a group of collaborators in Brooklyn (see “Going Solo”).

They’re also a solution to getting music out of the computers and headphones and back into larger, more organic ambiance. “They produce complex acoustic sound that is often lost in the electronic-music versions of these sounds,” says Singer. “You can always walk into a room or a club with your eyes closed and know whether you’re hearing a live band, or something played back from speakers. And with these, you always know you’re hearing a live band.”

Well, “live” might not be the right word…..


Photo by Heather Mull


Pirates Charities announced today that they have teamed up with Pittsburgh native pop artist Burton Morris to

support the Mazeroski Statue project at PNC Park. To do so, three unique Burton Morris pieces will be available

for purchase beginning at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, June 17 in conjunction with the Pirates Charities On-FSN

Auction when the Bucs take on the Chicago White Sox at PNC Park.
Burton Morris used his distinctive, artistic style of bold colors and energetic shapes to capture legendary Hallof

Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski. One image shows Maz turning a double-play and a second depicts

what you might find on Bill’s night stand at home. Both are remarkable, and each provides a unique visual

portrayal of Maz as can only be seen through the eye – and hand – of Burton Morris.

A limited edition printed lithograph entitled “Maz Double-Play” is a tribute to Maz’ fielding prowess and show

the best fielding second baseman in the history of the game turning the double-play. There is also a Bill

Mazeroski “night stand” canvas print for the true Burton or Maz enthusiast. In recent years, Burton has created

“night stand” images. Each piece uses a series of icons portraying what the subject may have on their night

stand at home. Through these icons, Burton creates a unique portrait of the person he depicts. Among

Burton’s “night stand” subjects are Fred Rogers, Andy Warhol and Roberto Clemente. Now, Bill Mazeroski has
been added to that famous Pittsburgh line-up.
“Pirates Charities is extremely appreciative of Burton Morris’ interest in working with us on this project,” said
Frank Coonelly, Pirates President. “We were very proud to have Burton create the 2006 MLB All-Star logo when
Pittsburgh hosted the game, and are excited that he wanted to work with us at this time to honor Bill
Mazeroski. This is a great way for Pirates fans of all generations to share in our celebration of Maz and his
legendary achievements.”
“As I child growing up in Pittsburgh I followed the Pirates and Bill Mazeroski’s career. It is a great honor to be
able to help pay tribute to one of my childhood heroes,” Burton Morris stated.
The lithographs are 24” x 36” in size, and the canvas prints are 30” X 30”. Lithographs are available for $500
each and only 250 have been produced. Each have been hand-signed and numbered by Burton and Bill. There
are only nine canvas prints, which have also been hand-signed and numbered by Burton and Bill, and pricing for
these pieces is available upon request. Proceeds from all Burton Morris “Maz” artwork pieces will be used for
the exclusive purpose of building the Bill Mazeroski statue at PNC Park.
Fans wanting additional information or would like to place an order should visit,
phone 1-877-MAZ-1960, or contact an authorized Burton Morris gallery. Burton Morris “Maz” Artwork will be
available beginning on Thursday, June 17 at 7:05 p.m.
Bill Mazeroski remains the only player in Major League Baseball history to hit a game-winning home run in
Game 7 of a World Series. His blast off New York’s Ralph Terry on October 13, 1960, gave the Bucs a 10-9
victory in the deciding game played at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
Elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, the Pirates retired Mazeroski’s uniform #9 in 1987.
He was an eight-time Gold Glove Award recipient, seven-time All-Star and holds numerous Major League record
for second basemen, including most seasons leading the league in assists (nine), most double plays in a single
season (161 in 1966) and most career double plays (1,706).
For more information on Burton Morris and his work, please visit
For additional information about this project, please contact Manager of Business Communications Matt Nordby via email at