Friday, 12 March 2010

The sound of science

An MRI scan is a bit like an avocado really, well, much more expensive - hundreds of pounds for an MRI against avocados at 3 for a pound in the Turkish supermarket down the road, but they are both an acquired taste. And once acquired they are a bit addictive.

There's something very Stanley Kubrick about the metal cage fitting over your head to hold it in place and then being rolled into a metal cylinder only slightly bigger than you. In fact, being a decaying London hospital it's got a uniquely 70's Sci-fi feel to it. Holding a panic button in one hand whilst staring at the upside down mirror lets you see your potential saviour in the control room. They take on an other worldly context. You presume they're discussing matters of great science or at the least the progress of your scan, but in the back of your head you know full well they're talking about last nights Eastenders.

But it's the sound that I love. The clunking, the whirring, the booming bass synth noise. I can spend hours trying to work out the time signature of this ever evolving magnet symphony. Which is useful 'cos it takes hours to scan the brain to the googleplexsmillimetre. Steve Reich wrote some of my favourite music with his 'phases' series. 'MRI phase' is going to be my next project. A piece for three MRI machines slightly out of phase. I'm off down the Turkish supermarket to see if they've got an offer on.


  1. Sometimes the music they play through the headphones actually keeps time with the clunking!

  2. I think you must have a modern hospital...we don't get music...just the clunking!