16 October 2010

The missadventures of Chris Carter

Double digit disaster or Carry On Circuit Bending

For the last week or so I’ve been head down, hard at work building a custom sound generator for Cosey to perform with at the upcoming Throbbing Gristle shows (details at

Things started out well, if a little slowly as I haven’t put soldering iron to component for quite a while. Anyway by Monday we had an unfinished but functioning box of sonic tricks that sounded pretty good to us. The penultimate stage was mostly cosmetic, with Cosey choosing the colour of various LEDs, buttons and the type of control knobs. On Tuesday I was finishing it all off and finally putting the last few components in place.

So there I was in the kitchen - no I don’t have an underground lair or mountaintop laboratory... yet, though I do have a snazzy white lab coat. So I’m drilling a small 3mm hole in a nice piece of vintage 1970s’ copper covered circuit board while holding it in place when (and this all happened in a split second) the drill bit snapped, the drill jumped across the board and continued drilling through the nail of my middle finger with what was left of the broken drill bit.

I can’t remember exactly what happened immediately following this mishap, it seems I went into shock from the pain, then passed out. Weirdly I remember standing in the kitchen looking at my drilled and bloody finger then the next moment I was sitting in our car on my way to hospital wondering how on earth I’d got there. That oddly dislocated feeling is how I imagine one would feel when time travelling or teleporting - well apart from the searing pain.

So after being administered the usual x-rays, bandages and meds in the A&E department, and endless waiting around, I was sent home with a diagnosis of “a nasty hole but no broken bones”. Next morning I got a worried phone call from the hospital - by a doctor who was supposed to have checked me over in A&E but for whatever reason didn’t - telling me to return immediately for more treatment as the x-rays showed my finger was broken. Well I could have bloody well told them that!

So fast forward to Thursday... I’m in full-on ‘clearing up’ mode vacuuming, putting away piles of odds n’ ends, spare parts, unused components and attempting to get our kitchen back to normal - basically with one and a half hands.

I have this very nice Italian folding desk that was given to me in the 1970s’, I use it regularly for projects as does Cosey, Nick and many house guests. And although it has a plastic worktop it’s heavy because the frame is made from chromed steel. I’ve unfolded/folded this desk a hundred times but with one hand, and half a hand, it is not so easy. To fold it involves a flipping action so that it goes from being a regular desk to being a completely flat frame you can tuck away anywhere. So I flipped it... but being too concerned about catching my drilled finger in the frame that I didn’t realise my little finger, my pinky, was lying somewhere between the two halves of the frame. With a dull snap and a loud shout my finger was crushed and in a split second it was broken, within 4 hours it was literally black and blue.

Apart from cracking a rib in the 70s I have never broken a bone in my body, then I break two fingers in two days, what are the chances? Well according to the three doctors and half a dozen nurses I’ve seen this week both injuries are apparently classic DIY mishaps and they see things like that all the time, though not usually twice in one week.

In future I’ll be more careful (much more) and even though these are not massive injuries they are bloody inconvenient!


Numantikon said...

Dear Chris,

I've been an admirer of your works since many years and I have decided - despite or maybe because the now ovious danger it means - to start circuit bending myself. The inspiration came mostly form what ASMO did with the Gristelism. I do not dare to try it myself yet. I have started playing with a destroyed alarm clock and a loudspeaker but I would like to know if there is some homepage or book where I could colect some knowledge to do further experimentation. If you could use a moment of your time to give some advice to a begginer I would be extremely thankful.

Take care,


Anonymous said...

Gen you can afford to lose. 2 fingers are indispensable ! Good luck with X-TG. Maybe X-PTV should form with Monte on the mic ?

telepathic regards,

ashaer said...

i am sorry this happened to upu Chris,
as always, there is a constant transient
at play, which is also a weapon, or,
a musical instrument.

BTW -;-)
god bless you heart, for taking the time to actually write this out, as is, good man.
Pace Carries Canary !!!

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