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Jan 072014
Logo by Rachel Briggs.

Logo by Rachel Briggs.

The 2014 Circuit Benders’ Ball is now accepting submissions! We’re looking for performers, live visual accompanists, multimedia artists, workshop instructors and speakers. The entry deadline is Sunday, February 9th at 11:59 p.m. To submit, fill out this short form.

The Circuit Benders’ Ball is a biennial celebration of hardware hacking, art, music and the creative spirit. The event will take place at Fort Houston in Nashville, TN on Saturday, April 12th, 2014. The Ball will feature (at least) two stages, ten or more performers, an interactive art gallery and electronic workshops. Learn more about the 2010 Circuit Bender’s Ball here and the 2012 Ball here.

The submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges, including myself, Geo Leonard, Josh Gumiela, Megan Kelly, and Stephen Zerne.

We want the Ball to be a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, and we’re working on drafting a strong anti-harassment policy (and subsequent staff training) to ensure that all performers and attendees feel safe and comfortable. We’re also doing everything we can to make sure the call goes out to a wider audience than just our social networks. Our previous CBBs were over-representative in straight white cisgender male performers, and we intend to work harder this year at recruiting more women, people of color, people with disabilities and people who are gay, bisexual, asexual, intersex or transgender. This doesn’t mean we’re discriminating against straight white dudes or selecting performers based on any of these characteristics. Rather, we’re attempting to confront implicit biases in ourselves and in the selection process that could discriminate against people with these or other characteristics.

Here are some guidelines on what we are looking for.

Music/Multimedia Performers

We’ll have at least two stages for quick turnover and short sets to make room for many artists. Sets should be approximately 15 minutes. (Longer for headliners.)

Performances should somehow involve circuit bending, instrument design or creative coding. You need not have built the machines yourself. Although experimental / non-rhythmic is our main focus, we’re also open to other genres. We’re also open to multimedia performances, dance, theatre, projection mapping and whatever you can dream up!

Live Visual Accompanists

One of the most talked-about aspects of the previous CBBs was the pairing of performers with visual artists. If you’re a filmmaker, lighting designer, or artist of any stripe, you can collaborate with a performer to mastermind a beautiful audio/visual synthesis.

Visual Artists

We’re looking for art to display in the CBB gallery. Art can be 2D, 3D, sculpture, interactive, film/video or installations. In keeping with the theme, the art should have an electronic or mechanical element. We love interactive devices that make light and/or sound! You can also show off some of your circuit-bent gear!

Workshop Instructors

For this year’s ball, we’re looking for simple, inexpensive workshops. For that reason, all workshops will cost $15 and last 1 hour and 15 minutes. Workshop teachers get $12.75 per student. Fort Houston gets the remainder. All materials and teacher fees must come out of the $12.75 per student. The challenge for the teachers is to pick a topic that doesn’t use expensive materials and doesn’t take longer than an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish. Examples of low cost workshops include paper circuits, paper automata and introductory courses to programs like PureData and Supercollider.

Keeping the class time short means we can program more workshops. Keeping the costs low means we can attract more students.

Workshop teachers must source all materials, except for materials provided by Fort Houston and the students.


We would love to add panel and presentations to this year’s event! Lead a discussion or join someone else’s.

Here’s an example of a panel topic a local bender submitted:

Towards a Circuit Bending Standardization: This panel explores developing a technical standard for circuit bending interface and controller design. Such a standard could benefit designers who aim to sell their innovative devices while making it easier for artists to assemble a fully interconnectable arsenal of circuit bent instruments without any electronics expertise.


The Circuit Benders’ Ball is a non-profit event created to educate, inspire, and connect. Soon, we’ll launch a Kickstarter campaign to help finance the event. All Kickstarter donations and ticket sales (after expenses) go to the artists, on a sliding scale, based on distance from Nashville. The farther you have to travel, the bigger piece of the pie you get. We may agree to a set guarantee for featured artist, to be decided. The more we make, the more the artists make. Not a dime goes to me or anyone on the organizing staff. More details coming soon.


Apply to the Ball with this short form. The entry deadline is Sunday, February 9th at 11:59 p.m. In fairness to everyone, we won’t start assembling a lineup until the deadline has passed. Once we’ve assembled a lineup (approximately February 15th), we’ll seek confirmation with the artists we’ve picked. When everyone is confirmed, we’ll notify the artists who were not selected and then announce the lineup publicly. See you in April!