48 x 80 x 48 in.
Off Minor is a functional sound sculpture designed, according to Atkins, as ‘an ominous scale enlargement of a functioning music box cylinder’. It is part of a recital titled ‘Black Beethoven’, which explores blackness in relation to Beethoven, playing on the anecdotes about the canonical composer’s ‘dark skin’ and unsettled claims about his Moorish ancestry. The work is constructed from a motorized metal cylinder with hundreds of spike-like springs that spin against a row of tuning forks mounted at the top of the structure. As the springs strike the tuning forks, the resonant body of the structure emits a steady and percussive drone. This discordant and clamorous churning noise, along with the visually menacing quality of the sculpture, are intended to recall the unsettling experience of the onset of deafness, when the familiar sounds of the external world are gradually replaced by a disruptive ringing noise. The work’s title derives from a composition by the jazz pianist Thelonius Monk (1917–1982).