David Byrne turns a building into a musical instrument

David Byrne's latest art project turns an entire building into a instrument:

"I'd like to say that in a small way it turns consumers into creative producers," Byrne explains on his official site, "but that might be a bit too much to claim. However, even if one doesn't play the thing, it points toward a less mediated kind of cultural experience. It might be an experience in which one begins to reexamine one's surroundings and to realize that culture -- of which sound and music are parts -- doesn't always have to be produced by professionals and packaged in a consumable form.

"I'm not suggesting people abandon musical instruments and start playing their cars and apartments," he adds, "but I do think the reign of music as a commodity made only by professionals might be winding down. The imminent demise of the large record companies as gatekeepers of the world's popular music is a good thing, for the most part."

Link to official Playing the Building site, Link to Wired News story

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  1. sounds very cool, but not sure what this has to do with democratizing music. no doubt it took considerable expense and several “experts” to get this done.

    kudos for the art, with or without the polemic.

  2. “I’d like to say that in a small way it turns consumers into creative producers,” Byrne explains.

    Architecture 2.0

  3. “but I do think the reign of music as a commodity made only by professionals might be winding down. The imminent demise of the large record companies as gatekeepers of the world’s popular music is a good thing, for the most part.”

    Can I have some of what this guy is smoking?

    Copernicus called. Turns out David Byrne isn’t the center of the Universe.

  4. #6 How is that even remotely an ego-centric thing to say? The man is a music professional, yet he’s saying you don’t have to be a professional to create music.

  5. Also, #1 and #4, You know what else has been done before? Posting on the internet about how something new is actually a re-hash of something someone else has done.

    Welcome to human culture.

  6. My late friend, the gamemaster Newall Gilchrist, said he quit trying to be an artist because he realized that “All the good stuff’s already been done.”

  7. Musical food? Yeah, that’s old hat.

    I do have my doubts about the imminent demise of the studios. They seem to have considerable power now.

  8. OT, but speaking of art and David Byrne, the artist Robert Rauschenberg died yesterday. He designed a trippy see through cover with rotating translucent disks for the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues. It’s rarely seen because they were fragile and had lots of loose parts, but it’s pretty cool. After the first 50,000 or so they went to a mundane cardboard sleeve.

  9. i agree with nexialist. all efforts are welcome, i mean it’s not like he invented the guitar either – originality is not the issue.

    it seems like a wonderful piece and i look forward to hearing / seeing it. i just don’t see any connection between this effort and “turning consumers into creative producers”.

    it’s probably easier to record a state-of-the-art home demo than to get a large city building wired and rigged as an instrument.

    way more specialized and embroiled in permits and bureaucracy, so where’s the consumer empowerment ?

  10. Like Riffer @ #1, I was going to point out how this reminds me of the Silophone project, which, as it turns out, is itself inspired by similar transformations:

    This project takes cues from transformations of similarly imposing industrial sites in Europe such as La Fonderie in Brussels, Belgium and Emscher Park in Germany’s Ruhr, both of which reactivate abandoned sites by appropriating the mandates of existing cultural programs in their surrounding communities. The Silophone project aims to raise popular awareness of the building and to catalyse activity that will eventually result in the discovery of an appropriate new function for the abandoned elevator.

    None of which takes away from either the Silophone’s or the Battery Maritime Building’s coolness factor.

    Anybody but me remember something similar at Alcatraz?

    Also, CountD @ #9: +1

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