Playing the Building: An Installation by David Byrne

Beth

Review

of an Exhibit

by Beth Redmond-jones

Published on June 21, 2008 , Modified on September 11, 2013

  • Description:

    I was recently in New York and remembered hearing about David Byrne’s sound installation at the Battery Maritime Building. Since we had time to spare before our ferry to Staten Island arrived, my family and I took some time to check this out and I’m really glad we did. This was a great sound installation in which the physical parts of the building (metal beams, pipes and pillars) were converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the various building parts, then these parts are activated by the use of wind, vibration and striking motions via a pump organ. The activations cause these building parts to vibrate, resonate and oscillate to produce sounds and make a huge musical instrument. The sounds were not melodic, but provided an erie almost haunting quality and mood to this cavernous and dilapidated building.

    The installation runs from May 31 – August 24, 2008. If you can’t go and see if for yourself, then check out the web site link to hear David Byrne talk about and play it himself.

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