David Byrne: Playing the Building


(Credit: Justin Ouellette, courtesy Creative Time)

Former Talking Heads front man David Byrne has turned a 9,000-square-foot former municipal ferry terminal into a musical instrument for Manhattan arts nonprofit Creative Time. Originally commissioned by Färgfabriken, Stockholm in 2005, Playing the Building—on view now at New York’s Battery Maritime Building—features a retrofitted wooden church organ which, when played by visitors, forces air through cables and wires strung throughout the building’s columns, metal girders and beams, plumbing, electrical conduits, and water and heating pipes. The organ keyboard acts like a switchboard, sending simple signals throughout the architecture, and Byrne was generous enough to expose the rear of the organ, the better for visitors to view its mechanisms, which use no microphones, amplification, electronic alteration, or synthesis. Free and open to the public from May 31 through August 10. www.creativetime.org/byrne

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