Monday, June 30, 2008

Playing the Building by David Byrne

A couple weeks ago I visited the "Playing the building" installation by David Byrne (Yes, of Talking Heads fame) at the Battery Maritime Building...and it was so much fun! (I mean, how many times have you ever heard someone call an art installation FUN??)

The setting is the old Staten Island Ferry terminal, built in 1909 and showing its age beautifully. There sitting in the center of the room is an old church organ that has been wired to different pipes, beams, columns, and motors in the vast terminal. So with each key you press on the organ, a different metal column is hit ("Clang!") or air passes over the hole in a pipe ("Shwooo!") or a deep motor stirs behind the wall ("Whirrrr!"). (That second picture is of me and Lance trying it out)

Hence you are...playing the building! Visitors wait in line for their turn to try out the organ themselves, and I loved the fact that no one has an advantage when it comes to playing this unusual instrument. Everyone gets to experience that whimsy of simply pressing buttons and not knowing what sound it will make.

It's up through the end of August so I highly recommend playing the building yourself if you get a chance!

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