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Rigging up an abandoned New York building with microphones, David Byrne turned architecture into a musical instrument and invited the public to "play the building", until the end of August.
"I'd like to say that in a small way it turns consumers into creative producers, 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 realise that culture - of which sound and music are parts - doesn't always have to be produced by professionals and packaged in a consumable form," explained Byrne, best known for leading Talking Heads in the 1980s.
Set in the landmark Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan, the project consists of a retrofitted antique organ that controls a series of devices throughout the building. These devices vibrate, strike and blow across the building's structural features - metal beams, plumbing, electrical conduits and heating and water pipes - to trigger unique harmonics and finely tuned sounds.
"I'm not suggesting people abandon musical instruments and start playing their cars and apartments, 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," Byrne went on.
Playing the Building was originally presented in Stockholm in 2005.