The House Byrne Built

Post Author: Dylan Pancer

For the last thirty-five years, David Byrne has changed the face of art and music a dozen times over, from his earlier days as an artist in Rhode Island to his work with the Talking Heads and a collaborative career with Brian Eno which spanned almost a decade and contributed vital streams of experimentation to hip-hop and techno.

Recently Byrne has turned back to his early RISD roots to focus on his art, exhibiting around the world and publishing two books through Dave Egger’s McSweeney’s. His newest project, Playing the Building, melds conceptual art and music in a way that seems typically Byrne in ambition and novelty.

This is a Creative Time installation where visitors play the role of musician by operating an antique organ in the center of an old industrial building downtown. The organ itself is not the instrument but rather a controller for the room: through a system of cables causes the structural elements of the building to vibrate, making noises that sound somewhere between Cocteau Twins and gastric bypass surgery.

Although the sounds are (somewhat) scaled according to pitch, the instrument is virtually unplayable, putting professionals and amateurs at an equal footing in a wonderful allegory of modern music, art and life.

Playing The Building is free and open to the public Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Noon – 6 PM at the Battery Maritime Building located at 10 South Street in New York City.

[Haven’t we seen you somewhere…]

[And you?]