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David Byrne – Playing the Building at the Battery Maritime Building

Posted by jhochstat on May 5, 2008

From David Byrne’s Journal:


Thanks to the folks at Creative Time, this installation will finally open in NYC at the end of this month. Here is the press release:

Playing the Building, a 9,000-square-foot, interactive, site-specific installation by David Byrne, will transform the interior of the landmark Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan into a massive sound sculpture that all visitors are invited to sit and “play.” Byrne’s project will consist of a retrofitted antique organ placed in the center of the building’s cavernous second-floor gallery that will control a series of devices attached to its structural features—metal beams, plumbing, electrical conduits, and heating and water pipes. These machines will vibrate, strike, and blow across the building elements, triggering unique harmonics and producing finely tuned sounds. As Byrne explains, it is an elaborate system for “activating the sound-producing qualities that are inherent in all materials.”

Playing the Building marks the first time in decades that the second floor of the Battery Maritime Building will be accessible to the public. The space will be open and free to all visitors on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the summer of 2008. Everyone will be invited to sit at the organ, tap on the keys, and create a unique array of sounds that travel through the space. In addition, David Byrne and Creative Time will invite guest musicians to challenge his creation through a series of performances and jam sessions.

A new page on contains more info on this project, including the location and hours, pictures, videos, interviews, and all that.

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