(mailing list archive) toy piano fest tomorrow — and more

Tomorrow is the first day of the Uncaged Toy Piano Festival, organized and curated by Phyllis Chen. I don’t know how I can share a stage with heroes of toy piano like Phyllis and Margaret Leng Tan, but I’ll be doing a few pieces with toy player pianos that I developed at the Queens Museum Sound Art Residency this summer. I’ll also be bringing my robot toy piano to perform Satie’s “Vexations“, and demoing the Resistor JelTone, a working toy piano made of Jello. The festival runs tomorrow (Tuesday 11/29), Thursday (12/1) and Saturday (12/3) at three different venues in Manhattan, and you can get all the details at uncagedtoypiano.org.

In a week or so I’ll be going back to New Orleans to see a performance at the sound sculpture shantytown I worked on in September. The New Orleans Airlift brought a bunch of artists to build a little village of musical instruments out of the wreckage of an 18th century house, and invited local musicians to perform with/on/in them! There’s a teaser video from the first performance — you can hear & see my piece, a set of amplified squeaky floorboards, providing the bass line starting at about 1:22. The project was covered in the New York Times last week, and you can read all about it at dithyrambalina.com. Next week will be my first chance to hear and see the completed shantytown!

In October I set up a show of my greenmarket scanography images at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library at Grand Army Plaza, along with two amazing photographers in the (Un)Still Life exhibit. There’s just one week left before the show comes down after this weekend, so please visit if you’re in Brooklyn. I had some of my images printed huge for the first time – more than 5 feet tall for one of them! And I had fun putting together a grid of almost 200 little tiny prints – check out the installation timelapse. By the way, all the prints are for sale, and a portion goes to benefit the library.

…and then I went to Europe, to talk about my work at VU Amsterdam’s lecture series with the Metamatic Research Initiative, and to show a piece I made for Artbots in Gent, Belgium. I haven’t really had time to collect my thoughts – or my photos – since I got back, but you can see a recording of my talk at metamaticresearch.info, and I have a silly video demonstrating the Voice Extruder, an installation which translates visitors’ voices into little sculptures, which are immediately fabricated for the visitor to take home. The Voice Extruder is an offshoot of my work for Metamatic, about which I’ll have much more to say soon! The day after I got back from Europe, I took the Voice Extruder to Baltimore for the Exploratorium’s Tinkerers’ Ball.

And what are you up to? Keep in touch!

* shantytown photo by Mellissa Strkyer — see lots more photos from the New Orleans project at the dithyrambalina blog.

music box shantytown in NY Times

Here’s a nice New York Times article about the big crazy sound sculpture shantytown I helped out with in New Orleans:

A Symphony of Floorboards, Pipes and Stairs
(My nightingale floors made it into the title! Whoo!)

“You’re going to have a house, and the house makes music. When you get here, you’ll figure it out.”

That is more or less accurate, as far as it goes, though it clearly falls short as a practical description. “The Music Box,” the project of which this tower is a part, is one of those things that requires a hyphen or a compound word to describe; Delaney Martin, its curator, calls it “a shantytown-sound laboratory.”

In more literal terms, it is a collection of tumbledown wooden and metal structures built on the site, and almost entirely from the remains of a late-18th-century Creole cottage that collapsed a couple of years ago here in the historic, bohemian Bywater neighborhood.

Each structure houses an instrument, or two or three. In some cases the structures are musical instruments themselves. There is the thatched-roof hut that is home to an elaborate arrangement of Balinese vibraphones, the shack with amplified floorboards, the rusty spiral staircase that is also a foot-operated pipe organ and the little glass house containing what looks like a giant, bell-lined hoop skirt. They are all clustered together on the narrow lot, like the stage set of a fairy tale that takes place in a junkyard.

Be sure to check out the slide show.

There’s also a brief video about the first performance. (You can hear my floorboards starting at 1:22 or so)