(mailing list archive) the thumping guide to new york city (and more)

Bonk! Clang! Thud! I’d like to announce a new project I’m working on, in association with the Conflux Festival <http://confluxfestival.org/2009/> and their Conflux City event <http://confluxfestival.org/2009/events/conflux-city/> – this is for all of you who can’t resist thumping on all the shiny protrusions, poles, and appurtenances you pass as you walk along the city sidewalks. The Thumping Guide to NYC is a collaborative map of all the best sounds to be made in the city with your fists. It’s just getting started, and, if you’re in NYC, I need your help to fill out the map! It’s all at http://thumpingguide.com

And here’s some other stuff that’s going on!

My daily photo project with Keira Chang continues, though sometimes we get a few days behind updating the site: http://www.dontwiggle.com/
My collaborative twitter sonnet for the Brooklyn Museum of Art wrapped up at the end of July- dozens of museum members collaborated in writing the poem.

I’m going to be installing some of my mechanical music machines at the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, CA on Sunday September 27th, as part of the 12th Annual Festival of Music for People and Thingamajigs. (Yes, Thingamajigs!) More info at http://thingamajigs.org/festival2009.html

And finally, I’m going to Japan in October! Any advice or recommendations would be welcome!

– ranjit

(mailing list archive) noisy things considered

Hello! I’ve got news of some upcoming events in Brooklyn, and then some coverage of the instrument-a-day project!

ON THURSDAY night, April 2, the Nutmeg Orchestrette– my little robot ensemble– will be performing as part of the NYC Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, along with a bunch of other excellent performers including R. Luke Dubois, Jane Rigler, and more! That’ll be at 11PM at Galapagos Art Space, 16 Main Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn; admission is $10, or maybe $5. If you haven’t been to Galapagos since they moved, it’s a great space! The Festival is also putting on an excellent series of free concerts all weekend at the Graduate Center in midtown Manhattan– check out the full schedule at their web site.

NYCEMF: http://www.nycemf.org/
Galapagos: http://www.galapagosartspace.com/

ON SUNDAY afternoon, April 5th, Nick Yulman and I will be previewing our new electromechanical music installation in the lobby of the Coney Island Museum, right across from the intoxicating Freak Bar and the tantalizing Freak Show! I say “previewing” because we’re going to keep on adding to it as long as the museum lets us. (I’m working on a tiny pipe organ for June!) On Sunday you can see and hear a newborn sound sculpture, entangling the Nutmeg Orchestrette and more in its 24-volt tentacles. Sunday is also the museum’s annual Band Organ Rally, so you may also see some antique player pianos and barrel organs brought out by collectors. It’s a day of mechanical music, all for free! The Band Organ Rally will take place noon to 4:30 on Sunday the 5th, but the bar, sideshow, and museum are open every weekend and will probably soon be open all week for the summer.

Coney Island Freakshow and Museum: http://www.coneyisland.com/
Pictures of the Nutmeg Orchestrette at last year’s Band Organ Rally:

ALSO COMING UP in June, the Figment Festival returns to Governors Island June 12-14. I’ve participated in each of the previous festivals, and it was a blast! Please consider proposing an installation or event or party or performance of your own! More information:

LAST MONTH I spent the whole month making a new handmade musical instrument every day, the second year in a row I’ve ruined February that way. It was a challenge, a learning experience, and an excuse to make lots of noise. I capped off the month with a performance with my friends in the experimental band The Glass Bees. Somehow, National Public Radio got interested in the project, and they recorded a nice little segment about it, which was broadcast on Weekend All Things Considered on March 7th. You can hear the whole show or just this segment at the links below, and the Glass Bees’ site has sound and video of the entire performance! Many thanks to Bethany Ryker, who found a spot for us in her weekly series of experimental, avant-garde, and sometimes just plain weird music, at Barbes in Brooklyn.

The Glass Bees, with video and music: http://glassbees.com/
Segment on NPR, with photos and transcript:
Entire program on NPR:
Barbes: http://barbesbrooklyn.com/

AND FINALLY, here’s a video of my dog trapped under the bedsheets. With an original soundtrack! http://www.flickr.com/photos/ranjit/3373880713/

— Ranjit

(mailing list archive) noisy news

Instrument-a-day month is two-thirds over and I’ve only fallen behind by one day! So far I’ve made squawkers, hissers, squeakers, plonkers, and various other noisemakers, all of which you can see at <http://www.moonmilk.com/>

And on Wednesday March 4th, 8pm, I’ll be performing with some of these and other homemade instruments at Barbes in Brooklyn — I’ll be joined by friends, probably including the Glass Bees <http://glassbees.com/> to buzz and sputter for the night. If you’re in the NYC area, please join us! Come an hour or two early and we’ll be doing an informal handmade instrument workshop. (Please me know if you think you’ll be coming.)

In early April, Nick and Aaron and I hope to unveil our sound sculpture for the lobby of the Coney Island Museum. If all goes well, the piece will continue to grow after the opening, as we add more and more mechanical instruments to it until it takes over most of the museum. More details next month! <http://www.coneyisland.com/museum.shtml>

As poet Elizabeth Alexander recited during the recent inaugural address:

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

Keep making noise!

– ranjit

(mailing list archive) Instrument-a-day!

February is thing-a-day month! — over at <http://www.thing-a-day.com> they’re encouraging people to sign up and try to make or do something creative every day during February. Last year I ended up making a musical instrument every day– it was a fun challenge and I learned a lot! (results here: <http://www.moonmilk.com/milky/projects/sound-sculpture/instruments/instrument-a-day/>)

I’m going to do it again next month, and I’d like to encourage you to consider participating in thing-a-day too. You don’t have to sign up and post on thing-a-day.com, but last year I found that it was a good motivator and fun to trade comments with other participants, and I met some great people through thing-a-day too. If you go for it, whether on thing-a-day or on your own blog, please let me know, especially if you go for a sound & music theme.

I’m hoping to be able to put on a little concert with handmade instruments after the month is up– it’ll probably be March 4th in Brooklyn, so save the date if you can and I’ll have more details soon.

Other stuff:

My composition “Storyteller” for mechanical instruments will be performed– by mechanical instruments– at the NYC Electro-Acoustic Music Festival in early April. <http://www.nycemf.org/>

Last November I was unexpectedly invited to show some of my music machines at Youtube Live in San Francisco. It was a whirlwind of noise and motion and I’ll try to post some photos sometime soon.

Finally, I’m very excited to be working with Nick Yulman <http://nysoundworks.org/ on a permanent installation for the lobby of the newly-renovated Coney Island Museum! <http://www.coneyisland.com/> It’ll be a sound sculpture / music machine with a sideshow spirit. We hope to reveal it in the Spring!

(mailing list archive) Ignatz, Junk Guitars and more

Sent: 2008-09-24 20:18:35 (PST)
Subject: Ignatz, Junk Guitars and more

Hello all! Here’s another noisy update. Quick version: come to the DUMBO Art Festival this weekend, and sign up for the next junk guitar workshop October 14!

Happy news – Walter Kitundu, a musician, photographer, and builder of unique musical instruments, has been awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. As a photographer and instrument-maker myself, I call this a good precedent! I got the chance to work with Walter Kitundu during my residency at the Exploratorium this Spring– his work is amazing.

As for me — my apartment is full of fumes because I’ve been painting stuff for my installation at this weekend’s DUMBO Art Festival in Brooklyn. The installation is named Ignatz (after Krazy Kat’s lover-nemesis); you’ll find it in the water directly under the Manhattan Bridge; and it’s all about bricks. Please come– there’s lots of great stuff going on at the festival! I’m gonna go see the dance group Kunst-Stoff at 9pm Friday at the Dumbo Dance Festival.

My junk guitar workshop at Etsy Labs in July went well — it sold out, people had fun, and you can see and hear the results in this video! So we’re doing it again on October 14th! Please spread the word to people who might be interested. You can sign up here.

Governors Island is still open and free to visit every weekend for another month or so, and you can see some of my photos of the Figment Festival in the Voyeur Photo Show in Governors Island’s Building 14– weekends until Oct 12. The free artist-built mini-golf course is still open too!

On November 15th, the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is holding a day long Music and the Brain Salon, and they’ve asked me to put on a family workshop on homemade musical instruments. It’ll be fun and noisy!

My favorite weirdo arts group, Flux Factory, is holding a fund-raising auction on December 5th, and I’ve contributed a painting to the auction. Flux Factory is losing their building in Queens and looking for a new home, so save up all your money and spend it on art for a good cause! I’ve been involved with Flux Factory for less than three years but in that time they’ve mixed me up in all sorts of crazy projects and even taken me to Budapest! Please tell all your rich friends about them.

As always, if you want to stop receiving these emails, just drop me a line or visit moonmilk.com and click the mailing list link. Or you can get all your friends to sign up at that same link! And please let me know what you’re up to…


Links for those of you who like your email in plain-text form:

Walter Kitundu – http://www.kitundu.com/

Kitundu’s page at MacArthur Foundation – http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.4537271/

DUMBO Art Festival – http://www.dumboartfestival.org//2008_festival.html

DUMBO Dance Festival – http://www.whitewavedance.com/#S26

Video of July’s junk guitar workshop – http://vimeo.com/1451693

Sign up for the October 14th junk guitar workshop – http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=14660045

Visiting Governors Island – http://www.govisland.com/Visit_the_Island/directions.asp

Voyeur Photo Exhibit – http://www.figmentnyc.org/2008/projects/voyeur.html

American Visionary Art Museum – http://avam.org/

Flux Factory – http://www.fluxfactory.org

Flux Factory projects I’ve been involved in –

* http://www.fluxfactory.org/everything-must-go/

* http://www.fluxfactory.org/response-to-tatlins-monument-to-the-third-international-conceived-in-the-mood-of-ambivalence/

* http://www.fluxfactory.org/works-on-paper/

* http://www.fluxfactory.org/fluxbox

* http://www.fluxfactory.org/sziget

(mailing list archive) Junk guitars and other noise

Sent: 2008-07-17 19:06:58 (PST)
Subject: Junk guitars and other noise

Hello! Thanks to everyone who came out to the Figment Festival last month. Here’s some of my photos from the festival, and lots more at figmentnyc.org. I was happy that my little sound sculpture on the waterfront actually survived two thunderstorms and three days of salty waves!

It’s hot and sticky in New York, and that means it’s time to make electric guitars out of garbage. I’ll be teaching a workshop at Etsy Labs in Brooklyn on the evening of Wednesday July 30th in which we’ll wind our own guitar pickups and build junk guitars. If you’re interested, please sign up at etsylabs.etsy.com — space is limited. (See and hear some junk guitars over at moonmilk.com)

Coming up in a few months, I’ll have an installation in the 12th Annual DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival, September 26–28. My piece will be literally right under the Manhattan Bridge, at the little beach that’s mostly made of old bricks, and it’ll be kind of silly. Its name is Ignatz.

Next week I’ll be speaking at the Sketching in Hardware conference at the Rhode Island School of Design. Got any Providence restaurant recommendations?

More stuff you should see! My friend Jiyoun Lee, an amazing painter and illustrator, is in a group show opening tomorrow night (7/18, 7-9PM) at APW gallery, 195 Chrystie Street Suite 200. The show runs through the 26th. And Raylene Gorum’s showing her tape paintings of London, San Francisco, and New York on August 8th and 9th at Shetler Studios, details here.

I’m still scouting around for a December exhibition space for my Parsons students’ work, so please email me if you have any suggestions.

— Ranjit

(mailing list archive) Figment Festival this weekend – and more!

Sent: 2008-06-24 19:37:50 (PST)
Subject: Figment Festival this weekend – and more!

Hello! This coming weekend is the Figment Festival on Governors Island in NYC. It’ll be three days of art, performance, and installations, including some wind powered sound sculptures that I’m working on right now. The island is beautiful, one of Olafur Eliasson’s waterfalls will be right there, and my piece will be on the waterfront near Castle Williams, the round fort at the northwest corner of the island (take a right from the ferry landing). Please join me if you can for a potluck picnic on the castle lawn, Saturday at 1:00 (Sunday if Sat. is rainy). I’ll be at the festival for the whole weekend– please let me know if you plan to attend!

The ferry [schedule and directions] is fast and free– catch it right around the corner from the Staten Island Ferry, near Whitehall and South Ferry stations. While you’re there, go right next door to David Byrne’s fun installation, Playing the Building.

Here’s some other news and upcoming events:

It’s time for Handmade Music Night again on Sunday, July 8 at 7pm at Etsy Labs, 325 Gold St, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn. Share your homemade musical instruments and synthesizers, and see what other people have made. It’s free and fun! I’ll be bringing my Figment sound sculptures if they survive the island. Here’s some coverage of previous events. Oh yeah, and here’s a video piece about it from Current TV where you can see me making a fool of myself on camera!

In late July I’ll be teaching a workshop at Etsy Labs about making simple electric guitars out of junk. It’s an expansion of a workshop I did at The Tank a few months ago. (Here’s a photo.)

I’ll be teaching a studio class on sound sculpture at Parsons School of Design this fall. The goal of the class is to put together an orchestra of networked sound machines that play in concert with each other. I’m looking for a gallery or performance space that would be willing to host the final installation for a weekend or up to a week or two in early to mid-December, so please let me know if you have any leads!

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to do a short residency at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, messing around with handmade musical instruments with the people of the Playful Invention and Exploration Institute. It was a lot of fun and a dream come true for me, since I developed my love of science-with-art attending this strangest and most interesting of science museums as a child. I hope to do more work there soon!

As always, you can see more of what I’m up to at my web site moonmilk.com (a bit neglected right now, but I’ll try to update it soon) and my flickr page.



Figment Festival- http://figmentnyc.org/2008/event2008.html

Ferry information – http://www.govisland.com/Visit_the_Island/directions.asp

Handmade Music Night – http://www.moonmilk.com/2007/09/20/handmade-music-night/

…and video – http://current.com/items/88937639_handmade_music_makers

Photo from junk guitar workshop – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ranjit/2398027966/

My department at Parsons – http://cdt.parsons.edu/

The Exploratorium – http://www.exploratorium.edu/

My website – http://www.moonmilk.com/

…and flickr page – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ranjit/

p.s. I put this links section here in case any of you are reading this in plain text instead of HTML. Was this useful? Let me know!

p.p.s. I apologize if you get two copies of this. I blame Dreamhost!