CEC Artslink presents Publicly Creative: A Public Art Workshop. Public art is a fast-growing discipline with many unexplored opportunities for artists and communities. This workshop is a hands-on intensive introduction to the field, outlining resources, logistics, opportunities, and examples of successful collaborations. Recognizing artistic initiative as a valuable asset and a catalyst for a dialogue and transformation, we will explore how site-specific collaborations in varied cultural, geographic and political areas can influence business, social awareness and economic development. Encouraging close inspection of the particular issues faced by a specific New York community chosen by the participants, the workshop and the resulting public art work(s) will provide a unique platform for the participants and the public to explore and appropriate the city’s landscapes.

May 10, 2011

Two Ideas for Public art/ sound projects .... Sounds in the City

Two possible Ideas for Public art/ sound projects ....

It was nice today to hear most everyone's ideas - and to journey through the city and look at places for creating artworks in public spaces - and learning about new public spaces amidst all the fortresses of wall street...! I have two ideas that involve sound installations, playing with

1. Idea 1: Bells

I am struck by how loud New York can be, how much constant sound clutter there is and how the public often is seeking solace and quiet spots, or retreating from loud noise or the sounds of other people and their environment, through cellphones, ipods, headphones (creating a different, separate kind of aural landscape from where they actually are). I thought about how one could entice the public ear with sounds that could provoke thought and a new kind of awareness of the urban space we live in...

I believe that by introducing quieter, softer sounds to people can draw them in more than louder, over encompassing ones. As a performer who teaches music and can make a fair bit of volume when making music, I've also noticed that people of all ages can be very hesitant (at first) to play with an instrument and freely make sound, especially a "noise-maker" that they might not think of as an instrument. I am also a constant bike rider with a bell ... bells create a soundscape in themselves - a tone by the striking, resonance and decay of sound that can transport the individual to a different "space" emotionally / psycho-acoustically. Bells also have a long history of uses: it is one of the oldest man-made instruments (dating back to 4th century BC) used for rites and rituals, cleansing the spirit, to give warning, to provoke or be released from trance, ships in a fog, dinnertime, musical/percussive instruments... While it is often true that bike bells are intended to be loud and give warning, I am hoping this is an opportunity to transform the perception of their rings into music.

I am interesting in creating an interactive sound installation/instrument that would:
- encourage active participation, sound creation, listening and reflection
- be non-intimidating to the average non-musical person on the street to play (bike bells - easy!)
- a variety of tones (different sized bike bells) that could also be played to make a melody of the player's inspiration
- provoke thought and / or wishes (ring this bell for...)

Installation thoughts:
I would want to install these bells maybe on benches (in parks) where people could sit and play them easily, ideally somewhere the sound would have some resonance (off buildings) I would want to paint the bells with inviting colors (I think warm red, orange yellow but don't really know) and stencil instructions such as "ring this bell for..." or write images on the bell that might be conjured by their sound (ocean, sea, spirit, wish, air...)

I also like the idea of the bells placed on some kind of post like a bouquet of bells someone could play....

I'd like to have 3 bells per installation so people could make some kind of triad chord...

Bells to get - this may be a challenge to get diverse sounds if I am only using bike bells... trying to find larger one with deeper tones seems difficult -
Mirrycle Incredibell Big Bicycle Bell $7-16 (Amazon) they say it's melodic
Kettler Red Metal Bell ( for 2 year olds!) $7
Crane Copper Bell - $17
Classic Crane SOMA brass bell - $15
Incredibell Brass Bike bell - $11
Pyramid "Ding Dong" Bicycle Bell $8 (the one i have)
Electra Bike Bell (ringer chrome plated) $9

Practical questions:
how to mount the bells - in clusters, in a line?
What paint works on the metal and would last
What visually defines the bell cluster as an instrument?
Instructions included?


IDEA 2 - Painting with pre-recorded sound installation to bring the public closer to quiet surprising sounds in a loud and busy urban environment

I would like to collaborate with a visual artist to create a painting/sound installation.
The painting could be on a large board (city or subway scape) 4/8 plywood
In 4-8 places on the picture sound would be triggered by the audiences proximity to the painting. The sounds could be of musical instruments, ambient tones, rhythms, environmental and industrial sounds, etc. Some kind of sensor would trigger the sound to play from behind the painting. Individual sounds could be heard as well as an entire composition if enough people came close enough to the piece to trigger all the separate sounds at once.

1 comment:

  1. i'm most interested in project idea #1. i think being able to make noise in public (and a 'pleasant' noise at that!) would be welcomed. and not just by children either...! i like the idea of including some sort of text. particular to conjure up abstractions not typically associated with a sound (i.e. spirit). i think there is an element of poetry in that..more so than 'ring this bell for X' which seems more comical. also, i don't think you need instructions. i trust fully that if there is a brightly colored bell somewhere, someone will ring it!