Playing the Building: a David Byrne installation

It’s definitely art, but it’s also sort of music.

Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne has produced a strange musical/architectural piece that sees an old instrument integrated with the building in which it’s placed. It was a hit in New York in 2008.

Playing the building in NYC. Image from mikesorgatz via Creative Commons license

In August it’s coming to London’s Roundhouse.

Imagine an old pump organ, set at the heart of the Roundhouse, with a series of low-tech cables and wires attached to the building’s pillars, pipes and beams. Then imagine the ping, rattle and blow as they vibrate and resonate in response to the organ keys, and the building itself becomes a giant musical instrument.

Playing the Building, David Byrne’s interactive sound installation, drew crowds to New York’s Battery Maritime Museum last year. This August sees the UK premiere of his vision of ‘Victorian steam-punk technology’ at the 160-year-old Roundhouse.

The shutters will be off the windows of the domed roof, revealing the building in a new light – the perfect setting for visitors of all ages to explore the Victorian architecture and have the chance to ‘play the building’.

I think the Roundhouse is a phenomenal place to hold it: the inside of that building is a web of beams and arches.

Tickets are only £2.50. Why not go take a look?

Stuff to do in London

It was a nice day and I was determined to spend it downtown seeing something new. So I queried TimeOut for its suggestions, plotted out an efficient tube journey, and carried out my plan.

  1. I went to Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre to catch the Doctor Who exhibit. It was really great for fans of the last few series. It’s not in the huge main hall; it’s in an underground (but still large) set of rooms at the back entrance, near Brompton Road tube. After a quick photo list of pre-millenial Doctors they jumped into all things Ecclestone and Tennant (except for the series just finished, but these will reportedly be added during the summer). They had lots of full models: the Face of Boe, the Slitheen, K9, a monstrous Empress of Racnoss, and more. There were costumes, plot reviews, and examples of how they create special effects (you can see video of yourself in the Tardis) and makeup (the Ood!). The animated Cybermen and Daleks near the end were fun. It’s £9 for adults and runs until the autumn sometime.
  2. I tubed over to Mayfair to see an exhibit of Bob Dylan’s Art at the Halycon Gallery. The Drawn Blank Series contains many studies by Bob of the same image but coloured differently, to explore how that changes the perception of the painting. There are prints for sale if you have £1500 to £2500 to spare. Well worth seeing, though, and free.
  3. I caught the tube over to Liverpool Street and walked to Brick Lane’s Truman Brewery art space to see Free Range. This is an ongoing showcase of art from new graduates. They’re rotating through different work; it was mostly photography today. It was a mixed bunch. I really liked James Dare’s series “The Great British Gun Owner” (a connection we UK city dwellers rarely make) and Emma Mari Trinder’s set of photos of single fathers and their daughters (touching, I thought). It’s also free.
  4. I then tubed up to Camden and fought my way through the market crowd to the Proud Bar and Gallery where they had a series of photographs of Sid Vicious. I liked them. Free as well, though I sat outside in a deck chair and had a beer since it was so nice out (not very punk, I know).

Also entertaining: on Brick Lane I saw a guy with a T-shirt that said, I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet.

Also also entertaining: whilst drinking my beer at Proud they played Cage the Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked”. That’s a good song.