Friday, April 19, 2013

The Rust O Phone

Here in Syracuse there is a brown field that for years was a railroad yard.  It has been made into a sculpture park called the Lipe Art Park, named after the man who owned the early 20th century gear factory across the street.  A few months ago the Stewards of Lipe sent out a call for proposals that said, in part, that they should address "the evolution of Syracuse as a cultural hub, emerging from the post-industrial climate that defined the city for so long."  This was my entry:

One of the things I loved about my residency at 601 Tully a while back was that it was impossible to play the piece alone, or sitting still.  Either one person has to move past all of the parts, or (even better) five people need to come together to play it in unison.  I wanted to do the same with this piece:  Make it so that a group of people would all have to come together to use it.  Using timbers from a warehouse down the street that was gutted, I built a timber framed structure, and then mounted instruments to it:  the Mega Bass, which has 1/4" and 3/8" steel rod as strings and a stainless steel sink as its sound board, the Xylophone, made of pipe from the scrap yard, and the Gongs, which are two empty fire extinguishers.
The beams laid out in preparation for marking the joints.

Joints cut and sides bolted.

The barn raising.  There was a great group of folks for this.

The barn raised!

What it looks like in the sun.

Custom engraved mallets, of course.

The Gongs.

One end of the Mega Bass.

The business end of the Mega Bass.  The turnbuckles are the tuners.

All the way through this process this piece has been about community.  It took the labor of a lot of people lifting in unison to move the timbers and to stand them up.  It takes a lot of people to play the thing.  And on May 2nd at 5.30, it is my hope that a lot of people will get together to hear it and hear some other music as well.

Here is some rough video shot on a very windy day of me playing each piece individually.  I had to balance the iPhone wherever I could, and pin it in place with a pocket knife, so it is not great footage, but it gives the general idea.