14 August 2009

"Playing the building"

This one is really for Kate. Michael and I have decided to try to make good on our weekly pledges and actually do something fun out & about in London every few days. It's all to easy to stay attached to our keyboards during daylight hours and to the sofa in the evenings.

So . . . on Wednesday, when yet another postal strike was scheduled and we knew we wouldn't be missing package delivery, we headed to Chalk Farm to check out David Byrne's installation in the Roundhouse, "Playing the Building." Always the iconoclast, Byrne has this time decided to put the audience at the center of the performance, by rigging up an old pump organ to various pipes, beams, and columns in the circular interior. It's a great space, perfect for the "steampunk" aesthetic he's trying to create. The queue moved slowly as each person or pair or couple-with-child sat down at the organ and pushed on various keys to create a personal composition/cacophony. The idea was that the completely unmusical (e.g. me) had as much of a chance as the musical (e.g. Michael) at conjuring up a memorable combination of sounds.

I'll just paste in a series of uncaptioned photos to give an idea of the set-up and atmosphere. Byrne has engineered similar installations in Stockholm and New York City. Quite the renaissance man, he's certainly been busy since the heyday of Talking Heads (http://www.davidbyrne.com/).

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