Swoon and a growing group of musicians and kinetic sound artists are turning a house into an instrument in the city of New Orleans.
A Grand Gift for a Unique City
From the salvaged remains of a decrepit Creole Cottage, the Brooklyn-based artist Swoon has re-imagined a permanent, interactive sculpture for the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans. We call it the Dithyrambalina. Itwill look like a house, but it will function like a musical instrument. A growing group of local and national sound artists are working towards interactive instruments that can be built into its walls and floorboards so that visitors can bring the house to life through their touch. Ultimately, musicians will be invited to play the house, performing orchestrated works at block parties for their friends and neighbors. This project is for the love of New Orleans - its architecture, music, culture and its people.
Swoon has designed the look of house and we have formed coalitions with everyone from architects to salvage suppliers. The next phase of our project is to create instrumentation for the house. This Fall our sound artists will publicly test their prototypes in a temporary installation we are calling The Music Box - A Shantytown Sound Laboratory.
The Dithyrambalina, Quarter-Scale Model of the Musical House.
Why Build A Musical House?
Even before the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had been afflicted by huge numbers of run down properties and abandoned lots. These tragic symbols are the backdrop of city-wide dysfunction, but they are also the tableau in front of which New Orleans’ rich musical and visual heritage parades and performs. This project is an imaginative attempt to redress the futility of this blight by finding within it vast resources of salvageable materials. By turning our salvaged construction into a music box that is free, public, and playful we are inviting the wider community to imagine and participate in a new landscape of potential and possibility.
The blighted Creole Cottage that stood on our build site. We will use its salvage in the construction of the Dithyrambalina, our musical house.
Kinetic sound artists from New Orleans and across the country are coming together this fall to build The Music Box, A Shantytown Sound Laboratory. This is our testing ground for singing walls, organ floorboards, and percussion triggered by the human heartbeat.
Your support will directly benefit these artists who need time and money to develop their ideas. Interactive, mechanical art can be finicky and we need to get it right before we build the house. Our sound laboratory will be a place for collaboration, imagination, and public exploration. It is an important next step in realizing Swoon's vision of a musical architecture.
This campaign goal will help fund the prototyping of instruments for the house, but don't stop the pledges coming. We still have a house to build!
Walkie, part of a $800 pledge
This project is being partially funded by The Arts Council of New Orleans and the Black Rock Arts Foundation. With your tax-deductible pledge we can make it happen!
Ice Queen, part of a $3000 pledge
To date we've received support from a number of established arts and community organizations as well as city officials who are also committed to quality programming in the arts, neighborhood sustainability, and community.
Our immediate neighbors also know about the project. Many have come by to see our models and ask if the musical house will be loud. (No - it will only be amplified during permitted performances!)
We are just now entering a more public campaign that will introduce the wider New Orleans public to our idea for a musical house. One of the ways we are doing this is through the project we are currently funding on Kickstarter. This temporary art installation that we are calling The Music Box will explore potential ways to turn a house into a musical instrument. We will be inviting the community to visit and interact with this installation. Along with our artists and musicians, they will all be exploring our concept, testing its viability, and helping us make sure we are going to be able to make something that is wanted, beautiful, and lasting.
Swoon is a Brooklyn-based street artist who creates life-sized portraits of people she meets, using woodcut block prints and paper cutouts. Swoon’s galleries are city walls, often in the environments that inspired the prints. With influences ranging from German Expressionist wood block prints to Indonesian shadow puppets, Swoon is a master of using cut paper to play with positive and negative space in a conceptually driven exploration of street environments.
For the past three years, she has also designed, built, and organized fleets of rafts including those of the Miss Rockaway Armada and the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea, a large-scale installation at Deitch Projects in New York City. Her most recent boat project traversed the Adriatic Sea and the canals of Venice, Italy during the 2009 Biennale. Swoon’s boats are inspired by dense urban cityscapes and thickly intertwined mangrove swamps from her Florida youth.
She is an international artist with major pieces in the Museum of Modern Art, PS1’s groundbreaking exhibition GREATER NEW YORK, and Brooklyn Museum of Art.
No, the house is in its planning stages. The next phase of the project is to develop the instrumentation. Once we know what needs to be built into the walls and floors and balconies of the house, we can work with our architect to create house that is an instrument.
Local heroes like Quintron, the musician and inventor, will be joined by international artists like Taylor Kuffman, creator of the Gamelatron, as well as obscure mechanical geniuses from the weirdest corners of New Orleans' art scene. Please visit our website to learn more: http://www.dithyrambalina.com
Local bands, legendary new orleans free jazz musicians, high school marching bands and punk bands from NY are all up to play the house. Visit our website for a line up as dates for the Music Box appear this fall. http://www.dithyrambalina.com