( Above: Nine 11 Thesaurus performing at the Silent Barn, Photo by Richard Gin, Video thanks to g r o s s y m m e t r i c )
The Silent Barn
The Silent Barn is an immersion into the art of New York City as it lives. It's a double-floor music venue inside of a kitchen, an independent video games arcade, an art theater & performance space, a party surveillance system, a zine library, a museum of gigantic murals, and a home for Castle Oscar and Mama cat. Founded in 2004, The Silent Barn is now grandfather to a beautiful re-emergence of similar spaces across Brooklyn, and a quintessential model for all-ages DIY art and music culture in America. It resides proudly alongside Flux Factory and the Museum of the Moving Image as a rare contemporary art institution in Queens, New York. It has long been the headquarters of both Showpaper and Babycastles, young and booming art institutions in NYC. It has helped to birth the careers of The Dirty Projectors, Dan Deacon, Future Islands, Deerhunter, Teengirl Fantasy, Vivian Girls, Real Estate, The Black Lips, Pictureplane, Woods and many, many others.
To read more about the history of the Silent Barn, please follow these links:
Rebuilding The Silent Barn
A recent and massive theft has put the Silent Barn in a position to temporarily close operations, and we are viewing this as an opportunity to begin our transition into a viably permanent, resilient, and safe part of New York City. After several years of a rotating cast of operators, including Skeletons, Todd P, John Chavez, and Andy Borsz, The Silent Barn has settled into permanent marriage to G. Lucas Crane (Woods, Nonhorse), Joe Ahearn (ART on AIR, Showpaper), Kunal (Loud Objects, Babycastles), and Nat Roe (WFMU). We are working to co-sign a new 5-year lease for Silent Barn, officially making this a long standing piece of New York City.
We are now raising up to $80,000 in order to ensure the viability of The Silent Barn as a permanent all-ages venue for independent and experimental music, games, and art. We have estimates on renovations for electricity, fire safety, and security that will bring the building up legal fire-code; estimates on an excellent new sound system for both floors; and estimates on the roof reconstruction required to resume outdoor performances and urban gardening. With a little extra help, we will also revive dear projects such as Babycastles, Party Lab, the Ditko Zine Library.
This money is being raised via this Kickstarter fundraiser, but also by benefit shows around the entire country, special cassette tape releases by local music labels, and an incredible worldwide show of support that we feel incredibly lucky to witness and be a part of. We can't keep up with the emails. Over the next few days, we will keep you all posted here about the frenzy of activity all working to rebuild the Silent Barn, and how to be a part of it in every city.
The Silent Barn is now closed. Construction projects would begin as soon as August, and last up until November 2011.
Safety and Security
We are prioritizing renovations that make the Silent Barn a safe and secure environment for our all-ages audience. Over the last year, the Silent Barn has grown into a venue in which to experience independent art, music, and games every night of the week. Alongside an increase in events at the space, the likelihood of tragic events such as the burglarly last weekend has also increased. It is the responsibiltiy of the Silent Barn to secure itself and its patrons against this damage as it transitions into becoming a permanent cultural venue in New York City.
Safety and security renovations are costly, and completely outside the scope of any income we make from donations at the venue. We rely on your assistance in this fundraiser for the following projects, all of which are the most important contributions to the continuation of the Silent Barn.
- New fire-code compliant push bar doors in the basement
- Clear pathways and fire exit signs at every exit
- Electrical conduit protecting the venue lighting infrastructure
- Locks and better security at all the windows and rooftop openings
- Functioning sprinkler system and HVAC units
We will be getting full quotes on all safety and security renovations before the end of August, but the ballpark estimate approaches $40K. Thank you so much for helping us achieve this goal!
Dual-Floor Sound System
Providing an excellent sound system to musicians at Silent Barn is one our primary responsibilities. The more we prioritize the quality of music performances, the more the Silent Barn will continue be home to unique and beautiful moments in NYC music history.
We have been extremely proud of our recent main stage PA system, put together by two years of contributions by many people in our community, with a large portion donated for the recent Ende Tymes Fest. This entire sound system, including mixer, cables, and all components, was a victim of the recent burglary, like many other parts of Silent Barn. Looking forward, a new sound system should include two sets of excellent equipment running separately in the kitchen and the basement performance spaces, facilitating the chaotically immersive dual floor adventures in music that make the Silent Barn experience unique and incredible.
Our dual-floor sound system will include the following:
- 2 powered QSC KW153 speakers
- 2 powered behringer Eurolive B1800D-PRO subwoofers
- 1 Yamaha MG166CX 16-Channel Mixer
- 1 snake with 8 XLR inputs and 4 1/4"" inputs
- 2 Radial DI boxes
- XLR cables / 1/4" Cables
- 2 powered QSC KW152 speakers
- 1 powered behringer Eurolive B1800D-PRO subwoofer
- 1 Yamaha MG166CX 16-Channel Mixer
- 1 snake with 8 XLR inputs and 4 1/4"" inputs
- 1 Radial DI box
- XLR Cables / 1/4" Cables
We will get a full quote on our dream sound system over the next week, but the total cost will approach $15K. Thank you so much for helping us achieve this goal!
The Future Gardens Project
The Future Gardens Project pioneers urban gardening techniques in New York, and has assisted The Silent Barn in building a cheap, DIY garden on its rooftop over the 2010 summer. This delicious garden also functioned as gathering space for potluck meetings, and an outdoor performance space for acoustic music. Take a look at these photos of the garden.
In order to continue our rooftop garden venue safely and sustainably, we need to rebuild our roof. Our construction plan involves steel beam framing, a roof deck, a new ladder & roof entrance, and railings, all necessary to open our roof to a public audience. This is definitely the least of our priorities, but without these renovations, we will have to close this important part of music in the summer at the Silent Barn.
The estimates we've received for roof renovations range from $5K - $20K, with the allowed use varying greatly by price. $20K is the least expensive quote we have in order to responsibly host public gatherings & gardening activity on our rooftop. Thank you so much for helping us achieve this goal.
Some very special corners of the Silent Barn include Party Lab, a 'center for non-amoral surveillance' and 18 microphone cassette recording station documenting every night at the venue, and Babycastles, an basement DIY video games arcade showcasing the work of local independent game designers to an enthusiastic public audience. Both of these projects, like many other parts of Silent Barn, were victims of the recent Silent Barn burglary, but a little help will bring them back into the new Silent Barn.
The Silent Barn relies on the help of a massive, loose organization of hundreds of artists, musicians, game designers, construction assistants, coming together on weekend afternoons to install a new fragment of the Silent Barn, and helping to host music, art, and performances almost every night of the week.
For a change of pace, Silent Barn is hoping to work on renovation projects almost every day during the the next three months, with no shows at the venue in the meantime. It'll be an incredibly fun time. We'll think of new projects as we build these ones, and we'll think of newer projects as we build those. We're really looking forward to all this collaborative activity. Come November 2011, we'll reopen as a new Silent Barn, presenting the culmination of everything we do together now.
If you'd like to be part of the renovation process over the next three months, please write to SILENTBARN@GMAIL.COM.
This fundraiser sets in motion an alternate reality to G. Lucas Crane's recurring nightmare about the near future, in which there is nothing but a unexplained crater at the location where the Silent Barn once was. Time will tell, and we are here to live it.
Mom Cat, Kunal Gupta, G. Lucas Crane, Nat Roe, Jordan Michael, James Clark, Joe Ahearn, & Castle Oscar.
The importance of finding a better zoned location for the Silent Barn is highlighted by the recent events. Because of our tenuous occupation at 915 Wyckoff as residency space & venue, we were advised neither to talk about the following except via email, nor to file a police report on the theft, until a court date had passed on August 30th. The front facade at 915 Wyckoff illustrates those last seven years: hundreds of supporters and a close community knows the art that lays behind its warehouse walls, but the general public and city authorities are shut completely out of the experience. With so many people contributing their support here, the Silent Barn is now able to transition from that era and become a permanent, visible, and official part of New York.
For those of you who do not know the recent history of the 915 Wyckoff building, we will relate it here. This is the same story that we have been emailing every single one of you who requested information, but now it can be shared publicly on the internet.
On July 15th, the 915 Wyckoff building received a violation and vacate order for walls that were built without a permit before before our lease on the building:
We were assured that this particular violation was not going to be a problem, but it set the stage for the new phase in which we needed to adapt to a different cultural environment in New York City, where a place like the Silent Barn could marked to be destroyed, with no legal recourse. See: http://www.secretprojectrobot.org/secretprojectorobot/Home.html, http://www.markethotel.org/, http://www.cindersgallery.com/, http://www.nonsensenyc.com/features/rubulad.html. We needed to make a quick decision to either give up the venue, or to decide that the Silent Barn was so uniquely special that we would orchestrate a whole lot of effort into continuing its goals.
We were coincidentally burglarized and destroyed within less than 48 hours of the vacate order, which was shocking, traumatic, unexpected, and seemed to nail the Silent Barn shut. But this was burglary was followed immediately by a positive shock: the out-pouring of endless support from hundreds of people in the general music community. Your letters were the reviving force: you made our decision to continue the Silent Barn. We set up this Kickstarter fundraiser in response, and committed ourselves to building the new long-standing, permanent incarnation of the Silent Barn.
The building at 915 Wyckoff is no longer equipped to facilitate any of the functions of the Silent Barn. While this vacate order can be lifted, we don’t know the cause of the complaint, and we have been unable to acquire any assurance that something similar will not occur again. Meanwhile, our landlord has unveiled that he is required to demolish all standing walls, as well as to close the basement to the public, both of which would render the space unrecognizable and fall short of the goals described in the fundraiser. Also, after exhaustive research, it is clear that no amount of investment can rezone the building to allow residency, without which the curatorial model for the space is compromised; residents subsidize the building’s rent and allow curation to focus on content above profit - one of the Silent Barn’s largest cultural assets. Lastly, we have no answers to who burglarized, or who facilitated the burglary of, the Silent Barn, but those giant windows no longer feel safe.
An art and performance venue continued at the 915 Wyckoff address would neither be safe, nor secure, nor sustainable, nor would it be the Silent Barn that we all imagine and describe in this fundraiser. To stay in that building would do a gross disservice to those who have supported us so far.
We’re still going to be all ages. We’re still going to do double floor shows and keep events nonsensical. Brian Blomerth is going to do another giant mural exactly like his old one, and we’re in the process of confirming many of our mural artists to create new projects for the new space. We’re still going to have a massive 24 channel microphone array for recording not just the music performances, but all sound in the space. We’re still going to have art projects and installations-in-progress everywhere. We’re still going to be home to the DIY arcade called Babycastles. We’re still going to have a huge zine library called DITKO! We’re still going to have live music every single night. There’s still going to be people living in the stew. There’s still going to be cats. We’re still going to have the Red Eight.
One of the things we’re most excited about with the new space is the potential for utilizing a standard commercial ground floor space with a residential second floor. The first floor will have larger open space, and will be oriented gallery-style, with a focus not only on nightly music performances, but also daytime activities. The second floor with be the residential space, for a rotating group of artists who live in the stew and curate performances in their kitchen. While both floors will be utilized for public events in the evenings, we’re also very interested in the opportunities for public hours during the daytime, no only for access to interact with the art, play the arcades, and read zines, but also for holding workshops in skills held by those already involved with the space; things like sound engineering, circuit-bending, video-game design, and zine-making.We’re also looking forward to presenting significantly enhanced versions of our past projects, including a better reading area, display, and filing system for the DITKO! Zine Library, a more ambitious gardening infrastructure for 2012, as well as new murals by artist from our past space, like Max Eisenburg (Dogleather), Tracy Trance, Peter Edwards (Casper Electronics), Erin Womack, Brian Blomerth (Narwhalz Of Sound), Jeremy Earl (of Woods), Vinnie, AdamVoid, Maggie Pounds, Jefferson MayDay MayDay, as well as new works by Preston Spurlock, Matthew Volz (The Beets), and Maya Hayuk (Monster Island). Babycastles has a bunch of new cabinets and games lined up, the DiTKO! Zine Library will have a new “wing” of flash-zines made at shows by the audience and last (but not least) a hugely ambitious new approach to the Party Lab Project, now known as the Center for Non-Amoral Surveillence.
The Center For Non-Amoral Surveillance is basically a giant sound art laboratory. Using the raw sonic information of performances and audience congregation for exploring concepts of sound in space. Not only the sounds of music performances and archiving the shows, but the raw sounds of people coming together. Our new delay array will allow people and artists to screw with the sounds in time, and a speaker array will allow sounds from any part of Silent Barn to be played into any other part of Silent Barn, giving sound-art-minded curious people a unique way to engage with the performance space. This is the kind of project that is supposed to spawn a thousand other projects, as well as its "normal" use of recording the music. These ideas are an extension of our previous party surveillance ideas, where the recordings of the show are recordings of "the whole show" and not just the music. It’s a twist on the usual "Do you want us to record your set?" offer of some venues.
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