Singing walls, triggered percussion machines, an organ staircase, and weather sensitive oscillators make-up the melodic architecture of The Music Box – A Shantytown Sound Laboratory hosted by New Orleans Airlift, a multi-disciplinary arts organization that produces artistic opportunities for New Orleans-based artists. The Music Box is a small metropolis of purpose-built shacks and miniature houses curated by Delaney Martin and decorated by Brooklyn street artist Swoon in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans. Brought to life by a varied roster of sound theorists, tinkerers, kineticists, musicians, visual artists, and a robotic orchestra called the Gameltron, this quarkey series of interactive instruments is meant to encourage visitors to engage and experiment with the sounds and space. From floorboards that act as a keyboard (by Ranjit Bhatnagar) and a custom designed synthesizer made to sound like human voices coming through a wall (by Taylor Lee Shepherd), this shanty town thrives most with a full house connecting, pulling, tapping, and playing with the structures.
The Music Box Laboratory, inspired by the sounds of old New Orleans architecture, will ideally be the prelude to the building of Dithyrambalina, an interactive sculpture that will take the form of a permanent three-story house. The Music Box is the platform for these artists to develop the instrumentation that will be built into the ceilings, walls, and floorboards of the Dithyrambalina, similar to the way plumbing and electric are configured in a traditional home. While Swoon designed the structure, she will also rely on partnering artists to bring the house to life. With an aesthetic similar to a tiered wedding cake, the model of the Dithyrambalina, like the shanties, boasts found and re-used lumber from the demolition of the house that sat on the once blighted lot.
Swoon, known both for her community-driven collaborative endeavors and realist wheat pastes of rendered people on streets around the world, is inspired by both historical art and folk sources, ranging from German Expressionist wood block prints to Indonesian shadow puppets. She is considered a master of using cut paper to play with positive and negative space in a conceptually driven exploration of the experience of the streets and her surroundings.
The Music Box opened to critical acclaim October 22, 2011 with a live performance featuring a variety of musicians and sound artists from around the world playing the assorted instruments throughout the shanty town . Lead by New Orleans’ own Quintron, the shanty town orchestra will also perform on Saturday, November 19 and December 12.
More Information about The Music Box-A Shantytown Sound Laboratory:
The Music Box Participating artists:
SWOON// Quintron // Taylor Lee Shepherd // Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels // Eliza Zeitlin // Ranjit Bhantnagar // Elizabeth Shannon // Micah Learned // Rainger Pinney & Johah Emerson-Bell // Ross Harmon // Angeliska Polachek and Colin McIntyre // Aaron Kellner // Ratty Scurvics // Jamye Kalal// Nate Young // Chip Flynn // Frank Pahl // Lindsay Karty // Taylor Kuffner & The Gamelatron
Live Performances at The Music Box Featuring:
Quintron // James Singleton // Andrew WK // Hamid Drake // Helen Gillet // Weasal Walter // Walt McClemments // Aaron Warren (Black Dice) // Vockah Redu // Rat Bastard // Courtney Lane // Aurora Nealand // Meschyia Lake // Michael Zerang // Theris Valvery (aka Butt), Flag Boy, Black Feather’s Tribe
// Mark Bingham // Rob Cambre // Skuli Sverisson // Nicky Da B// Rusty lazer //and more surprise guests.