Playing the Building. David Byrne Project, October-November 2005, Stockholm

Andrei Solovyov, Stockholm, October 10, 2005

Andrei Solovyov, Stockholm, October 10, 2005

Andrei Solovyov, Stockholm, October 10, 2005




Playing the building is a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. The activations will be of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

David Byrne, most known as “Talking Heads” lead singer and for classic songs such as “Burning down the House” and “Psycho Killer” is in Sweden for the opening of his new exhibition “Playing the Building”. The exhibition is an audio installation at Stockholm’s Fargfabriken gallery, in which visitors are invited to sit themselves down and “play the building”.

Byrne, who believes that it’s the architecture that shapes the music and not vice versa, says that he took advantage of the fact that the gallery is housed in a raw factory space with exposed pipes, heating and structural elements. “I wanted an installation that involved the public”, Byrne says, “There is more “hands on” than most exhibitions where one can look but not touch”.

“David has created something whose scope I did not at first see” says Jan Aman, Director of Fargfabriken, “He has turned the architecture itself, the space and its construction, into a musical instrument. The sounds are produced without any amplifiers at all, via vibrations and resonances. Visitors really will be able to “play the building”, with harmonies, bass and a rhythm section at their disposal”. Еman adds that playing the new instrument “is like a new alphabet or language. Nobody knows what it may contain and what music will be made with it”.

Fifty-three year old Byrne was born in Scotland but grew up in Canada and the U.S. He was the lead singer and guitar player of “Talking Heads” which he founded in 1974. He also co wrote most of their music and lyrics. Since 1981 he has been doing solo projects and eventually “The Talking Heads” split in 1991.

Byrne''s solo projects include a collaboration with Brian Eno on the ground-breaking album “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” and movie soundtracks (including Oscar winning music for the 1987 “The Last Emperor”). Byrne also founded “Luaka Bop”, a world music record label, an online radio station; he released books and is also a successful photographer.

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