Saturday evening June 25 we meandered into Million Fishes Gallery at 2501 Bryant in SF, Ca. for an opening of Tyson Ayers interactive sound sculpture. Greeted by a large cube shaped box, I became increasingly fascinated by this multifaceted object. I hope to go back for the closing performance August 7 because Saturday, I believe we were the first ones on the scene before the evening performance(s) had yet to begin.
My personal excitement with the piece arises out of my familiarity with pianos, soundboards and the felted hammers and the innovative invention occuring with this musical instrument/art object. In the work, the piano is deconstructed and then rebuilt with just the soundboards and strings, along with something that can function as a sustaining pedal.
The sculpture is shaped like a large cube with an interior cavern (also containing strings, lights) that creates echoing patterns with voice or with the strings. Tyson explained that dancers could be up above and the rhythmic dancing sounds from their feet echo and reverberate out of this space.
Soundboards are beautifully crafted elements held within the interior of a piano and here, Tyson has taken them and placed them on the exterior. The strings are in place and it begins to feel like one of the prehistoric harps (Bull-headed Lyre for example).
Some of my greatest pleasure with this object was the delight in experiencing it as something related to the Fluxus movement. (search for piano in the following pdf and you will see what I mean)http://www.thing.net/~grist/ld/fluxusworkbook.pdf
in particular: Piano Suite for David Tudor and John
(any number of persons may participate in
one or more or the movements)
1 . . . . .Carefully disassemble a piano.
Do not break any parts or separate
parts joined by gluing or welding
(unless welding apparatus &
experienced welder are available for
the 2nd movement). All parts cut or
cast or forged as one piece must
remain as one piece.
2 . . . . .Carefully reassemble the piano
3 . . . . .Tune the piano
4 . . . . .Play something
7 APRIL 1961 THE BRONX
I note with Tyson’s work with sound he is also investigating interior /psychological dimensions of sound along with the reconstruction.
The following site gives the history of the piano in fluxus and conceptual art:
scroll to the heading:
From the refusal of elegance to the elegance of refuse (the piano from the sixties to the nineties)…</strong> – in this you will see the tradition of art/piano continues since the beginnings of Fluxus – ie: Nam June Paik, Rebecca Horn and Joseph Bueys.
There is a lot of information on this piece at http://soundcave.org/ including history and meaning. Another large amount of information on the gallery including artists’ live/work spaces at http://www.millionfishes.com/index.html