• July 11, 2011
  • Posted by Marc

Swoon’s Musical House in New Orleans

About the Project:

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.  It will 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.
Your Support

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!

The Dithyrambalina, Quarter-Scale Model of the Musical House.