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David Byrne’s Playing the Building

I recently got to see David Byrne’s installation piece, Playing the Building, at the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan. It was opening day, but I got there on the early side, and everything was pretty well organized, so it wasn’t too difficult or slow to get in. The piece is pretty straightforward – it’s an antique organ that is attached to the building via an array of pneumatic and electrical tubes that connects each key to a pipe, pillar, or metal beam. When you depress the keys, they make a percussive, whistling, or vibrating sound depending on what they’re attached to. The building itself was pretty impressive, and it was as breathtaking to see the historical architecture as it was to see a great piece made by the Talking Heads frontman.