Archive for the ‘Performance’ Category

David Byrne: How Architecture Helped Music Evolve

Friday, June 18th, 2010

An interesting TED Talk by musician, artist and writer David Byrne on the evolution of music and music venues…

ARM: Avant Garde Architecture in Melbourne

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

MTC facade corner

MTC facade corner

081103_6068 MTC foyer level 1_1 [Gollings]

081103_6143 MTC Sumner Theatre_1 [Gollings]

081103_5977 MRC & MTC facade stormy weather [Gollings]
081103_7200 MRC foyer main stairs [Gollings]
081103_7477 MRC Elisabeth Murdoch Hall balcony_2 [Gollings]
From top: MTC facade corner at twilight; MTC foyer level, MTC Sumner Theatre, MRC & MTC facade, MRC foyer main stairs, MRC Elisabeth Murdoch Hall balcony
**All photographs by John Gollings; Images courtesy of ARM

Australian design consultancy ARM continues to push the envelope down-under. Their latest projects, the Melbourne Recital Centre and  neighboring MTC Theatre, are turning heads round the globe, and recently earned ARM the Public Buildings category award from the Property Council of Australia Rider Levett Bucknall Innovation & Excellence Awards.

One eloquent judge described the projects as “understandable origami.” Looking at the new buildings, you can’t help but notice their strong angles, musical fluidity and theatrical color and shape – beautifully reflecting the spaces’ roles.

According to ARM, the complementary identities of the 1000 seat Recital Centre and 500 seat MTC theatre (both accessed from a landscaped civic plaza on Southbank Boulevard ) together “create an exciting new civic space within Melbourne’s vibrant arts precinct.”

The Melbourne Recital Centre was designed primarily as a chamber music venue. ARM’s design rationale considered the building itself as packaging for the valued music performed within, which led to its “box inside a box” structure. The Elisabeth Murdoch Hall seats 1000, while the Salon space seats 150 for pre-concert talks and experimental chamber music. The performance spaces feature timber panelling for ideal acoustics. Much of the multilevel foyer is visible from the exterior, allowing passersby a peak inside, and concert goers a view of Melbourne’s skyline.

The drama theatre is the first permanent home for the Melbourne Theatre Company. The Sumner Theatre seats 500 in a single tier, and the Lawlor Studio seats 150 for smaller productions. The building’s facade is composed of iridescent painted steel pipework and black aluminum cladding, creating a pattern that “challenges spatial perceptions through the blurring of 2 & 3 dimensional space – that which appears shaped is actually flat, and likewise, a 2 dimensional surface is actually 3 dimensional.”

For more information on ARM, visit

All Hail the King

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Last Thursday evening, I hit Prospect Park with friends for the Femi Kuti concert. The rain held off, we packed a huge picnic and danced for hours to contagious, Nigerian Afrobeat. Looking around at one point, I stopped to appreciate the best part of any Brooklyn event – the people. Brooklyn’s characters are eclectic to be sure – a grab bag of characters young and old, white and black, fat and thin, stoned, drunk and sober – all routinely united by what all of NY does best – music, food, art, festivals, etc.

Being a Brooklyn local for years (and a huge fan of Celebrate Brooklyn), this was not the first time I’d appreciated the local cast – and the fact that their strength as a group may be a direct result of their eclecticism. That night, however, the same day that Michael Jackson‘s death was announced, the cast created a particularly memorable moment.

After the show, just as we were packing up to leave, I recognized The Jackson 5‘s “I’ll Be There” on the loudspeaker. So did the rest of the crowd. I looked around, and the whole ragtag group of remaining concert-goers was dancing and singing along to the one of Jackson’s most famous tunes. It was FANTASTIC.

And I thought, the reason people have been so moved by Jackson’s death is that, despite the drama and, let’s face it, bizarreness of the last decade or two, the music was unmatched. Everyone I spoke to had a Jackson story – be it a concert memory, or what a song meant to them at a certain point, etc. So I’m hopeful that as time goes by, he’ll be remembered not for the gossip, but for the gifts he gave us…the same ones that can bring a random crowd of strangers together, even if just for a few moments.

Daniel Arsham: Master of (Creative) Manipulation

Thursday, June 25th, 2009
"Knot" by Daniel Arsham

"Corner Knot" by Daniel Arsham, 2008. EPS, plaster, paint, joint compound. 18 x 64 x 20 inches

Set design for Merce Cunningham, Va de Marne, by Daniel Arsham. France, 2009.

Set design for Merce Cunningham, Val de Marne, by Daniel Arsham. France, 2009.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of a studio visit with sculptor Daniel Arsham. Arsham describes his work as “architectural interventions,” often playing upon existing structures to create unexpected yet organic sculptures – a knot at the corner of two walls, or a chair emerging from within a wall, and so on.

I first came across Arsham last December in Miami, and his light installation at the Beacon/Miami for Art Basel. Most recently, he was in the press for his second collaboration with legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham.  Cunningham is known for creating full evenings of dance in spaces other than traditional theater, with the understanding that the space itself becomes the performance’s décor.In the formative years of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, artist Robert Rauschenberg created scenic designs and costumes in situ, utilizing what was available either within the city or theater where the performance occurred.

For the latest Cunningham-Arsham collaboration, Arsham created site-specific set designs for Au Tour De Paris (coinciding with Cunningham’s 90th birthday). As the performers dance and the music plays, Arsham cuts into heavy black foam cubes, lit white from within, manipulating the scenery as the show progresses. The performances were a surprise for all, as Arsham and Cunningham had little creative communication prior, and all the design elements (choreography, music, décor, costumes, and lighting) changed throughout the tour.

This July, Arsham’s newest work will be on public display, courtesy of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. A collaborative performance called “Untitled Corner” by Arsham, choreographer and media artist Jonah Bokaer and choreographer and dancer Judith Sanchez Ruiz will examine “pattern recognition and perceptual faculties as they apply to the human body, creating the illusion of expanded space.” Part dance, part music, part architectural manipulation (and part of Sitelines ’09), they’ll be performing for free at One Chase Manhattan Plaza at Nassau Street July 6, 10, 13 and 17th at 12:30 pm and July 8th and 15th at 7pm. It’s sure to be a good show, so come by!

For more information on Daniel Arsham, visit