By Jon Andreassi, Point Park News Service:
It looks like a silver bullet popped up in Market Square but it’s actually the spindle to a larger-than-life record player.
It’s called Mix-n-Match, and it’s the latest installation by Market Square Public Art, an initiative produce by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Strands of light wrap around Market Square to form a giant record, and the centerpiece doubles as a jukebox, with a selection of eight tracks to pick from.
The concept was created by Dutch artist Allard van Hoorn, who constructed the piece specifically for Market Square. While he designed the jukebox to be the center of the enormous record player, the design was also meant to evoke the spirit of the PPG buildings.
“We did an international call for artists in 2013. He was selected by the panel to be the artist for 2016,” Renee Piechocki, the director of Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Art, said.
Those walking through Market Square can enjoy the jukebox’s music by plugging a set of headphones into one of the ports. While music plays, the lights surrounding the square flash with the sounds, an aspect of the installation that cannot be fully appreciated until the sun sets.
“At night it has a completely different presence,” Piechocki said.
Van Hoorn created the tracks played by the jukebox through collaborations with eight different community organizations in Pittsburgh. These include tap dancers from Point Park University and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Clean Team. The songs were made by recording the sounds made by these groups on a daily basis.
“It has been a unique opportunity to see how talent connects to Downtown Pittsburgh, and discover the potential of Market Square as a stage for community cultural expression,” van Hoorn said in a press release from Market Square Public Art.
According to Piechocki, van Hoorn drew inspiration from aboriginal culture in Australia, which uses music to describe the surrounding world.
“People sing the landscape as they are passing through it,” Piechocki said.
On-site interpretation of the installation is provided by the Office of Public Art on Tuesdays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. Several events and performances have already taken place at Mix-n-Match, but there are a few more planned.
April 23 there will be a Kid City Rockers dance party with DJ Kelly Mom from 1-4 p.m. The closing event will take place on April 30 at 6:30 p.m., and will include a performance by Project Silk.
After April 30, Mix-n-Match will leave Market Square to make room for future events. The jukebox will be returned to van Hoorn, who will be free to do what he wishes with it.
“So it may begin popping up in cities all over the world,” Piechocki said.