There are all kinds of puns one could make about a swingset that plays music, but let’s refrain.
“The Swings: An Exercise in Musical Cooperation” is a public art work you can play with. And the creators want you to–that’s the whole point. The work consists of twelve flat swings on a massive white frame, evoking the kind of durable, no-sharp-edges plastic playscapes we all remember from the Nineties.
But it’s more than that.
Each swing, when swung, plays a different musical instrument. Something strummed or plucked, like harp, vibraphone, guitar, and piano, to name a few. If all twelve swings are moving in concert (a nearly impossible feat of coordination), the structure plays a melody composed by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, Beirut-born Canadian performer and producer. As if the music isn’t enough, beneath each seat is a bright glowing panel of light, making swinging at night a glowing artwork of its own.
“The Swings” is the production of Quebec-based design studio Daily / Tous Les Jours, and they have installed musical swing pieces elsewhere, like “21 Balançoires” (translation: 21 Swings) in Montreal. They’ve also installed a floor in Mesa, Arizona where passing shadows trigger singing voices that vary with the time of day.
The structure’s massive presence is partially to hide the musical workings, and partially because it is built to move. “The Swings” have been on tour through the US, with stops in Detroit, Colorado, and Florida. This is its first stop in New York, and it won’t be here long. It will remain near the waterfront in Brookfield Place in Battery Park City only until July 7th.