Have you ever noticed how suspension bridges look like giant harps? London based artist Di Mainstone had this realisation on the Brooklyn Bridge, during a residency in New York City. There she imagined a clip-on sound interface that might enable pedestrians to “play the bridge” as though it were an instrument…
“As I listened to the hum of the steel suspension cables, the chatter of visitors and the musical ‘clonks’ of their footsteps along the bridge’s wooden walkway, I wondered if these sounds could be recorded, remixed and replayed through a collaborative digital interface? Mirroring the steel suspension cables of the bridge, I decided that this clip-on device could be harp-like, with retractable strings that physically attach the user or Movician’s body to the bridge, literally turning them into a human harp.
Whilst reaching out to people in London and New York City, to seek permission to install the Human Harp on the Brooklyn Bridge, Di realised how much the symbol of a bridge resonates with people:
“Both physically and metaphorically powerful, bridges cross obstacles and connect people. Each bridge tells us an important story of a country’s development and vitality. I then realised that the very process of pitching the Human Harp project had already created a bridge between Queen Mary University of London and the city of New York. This symbolic bridge is a two-way connection, with data being given and received on either side of the Atlantic, to enrich the concept and enhance the likelihood of the project coming to fruition.”
On the strength of this, Di collaborated with Queen Mary University, London where she is artist in residence to develop the Human Harp through instigating an international research network. Their aim was to unite digital hubs from around the globe and share in the development of the musical interface by bridging knowledge from lab to lab:
“We could imagine this process is a game of international research whispers, with information passing from one laboratory onto another. All hubs will be integral to this dialogue, as the Human Harp develops and grows on its journey around the globe.”
This work will result in high profile, mass participation, immersive art installation’s which will tour internationally across a range of suspension bridges, engaging audiences in a story of sound and motion through cutting-edge technology. Our dream is to close the tour where our vision first began – on the Brooklyn Bridge in celebration of its reopening after extensive renovation