David Byrne has turned a vast semi-abandoned marine terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan into a musical instrument.

At least for the next two and a half months, though, the building will simply serve as a gargantuan cast-iron orchestra. Besides being fitted with several motors, which produce the bass sounds by vibrating a set of girders that once supported a stained-glass skylight in the 40-foot-high ceiling, the organ is attached to a pump that blows air through a tangle of hoses. These hoses snake into the huge room’s old water and heating pipes and conduits, making primitive flute sounds. And then there are more than a dozen spring-loaded solenoids, attached like woodpeckers to the columns and even to a linebacker-size radiator that emits a surprisingly sonorous tone when struck in just the right place with a metal rod.

See here for more about this nifty installation.

Byrne says:

“I’m not suggesting people abandon musical instruments and start playing their cars and apartments, but I do think the reign of music as a commodity made only by professionals might be winding down. … The imminent demise of the large record companies as gatekeepers of the world’s popular music is a good thing, for the most part.”

Byrne’s comment makes me wonder what would happen in the art world if large art galleries went by the wayside too. Some artists whose work I find boring seem to sell lots of art at high prices because large powerful art galleries tell us that this or that artist is the next big thing. A waiting list forms and collectors get worked up into a frenzy trying to acquire the pieces whether they like them or not, or at least they become convinced to like them. At my level of collecting, this frenzy factor is relevant only insofar as I hope that one day, one of these large galleries will decide that an artist I bought early on, before the frenzy, is the next big thing! Of course, the point becomes irrelevant because I can’t imagine ever selling any art that I own anyway.