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An interactive instrument shaped like a house is coming to Coney Island

By
Howard Halle
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Coney Island has always offered its share of unusual sights (Ever been to the Mermaid Parade or the Coney Island Walls?), so don’t be surprised by the odd, ramshackle construction popping up this weekend on the Coney Island Boardwalk at West 12th Street. Resembling the facade of a multi-level house in the midst of demolishing itself, it’s actually a piece of “musical architecture” that invites people to play on it—one of a dozen such installations that make up Music Box Village, a public art/educational project created by New Orleans Airlift. The nonprofit arts organization from the Big Easy (that was founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina) is presenting the piece in an exhibition called “Porch Life,” which lands in Coney Island for two days, August 4 and August 5, from noon to 8pm.

So what makes a house musical? In this case, the railing for the staircase leading to the front of the "house" is strung with wires that can be plucked like a harp or a guitar. Upstairs, there’s a rudimentary xylophone built into the second floor balcony, waiting to be hit with mallets. There’s also a series of bells available for ringing, while just about every part of the structure can be banged on to create percussive effects of some sort.

Presented by Kickstarter and the Creative Independent (the crowdfunding site’s artist resource page), “Porch Life” is part of a tour that has taken Music Box Village to Shreveport, Louisiana and Tampa Bay, Florida, among other places. And like those other locations, there will be live musicians and other acts performing in addition to the crowds bringing the noise. So feel free to bring yours, too, while you can.

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