CalArtian Designs Light for Suspended Pianos Over Sidewalk

A new residential building on 9th and Market in downtown San Francisco is the site of a piece of public art by Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn. Titled ...and my room still rocks like a boat in the sea… (Caruso’s Dream), the piece consists of 13 piano replicas made of chicken wire glass and rusted steel, suspended over the side of the building using nautical hemp rope and pilings salvaged from the city’s old Transbay Terminal, which was demolished in 2010.

The piece is inspired by a moment when opera star Enrico Caruso, visiting San Francisco, is woken up by the Great Calamity of April 18, 1906, and for a few moments is unable to tell whether he is awake or dreaming as he witnesses the earthquake damage. “If you get the feeling of an earthquake that propelled all these pianos into the sky and they are on their way back down, you’ll be in the right direction,” says the San Francisco Examiner of the experience of looking at the work.

In the morning, the pianos glimmer in the natural light. From dusk til dawn, the pianos are lit from within with LED lights that turn on and off in sync with Caruso’s singing. The syncopated light is designed by CalArts alumnus Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte (Music MFA 14), who created a custom software to play his light composition. Anyone within 300 feet of the building can tune to 90.9 FM and listen to the operatic recordings while watching the lights move with the sound.

Above, we posted a video about Caruso’s Dream from Vice’s The Creators Project.

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