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Record Player, Market Square

Artwork Type

Architecture, Interactive, Light, Sound, Temporary, New Media

Mix-N-Match, 2016

Allard van Hoorn


Commissioning Entity Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
Owner Allard van Hoorn

After seeing Market Square from a bird's-eye view, Dutch artist Allard van Hoorn decided that he wanted to turn Market Square into a record player for the 2016 Market Square Public Art installation. Inspired by Aboriginal songlines, van Hoorn's work riffs off of this idea by incorporating the use of sound to explore and interpret modern urban landscapes. To include this particular aspect in to the installation, van Hoorn composed several tracks of music from the sounds created by seven Pittsburgh community groups. 

In October of 2015, van Hoorn met with student-poets from the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School (CAPA), tap dancers from Point Park University, steel drum players from Urban Pathways Charter School, members of the Downtown Clean Team, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Hazelwood, the organist from the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Project Silk. Read the descriptions below to discover how van Hoorn included the sounds made from each group into the musical tracks. 

Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School (CAPA)
CAPA teacher Mara Cregan had her senior poets recite short poems that the students wrote while observing activity in Market Square. Van Hoorn asked the students to stand in a spot on the outermost marking of one of Market Square's rings. The students recited their poetry repeatedly, experimenting with the intonation and inflection of their words and voices. Van Hoorn recorded the students' poetic sounds with a handheld digital voice recorder which served as the foundation for the track I Miss The Bees

Clean Team
Members of Downtown Pittsburgh's Clean Team descended on Market Square with brooms, rakes, garbage bags, and other tools. The Clean Team plays an integral role in keeping Market Square and the streets of Downtown clean. To showcase their important work, van Hoorn asked the Clean Team to sweep the Square in unison and to call each other using their two-way radios. The sounds produced by the Team were used to create the track 1099 on Fifth and Wood

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Hazelwood
Edith Abeyta is the artist-in-residence for the Artist in the Public Realm Residency Program at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Hazelwood. Abeyta came to Market Square with library staff and Hazelwood residents to make a drawing of the library with colorful duct tape directly on the Square. Van Hoorn recorded the sounds of tape ripping and the group talking to make the track Flower Beds. 

Project Silk
Project Silk is an organization that supports minority gay men and transgender individuals. Many of the men that participate in Project Silk’s programming also vogue dance in the underground ballroom scene. Known as ball culture, dancers belong to various houses or chapters. The two biggest houses in Pittsburgh are the House of Revlon and the House of Ebony. Members from each house danced for van Hoorn in Market Square and their rhythmic clapping, hallmark call-outs, and dance sounds were used for the track Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Revlon

First English Evangelical Lutheran Church
Van Hoorn visited the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church and met with organist Cynthia Pock. Pock played notes from German hymns on the church’s pipe organ and rang the church’s bells. Van Hoorn recorded the sounds emitted from the organ and the ringing bells to create Open Now Thy Gates of Glory and The Long Calling

Urban Pathways Charter School
Steel drum players from the Urban Pathways Charter School, along with their teacher Tracey Whorton, met van Hoorn on the Smithfield Street Bridge. The students arrived with various metal objects and proceeded to “play” the Bridge. From there, van Hoorn led the students to Market Square where they played their metal objects on various surfaces along the way. Steel Bridge Blues resulted from the sounds that the students created. 

Point Park University Tap Dancers
Dancers from Point Park University tap-danced from Thayer Hall on Wood Street to Market Square. To protect their tap shoes, the students danced in a line on a row of wooden boards. As the line of students would reach the last board, a dancer on the sidelines would grab a board from the back and move it to the front so that the dancing was continuous. The track Tapping Down The Road captures this experience.

From March 18 through April 30 2016, van Hoorn's vision came to fruition as Market Square was transformed in to a giant record player. Visitors were able to interact with the work by listening to and selecting one of the eight composed tracks that were emitted from the aluminum spindle that was in the center of the work, and of Market Square. Surrounding the spindle were strips of LED lights that were placed on Market Square's marked rings. To the right of the Square were strips of LED lights that comprised the record player's tone arm. The light strips outlined three different positions for the tone arm, so that as the lights turned on for one position and off for the other, it gave the impression that the tone arm was moving as the tracks playing from the spindle changed. A camera was placed on the roof of a nearby building so that participants had the ability to view the piece from above using an app on their mobile phones. From this birds-eye view, the programmed LED lights made the shape of a record, and gave the illusion that it was always in motion. 

By Rachel Klipa, Office of Public Art


Allard van Hoorn was born in 1968 in Leiden, the Netherlands. He is a Dutch performance, sound, and installation artist working across architecture, music, dance, and design. Van Hoorn’s artwork creates physical, visual, and acoustic maps and scenarios for public space, where the public can interact with sound, light, and the built environment.

Van Hoorn’s work has been shown at institutions and events like the biennales and triennials of Tbilisi, Havana, Istanbul, Gwangju, among many others. In 2015, he was awarded the Talent Development Grant from the prestigious Mondriaan Fund. He has spent time as both a guest and studio artist at a variety of universities around the world, including Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, NL, Architectural Association Interprofessionals Studio in London, UK, and at Royal College of Art, London, UK. 

Additionally van Hoorn is founder of the Platform for Urban Investigation, a nomadic, cross-disciplinary research facility investigating local urban environments around the world in collaboration with architects, designers, choreographers, musicians, and visual artists.

Text provided by Allard van Hoorn. 


Ben Peoples Industries:http://benpeoples.com/portfolio/mix-n-match-led-art-installation/

Flyspace Productions: http://www.flyspaceproductions.com/public-art.html

Wall-to-Wall: https://www.walltowall.com/news_posts/wall-to-wall-studios-designs-branding-for-mix-n-match-public-art-installation