By day, Mix-N-Match, an art installation in Market Square, is not much to look at. But by night, the work’s LED lights clearly mimic a huge turntable, complete with tonearm and spinning record. The silver cylinder at its center is shaped like a record-player spindle and functions as a sort of “interactive jukebox.” This sound installation plays eight audio tracks created by the Dutch performance, sound and installation artist Allard van Hoorn in collaboration with several Pittsburgh organizations.
Mix-N-Match was commissioned through the City of Pittsburgh’s Market Square Public Art Program by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Van Hoorn saw Market Square from above and envisioned a record player. Inspired by Bruce Chatwin’s book The Songlines, in which the author sought to interpret the invisible pathways, or Australian Aboriginal dreaming-tracks, that cover the landscape like musical scores, van Hoorn seeks to map public space. For Market Square, he has created urban songlines, an acoustical map that also introduces a new experience of it.
Each track has its own particular rhythm, but relies on repetitive and almost chant-like phrases, manipulations, amplifications and stretching of sounds. There are some clearly recognizable sounds, like sweeping, tap-dancing and poetry-reading, but the rest are the bleeps and blips of electronic music.
“1099 on Fifth and Wood” was created with members of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Clean Team; “Flower Beds” was created with artist-in-residence Edith Abeyta of the Artist in the Public Realm Residency Program at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh–Hazelwood, with library staff and Hazelwood residents; “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey Revlon!” was created with Project Silk, an organization that supports minority gay men and transgender individuals; “I Miss the Bees” was created with Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA) poetry students and their teachers; “Open Now Thy Gates” and “The Long Calling” were created with organist Cynthia Pock and the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church; “Steel Bridge Blues” was created with the steel-drum players from Urban Pathways Charter School; and “Tapping Down the Road” was created with tap-dancers from Point Park University.
Visitors can select songs to play. However, you need to get up close to hear them. After hours, you can use headphones or access the tracks free on SoundCloud. The program includes occasional live performances. You can even watch the Square remotely through the app Anyscene, and contemplate public space all alone.