This may have already crossed your transom, but even so I wanted to share it because it is so beautiful. The project, called 21 Balançoires (21 Swings), is an installation in Montreal by the Canadian design collective Daily Tous Les Jours. The swings play sounds when in use, and through cooperation, different harmonies can be produced. One special set of melodies only appears when all twenty-one swings are in use.
There are layers of joy in this piece. It starts with a familiar form, the playground swing. We may think this is joyful simply because of nostalgia for childhood. There is that, but it’s not the whole story. Dig deeper, and ask: How did the swing get so popular in the first place? The answer arises from the movement; the soaring, freeing, swooping arc that gives the sensation of flying and that millisecond of weightlessness before the gentle fall. Layered on top is the music, and the light, and the abundance of it all — the line of swings stretching on and on, an endless playground.
The collaborative aspect adds another dimension. The music echoes that wonderful feeling when you find yourself perfectly in sync with others, when the hidden harmonies of the world are revealed. One of the teenagers in the film puts this nicely when he says: “I find it adds to the beauty of life, because a single sound isn’t really nice, but together they make a beautiful melody.” And actually, we frequently use these kinds of musical metaphors to describe our feeling of symbiosis with others: we resonate to someone, or sing the same tune, or feel in harmony with each other.
It’s a success for public art in my book, not just to be pleasing or interesting, but to celebrate the interactions between people, promoting cooperation and harmony. Are there installations like this in your cities? If so, please share them!
October 15th, 2012