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Rocking to the Unsilent Night

December 13, 2013

Last year, I went to Unsilent Night, a unique group event in which anonymous participants gather and walk along a designated path all the while making music by carrying boomboxes. This was not just any kind of Christmas carol music though. Each person could play music selected from only the four audio tracks on the website, which was also being distributed in various media by the organizers. These tracks were made by composer Phil Kline, and they each create a unique electronic bell-like aura very much reminiscent of the Indonesian gamelan. It was quite a spectacle to be part of a walking movement of sound carried by a crowd of people stretched across blocks. Apparently, Unsilent Night started in 1992 in Manhattan and has since then become an annual tradition that has spread to many other cities. The Manhattan event for this year’s Christmas will be tomorrow, December 14. For the less musically inclined, there is always SantaCon.

A few hours before the event, I was at the Park Avenue Armory, which had a novel, also participatory, exhibit on display. It consisted of an array of swings suspending from an extremely high ceiling, so that with enough undulations, or with the (un)intentional push of a friend, one could swing well over a hundred feet. There were also billowing white sheets suspended alongside the center point of the swings, adding to the ethereal visuals of the place. To round it out, a cryptic soundtrack of a murmuring voice could be heard within the exhibit, which is why many participants lied down, listened, and looked into the white sheets above.

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From → Excursions

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