Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The above Very Crude Video was shot with my iphone3 while jogging in Fort Greene Park. In it, a man is playing a piano put in the park as part of the best public art project I think I've ever seen. "Play Me, I'm Yours" is the brainchild of British artist Luke Jerram. He's dropped off pianos in public parks and street corners throughout New York City. I've been biking around Brooklyn alot lately and have been really stunned by the power of this project.
My initial reaction was a completely cynical faith in the pianos bringing out the worst in people. Trashed pianos, an incessant tuneless banging of fists on keys, etc. The reality has been the complete opposite. I have seen these pianos in use many times now, and I've never heard someone who wasn't trying to play something, even if it was a young child reviewing their latest piano lesson. The vast majority of my experiences have been of average people walking by, perhaps with their friends, and stopping to reveal an amazing hidden talent.
The pianos are not perfectly tuned, by any stretch, but watching someone coax a melody out of one is edifying. It instantly draws onlookers, who are suddenly all participating in a connected human moment in the center of a torrid-busy city on what have been scorching hot days. Unexpected things happen, such as the young girl's dorky piano lesson scale studies striking her friends with awe, perhaps changing her whole perspective on the activity. And a normally invisible old man, daily needs in a plastic bag, setting that bag down, addressing the keys and becoming an entertainer, the center of activity in the park.