Bowerbird’s Sound Machines explored the interplay between sound and object, performance and sculpture, and the changing experience of sound in an age of digital reproduction. The centerpiece of the project was an artist-activated, large-scale sound sculpture, Zwei Mann Orchester (Two Man Orchestra), conceived by late German-Argentine composer, artist, and filmmaker Mauricio Kagel (1931-2008). Originally created in 1973 and never before seen in the US, Zwei Mann Orchester utilizes orchestral instruments, household items, and found objects connected through a network of levers and strings. Exhibited in the vast sanctuary space of The Rotunda, the “sound making machine” was assembled by sculptor Scott Kip, instrument builder Neil Feather, and percussionists Andy Thierauf and Ashley Tini, with the consultation of Wilhelm Bruck—a performer and sculptor who collaborated with Kagel on the original European iterations of the work. Thierauf and Tini activated the sculpture several times during the run of the installation. An exhibition of archival material from the first three editions of Zwei Mann Orchester and a film series showcasing Kagel’s experimental films ran concurrently.
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