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MOCA revs up sonic social experiments with 'In Your Car' Thursday night

May 5, 2011 |  6:05 am

On Thursday night, the Museum of Contemporary Art is asking L.A.'s drivers and ping-pong enthusiasts to unite in sonic solidairty. Starting at 7 p.m., MOCA’s  "In Your Car" event invites the public to participate in two concurrent sound projects broadcasting on local radio frequencies. The gathering is the latest installment of “Engagement Party” by artistic on-air independent organization Neighborhood Public Radio. It's the latest in a litany of NPR's public events designed to give inspired, young artists chances to connect to their community using inventive, socially based works.

"Park Park Revolution" -- the first experiment for the event -- will be a collective composition “played” by cars parked in the lot surrounding the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. The lot will be divided into four sections, each with its own broadcast frequency. After being directed into parking spaces, drivers will be instructed to tune their radios and crank their volumes to create a collaborative quadraphonic wall of sound. Think of it like a really big surround sound system.

Simultaneously, the night's second event, "Ping Modulation," will put people’s ping-pong skills to artistic use. Paying homage to artist Robert Rauschenberg’s film about a similar 1966 performance art piece called “Open Score,” NPR will outfit ping-pong tables with contact microphones and sound processors.

Paddle-swinging players will match up in tournaments of table tennis while the noise of their play is fed into radio broadcasts that will turn their games into a collage of swats, pops and plunks. When each experiment matches up to play together, this crazy polyphonic symphony certainly will bring an unexpected and loud suprise to downtown dwellers.

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-- Nate Jackson

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