Year created:
Andy Graydon, City Lights Orchestra

Andy Graydon, City Lights Orchestra, 2018, used street lamps, steel, airline cable, Courtesy of the artist, Photograph by Clements Photography and Design, Boston.

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Exhibit Date: 
On View Aug 23, 2018 - Aug 01, 2019

Andy Graydon often creates sound-based installations, films, and sculptures to address themes of community, history, and language. He is drawn to second-hand objects that reveal traces of their history, questioning how their meaning changes when placed in a new context. For his original PLATFORM commission, Graydon has created a series of sculptural instruments made from discarded street lamps. Rather than casting light, the lamps in City Lights Orchestra are intended to resonate with sound. Sourcing most of the hollow plastic forms from Cambridge, Graydon based the sculptures on worldly instruments including Taiko drums and the Indonesian gamelan, a musical device characterized as “one instrument played by many people.” The gamelan is typically comprised of a large set of bells, drums, and gongs that create a signature percussive music when played collectively. Graydon’s version mimics the traditional gamelan design, with the repurposed plastic globes arranged as table-top bonang or suspended from metal frames like gong agengCity Lights Orchestra also incorporates references to Japanese Taiko drums, the sculptural instruments of American composer Harry Partch, and the Futurists’ intonarumori.

City Lights Orchestra complements other sound-inspired sculptures in the Sculpture Park, from the nearby Musical Fence (1980) by Paul Matisse, to Nancy Winship Milliken’s Pasture Song (2018) made from used cello bow strings, and even Ron Rudnicki’s Rain Gates (2000), in which the sound of trickling water descending the hillside becomes a subtle score to visitors’ experience of the landscape. Installed in an S-shaped formation, City Lights Orchestra is intended to take on a variety of roles, depending on who is approaching it. For the passive viewer it is a sculptural assemblage, while for the more active viewer it becomes an interactive artwork intended for play and collaboration. The many possibilities for engaging with City Lights Orchestra reveal the work’s true form as a sculpture-in-the-making, an ongoing composition performed in both structure and sound. 

Andy Graydon was born in 1971 in Maui, Hawai‘i, and earned an MFA in Radio, Television, and Film from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Recent exhibitions and commissions include Architecture Acoustique at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts in Cambridge, Massachusetts (2017) and The Space Between at Mass MoCA in North Adams (2016). His work Gathering Note (a facsimile) was performed as part of Common Exchange, a series of installations and performances that took place on the Cambridge Common in 2017. Graydon lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Graydon’s City Lights Orchestra is part of deCordova’s PLATFORM initiative, a series of one-person commissioned projects by early- and mid-career artists from New England and the world that engage with deCordova’s unique landscape. The series lets artists expand their practice and visitors experience new approaches to contemporary sculpture.