Mural Arts BOLD Sneak Peek at Artist Kara Crombie’s Sample Philly

Credit: Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia


We are happy to share this write up from BOLD Contributor Lynda Dell.
Recently, community leaders got a sneak peek at the first Monument Lab project; artist Kara Crombie’s Sample Philly, an interactive sculpture with a sound bank of musical loops drawn from Philadelphia’s rich musical history. Just a teaser before the Mural Arts Summer Sampler in downtown historic Philadelphia’s Franklin Park Square on Saturday, July 15, where you can take Sample Philly out for a real test drive.
You won’t need a license to take this baby for a spin. Just let that BIG kid inside of you break loose to relive your teenage glory days with an entire studio literally at your fingertips.
The debut of Sample Philly is really part of a larger Monument Lab, a nine week innovative art and history project that will feature temporary public art projects in 10 locations spread out across the city to be launched this fall and run from September 16-November 19, 2017.
Artists Are “Change Agents”

Mural Arts Philadelphia and the curators have invited a diverse group of 21 local and world renowned artists to BOLDLY redefine what a monument is for the 21st century, using every conceivable mode of expression with light, sound, and  imagery.

All 10 sites will feature interactive pop-up labs where people can learn more about the projects from staff and contribute their own ideas for monuments in Philadelphia, where these proposals can be uploaded to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for public access, explained Jane Golden, executive director  of Mural Arts Philadelphia.

“There are countless stories, experiences, and perspectives that don’t get put into bronze, stone, or marble,” noted Paul Farber, artistic director of Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Monument Lab, “and one of the goals of this project is to change the way that we write the history of our city together.”

Credit: Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia


Credit: Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia


What inspired Sample Philly?
 “Basically, when you walk into the monument, you are in a little recording studio,” explained Crombie  “really nice speakers, sound-proof, everything you’re playing will play back some preset songs that you can play around with and edit.”
The cool, sleek design of the sculpture was partly inspired “by the simplicity of the over-sized keyboard in the movie “Big,” shared Crombie, where Tom Hanks (in the famous piano scene) played chopsticks on the foot piano. “So what looks like a keyboard is really a giant sequencer.”
“A big inspiration for designing the console was the Roland 808 and 909,” explained Crombie, “because of all the music machines that I played with, that one you can just walk up to and figure out intuitively, and it’s fun right away.” Sample Philly is actually a simplified version of the vintage 808, the iconic drum machine that literally transformed the electronic music industry.
Credit: Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia


The Potential to Transform Lives

Crombie designed this innovative monument to be simple enough for the average 10- year- old to understand pretty quickly–without needing any instructions beyond screen prompts. She hopes that youth not only become hooked on “sampling,” but also that the exposure to this technology stimulates their imagination, which ignites their passion to pursue careers in music production or other computer-related fields.

“For the past 50 years we have just been a consuming culture,” noted Crombie; someone produces music and we just listen to it instead of interacting with it, collaborating with it, and bringing it back. This moment in time is the right opportunity to flip that back to the read/write culture,” as opposed to the read only culture.
These monuments tell an untold story, provide a history that reflects the city’s very essence. Monument Lab represents another BOLD way to strengthen and reinvigorate our youth, our next generation.
 “We are asking people to not just reflect but to expand their boundaries,” noted Golden, “at a time when there is a great debate about our values, beliefs, and how we want to be defined
CREDIT: Sample Philly (in-process) by Kara Crombie. Photo by Steve Weinik for Mural Arts Philadelphia


For more information about what led to the development of Sample Philly, check out artist  Kara Crombie’s Instagram message.


by Lynda Dell

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