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  • 09.11.13

What If You Could Pluck The Strings Of The Brooklyn Bridge?

An amazing wearable harp connects a dancer with a bridge’s suspension cables, allowing her to play the vibrations of infrastructure.

Every bridge makes music. From the rhythms of the cars, to the deep whir of suspension cables, these massive pieces of infrastructure are actually the world’s most amazing instruments, if your ear is attuned.

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Now Di Mainstone wants to take that idea one step further and actually allow someone to play the Brooklyn Bridge. Her creation is called the Human Harp, and it’s a wearable suit that connects a dancer/musician “movician,” via actual strings, to the cables of a bridge. This excellent documentary by The Creators Project will show you how this “parasitic instrument” works in practice. It’s almost as if the bridge is being played by marionette.

What you see isn’t some artsy-fartsy illusion, like performers playing dress-up and pretending their movements matter while a prerecorded midi track plays music in the background. The Human Harp’s strings latch onto a bridge’s suspension cables magnetically, and the other ends are actually connected to technically advanced, pulley-like harp modules worn on the dancer’s body. It’s a true, physical merging of person and public work.


Through this connection, the harp itself can record the frequencies coming through the suspension cables. Meanwhile, the modules allow the dance to augment that sound via string length, the speed at which they’re pulled, and their angle. So while there’s certainly a level of digital augmentation at play, the Human Harp’s music stems from a strong analog tie between the sound waves coming from the bridge and the choreography of the movicians playing said bridge.

“We hope that this immersive walk-through performance will leave pedestrians with a sense of connection to the bridge, its history, and the people of the surrounding areas,” Mainstone tells Co.Design. As of today, the project is still in the works as Mainstone attempts to get permission from New York City’s Department of Transportation to connect her performers to the Brooklyn Bridge. But assuming all goes well, she would eventually like to tour the project, taking her movicians to bridges in cities across the world.

See more here.

[Hat tip: The Creators Project]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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