It’s not every day you go to the bank and are confronted with an ATM embedded in a 20-foot-tall pipe organ, but that’s exactly the absurdist melding of the banal and the sacred that the Puerto Rico-based artist duo of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla were after. The culmination of several years spent researching sound as an artistic medium and its potential impact and evocative properties Algorithm is a custom-made pipe organ that replaces the typical keyboard, pedals, and buttons with an ATM.
Visitors are invited to participate in the performance by inserting a card to begin their “financial transaction.” Each transaction generates a unique musical score based on a composition of sounds created by composer Jonathan Bailey, substituting the traditional organ melodies for more cacophonous, atonal phrases. The artists explain in their video below that part of their motivation was to confront materials that lie within a religious context with the “spirit of profanation,” by which they mean “taking something from the realm of the sacred and bringing it back down to its material sense.”
The artists discuss Algorithm and the role of sound in their work:
The project, along with several others from Allora & Calzadilla’s body of work, was part of the exhibition “Gloria,” commissioned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art for the U.S. Pavilion of the Venice Biennale last summer.
Here’s Algorithm in action:
Images and video courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.