Tim Hawkinson’s “Uberorgan” hangs in the Sculpture Garden like a giant inflated bladder. The bamboo trees and glass facade that frame the amorphous shapes only add to the strangely serene installation. Its massive scale is nearly incomprehensible. White balloons the size of trucks hang just above the cafe tables, restrained by a mess of rope and nets. Here and there electrical wires peek out from aluminum-covered ducts; you begin to suspect that there is more than meets the eye. Once each hour, the “Uberorgan” begins to play. Weird and wonderful guttural noises emerge from the depths of the instrument’s many plastic bellies. Deep groans and tuba-like sounds fill the air, resembling embarrassing bodily noises – much to the delight of children seated at the cafe tables with their parents. People stop chattering and stare in amazement as the melody churns. The “score” is painted in black splotches onto a giant cloth player-piano roll; sensors read the paint as notes and feed the information to the appropriate organ pipe.
This installation is one part of the artist’s vast retrospective, currently on view at the Whitney Museum. The Uberorgan” is utterly bizarre yet playful, at once overwhelming in its scale and inviting with its awkward, hand-made aesthetic. Given the opportunity, don’t miss a chance to experience the eccentric imagination of Tim Hawkinson.
Tim Hawkinson’s “Uberorgan”
Date: through May 29, 2005
Place: the Sculpture Garden
Addess: 590 Madison Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets
Text and Photos: Aya Karpinska