If you’ve watched Desert Arts Preview and followed other Black Rock City art announcements, you’re aware that we’re championing playa installations that take sustainability into consideration. What does this mean? Among other things, a sustainable artwork may use renewable energy, be created from repurposed materials, and be built locally instead of transported across the ocean.
Very soon you’ll hear the sweet tinkle of people-powered art emanate across the playa. Bibi Bliekendaal and the team behind “The Tinkle Drum” have made decisions that favor sustainability at every phase of their creative journey… and then some. This wonderfully interactive Honoraria piece is all about international collaboration, recycled materials, and breaking down barriers by bringing people together through art and music.
Bringing People Together to Create Music
Bibi Bliekendaal writes:
“The Tinkle Drum” is a life-size drum that invites people to walk inside at a steady, collectively negotiated pace. This activates tines on the outside of the drum and creates music. At night, the strikes of the keys also create a lightshow for people outside the drum to enjoy.
I came up with the concept while out for a run in Westerpark, Amsterdam, during the 2021 lockdown. Inspired by the sight of a lone cello player practicing, I realized how I missed live music, the energy of people making and enjoying it together. I wanted to create something that enables people to make music together, to share a common goal and move towards it, no matter who they were or what they have.
A Build Focused on Sustainability
My partner, lead engineer Joshua Jordan, and I gathered an international group of creatives, engineers, and sustainable designers to help bring the project to life. The first step involved building a smaller prototype, which traveled to the Netherlands’ Where the Sheep Sleep Regional Burn in June 2022.
In August the first “Tinkle Drum” will be part of the “Energy Junkies” exhibit at Living Art Lab in Amsterdam’s Marineterrein. Then in October 2022 it will move to the temporary artists’ community Lola Luid to give locals the chance to experience the interactive sculpture. This will be a great test of durability, an important component of the design given the harsh conditions of the desert and interactivity of the art piece.
The build has been and will continue to be an adventure in sustainability. An important goal for “Tinkle Drum” is to reuse and recycle materials wherever possible. These include pallets and scrap metal, and spent nitrous oxide canisters. Good ol’ fashion human legs and the desert sun will provide the power to make the Tinkle Drum tinkle. No generators here, baby!
An emphasis on sustainability also means the first “Tinkle Drum” iteration will not travel to the US. Instead, it will be built all over again in August at The Generator in Reno. She’s going to be a pretty big job. If you’re in the neighborhood and feel like joining the build, we’d love to hear from you at email@example.com.
Measuring sustainability is challenging but important. Tim Barry has joined the team to develop a unique model for calculating the carbon footprint (or carbon tinkle) of the project.
Tim, alongside his Renewables For Artists Team and Green Transport and Emissions team, will apply CO2e models developed for September 2021’s MediMeisterschaften and the canceled 2022 Kiwiburn Regional Event to the creation of “Tinkle Drum.” This will help the crew develop a formula other artists can follow to calculate their art’s CO2e impact in the future.
An International Team
The group of collaborators and supporters has grown from those in the Netherlands and New Zealand to the USA, Bulgaria, Germany and more. All are welcome.
Sustainability, collaboration and diversity are big themes in my work. To have something we can all take part in, that makes art and music accessible — that’s what it’s all about. Huge thanks to Kiwiburn, Burning Man Project, and all people who helped make this a possibility. You can support Tinkle Drum’s journey to Black Rock City by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign. See you in the dust!
Cover image of “Tinkle Drum” creator Bibi Bliekendaal at Where the Sheep Sleep, 2022 (Photo by Bibi Bliekendaal)