It’s not unusual to see the work of an engineer at an art museum—especially here in Milwaukee. From the first step under the stunning Brise Soleil in the Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, it becomes clear that an incredible mind must have devised this unique building. But what you may not know is that inside this engineering marvel, there is artwork by another artist with an engineering background: Jim Campbell’s Taxi Ride to Sarah’s Studio.
Scratching, turntables, bass, melodies, rhythm. Not exactly vocabulary you’re used to hearing about in an art museum, is it?
In an experiment with H2O Milwaukee Music/the Peace Propaganda Project, an urban music education organization, we put teens, music educators, and video art all together in a gallery to see what would happen.
The mission: Create an original piece of music inspired by Jim Campbell’s Taxi Ride to Sarah’s Studio (2010).
First, we took 15 minutes to look closely at the piece, which is made up of many small LED lights programmed to blink at certain intervals, creating an unusual video installation (see video below). Teens immediately centered in on one of Campbell’s primary interests: visually representing peripheral vision. Then, with an array of equipment–turntables, laptops, keyboards, subwoofers, speakers–we set about creating a piece of music inspired by the look, mood, and rhythm of Campbell’s piece.