Mix-n-Match. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Market Square has been transformed once again thanks to the Netherlands-based artist, Allard van Hoorn. Armed with a digital voice recorder, the performance, sound and installation artist spent time working with eight local groups in town to create a super-sized interactive record player that takes up the entire inner square of Market Square.

Titled Mix-n-Match, it comes complete with a turntable with grooves that light up intermittently and a center spindle where people can listen to the compositions. Part of the Market Square Public Art Program, the art piece was officially plugged in Friday, March 18 and will run through April 30.

Large concentric circles of intermittent light convey the album grooves on the turn table.
Large concentric circles of intermittent light convey the album grooves on the turntable. Photo by Tracy Certo.

In the months leading up to the installation, Van Hoorn could often be seen in town collaborating with student poets from the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School (CAPA), tap dancers from Point Park University, steel drum players from Urban Pathways Charter School, members of the Downtown Clean Team, folks from the Hazelwood branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the organist from the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church and members of Project Silk.

For example, as the poets recited their words, the clean team swept the streets and the tap dancers tapped, Van Hoorn captured the sounds of their experiences using Pittsburgh’s urban soundscape as the background.

Artist Allard van Hoorn with CAPA students.
Artist Allard van Hoorn with CAPA students.

Those sounds were then transformed into eight original compositions that visitors to Market Square can listen to via speakers during the day and early evening or through headphones during off hours via a large metal tower in the center.

“It has been a unique opportunity to see how talent connects to Downtown Pittsburgh and discover the potential of Market Square as a stage for community cultural expression,” van Hoorn says. “I can’t wait to see how people enjoy the interactive jukebox that we built for them.”

Weekly performances—including special appearances from the Clean Team (March 30 at noon) and CAPA students (April 6 at 1 p.m.)—will be featured throughout the course of the installation.

Mix-n-Match is a joint effort of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the Office of Public Art and the City of Pittsburgh Public Art Division.  It is part of a program to bring “energy and creativity to the outdoor urban core” during winter months, according to the PDP.

Listening to the sounds of Mix-n-Match in Market Square.
Listening to the sounds of Mix-n-Match in Market Square.

The goal is to showcase the best in contemporary public art and establish Market Square as a local, regional, and national arts destination. The progrma launched in February 2014 with Congregation, an artwork by pioneering new media artists KMA (UK), and continued with A Winter Landscape Cradling Bits of Sparkle by Jennifer Wen Ma last winter. 

BK grew up in Pittsburgh, went to Penn State, moved to New York and worked at Vogue (now that’s a story) and then ultimately moved back to Pittsburgh. Today, she continues her writing career and teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She loves (in no particular order) the city, the Pirates and good craft beer.