Reactor

A Conceptual Symphony of Car Horns Across LA

by An Xiao on February 17, 2012

LOS ANGELES — I take public transportation as often as I can in Los Angeles. I’d much rather add a few minutes to my commute than be trapped in traffic yet again on the 10 freeway. But the inevitability of vehicular life in Los Angeles and in big cities around the world is an untapped resource: here are thousands upon thousands of people, a captive audience, in miles and miles of public space. And they’re bored out of their minds.

LA’s street artists have known this all along, and I grew up seeing murals all over the freeways and underpasses. And then there was Joel Kyack’s mobile theater, which played on the 405 and felt fun if only a little dangerous and distracting.

This week, New York artist Zefrey Throwell flew in to create the Entropy Symphony, a series of aural interventions around the world that’s included air horns in Berlin and an attempt to get all the guards at the Whitney to use their walkie talkies at once. The Los Angeles edition was an orchestrated movement in five parts of some 1,000 cars across the Southland. Each participant received an mp3 attuned to their car horn and were instructed to honk along with the mp3.

Sponsored by the Los Angeles Nomadic Division, the project was dispersed across the city. According to the invitation email, participants should honk “Wherever you are, anywhere you are, in your car, on the street, roads, highways, parking lots and driveways from San Pedro to Silver Lake.” So the orchestration was more conceptual, and unlike previous editions of the Entropy Symphony, there was no one place to hear it in full. Drivers simply had to be comfortable with the idea that others were also participating, and that a compilation video would be put together at the end.

I was planning to participate and already downloaded the requisite mp3. But I never got a chance to honk my horn. Why was that? Yep, you guessed it: traffic. Obama was in town and I decided to take the subway instead.

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