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 Harbeer Sandhu
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2nd Ward – A Bicycle Opera

2nd Ward – A Bicycle Opera
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A little girl tells a story revolving around goods from the other side of the planet passing through the ship channel at the edge of her neighborhood, a virtuoso bangs out classical guitar licks, another wails on a xylophone…these and other sounds mix and mingle with bird songs, car engines, factory exhaust fans, dogs barks, chainsaws, lawnmowers, and the sound of the breeze rushing past a cyclist’s ears.

This is “2nd Ward — A Bicycle Opera,” in which the cyclist is both the performer and the audience, and unwitting passersby-pedestrians and other cyclists-also become audience.

Nameless Sound, the local experimental sound arts and education group, has collaborated with the the Bicrophonic Research Institute (BRI), and Vampire Squid Labs, to bring this project to Ripley House. The project is directed by UK artist Kaffe Matthews.

Matthews has recorded sounds from Eastside writers, musicians, and school children, drawn from workshops at Ripley House conducted by writer and artist Stalina Villarreal and musicians Abel and Denis Cisneros and David Feil. These sound clips are saved  on a small, battery-operated computer which is mounted on a bicycle, which is also fitted with some pretty boss speakers. A GPS device tracks the bicycle’s location, speed and direction of travel, and these factors then determine which sounds are played in Kaffe’s fluid arrangement/dynamic composition.

The sounds might entice the cyclist to ride faster, slower, stop, turn in circles, or pause beneath the shade of a tree for listening.

The project launches on September 27, 2024 at 11am. Bicycles will be available for public use at no cost during open hours at Ripley House through November 22.