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How art refurbish pre-established working environment?

The Minato Mirai Center Building (MCB), a business complex next to Minato Mirai Station, was renovated in 2019 to create a new public space for the neighboring office workers, residents, and children. The MCB provides a freely-accessible-landscape called the ‘living garden’ in front of the building and a promenade called the ‘axis of activity’: the axis extended between the garden and the interior of the MCB is intended to bring ‘openness’ to its neighbors.

At the beginning of the axis, ICA installed the ‘megaphone project,’ a playful art installation. The joyful sound field intertwined with neighbors would refurbish the archetypical office environment to a “dynamic system of an enterprise liquefaction,” as described by the Italian architect, Andrea Branzi.

A Firenze-born Italian architect, Andrea Branzi states his perspective on present enterprise values in his book, Weak and Diffuse Modernity.

“Rethinking the forms of economy and enterprise…one that refers to a fluid universe, a dynamic system in continuous evolution and renewal. The concept of new modernity must refer to these new genetic, dynamic concepts, rethinking the present enterprise like an inadequate, rigid, fragile organism. This means moving from a closed, stable, specialized form to an open, provisory, liquid form…The possibility of an enterprise’s liquification is no longer a surprise or danger, but is rather the condition by which to free its vital energies into a new form of dynamic flow, producing profit as a result of the capacity for expanding its relations, intimidations, and communications.”

The theme of this project was how can the “hardware” (building) interact with the “software” (communication between a company and its neighbors). In collaboration with the landscape designer, JMA, ICA defined that the art for this project should not be authoritative or monumental but rather something familiar or playful.

The megaphone project is an interactive sound field designed by Australian audio conceptual artists, Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, and as an installation allows people to discover a game of sound and physical play: a world of private and public broadcast. The project consists of 23 megaphones in different shapes and traveled to attract people in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Finland, and the US. In the field of megaphones, the audience creates a lively environment of play and enjoyment that is all their own invention.

Quoting Branzi’s words, the sounds and voices coming from the megaphone can be “vital energies” or a “dynamic flow” for the MCB that allows it to take in the liveliness of the neighborhood and extend the profit of “its relations, intimidations, and communications” to the city of Minato Mirai.

Installation-wise, ICA worked closely with artists, JMA, the ownership, and the local contractor to make the art piece durable and safe for public use. Initially, the artistically-designed sound filter of the bell was not intended for the aesthetic but to prevent kids/animals from climbing into the bell. ICA provides maintenance twice a year to minimize the damage. If you are in Minato Mirai, Yokohama, please play with the sound: the enjoyment is your invention.