Jul 3, 2022 | Art, Burning Man, Sustainability

A giant interactive music sculpture that people can walk in to create sound is picking up speed. People-Powered Music aka The Tinkle Drum Project is all about international collaboration, recycled materials and breaking down barriers by bringing people together through art and music.

Key themes:

  • Sustainability
  • People Powered music – for all
  • R.I.D.E (Radical Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) – female leadership, no barriers to participation, international team

The concept 

A life-size music drum which invites people to walk inside at a steady, collectively negotiated pace. This activates tines on the outside of the drum and creates music.  The Tinkle Drum is a 2022 Burning Man Honorarium project, and has also been lucky enough to receive a Frozen Oasis Theme Camp art grant. It is the brainchild of Kiwi artist Bibi Bliekendaal, who was out for a run in Westerpark, Amsterdam during the 2021 lockdown and was inspired by the sight of a lone cello player practising:

“I realised how I missed live music, the energy of people making and enjoying it together. I wanted to create something enabling people to make music together, to share a common goal and move towards it, no matter who they were or what they have.” — Bibi Bliekendaal 

Bibi has gathered a group of creatives, engineers, sustainable designers to help bring the project to life. 

“After lonely lockdowns, we want to make something light and fun to bring people together in a public space, no matter what musical talent you have, or what language you speak. The default song is the iconic ‘Imagine’, by John Lennon, but it’s also reprogrammable, so people can make their own compositions.” — Bibi Bliekendaal

The build journey

The first step is building a smaller prototype, which will travel to the Netherlands’ Where the Sheep Sleep Burn in late June. This project is currently nearing completion in Amsterdam, where Bibi and partner/ lead Engineer Joshua Jordan are based.   This first Tinkle Drum will live on and move to the temporary artists’ community Lola Luid in July to give locals the chance to experience the interactive sculpture. This is also a great test of  durability – important given the harsh conditions of the desert and interactiveness of the art piece. 

The build has been and will continue to be an adventure in sustainability: an important part of Tinkle Drum is to reuse and recycle materials  wherever possible. These include pallets and scrap metal, including spent nitrous oxide canisters – which, funnily enough, have ended up being one of the harder waste products to source. At night, the strikes of the keys also create a light show for people outside the drum to enjoy. Good ol’ fashion human legs and the desert sun will provide the power to make the Tinkle Drum tinkle. No generators here baby! 

Another big element of the sustainable approach is that Tinkle Drum won’t travel to the US: rather it will be constructed all over again at The Generator maker space in Reno in August. She’s going to be a pretty big job, so if you are in the neighbourhood and feel like setting stuck in with the build then they’d love to hear from you.

Measuring sustainability is hard but important: Tim Barry has joined the team to  develop a unique model to calculate the carbon footprint (or carbon tinkle) of the project. Tim, alongside his Renewables For Artists Team and Green Transport and Emissions team, will apply CO2e models developed for last September’s MediMeisterschaften event and the cancelled 2022 Kiwiburn event to the making of the piece. This will help them develop the model which can then be offered to  other artists to help them  calculate their art’s CO2e impact in the future.

The team

The group of collaborators and supporters has grown from those in the Netherlands and New Zealand to the USA, Bulgaria, Germany and more. The build team includes Christchurch engineer Joshua Jordan,  Sustainable Designer Yelappa Visser, Auckland based engineer and the project’s communications Lead Cass Kenworthy, along with some of the team, who helped build the Giant Weta (2016 Burning Honorarium art grant recipient)  and many more. Big on diversity, sustainability and participation, Bibi says everyone is welcome.

“Sustainability, collaboration and diversity are big themes in my work. To have something we can all take part in, that makes art and music accessible, that’s what it’s all about. Huge thanks to Kiwiburn, the Burning Man org, and all people supporting to help make this a possibility.”

Kiwiburner Andy Justice aka Beancounter (Chair ExCom) and Burning Man’s Tim Barry aka Frog (Renewables for Artists Team, RAT) have been working with Bibi to collaborate on the De Tinklesteinz Camp at BRC involving Green Kiwis,  Solidarity, friends from the Ukraine and members of the sustainability team from Germany’s  MediMeisterschaften event.

Bringing together people from across the globe, the Tinkle Drum is about music for all. Try the Tinkle Drum for yourself, visit the Tinkle team on the Playa at De Tinklesteinz Themp Camp for a personalised tou,r or join the Rally Call for Peace and come R.i.D.E the Peace Train.

Here is a growing  list of amazing people who are making this project come to life:

Bibi Bliekendaal – Visionary (Concept Artist / Creative Director)

Joshua Jordan – Problem solver (Engineering Lead)

Ataif Kahn-Edmunsson – Builder of things (Design Lead)

Yelappa Visser – Inclusion advisor (R.I.D.E Lead)

David Pronker – Swagmaster (Swag Lead)

Andy Justice – Support and supply (Logistics Lead)

Cass Kenworthy – Spread the word (MarComms Lead)

Jasmin Wilkins – Cat Herder (Secretary & Volunteer Coordinator)

Paul Gill – Power things and Money Guru (Coordination support and Finance Lead)

Jodie Gill – Feed the Builders (Kitchen Lead)

William (Guillaume) Loppe – Rest and Relaxation (Camp Build Support)

Geveta Cook – Advisor of art and restoration (Resto Support)

Ain Frog (Tim) Barry – De Tinklesteinz (Camp lead)

Craig Gainsborough-Waring – Party planner (NZ Fundraising Co-lead)

Tany Caseanu – Party planner (NZ Fundraising Co-lead)

Alex Garkavenko – Sustainability things (Green Lead)

Yarin Snapir – Reno build enablement (Early Build Support)

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