The Alexander McGaffin Memorial Tower and Carillon
The McGaffin Carillon at the Church of the Covenant is one of about two hundred cast-bell carillons in North America. Mostly developed during the seventeenth century, carillons once represented an advanced technology for marking time in public space. This carillon is composed of forty-seven bronze bells made in the Netherlands; it is played by a single person at a console in the tower. Since 1973, George Leggiero has served as carillonist, performing regularly for audiences at Case Western Reserve University, University Hospital, and University Circle.
For FRONT 2022, artist Cory Arcangel has developed an algorithmic composition for the carillon that generates a new piece of music daily. An automated Twitter bot will share each day’s unique visual score. The carillonist and a cast of local players will respond to specific numerical counts, emojis, and other unexpected graphic forms by interpreting and performing the piece once, in real time. The resonance of Arcangel’s artwork is amplified by a network of carillon bells across Ohio and the world that will also be used for these improvised performances. This amalgam of old and new—a closely-linked chain of artistic creation, digital automation, social media, and live human performance across multiple locations and time zones—allows for a loose synchronicity to emerge.
Born in Buffalo and trained at Oberlin College’s Conservatory of Music, Arcangel synthesizes media, music, and technology through a wry approach to the systems of everyday life. Like a rainbow—which becomes visible only during the moment when dust, sunlight, and rain intersect—Arcangel’s project for FRONT 2022 offers fleeting, distributed snippets of unexpected musical joy and friction.