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Pipes Stream Poetry in an Interactive Response to Flint’s Water Crisis

Hyperallergic - Art Review - March 2, 2017

Lead poisoning can stunt my growth / And mess with my mind / We would like help if you don’t mind. Rather than water, words from poet Ken Silas, a student at Carman-Ainsworth High School in Flint, Michigan, flowed through a copper pipe and out of the faucet I’d just turned on, bearing my introduction to Beyond Streaming: A Sound Mural for Flint, conceived by artist Jan Tichy. Constructed from 1,460 feet of copper piping and installed in a network across the windows of an atrium at the Zaha Hadid–designed Eli & Edith Broad Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, the “sound mural” serves as the physical artifact of Tichy’s wide-ranging project, Beyond Streaming. The pipes, linking and crisscrossing over the trapezoidal floor-to-ceiling windows, are fitted with 30 faucets situated at varying heights. Put an ear up close to one and turn the handle, and the faucet delivers poetry written and spoken by individual students from an English class at Carman-Ainsworth or their counterparts, art students from Everett High School based in Lansing, Michigan’s state capital. The pipes may be the exoskeleton of Tichy’s endeavor, but the students’ voices are its lifeblood.

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