Music for Forgotten Places

a public art project by Oliver Blank

Music for Forgotten Places sends city residents out into their neighborhoods on a strange journey of exploration and discovery. Located at various forgotten sites are small, hand-made wooden signs, each engraved with a title and a phone number. Upon discovering this mysterious object, explorers can call the number and hear a piece of music composed especially for that place.

This project was developed by Oliver during his Artist-in-Residence period at the Museum of Contemporary Art in A Coruña, Spain. As our cities burgeon and thrive, we can become enveloped in the chaos and thrall. In turn we begin to forget the joy of exploration and the thrill of discovery. This project is a celebration of non-places – a joyful rediscovery of the cities in which we live. By instilling city residents with a sense of place and encouraging them to find their own perspective, Music for Forgotten Places transforms lost locations into landmarks, and introduces curiosity and surprise into our daily lives.

Inspired by the mystique of number stations – man-made sonic phenomena manifest as public secrets – and the notion of the flâneur – the city stroller, wanderer, and saunterer – Music for Forgotten Places is a public art project of exploration and discovery. Each location is a lost landmark, a secluded corner, or forgotten space: hidden gardens, broken buildings, unusual monuments. Only by visiting the location and following the instructions on the sign can the music be heard.

Music for Forgotten Places is part of a body of work in which Oliver, together with his colleagues at Civic Center, is exploring our relationship with the cities we live in. Over the next 12 months, he will visit cities across the world to compose music for their forgotten places.

Ruined Home, A Coruña by Oliver Blank, 2012
The Sign: Requiem for a Ruined Home
Production: Installing a sign on a hidden path
The Sign: Nocturne for a Hidden Path
Production: Entering a vacant lot
Production: Constructing the sign
Sign: Adagio for a Vacant Lot
Sign: Prelude for Gallant Owls
Museum Exhibit, A Coruña: Featuring a large scale map and research display
Display Table: Contains items such as an essay by James A. Reeves and original sketches by Oliver Blank
Museum Exhibit: Visitors can collect their guide map from the museum
A Coruña Guide Maps: Distributed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, A Coruña
A Map for Forgotten Places in A Coruña, Spain
Guide Map: Residents can use the guide map to discover forgotten places
Guide Map: Each marker points to a different forgotten place
Guide Map: Short clues help guide the way
Production: Proofing Typography
Production: Typesetting by Hand
The Sign: Incidental Music for the Cats' Garden

About the Artist

Oliver Blank is a composer. He builds sound toys, creates public installations and composes symphonic cinematic music. Oliver’s sound toys and public installations empower residents to connect with sound and create surprising experiences that bring a sense of wonder back to their city.

Oliver can currently be found in New Orleans as part of the team at Civic Center. He is a graduate of Goldsmiths College’s Master of Music programme, and likes to call Helsinki home.

Learn more about Oliver at www.mroliverblank.com

Your City

Music for Forgotten Places debuted in December 2012, in the city of A Coruña, Spain, with the support of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Oliver found five forgotten places and composed original scores for each of them. A special guide-map was produced so that residents could explore the city and rediscover each location.

Throughout 2013 and beyond, Oliver will visit cities across the world to compose original music for more forgotten places. If you would like Oliver to visit your city, send an email to hello@mroliverblank.com.