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Max Neuhaus (1939-2009)

By Nick Hasty

1. Part I [listen]

2. Part 2 [listen]

Audio: Max Neuhaus, Radio Net, 1977

This week marked the passing of a true visionary of contemporary art, Max Neuhaus. Originally an accomplished solo percussionist who toured with Boulez and Stockhausen, in the late 1960's Neuhaus moved his practice out of the concert hall and into the public sphere, setting up numerous sound-based installations in and around New York City.

Perhaps his most famous installation is Times Square, consisting of a large speaker emitting a resonating drone from beneath a traffic island grate in the heart of the spectacular crossroads. The work is remarkable for its ability to carve out a meditative sonic chamber amongst the clamor and saturation of its surroundings.

Neuhaus's work spans many mediums and technologies, from installations to performances to network-based compositions, such as Public Supply, made for telephone lines, Radio Net, made for broadcast radio, and Auracle, a voice controlled instrument played and heard over the internet. He even designed and patented a unique siren system for emergency vehicles that creates an "aural image" of the vehicle so to inform the listener of the vehicles direction and proximity.

You can find his writings and examples of his work, including a great video about Times Square, here:

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Steve Tyro 6 years, 8 months agoReply

I went to Times Square where I had heard there was a Max Neuhaus installation. By the time I made it into Times Square, it was about 11:30, still busy, but not too chaotic. I walked across the pedestrian islands until I heard a low ringing rumble flow up from the grates. As I stood there, transfixed in this invisible oasis, watching people and taxis wash over Broadway, I felt as if I was being enveloped by another world, which was really just an idea about perception. I rocked back and forth, listening as the sounds rippled and creased and rubbed, an infinitesimal percussion. Wonderful.