When looking into participatory works of art, one that really stood out to me was “Polyphonic Playground” by Studio PSK.
This piece is a “playground” for adults–complete with swings, slides, and bars to climb on. It’s covered in conductive thread, paint, and tape that generates sound when people touch it. By playing on the piece, a unique “song” of sorts is produced, comprised partially of sounds recorded by beatboxer Reeps One.
The artists behind this piece say that the idea of play was central to the design of the playground. They said that they hoped a playful approach would allow them to better connect with the audience.
One thing I really appreciate about Polyphonic Playground is the intentionality with with the sounds were designed. It feels like an actual instrument, rather than a random collection of noise. This is demonstrated by the fact that it can actually be “performed”on (shown in the video below). It works as well for a trained musician as for a casual participant–a satisfying, fun experience.