Our city sounds different these days. Close your eyes on Fourth and Congress and you’ll hear the bells of the metro rail, jackhammers and traffic jams. A landscape affords the viewer the luxury of looking away; however, the soundscape inevitably comes to you whether you like it or not.
"Space and experience are up for sale in Austin. We live in a vibrant town that is bursting with change and growth. You cannot escape the festivals, development or ever-increasing crowds around town," said Ink Tank’s Emily Clayton. Ink Tank is a collective of a little over a dozen artists that float in and around Austin. The group specializes in immersive installations, thematically ranging from the apocalyptic premonitions to the powdered aristocracy. Ink Tank was responsible for that log you might have caught looming in mid air at Lomography on Congress last year.
Ink Tank’s new installation, "The Vending Machine," has arrived to help us all deal with the changing environment. A repurposed soda vending machine, the installation will play audio clips recorded around, and indicative of, Austin’s cultural landscape. "We want to help people cope with the changes by relaxing and calming down while being surrounded by the city," said Clayton.
The collective chose to create a vending machine because, said Clayton, "As an object, it provides instant gratification through an exchange. There is a physical transaction along with a monetary one. We were drawn to the idea of being able to receive something at the push of a button."
Though the sounds available will change with time, there will be a continuous focus on guided relaxation. "Each instruction is unique, and offers a different style of relaxation, ranging from concrete exercises to abstract journeys." Hopefully, the vending machine will serve as a gallery for changing assortments of sounds. "As time goes on, we will present new content and essentially curate different projects," said Clayton.
Free to operate, the accidental dollar or two is more than welcome at the installation. Proceeds gathered from the vending machine will find their way to local nonprofit organizations. Furthermore, the vending machine will feature a community bulletin board to help spread the news of local organizations that could benefit from the exposure garnered by such a curious object.
Art Alliance Austin will be presenting The Vending Machine, produced on behalf of a Downtown Arts Alliance grant, during a reception on May 17 from 3 to 5 pm at Republic Square Park. The reception is part of Big Medium's WEST Austin Studio Tour, meaning there will be food, drink and good times for all.