September 27th, 2009 by Heidi
People driving through Fremont yesterday may have wondered what was going on at the Fremont Bridge. There were people carrying colorful signs dressed in colorful shirts. The bridge was laced with colorful pennant strings. Despite the parading and fanfare, it wasn’t a protest. This was a celebration.
“Bridge Talks Back” is the result of artist Kristen Ramirez’ summer-long residency inside the northeast tower of the Fremont Bridge. For the past three months, she collected sounds from in and around the bridge, as well as Seattle residents’ stories of it, and compiled them into a sound art project that honors the historic Bridge through all of its daily rhythm and noises.
For the installation’s opening, sixteen different horn players were stationed inside the bridge’s four towers. As cars began stopping for the bridge to go up, they played a piece composed by Fremont-based trombonist Tom Yoder.
The recording of various sounds, from cars and horns to birds and bells, were then played over the structure’s overhead speakers. Each time cars sat idle for the bridge, nearly one hundred performers engaged in choreographed fanfare with handmade signs.
The public art project was commissioned by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs from the Seattle Department of Transportation’s 1% for Arts Fund. The audio composition will continue to play over the bridge’s speakers during daytime bridge openings from now through April 2010. You can also hear those recordings, as well as those of residents’ bridge stories, by calling 1-800-761-9941.