Arts & Entertainment

Car horn symphony coming to LA, courtesy of artist Zefrey Throwell

Passat CC R-Line Steering Wheel Retrofit
Passat CC R-Line Steering Wheel Retrofit
jaronbrass/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Listen to story

Download this story 2MB

For his most recent project, artist Zefrey Throwell has decided to take to the highways. Throwell hopes to record the horns of 1,000 cars across Los Angeles, folding them into a sonic movement for the third piece of his "Entropy Symphony."

With the help of Los Angeles Nomadic Division, a non-profit public art initiative, hopeful participants send in the make and model of their car. Participants are then emailed an MP3 based on the tone of their car horn. This Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m., the selected musicians are to honk their horns in rhythm with the MP3, wherever they are.

“The entire symphony is about the sound society makes when the gears kind of grind to a halt,” said Throwell.

For the third movement of the conceptual “Entropy Symphony,” Throwell is flying into L.A. and asking the Hertz rental car company for their best horn. However, Throwell does have his own car horn tone preferences.

Throwell acknowledged, “I’m a big fan of the meat and potatoes of America — the Honda Civic horn is really something quite shrill and beautiful.”

The first movement recorded walkie-talkie responses as he ran rampant through the Whitney Museum in New York, attempting to break every museum rule he’d ever heard. Movement two took place in Berlin with 100 air horns playing in the streets throughout the entire city.

“People were out in a snowstorm playing the air horns across all of Berlin," Throwell added, "using it as the resonating chamber for the symphony."

Throwell was also the man behind "Ocularpation: Wall Street," a large-scale art project. Despite the name, it preceded the Occupy movement.

The five-minute outdoor performance stretched the entire length of Wall Street and featured each of the 50 performers enacting common Wall Street jobs — custodian, businessman, trader — while slowly striping nude.

"The idea came to me while talking to my mother," said Throwell on his website. (Warning: Some images on the site contain adult material). "She was a public school counselor for 30 years and was forced to come out of retirement to look for a job in her mid-60s because she lost almost all of her retirement savings in the crash of 2008."

"At first she was depressed, and then she became furious that the entire financial structure of Wall Street is almost totally opaque and inaccessible to many of the people it affects the most."

Correction: This story initially identified Zefrey Throwell as an L.A. artist, while he's actually based in New York.