Unconsumption means the accomplishment of properly recycling your old cellphone, rather than the guilt of letting it sit in a drawer.
Unconsumption means the thrill of finding a new use for something that you were about to throw away.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a service like Freecycle (or Craigslist, Goodwill, or Salvation Army) to find a new home for the functioning DVD player you just replaced, rather than throwing it in the garbage.
Unconsumption means enjoying the things you own to the fullest – not just at the moment of acquisition.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a pair of sneakers until they are truly worn out – as opposed to the nagging feeling of defeat when they simply go out of style.
Unconsumption means feeling good about the simple act of turning off the lights when you leave the room.
Unconsumption is not about the rejection of things, or the demonization of things. It’s not a bunch of rules.
Unconsumption is an idea, a set of behaviors, a way of thinking about consumption itself from a new perspective.
Unconsumption is free.
Founder & Editor:Rob Walker, journalist, Savannah, GA
Editorial & Community Manager: Molly Block, marketing and business development geek, Houston, TX
So did you read that depressing article in The New York Times about used pianos that end up getting dumped and junked? I couldn’t help but notice that it inspired, in me at least, a surprisingly visceral sense of sadness — on behalf of what are, after all, objects.
Turns out it wasn’t just me: “The emotions evoked by the deaths of used pianos are powerful, and they came flooding in” after that article, The Times reports in a follow-up:
But when it comes to keeping old pianos alive, owners find that their feelings collide with the reality of expensive repairs and inexpensive, easily available brand-new replacements.
Audio-visual artist, Kathy Hinde’s work is pretty extraordinary. At TEDGlobal, she showed a version of this installation from last year. From the TED blog post: “Essentially, she found a broken piano that was going to be discarded. She stripped it and then she hung it up as a screen on which to project video. It’s rigged, mechanically, so that if a bird is projected on a string, that string will play a note. So, by projecting a video of birds on the piano, she can play a tune.” Kinetic sound sculpture gone wild.
Very interesting new use for an old piano. (Other uses here, in case you missed them.)
Australian artist Noel Brady deconstructs old pianos and assembles the instruments’ small parts into wall panels and other works of art.
There was a time, back in the 1950s and 60s, when many rural families in Queensland would often gather around the old piano in the corner of the dining room, for an evening of music and sing-a-long.
Way before the Ipod, Itunes, Xbox and indeed, even television itself, friends and families had to entertain themselves, and so many homes relied on the old ‘goanna’ as the centrepiece for the nights’ activities. As time and technology marched on, the old piano became neglected and forgotten.
As a sculptor working in regional Queensland, I happened to come across such an old piano and proceeded to pull it completely apart, eventually reducing it to a collection of hundreds of tiny pieces of wood. I became fascinated by these intricate small parts and then began to realise their sculptural potential.
TIME magazine reports on a time-honored tradition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: the annual hurling of a broken piano off a dormitory roof.
The tradition began in 1972, when students living in the Baker House dorm had a broken piano on their hands and, as any rational group of intelligent undergraduates would, decided to push it off the building’s roof.
The tradition has become such a smash hit that after the dust settles, onlookers scramble to grab splintered wood, keys, hammers, strings and any other errant debris strewn across the dorm’s lawn. Astronaut Catherine Coleman, an MIT alumna, even took one piano’s key to the International Space Station during her six-month stay.
Those [pianos] chosen for the drop are generally already broken, often donated by generous folks who, understandably, have no idea what else to do with a broken piano sitting in their home.
In fact, the campus tradition has turned into something of a drop-off service for unwanted pianos. Eager owners contact the students to have their irreparable and cumbersome instruments taken off their hands.
A Dumpster converted to a swimming pool; a food court and pocket park — shaded by vinyl repurposed from old billboards, “with puzzle-piece seating made from old fences” — built by University of Texas at Arlington architecture students; an old piano placed on the street for passersby to play; the street giving greater way to pedestrians and bicyclists; a bike rack made from a traffic sign — all were part of a “Build a Better Boulevard” event held recently near downtown Dallas.
The event took place in association with the Dallas Complete Streets project, “intended to shift the city’s emphasis to building streets that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.”
Sing for Hope, a New York-based non-profit organization that promotes arts accessibility, will install 60 donated (used) pianos in New York City parks and other public spaces next month. The “street pianos” are part of “Play Me, I’m Yours,” an international public art project created by British artist Luke Jerram. Jerram describes the project as “a blank canvas for everyone’s creativity.”
Pianists and passers-by will be able to post photos and videos to streetpianos.com/nyc2010, which features maps showing the piano locations and additional information about the project.
After the project ends in July, Sing for Hope will donate the pianos to area schools and community centers.