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Open Outcry

Sonic Garden artists:
Ben Rubin, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, and Marina Rosenfeld
Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders


Commissioned by Creative Time for Sonic Garden

World Financial Center, New York
October 17th, 2002 – November 30th, 2002

Winner of Best Documentary: Honorable Mention at the 2003 Third Coast International Audio Festival / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition.

Featured on Chicago Public Radio’s Third Coast Festival under “What We’re Listening To:”. Includes an interview with Ben Rubin.
April 29 – May 12, 2003

A few months after 9/11, I was asked to create a sound that would commemorate the reopening of the Winter Garden, a huge atrium space in the World Financial Center that was destroyed when the towers came down. The place was still in shambles then, and the World Financial Center complex was mostly empty, but one building on the far end of the complex was already filled with people. And those people were doing something curious. They were standing around in huge circles, hundreds of them, and shouting at each other, for hours, every day. It turns out that this shouting has a name; it’s called open outcry trading, and through it these people, almost all of them men, set the price that the world will pay each day for a barrel of oil, a gallon of gas, an ounce of gold, and a few other things. Although their building was surrounded by wreckage and accessible at first only by boat, the traders of the New York Mercantile Exchange had come back to work only a few weeks after 9/11. When I thought about what sound represented that place, it was this: the sound of these men shouting, each doing his best to buy low and sell high, a music of call and response that had been produced in lower Manhattan by generations of traders since the 19th century. More recently, it’s here that the traders have been reacting to rumblings of war, and then to actual war, the prices of energy and precious metals lurching and trembling as events unfolded in Washington, at the U.N., and in Iraq. This piece was made before the war; it was first played last fall in the Winter Garden.

Credits Featuring the voices of Madeline Boyd, J. Robert Collins, Jr., David Greenberg, John Hanneman, Vincent Viola, Elisa Zuritsky, and others.

Special thanks to Mark Hansen, Nachamah Jacobovits, John Kilgore, Andrew G. Milmoe, Charlie Richmond, Julie Rottenberg, Richard Schaeffer, Guy Taylor, Marc Wise, Jamie York, New York Mercantile Exchange, and the New York Board of Trade.

Weeks of April 25th and October 24, 2003, The Next Big Thing included Open Outcry as a feature on their weekly program.