Who knew? David Byrne, famous for “burning down the house” as lead singer of iconic NYC band The Talking Heads, is an avid bicyclist and now policy wonk on transportation policy, giving power point presentations in D.C. Just a few years ago he wrote a book on his tours of global cities by bike: The Bicycle Diaries, a book actually worth a read. In 2008, Byrne then partnered with the NYC Department of Transportation on a series of wild bicycle racks. Now, he has created a new set of typographically-funky racks for the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
Byrne stumbled into creating his first public amenities. He had been a judge evaluating bicycle rack submissions and decided to submit his own, which the transportation department “enthusiastically agreed to install.” His first set of nine racks were unveiled across Brooklyn and Manhattan in the locations most appropriate to their design. A spot near Bergdorf Goodman got the high heel rack, while Wall Street got the dollar sign rack. Later, shadows were added to the pavement by a NYC artist, amplifying the effect of these artistic pieces of infrastructure.
Byrne describes how his friends at the Pace Gallery helped make his racks a reality, following the city’s legal guidelines but solving tricky fabrication challenges at the same time. Byrne writes: “It was important to me that these things be the same thickness and material as the existing U- and M-shaped racks — to help identify them as practical bike racks and not modern art. The solution was to weld pieces together and then grind the edges so it perfectly simulated the city racks, though the fabrication process was completely different.”
Just recently, Byrne partnered with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to complete a new set of typographical bike racks. Brokelyn writes that Byrne realized he could spell out most words using a “semi circle, line, and ‘v’ shape,” so he came up with interesting phrases like “Pink crown” (see at top) and “micro lip” for his first text installation. According to that site, the bike rack words will periodically change. BAM may even poll their visitors to see what words to spell out in rack form next.
To learn more about Byrne’s love of bikes, check out The Bicycle Diaries.
Image credits: (1) Dino Perucci, (2-4) copyright David Neff, (5) Dino Perucci