Local author Gabriel Squailia, left, chooses a passage to read with artist Evan Lurie.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Politicians, police, writers and many other area residents lent their voice to a new Melville-themed talking bench for downtown, as part of Pittsfield's summerlong "Call Me Melville" celebration of all things related to the famed author and his whale of an epic.
Called the Herman Melville Memorial Moby Dick Reciting Park Bench, this interactive piece of public art will recite pre-recorded passages of the classic 19th-century novel whenever passersby sit on it.
The project is being undertaken by Evan Lurie as part of Artscape, the city's yearly installation of works of art to enhance public areas, which this year will be all Melville-themed. Lurie, who lives in Lanesborough, is a musician and composer for television and film. He plays piano and most recently was the musical director for the "Backyardigans," a globally popular preschool animated series on Nick Jr.
Mayor Daniel Bianchi, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and dozens of Pittsfield residents from all walks of life contributed readings, recording a favorite passage or selecting one of many available from the lengthy tome, penned in Pittsfield and first published in 1851.
The bench will be installed at Palace Park (the North Street lot formerly occupied by Palace Theatre) and on display throughout the summer, and will issue a randomly selected recording of a local voice reciting "Moby-Dick" whenever someone sits on or otherwise triggers the installation.
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