Toot 'n Blink
Toot'n Blink map

Toot'N Blink - New York

2 October 2010 – 7:00-7:30 pm
30 minutes
New York Harbor between the Battery in
    Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty
Visible from:
Battery Park, Robert Wagner Park
    and Governor’s Island
Composer: Charlie Morrow
    Composer and performance artist
Voice captains: Ed Herrman (from the 1982 event)
    and Joan LaBarbara
Maritime Producer: Capt John Doswell,
    Exec Director, Working Harbor Committee
Consulting Producer: Chris Wangro
    President, Zaragunda, Inc.

Toot'N Blink is a live-action maritime performance plus radio/internet broadcast in which radio announcers describe the action and conduct two fleets of boats. The Quay Side Fleet waits for, and then greets, the arriving Night Boat Squadron. It is a good spirited and noisy spectacle. Of the original Chicago debut performance, John Cage said, "I prefer the blinks."

Private boats, ferries, historic craft, all manner of watercraft are auditioned, rehearsed and perform sound and light actions on command: toots of their horns and blinks of their lights.

This social and art event is designed to bring attention to the waterfront and to involve a large number people aboard and drawn to the waterfront where the action is re-orchestrated reality. Toot'N Blink is a celebration of machines as music-of-the-people, an echo of Futurism which embraced machines as expressive instruments.

The boats are auditioned for the sounds of their horns in order to have a range of sound from low pitch to high, from throaty to clear, from old to new. The lighting capacity and appearance of the boats are used to determine how they appear in the overall art direction. Each boat has one spokesperson who talks with the radio announcers.

Toot'N Blink is a scripted, composed event performed by participating boats and crews, as well as by harbor authorities and public services that make attendance safe. The sound patterns and interactions create a logical evolution of energy in symphonic fashion as they build to a climax. Audience will continue to arrive at the vantage points on the shore attracted by the broadcast and the excitement on the water.

The fast Night Boat Squadron starts beyond the horizon visible from the shore. They speed to the area where the Quay Side Fleet is stationed. The approach, described minute by Blink minute as it happens, creates an audience reaction on shore and an experience for radio, TV and internet audience.

The Quay Side Fleet and Night Boat Squadron are conducted verbally by FM radio announcers located at a visual vantage point in Manhattan or out on the water. The boats hear their commands by this FM signal. The boat captains move, toot and blink on command. The audience brings FM radios or mobile internet devices to follow. Advance promotion in newspapers and radio has explained the set-up. Boat captains reply to the radio announcers via ship to shore radio, which is also broadcast (by special permission of the FCC). The event will be conducted with the permission and assistance of the US Coast Guard. The concert will feature the historic steam whistle for the famous, ill-fated French liner Normandie. In addition, the historic retired fireboat John J. Harvey, accompanied by working NYPD fireboats Three Forty Three and Firefighter II will provide a dramatic water display.

Part of the Little Charlie Fest Sound Artist Charlie Morrow created this evening event for the annual New Music America Festival in Chicago.

It is a public event and a radio/TV event, honoring John Cage. Boaters were rehearsed to use their boats in the piece, which took the form of a drama. The fast Night Boat Squadron, just over the horizon,, sped to Chicago's mile long Navy Pier. Larger boats were moored around Navy Pier. The two groups of boats are conducted verbally by radio announcers out on a pier in this night event. The event is broadcast by FM radio. The boats hear their commands by this FM signal. They move, toot their horns, and blink their lights on command. The audience brings FM radios to follow the commands. Advance promotion in newspapers and radio has explained the setup.The boat captains reply to the radio announcers via ship to shore radio, which is also broadcast (by special permission of the FCC. The Night Squadron is greeted by the large boats as they arrive at the pier. All play together. Toot 'n' Blink was sent locally, nationally, internationally on radio, and nationally on CBS TV. It was rebroadcast on CBS TV when John Cage passed away in 1992. It is a celebration of the expanding use of the waterfront and of machines as music-of-the-people, an echo of Futurism

Download the aircheck of the 1982 NPR broadcast:

Maritime Producer Capt. Doswell is a veteran on many water events in NYC, including the Great North River Tug Boat Race, City of Water Day, The Liberty Challenge Outrigger Canoe Race, numerous on-water parades & flotillas and many more on-water events. In a prior lifetime he has produced hundreds of events and shows for corporate clients, visuals for Broadway, films and multimedia presentations and live shows. He has worked with composer Charlie Morrow since the early 80s.

Voice Admiral Ed Herrmann will reprise his role in the original Toot 'N Blink, in which he broadcast directions to a cast of boats in Lake Michigan. Herrmann is a composer/sound designer and founder of Garuda Records, an audio production service based in Chicago. He has created hundreds of audio tours heard throughout the country. The script for the current performance is a conspiracy between Ed Herrmann and composer Charlie Morrow.

Producer Chris Wangro - One time Circus director and former director of Special Events for the City of New York, Mr Wangro is acclaimed as one of the leading producers of live events in America. His work is expansive and has included everything from Presidential Summits to Pachyderm Parades, from Papal Visits to Rock Festivals and he has produced prestigious Arts Festivals and Cultural Expositions for organizations in the US and governments abroad. In recent years Mr. Wangro has passionately devoted his efforts to Civil Society. He has created and executed extensive projects for dozens of leading social justice organizations raising global attention and millions of dollars for causes that include education, health, housing and humanitarian aid. The Mission of the Working Harbor Committee is to strengthen awareness of the working harbor's history and vitality today, and its opportunities for the future, by:

  • Involving people in learning how the harbor works and what it does;
  • Educating people in the rich and challenging history of the harbor;
  • Making people aware of the need to build and sustain the working harbor.
Working Harbor A project of the Working Harbor Committee
    455 West 43rd Street     NYC, NY 10036    
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