Noisy Table – Previewed

Ping-pong. Not just a sport played at 100MPH by super-nippy Olympians with preternatural hand/eye coordination…

Ever since George Maciunas of Fluxus set up his Ping-pong table & racquets at Contemporanea in 1973, there has been an invisible tether of sorts between it and art. More than that however, it’s been an unusual, seemingly ever-present feature of Liverpool for the majority of 2012.

Various venues across the city, from Camp and Furnace to the Ropewalks, have echoed with the now familiar chatter and clatter of plastic ball on table. Or in our case, ball onto concrete following yet another poor shot.

But tonight at FACT, the sounds emitted from the newly-installed Noisy Table (devised by artist and sculptor Will Nash) will be unlike any you’d previously have expected to hear from a game of ping-pong before.

“Tonight at FACT, the sounds emitted from the Noisy Table will be unlike any you’d previously have expected”

Nash (who describes Noisy Table as “an alter-table-tennis experience” which breaks down traditional barriers of art) has been working on public sphere projects for the best part of a decade, and this particular piece of kit isn’t quite something you can get down your local sports store.

A so-called ‘augmented’ ping-pong table, it has been configured to actively make music and sounds as games are in play. Players have buttons at either end of the table allowing them to scroll through a library of different sounds, hopefully meaning a unique experience is guaranteed with every match undertaken.

If this is all sounding a bit ‘novel’, cool your cynicism-powered jets for just one moment and read on. The project is part of FACT’s ‘Connects’ Programme, a proactive strand aiming to engage more successfully with the public at large, but also with creative communities. To that end, there are weekly ‘tablehack’ events lined up (beginning this evening), co-ordinated by artist Ross Dalziel; and local creators and makers including DoES, HIVE and MadLab have been invited to lead sessions.

In essence, this means that anybody can have a go at making the table do something interesting or distinctive under the supervision and guidance of people who know what they’re doing – an absolute priority in our case. Just in case you were thinking that any competitive element had been removed in favour of art for art’s sake, think again. After all, what would a ping-pong table be without a game?

Which brings us nicely to the table tennis challenge part of the Noisy Table installation. In association with music monthly Bido Lito!, FACT will play venue to Bats and Bleeps, a round-robin tournament featuring a whole host of Liverpool bands, including Loved Ones and Clinic, who get things underway with the first match of the tournament tonight in their 6pm showdown. (We have it on good authority that Loved Ones are ping-pong demons and should be considered strong favourites).

Following that clash of the titans – if they have the energy left – there will be an exclusive DJ set from combatants Clinic and a special performance from Afternaut. And in case you haven’t had your fill of Liverpool’s ping-pong renaissance just yet, the table will be available to the public from 12pm to 6pm daily (11am to 6pm on Saturdays). Outside of these times you can still play when FACT is open, just remember to bring your bats and balls.

The full list of dates for the Bido Lito Noisy Table Bats and Bleeps tournament first round games are as follows:

Dec 6 – Loved Ones v Clinic

Dec 18 – Organ Freeman v Afternaut

Jan 8 – All We Are v Alpha Male Tea Party

January 22 – Ninetails v Dogshow

Noisy Table is @ FACT December 6 2012 – February 24 2013 

Posted on 06/12/2012 by thedoublenegative