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The peculiar focus of two Hopscotch art installations

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If you pass Lump on Hopscotch's Friday night, don't be alarmed by the unusual. You might, for instance, hear unearthly drones emanating from the Raleigh art gallery. And you might wonder if the contraption inside—half of a kitchen appliance store webbed to paper shredders and chord organs—is making the sound or just making a mess. And what about the members of St. Vincent, Clipping., IIII and a half-dozen other bands sitting amid the monstrosity?

The curiosity is actually an instrument and an art installation called "Shredder Sessions," and it's part of SiteWork. Launched last year by a small clutch of Triangle artists and musicians, SiteWork exploded into Hopscotch 2013 with projects by seven artists at five different venues. As SiteWork expands its focus to include projects outside of the festival, they've scaled back to two bigger offerings this year.

"We realized that we could do a smaller number of projects, and it would be just as impactful, making each project bigger, deeper, richer," says Lincoln Hancock, one of the co-founders. "Though we won't be in quite as many places, we'll be doing more in these two locations."

Chapel Hill musician and poster-art legend Ron Liberti will use one of those spots, CAM Raleigh, to fill tall, street-level windows with large details of his concert posters in an exhibit called "Paper Mix Tape." If you've set foot on a Carrboro sidewalk, you've seen Liberti's work. The frontman for the punk band Pipe has been photocopying and screenprinting posters for countless bands for more than two decades. But the SiteWork crew saw a different aspect of his work during a recent installation in the windows of an old Chapel Hill car dealership. Liberti will again use such detail and scale to deconstruct the screenprinting process by expanding it.

"You're seeing a small moment of one of his posters," Hancock says. "They hint at something much larger going on behind them."

Likewise, "Shredder Sessions," the work of North Carolina expatriate David Colagiovanni, began small, or as small as 15 paper shredders hanging from the ceiling and all synched to one soundtrack can be. Seeking more control over this shredder orchestra, Colagiovanni incorporated a light organ—the widget that links your Christmas lights to your iPod playlist—and futzed with its circuit boards. An array of chord organs, blenders, hand mixers and other machines found their way into the assemblage.

"I depressed some of the organ keys and shoved some corks in them and put some weights on some of the chord buttons and turned them on," Colagiovanni says. "They created these drones. I would just play it all day."

Once he installed it in Cleveland's Sculpture Center, though, he found a limitation: Leave it on during a gallery's business hours, and you burn out both the shredder and blender motors. You rip through an enormous amount of paper, too.

"I decided to perform with it like it was an instrument," he says. "Instead of making my role the artist who leaves their stuff for people to view, I would be more connected to it, the way a musician performs."

But the net effect hasn't changed, he admits: "It's really meant to be very open, improvisational, experimental and fun."

This article appeared in print with the headline "Strange sites"

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