Let’s be honest: Harps are kind of lame. They’re the Precious Moments figurines of the music world. Plus, they look super-heavy. There’s nothing rock ‘n’ roll about a harp.

Unless you wear it and attach it to the Brooklyn Bridge, which you’ll be able to do in 2014 thanks to Di Mainstone.


An artist-in-residence at Queen Mary University of London, Mainstone creates musical, wearable sculptures that emit sound based on how you move. Her latest project is the Human Harp, which she dreamt up while in New York City:

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As I listened to the hum of the steel suspension cables, the chatter of visitors and the musical ‘clonks’ of their footsteps along the bridge’s wooden walkway, I wondered if these sounds could be recorded, remixed, and replayed through a collaborative digital interface? Mirroring the steel suspension cables of the bridge, I decided that this clip-on device could be harp-like, with retractable strings that physically attach the user’s body to the bridge, literally turning them into a human harp …

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Both physically and metaphorically powerful, bridges cross obstacles and connect people.  Each bridge tells us an important story of a country’s development and vitality.  I then realized that the very process of pitching the Human Harp project had already created a bridge between Queen Mary University of London and the city of New York.  This symbolic bridge is a two-way connection, with data being given and received on either side of the Atlantic, to enrich the concept and enhance the likelihood of the project coming to fruition.

The plan is that people like you and I will be able to strap on the strings (which are attached to a module that records movement), gyrate a bit, and “play” the Brooklyn Bridge when it reopens in 2014. To see it in action, check out this five-minute documentary about the Human Harp and Mainstone:

It may just make harps cool.