Kara Crombie’s Sample Philly was an interactive sculpture honoring Philadelphia’s rich musical history. Doubling as an outdoor boom box and music production studio, participants could produce their own fantasy musical compositions from a vast archive of songs recorded in and about the city. Crombie’s goal was that “participants with all degrees of musical ability and knowledge will be able to create layered songs with sampled audio from Philadelphia's collective musical culture.” As she added,
“I have conceptualized this project with the city’s children, the next generation of artists, specifically in mind. Sample Philly serves as a gateway for youth of Philadelphia to become acquainted with the city’s musical history, and its ultimate goal is to provide an outlet for musical creativity at a time when art education has been cut back and the tools of musical expression have become inaccessible to many.”
Crombie’s sample bank included snippets from hundreds of notable Philadelphia songs, loops, speeches, and other sonic elements crowdsourced from local musicians, blending the sounds of the past and present. The audio archive referenced a diverse array of artists and public figures, including Frankie Avalon, David Bowie, the Dead Milkmen, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Gamble and Huff, Hall and Oates, Allen Iverson, King Britt, Patti LaBelle, Meek Mill, the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, the Roots, Ursula Rucker, Santigold, Schoolly D, Kurt Vile, and more. Crombie initially proposed Sample Philly as a speculative monument during Monument Lab’s discovery phase in 2015, supported by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.
Location: Site 02: Franklin Square
Digital audio archive, interactive electronic console, speakers, wood, and metal housing structure
Sample Philly Collaborators
Justin Geller (Music Director), Anders Uhl and Leon Phillpotts (Kiosk Fabricators and Co-Designers), Frank Musarra (Engineering Specialist), Tim Bieniosek (LED Specialist), Ric Allison (Console Support), Delta Gate Solutions (Metal Fabricators), and Schummers of Kensington
Sample Philly is an interactive and evolving sculpture in Franklin Square that functions as a programmable drum machine and loop station that contains a sound bank of musical samples drawn from Philadelphia’s rich musical history. Participants with all degrees of musical ability and knowledge will be able to create layered songs with sampled audio from Philadelphia's collective musical culture. I have conceptualized this project with the city's children, the next generation of artists, specifically in mind. Sample Philly serves as a gateway for children of Philadelphia to become acquainted with the city’s musical history, and its ultimate goal is to provide an outlet for musical creativity in a time when art education has been cut back in Philadelphia and tools of musical expression are inaccessible to many children in the city. Because the monument is interactive, it can also function as a centerpiece for performance events in the city, as well as educational workshops in music production. Our city's musicians and future artists are also encouraged to contribute to the evolution of the project by submitting samples to the archive so that Sample Philly may be an ongoing documentation of our city's collective musical expression.
About the Artist
Kara Crombie is a moving images and sound artist who lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is a recipient of the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, MacDowell Colony Fellowship, Headlands Center for the Arts Fellowship, Millay Colony Fellowship, Sacatar Institute Fellowship, and a Fleisher Art Memorial Wind Challenge Artist. Her work has been exhibited and screened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, Fleisher Ollman, Vox Populi Gallery, Pageant Soloveev Gallery, and Art Space in New Haven, CT. She was a member of the art collective Vox Populi from 2006–2011. Since 2015, she has been working with Monument Lab to create a temporary monument for Philadelphia’s Franklin Square in 2017. Kara is currently an Assistant Professor of Photographic Imaging and Digital Video Production at the Community College of Philadelphia.