While participating in an artist-in-residence program sponsored by San Francisco waste management company Recology, Nathaniel Stookey composed Junkestra, a symphony played entirely with instruments made from objects scavenged at the San Francisco Dump.
To find just the right junk, Stookey headed onto city trash piles wearing a helmet and steel-shank boots, returning to his studio later in the day pushing a shopping cart full of detritus.
A variety of pipes attached to packaging foam contribute to the orchestral whole. Together, Stookey said, the instruments produce "a richer palette of timbre and pitch than anything I could have foreseen or designed."
Some Junkestra instruments--like this garbage can drum and tennis-ball mallet--have a more explicitly trashy look than others. But despite their origins, the instruments won't be going back to the dump, according to Stookey. "They're definitely instruments now," he says. "They are precious to me."
Sonorous sewer line pipes compose another Junkestra instrument. "Every element of Junkestra has a pitch," Stookey says. As with traditional instruments, the pitch can change over time, requiring tuning by way of a hammer or other tool.
Silver goblets taped to the floor of a salvaged cabinet. As unusual as the Junkestra instruments may be, "it's an orchestra piece just like orchestra pieces I write for oboes and violas and trombones," Stookey says. "The way I approach it is just like I approach a symphony orchestra."