Metron Busker

Wenqi Li

Metron Busker is my strategy for intervening in the urban space as a street performer, using a networked toolkit. Metron Busker is a street performance enabled by tools, and it is also the toolkit that enables the performance.


It was in the streets that the demonstrations took place. It was in the streets that spontaneity expressed itself. —Harriet Hawkins

The public arena of the street is where performers can insert new, dynamic, stirring, living experiences into a highly commercialized context. It is where moments of sociality and conviviality are created in everyday life.

In contrast to the absence of authorship that often defines graffiti or public art installations, street performance—especially busking—puts the spotlight directly on the author. A busker’s performance is shaped by their mood, their stories and their connection to the site of performance. Busking is a robust form of self-expression.

Stemming from my interest in this potential for self-expression and in acts of intervention to the public space, my thesis Metron Busker is an exploration of my creative approach toward busking. I use it to reposition myself as a busker delivering a performance as an escape from the burden of conflicting emotions.

The toolkit backpack equips me with a web application and networked electronics. The web application takes input parameters for algorithmic remixing, and the networked electronics boost the musical expression through street-ready speakers and screens. Together they broadcast the generative audio and video, live streaming straight to the audiences' smartphones.

The metal, black-framed backpack with its array of functional electronics serves as a metaphor of burden, connecting the stress of living in a tech-driven age with the physical feeling of carrying a heavy load. This toolkit can be used for all kinds of audio-visual performance seeking to utilize such a concrete expression of burden. It is the conflicting eagerness and fear, expectation and forbiddance from where my burden of anxiety arises.

To expose eagerness and fear to the public and harness them for listening pleasure is the busking way to overcome these feelings. The audiences will be subjected to an arc of intensity, experiencing the vulnerable, the overwhelming and the vital.