Project Name: Soundaffects
Client: Parsons The New School for Design
SoundAffects is an interactive installation in the form of a wall with embedded sensors and light components, installed at street level at 13th Street and 5th Avenue, New York City. The wall “listens” to the active sounds of the city that surrounds it – taxis, cell phone conversations, footsteps, honking horns, jackhammers – as well as ambient stimuli created by the environment, such as rain drops, the visual color landscape, and wireless network activity. The wall translates this real-time sensory input into unique musical and light compositions, which listeners can experience live at the wall itself and online.
To create the experience, Tellart worked with mono for client Parsons The New School for Design. For ten days, the SoundAffects wall collected data input including temperature readings, color analysis of video feeds, precipitation measurements, noise levels, cellular phone activity/interference, and proximity sensors. All of this information was fed directly into a generative music algorithm and visualizer system. The music, and the corresponding visuals and video, were available in near real-time and could be listened to at the SoundAffects wall, via your mobile phone, or on a traditional web browser.
Through live video feeds, listeners could compare the soundtrack to the source environment, and create connections between a particular tonal “ping” and the passing of a yellow taxi cab. The interface was carefully designed and crafted to allow for a seamless listening and viewing experience, both during the live event and as an archive of the ten-day experience.
The piece was engaging enough to capture the attention of busy New Yorkers who stopped to listen. It’s careful attention to detail in design of the interactions and integration of sensor systems allowed it to interpret and give new shape to the many streams of activity and information constantly at play in our immediate environments.
Listening to the live soundtrack at the SoundAffects wall.
Passersby could borrow headphones or plug into the wall with their own to hear the soundtrack.
The SoundAffects wall included multiple headphone jacks for listeners, as well as the installation’s cameras and sensors.
The installation was live for ten days, 24 hours a day, and included a projection overlay at night.
Listeners could become active players in the creation of the soundtrack by interacting with cameras or sensors.