<em>Voice Tunnel</em>

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Voice Tunnel, 2013
Relational Architecture 21
Custom-software, 300x 750W source four spotlights, ETC dimmer racks, speakers, computers, 22 miles of Socapex power cable, 2,5 miles of fiber optic cable, 2 miles of XLR cable, 4 generators each suppling 500 Amps, microphone, custom hardware
1,400 ft / 427 m

Voice Tunnel is a large-scale interactive installation designed to transform the Park Avenue Tunnel during the “Summer Streets” Annual Celebration in New York City. The tunnel goes from 33rd to 40th streets and is open for pedestrians for the first time in its almost 200 year history. The piece consists of 300 powerful theatrical spotlights that produce columns of light along the walls and cladding of the tunnel. All fixtures are floormounted right beside the walls, seven feet from each other, shining past the spring line, fading along the internal curved surface of the tunnel, just reaching its crown.

The intensity of each light is automatically controlled by the voice recording of a participant who speaks into a special intercom that is in the middle of the tunnel. Silence is interpreted as zero intensity and speech modulates the brightness proportionally, creating a morse-like code of flashes. Once a recording is finished, the computer plays it back as a loop, both in the light fixtures that are closest to the intercom as well as on an inline loudspeaker.

As new people participate, old recordings get pushed away by one position down the array of lights. So that the “memory” of the installation is always getting recycled, with the oldest recordings on the edge of the tunnel and the newest ones in the middle. At any given time the tunnel is illuminated by the voices of 75 visitors. Once 75 people participate after you, your own recording disappears from the tunnel, like a memento mori.

The voices can be heard through an array of 150 loud-speakers placed along the tunnel, in perfect synchronicity to the blinking lights that are near-by. The effect of the project is not cacaphonous because each speaker does not play all 75 recordings, it only plays the voices from lights that are immediately beside it.

Park Avenue Tunnel, NYC DOT "Summer Streets"

Park Avenue Tunnel, NYC DOT "Summer Streets"

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