How can we create beautiful experiences, change behaviour, and make the world better with sounds in physical spaces?
To answer that question, here are ten awe-inspiring sound installations in public and commercial environments, connected to the experience of users. Some feature interactive elements, where the users directly influence the soundscape, creating fun and meaningful social interactions. Prepare to be amazed.
1. Urban Lights Contacts
In this interactive installation, the device senses varying degrees of electrostatic contact according to the proximity of people’s bodies. It encourages touch and people coming together to create a new soundscape for the moment.
2. The world’s deepest bin
Having since been implemented in various forms in cities around the world, this genius experiment by Volkswagen in 2009 where a sensor attached to a small speaker was installed in trash bins in a park in Stockholm — made people passing throw away significantly more trash, even picking trash up from the ground to a much greater extent. A perfect example of how a fun sound idea can make a difference.
New York creative agency Hush made this beautiful sound and light installation, where the user can influence the sounds by bending the objects, changing the colors and angles of the light, which in turn triggers sound changes.
4. Sound Installation for UW Hospital
The stressful aural environments of hospitals is a well known problem. A few creative sound artists around the world have experimented with using different methods to create a more calming experience, ultimately improving the work environment as well as patient health. In this example, composers created an ambient soundscape using field recordings, noise loops and synthesizers in a generative, ever-evolving soundscape. Other examples include work by research institute RISE in Sweden, sound artist Yoko Sen in Washington D.C. and composer Stefan Klaverdal in Sweden.
Swedish composer Anders Lind made a very sleek and minimal, interactive sound installation at the Västerbotten Museum in 2016. Users can touch lines on the wall, and perform music with unique electronic instruments with no prior musical knowledge.
6. Dolby Gallery
Our friends at Kling Klang Klong in Berlin created this composition, made by having cello players play according to visuals in VR. This gave rise to a unique, improvised soundscape which is now an installation at the Dolby Laboratories in San Fransisco.
7. Trigger Playground Experiment
It’s amazing how body movement changes the music in this experiment by Kling Klang Klong in Berlin. Each movement with the limbs trigger a musical development. An interactive dance!
Playing with sounds and music is so much fun for kids! DIRTI is an interactive and exploratory sound interface for kids, connected to the iPad. The movement of the grains are sensed by an intricate system of computer and synthesizers. By IRCAM in Paris.
The soundwall at the Poole Hospital children’s ward is an audiovisual installation primarily directed at kids and youths. This fun installation is made to entertain the childen and help them forget for a little while the stress of the wards and the scariness of illnesses and being in a hospital.
10. The Cave of Sounds
This interactive sound installation with unique instruments is, according to its creator Tim Murray-Browne “exploring the power of music to bind individuals together and the visceral urge to use technology to broadcast our identity.”