Engaging visual installations react to sound, highlighting unique local aspects of a place.

Ambient sound from vehicle traffic to overheard conversations is an essential component of the urban experience, yet we tend to filter much of it out as we go through our daily lives. While there is a fine line between information and noise, what sits at the middle is rich with meaning and narrative. In an effort to help communicate its significance, designers are experimenting with light as a visual tool for conveying the physical properties of sound.  

Whether taking place at an art gallery in the Netherlands or under a noisy bridge in Brooklyn, New York, PSFK Labs has noticed a trend we are calling Sound Syncing that explores how these synced lighting and sound projects help people experience places and the people within them in new and engaging ways. By visually capturing the physical qualities of sound  these displays highlight local aspects of a place, tell compelling stories and bring people together around shared, interactive experiences. Brett Renfer, Senior Technologist with architecture and design firm Rockwell Group, echoed this sentiment during our conversation, saying “I think reacting to ambient noise in a cityscape really gets people to think about their environment in a really different way. I think light is a great way to connect with because it’s so immediate.”

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