October 3, 2010
Urban light installations
Höweler + Yoon / MY Studio designs the interactive sound and light installation in Athens
White Noise / White Light was one of 9 temporary interactive urban installations commissioned and installed for the Athens 2004 Olympics at base of the Acropolis as part of the Catch the Light Program. The project inserted a luminous interactive sound and landscape within the plaza to create a constantly choreographed field in flux. Semi-flexible fiber-optic strands responded to the movement of pedestrians through the field, emitting white light and white noise. Activated by the passersby, the fiber optics transmit light from white LEDs while the speakers below the raised deck emit white noise. Just as white light is made of the full spectrum of light, white noise contains every frequency within the range of hearing in equal amounts. This field of white noise creates a unique sound-scape in the city and masks out the noises from the immediate context, forming a place of sonic refuge within the bustling city. Each stalk unit contains its own passive infrared sensor and microprocessor. If motion is detected, the white LED illumination grows brighter while the white noise increases in volume. Once motion is no longer detected, the microprocessor smoothly decreases the light and fades the sound to silence. The movement of pedestrians creates an afterglow effect in the form of a flickering wake of white light and white noise, trailing and tracing visitors as they cross the field. Depending on the time of day, number of people, and trajectories of movement, the project is constantly being choreographed by the cumulative interaction of the public. The field becomes an unpredictable aggregation of movement, light and sound.