Art of Sound: 5 innovative music installations

Here at FRUKT we are suckers for quirky art and music collaborations. Whether it’s a goldfish controlled harp, musical sand or remixing jelly, we are always on the lookout for innovative combinations of audio and design.

Music is a highly malleable art form and its ability to evoke emotional reactions is constantly under scrutiny from a broad spectrum of creative installation artists. Here we showcase some recent examples of art and music working together to create highly evocative and immersive experiences. 

TOKYO CITY SYMPHONY

Projection mapping, although arguably done to death by a swathe of brands, is still capable of generating impressive spectacles on a massive scale. However, size isn’t everything, as this rather beautiful 1:1000 scale musical projection map goes to prove. Tokyo City Symphony is a micro music installation designed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of exclusive building complex Roppongi Hills, which can be played as a virtual instrument online. Users choose between Future City, Rock City and EDO City to create visual soundscapes by selecting letters on their keyboard, with the results able to be shared across a variety of social networks.

What is particularly clever about this use of mapping is how it side-steps the more obvious 'large scale event to viral video' application, converting the elements of the projection into an interactive, shareable music creation experience online. 

LASER FOREST

Laser Forest (part of Intel's ongoing Creators Project) is the kind of thing you imagine Jean Michael Jarre has in his back garden. Debuting at STRP Biennale in Eindhoven this epic sprawling art installation of 150 musical tress invite you to embark on a tactile sonic journey as you explore a 450 square metre maze of light and sound.

The towering green lasers that comprise the actual tress are mounted on large flexible rods that can be tapped, shaken and plucked in order to generate oscillating sounds that resonate throughout the structure; with each tree tuned to a specific tone in order to convey a harmonious sound as people interact with this sonic wilderness.

It’s a simple yet effective use of light and audio, which enables participants to feel as if they are manipulating the very stars above them, whilst also using their own physicality to generate a shared soundtrack to this otherworldly experience. 

A LOT OF SORROW

At the weekend dour indie rockers The National took centre stage as the key components in a new art & music installation at the always brilliant MOMA PS1 Sunday Sessions in New York. The installation entitled ‘A Lot of Sorrow’ was created in partnership with Icelandic installation artist Ragnar Kjartansson, and saw the band performing their hit track ‘Sorrow’ on repeat for six-hours straight inside the intimate geodesic VW dome ( a venue created in partnership with Volkswagen of America).

Strictly one for the most besotted of fans, the experience showcases the minor imperfections in human repetition, as although the song was played hundreds of times, each one is distinct and an original in its own way. 

VOICE ARRAY

Voice Array, which made an appearance at the Bitforms Gallery in NYC last year, is a smart audio installation created by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, that merges spoken sound samples into a constantly morphing work of art.

The piece invites users to speak into an intercom system as their sounds represented by flashing LEDs, are pushed along the length of the structure as new people add additional sounds to the loop. The installation can hold 288 separate samples, creating a cacophony of sound until it finally pushes the spoken audio out of the other end.

At the launch of the artwork at the gallery, two-time Grammy wining vocal percussionist Rhazel used the installation as an instrument to perform a musical work. 

GLOBAL SOUNDS PROJECT

The Global Sounds Project, the brainchild of German interactive designer Rebecca Gischel, is sound installation that looks to harness the “interesting flow of ideas, views and values” that diverse cultures bring to the heart of a city.

Touching down in the Grassmarket in the centre of Edinburgh, the installation is constructed out of a variety of light pyramids, each with its own unique sound that is representative of a different culture (from a Chinese harp to bagpipes). The pyramids are reactive and can be trigged by passersby, with the collection of individual instruments gathering as people congregate in the square, eventually creating a complete musical work.

Visually simple, yet striking, this piece melds together fragmented communities to create one harmonious work, using the city and its inhabitants as virtual instruments. 

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