Upcoming Exhibitions

September 5 - September 11, 2014

Sonic Forest: Civic Celebrations

The Center for Architecture, in collaboration with Friends of LaGuardia and the NYC Department of Transportation’s Art Program, will present Sonic Forest: Civic Celebrations, an interactive public art installation on LaGuardia Park by artist and composer Christopher Janney and his firm PhenomenArts, Inc. Janney’s “Urban Musical Instrument” will be on view from Friday, September 5 through Thursday, September 11, 2014, and will mark the end of the Center for Architecture’s summer exhibition, Open to the Public: Civic Space Now, which closes on Monday, September 8.

Sonic Forest: Civic Celebrations radically transforms public spaces by engaging the public through sound and visual effects. The installation is composed of sixteen eight-foot-tall “trees” placed in a site-specific pattern in LaGuardia Park, across the street from the Center for Architecture between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets. Each “tree” houses interactive photo-electric sensors, computer-controlled LED lights, and an audio speaker, allowing up to four people to interact with each column at once. Visitors will trigger the sensors by touch or movement, producing an ever-changing score of melodic tones and environmental sounds and turning the installation into a “communal musical instrument” enhanced by varying light effects. The score will change according to the time of day and the level of activity within the park, from flocks of frogs and crickets in the morning to marimbas, percussion, and swarms of fireflies passing overhead at night. Sonic Forest: Civic Celebrations never plays the exact same composition twice.

The communal instrument is a touring piece that has been featured at large music festivals and city plazas around the world, including the Three Rivers Festival in Pittsburgh, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee, the London Summer Olympic Games, and the World’s Fair in Zaragoza, Spain. Prior to its installation at LaGuardia Park, Sonic Forest has been on a 2014 tour at the Greenfest on Boston City Hall Plaza, Electric Forest in Michigan and FIREFLY in Delaware.

The installation, which seeks to further activate the Center for Architecture’s neighboring public space, is related to AIANY 2014 President Lance Jay Brown’s, FAIA, DPACSA, presidential theme “Civic Spirit: Civic Vision.” "In celebration of the presidential theme and its emphasis on the critical role played by public space in ensuring civic engagement, we are thrilled to present this spatial sound and light installation that adds an extraordinary sensory dimension to our experience of open and accessible urban space," says President Brown.

Christopher Janney has often stated, “Urban Architects and planners often have to design at the level of the skyscraper or large plaza. They often can’t get down to the level of designing for the individual. But, it is my feeling that communities begin with the simple interaction between two people. Sonic Forest is a “social foil”; an instrument to encourage total strangers to interact in a creatively playful way with one another."

Organized by: The Center for Architecture

Co-organized by: Friends of LaGuardia Place, Manhattan Community Board 2, and the New York City Department of Transportaiton 


The Institute for Performance Sculpture, Inc.


Image: ©PhenomenArts, Inc.

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