Grand Intervention: Sonic Shadows

Grand Avenue Intervention:
Submission Gallery

Sonic Shadows 

Submitted by Christopher Janney, PhenomenArts, Inc.

Sonic Shadows is a place of meditation in the city; a place that allows people to remove themselves from the daily life of the city, but not from its environment. It?s a space in which people can enter and be in an acoustically-quiet space without separating them selves from the public environment.

Sonic Shadows is a transitional space between the scale of the buildings and the scale of the pedestrian.  This environment is for the people; it is to be a place to enter and be alone or with friends, a place of quiet.

The exterior of the environment is to be composed of a series of large curved glass panels. The interior is to be composed of a meditative space of sound centered around an interactive water fountain. 

GLASS FORMS: The piece will be composed of a series of transparent clear colored curved glass planes.  These planes will be placed concentrically around a center ring, approximately 24 feet in diameter. The planes would be approximately 10-12 feet tall and 8-10 feet wide, in an effort to embrace the space and allow for minimum 4-foot paths to walk into the center where the fountain will be. The transparent glass will act as an acoustical barrier keeping out the sounds of the city and creating an extremely different aural environment within the interior space. The glass will be laminated safety glass with a slight blue tint to create shadows in the day and for illumination at night.  The environment will be set on a 1 ft. high mound which will begin at the outside edge of the glass and rise gradually to the inside edge of the glass.

WATER ELEMENT: In the center of the space, there will be a 6-foot diameter pool of water 1 inch deep, 3.5 feet off the ground, made of black granite. The water will always be spilling over the edge of this circular pool into a ringed trough below. The flow rate of the water will change throughout the day, from drips to a constant rush varying the acoustic palette of this space.

SOUND: Within this acoustically separated space, there will be a series of audio speakers, one at the base of each glass panel (JBL all-weather speakers). As a person enters into the space, a series of ever-changing, long drone tones will be heard. The sounds will change slowly over time, creating a series of harmonic chord patterns in concert with the acoustical sound of the falling water of the fountain. Together, these sounds will mask the urban cacophony and allow the people inside the space to separate themselves from this city environment.
INTERACTIVE ELEMENT: Around the edge of the pool there will be a series of 1/2 inch deep ?hand pattern? touch plates filled with water. When a person lays their hand on one of these hand prints, it will gently illuminate and trigger a pitched tone. Any one of the eight stations could be triggered simultaneously, but they will always trigger together in an harmonic pattern. A person cannot retrigger the sound until the previous sound and light has faded.
LIGHT: During the day, the natural sunlight will cast an ever-changing pattern of blue shadows on the area. At night (pictured right), lighting along the bottom edge of the glass will illuminate the panels creating a striking iconic effect for all to view from within the park and the surrounding streets. As well, the area around the water fountain will be illuminated with LED?s for both safety light and dramatic effect.   

MAINTENANCE: Being made from a standardized glass process (the Solutia system), the glass can be maintained similar to any normal window glass system. Because there are no moving parts, the electronics of the environment require very little maintenance.  In addition, during installation PhenomenArts, Inc. will hire a local artists/ engineer who will remain our ?point person? if there are any initial concerns.  PhenomenArts, Inc. will hold the maintenance contract on the artwork for the first year and then train anyone the art commission requests to oversee the artwork.  As with any of our interactive artworks since 1995, PhenomenArts, Inc. will have a modem connection to the computer system and we are able to monitor the system from our studio in Boston, MA.

CONCLUSION: My interest is to create a uniquely personal space in an otherwise public environment; one that can compliment the grand scale of downtown the Los Angeles buildings while, at the same time, offer an intimate place and experience strolling pedestrians.  My objective is to create a visually and aurally rich experience for the Grand Avenue Park community and an icon for the City of Los Angeles.