A while back, we worried that silence was going extinct in this crazy, noise-filled world. But after listening to the way that a temporary, interactive new street-level installation called SoundAffects transforms the sounds of the streets into repetitive, strangely calming melodies, we might be okay with a bit of noise, after all.
The project is an effort between Parsons The New School for Design, mono and Tellart to translate real-time city noise (think weather, traffic, birds, passerbys, etc.) into sounds and visualizations—perhaps "borrowing" the idea from Alexander Chen. You can listen to the music, which is actually quite pleasant, in person by plugging into the wall on-site at 5th Avenue and 13th Street, or you can visit their website to hear streaming music and watch the corresponding screen. It's magic! Well, not really. A sensor input picks up signals (everything from temperature to color to nearby cell phones) all around the wall, filters all of that through a fancy algorithm that assigns each input a color and a sound, and then pops out tune and video.
The organizers are conducting experiments throughout the week to see how disruptions in weather, temperature, and human interaction on the block will affect the music. For example, today's rain shower gave the the tune a jazzy little beat. The installation is running through the 22nd, and you can follow their Twitter page for more updates. We knew those studies about Manhattan being dangerously noisy were nonsense.