The “Acoustic Mirror of the World” in the Synesthetic Plan of Chicago

The World Listening Project created a public sound installation for the Synesthetic Plan of Chicago, co-curated by Annie Heckman and Daniel Godston, in the Visitor Information Center, at the Chicago Cultural Center (77 E. Randolph Street).  This Flickr photostream shows the construction of the WLP’s installation entitled the “Acoustic Mirror of the World.”

The "Acoustic Mirror of the World," a platform with stereo low frequency transducers inside to produce tactile interaction with auditory information.

For the installation a team collaborated on building a physical platform with stereo low frequency transducers underneath. Visitors are invited to touch and stand on it to feel the recorded soundscapes the World Listening Project team has collected from various places around the world.

This idea is inspired, in part, by Ricardo Huisman’s “Super Sonic Sound Scape Shoes,” a multi-sensorial and tactile interface for articulating soundscapes and stories in sound.  Beat Portal describes his piece. Here is Ricardo’s photo of Eric Leonardson standing inside it, taken at last year’s Deep Wireless/Radio without Boundaries conference in Toronto.

Nightclubs also use low-frequency or bass transducers to vibrate their dancefloor. One such club is Fabric in London. They employ 400 transducers and call it a “bodysonic” dancefloor. UK sound artist Kaffe Matthews uses bass transducers to make a “sonic bed” to sense sound beyond our ears. At the 2006 RadioREVOLTEN, a festival for the future of radio, another ”sound bed“ was activated by placing the transducers directly upon whoever laid on it.

The City of Chicago provided this official description of the exhibition: The Synesthetic Plan of Chicago: A Multi-Sensory Journey Through Chicago and Its Neighborhoods (SPC) MONDAY, JUNE 1–WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

The Synesthetic Plan of Chicago: A Multi-Sensory Journey Through Chicago and Its Neighborhoods is part of the citywide summer tourism initiative, Explore Chicago: Take A Neighborhood Vacation (June 1–September 30). More than 40 artists and organizations have joined in creating this exploration of Chicago through the five senses. Visitors and locals can experience Chicago imagery, sounds, fragrances, flavors and textures captured in miniature neighborhood scenes such as a mapping of the tastes and recipes of Chinatown, and an exploration of East Garfield Park candy. Explore Chicago: Take A Neighborhood Vacation showcases the city’s famous enclaves through over 100 insider events and activities including this special exhibition. Presented in collaboration with Chicago cultural and neighborhood organizations, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago Office of Tourism and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Tourism.

For details and to book a hotel stay, call 877.CHICAGO (877.244.2246 toll-free), or visit The TTY toll-free number for the hearing impaired is 866.710.0294.

Chicago visitors and Chicagoans welcoming out-of-town guests can receive additional information, brochures and maps on Chicago’s exciting events and attractions at the Visitor Information Centers. The centers are located at Chicago Water Works, 163 E. Pearson Street at Michigan Avenue, and the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph Street.

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2009 is the centenary of the publication of The Plan of Chicago. The Synesthetic Plan of Chicago: A Multi-Sensory Journey Through Chicago and Its Neighborhoods is an art installation project which corresponds with the celebration of this historic event. SPC’s participating artists and organizations have designed installation pieces which bring together sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and tactile things that relate to Chicago’s neighborhoods; create an interactive environment so participants can interact with the sensory “artifacts” of Chicago in creative and imaginative ways; and invites people to think about synesthetic connections with things that relate to Chicago.
The Synesthetic Plan of Chicago is commissioned by the City of Chicago. SPC, which is co-curated by Annie Heckman and Daniel Godston, includes the following projects:

  • “Neighborhood Synesthesia” by Anti Gravity Surprise
  • blank maps for “Notes for a People’s Atlas of Chicago,” by AREA Chicago
  • “Somnambulant City” by Brett Ian Balogh
  • “Bottletracks” by Sarah Bendix and Kelly Connolly
  • “Within the Scope of Wiki” by Alpha Bruton
  • “Urban Messengers” by Stephanie Dawn Burke
  • “Every Four Blocks” by Kelly Connolly
  • “A Cross-sensory Questionnaire About Chicago” by Eric Elshtain
  • “Putting Layers on the Onion” by Daniel Godston
  • “Memorializing Chicago’s Disasters” by Elise Goldstein
  • “A Book of Chicago Bookstores” by Laura Goldstein
  • “Haunted Spaces” by Annie Heckman
  • “Chocolate Stockyard” by Jeriah Hildwine
  • “NetWorking & Plasti-City” by Anni Holm
  • “Bubbly Creek” by James Jankowiak
  • “A Slice of Shoreline” by Deanna Krueger
  • “Daisy Chain” by Maggie Leininger
  • “Sensory City” by Clover Morell
  • “Extraction: Intelligentsia” by Ira S. Murfin
  • “Synestheticizing the Outsidereal” by the Next Objectivists
  • “C(l/r)aving” by Carol Ng-He
  • “The City in a Garden” by Lindsay Obermeyer
  • “Textaport Vending Machine” by PiSplice
  • “Read Up and Down and You Will See Why I Love You and You Love Me” by Felicia Grant Preston
  • “A Walking Dream of the World’s Columbian Exposition” by Kelley Schei
  • “Musical Chairs” by the Stockyard Institute with Faiz Razi, Beth Wiedner, & Zeb
  • “Acoustic Mirror of the World” by the World Listening Project

The Synesthetic Plan of Chicago (SPC) has been installed in the Visitors Center at the Chicago Cultural Center, with June 1st being its starting date. Parts of SPC will travel to locations throughout Chicago, and it will be part of the Fourth Annual Chicago Calling Arts Festival.


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