Sonic Graffiti: Trading In The Spray Paint For Sound Waves

<p>Benjamin Gaulon&#8217;s <i>Sonic Graffiti</i> intrudes our ear space.</p>

Dylan Schenker

The Sonic Graffiti setup involves a LSD, 3W Amplifier, and a 9v battery.

New York City (and most urban areas, for that matter) can be a pretty loud place. We’re constantly bombarded with the everyday cacophony of traffic, subways, advertisements, hordes of tourists and cell-phone toting businessmen, and a seemingly never-ending sea of construction sites. The aural chaos of city life can be overwhelming, and thus we often become disengaged from the world around us as we make the effort to maintain some semblance of unadulterated thought, headphones firmly wedged into our ears.

Benjamin Gaulon, aka Recyclism, gives us Sonic Graffiti—a playful critique of the city’s sensory assault. Using the light off video screens strewn about the city streets, Gaulon transforms the light input into sound, attacking passers-by with a high pitched squeal that can’t help but turn heads. Its dissonance makes it more difficult to tune out, forcing people to pay more attention to their surroundings as they walk down the sidewalk. Since it feeds off the light of video screens and advertisements, its perpetual wail also serves to accentuate how intrusive and omnipresent ads can be in our everyday lives, even when we aren’t paying direct attention to them.

To create the device, Gaulon mounted LDR’s (Light Depending Resistors) to a suction cup that he could attach it to any light emanating surface. An analog synthesizer subsequently turns light into sound waves.