Voice Tunnel Reminds Us Life Is Short


By: Nic Halverson

Whether it’s new interactive subway maps or robotic street signs, New York City has been on the receiving end of some pretty cool tech for public use as of late. Well, get ready to add another project to the list.

“Voice Tunnel” is an installation created by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer that will turn Manhattan’s Park Avenue Tunnel into a pedestrian space where visitors can record clips of their voices while walking through the tunnel. Alongside a syncopated light display, those recordings are then be fed back through 180 speakers, creating an undulating experience of light and sound. The louder a person yells, the more responsive the light display will be.

Visitors will be encouraged to walk to the midpoint of the 1,394-foot tunnel and record a message, which will gradually be recorded over and replaced by new voices.

“What makes the experience valuable is the fact that it’s ephemeral,” Lozano-Hemmer told the New York Times. The project “allows us to remember that we are on earth for a very brief period of time, and then we’re going to die. And it helps us live perhaps more intensely. We’re more alert to the fact that it ends, that we’re getting recycled, that there is a flow.”

On Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., the city will close the tunnel off to traffic. The project will run for three consecutive Saturdays, until Aug. 17. Considering New Yorker’s vibrant reputation for being loquacious, Voice Tunnel should be a top destination for idle weekenders. Fuhgeddaboudit!