Thomas Wing-Evans Designs An Immersive Sound Pavilion That Turns Paintings Into Music

Sydney-based designer and architect Thomas Wing-Evans has collaborated with DX Lab to create ‘80Hz’, an immersive sound pavilion for the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Inside the black shingle-clad pavilion, a program developed with Sonar Sound takes paintings from the collection of the library and turns them into music. The paintings were scanned, their formal elements—color, tone, complexity and faces, along with information about their creation—date, location and subject, were analyzed, assigned values, and then outputted as sound. For Wing-Evans, “Digitizing data does not necessarily make it more accessible. As information becomes abundant, exploring it becomes increasingly complex.” This complexity is explored by the project: “80Hz builds on concepts of data sonification commonly used in the fields of astronomy and oceanography to understand data”, Wing-Evans continues. “However, 80Hz refocusses data science processes onto artwork in order to explore its visible and invisible data.”

Within the structure, a central illuminated column displays a selection of paintings on a reel, here, visitors are invited to select an image and listen to its soundscape. Multi-channel audio has been embedded throughout the structure, creating an immersive experience when the sound plays. The anodized shell of the structure and its unique shape give the space unique acoustics—the soundscapes don’t just play, they reverberate inside the pavilion. “Beyond its acoustic qualities, my intention was to create a structure that provides shelter while allowing visitors to feel rooted in the city and the natural elements”, Wing-Evans explains. “Openings at eye level allow passers-by to peer inside and visitors to see out, which was key for making the space welcoming. At night, audio-reactive lighting pulsates through the cladding, attracting visitors to experience the State Library’s painting collection in an entirely new way.”

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All images © Thomas Wing-Evans

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