- Article by Natalie Mortimer
British designer and architect Thomas Wing-Evans has created an interactive sound pavilion in collaboration with the DX Lab for the State Library of New South Wales, which takes paintings from the library’s collection and turns them into music.
Located outside the Mitchell Reading Room in Sydney’s CBD, Wing-Evans’ pavilion features a curving black timber frame clad in matt anodised aluminium shingles. Working with studio Sonar Sound, a computer program was developed to translate visual data into sound.
Images were analysed for visual data such as complexity, colour, tone and face detection, and metadata like date, location and subject. These values then formed the basis of computer-generated compositions.
Inside the structure, a central mechanism displays a selection of paintings on a reel, like a real-life Instagram feed. Visitors can crank a handle to select an image and listen to its
soundscape. Multi-channel audio embedded in the floor and all corners creates an immersive experience that surrounds visitors and resonates through the structure. The metal
cladding and geometry means that the sound reverberates, creating a unique acoustic space.
“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. From above, the open shingles completely overlap, keeping the rain off while allowing daylight to enter into the space,” says Wing-Evans.
“Openings at eye level allow passersby 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.”