Sonic sculpture livens up river

24 December 2015 | Education
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The iridescent light and sound installation on the Singapore River allows visitors to interact with one another through their mobile device (Photo: Aloysius Lian, SUTD)

Did you know that your postal code can contribute to a symphony that connects people living across Singapore? Associate Professor Lonce Wyse from NUS Communications and New Media collaborated with researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design to create SonicSG, the first large-scale interactive light and sound sculpture floating on the Singapore River.

The enchanting installation is made from more than 2,000 Philips LED lights laid out in 37 horizontal strands. Suspended above the Singapore River, with parts of it submerged in the water, the sparkling lights alternate between the shape of Singapore and the SG50 logo.

Every night from 7pm to 11pm, the public viewing the sculpture can interact with it through their mobile devices. Using their android or IOS mobile devices, they need to visit the SonicSG website and key in their residential postal code as well as an optional holiday greeting. Upon submission, the part of the installation that corresponds to their postal code will light up, accompanied by a melodious ring from their mobile devices.

Some 30 different tones and chirps were created for the interactive sculpture, with each district identified by a unique sound. “If 10 people, or 100 people or 1,000 people are there, you get this sonic texture which represents all districts,” said Assoc Prof Wyse. Simultaneously, a ripple effect starting from their district will appear on the installation.

Assoc Prof Wyse’s expertise is in sound synthesis and in recent years, begun leveraging the Internet as a platform for creating music. Elaborating on the idea behind the sculpture, he said, “You’re connected not only to the piece interactively, but to the other people who are there watching the piece with you. So it’s really about that sense of togetherness.” The personalised messages sent via mobile devices will be collected and shared at a later date.

The interactive sculpture, part of SG50 celebrations, will be on display until 10 January 2016 along the “Belly of the Carp”, a section of the Singapore River in front of UOB Plaza.