White Noise/White Light

White Noise/White Light, an interactive sound and light installation first presented in Athens for the Olympic Games, will be open to the public on May 2-8 on the MIT Campus.

As pedestrians enter into this grid of fiber optics and speakers, their movement are traced by each stalk unit, transmitting white light from LEDs and white noise from speakers below. If motion is detected, the white LED illumination grows brighter while the white noise increases in volume, a flickering wake of light and noise trails and traces visitors as they cross the field. When there is no motion, the light and sound fade into dimness and silence.


Depending on the time of day, number of people, and trajectories of movement, the project is constantly being choreographed by the cumulative interaction of the public.

The white noise made for the project is based on the Johnson noise phenomenon, where noise arises from the thermal motions of electrons in a resistor carrying current in an electronic circuit. This field of white noise creates a sound-scape masking out the noises from the immediate context.

“White noise, like white light, is an aggregation, composed of all possible sounds, just as white light encompasses all possible colors,” says J. Meejin Yoon, Assistant Professor with the Department of Architecture at the MIT. “The gentle murmur of ‘White Noise/White Light’ forms a place of sonic refuge within the city.”

Video of the work in Athens.

News and images from Archinect.