Sonic Trace

In a region of rapidly shifting demographics – with a population composed of a complex milieu of natives, immigrants, and transplants of Asian, African American, Caucasian, Latino and numerous hyphenated ethnic varieties – the KCRW Sonic Trace Project is confronted with the unique challenge of creating an iconic object that simultaneously positions itself as familiar and foreign, both fixed and in flux.

Our proposal, the Sonic Trace Chamber captures the autonomous perspective of the individual within the aggregate context of the collective. Composed of singular “patterns” registering Los Angeles’ diverse demographics deployed in an arrayed configuration, the chamber serves as an associative object that raises interest in the Sonic Trace Project through the evocation of simultaneous references. The chamber’s ephemeral presence directs viewers and the occupants towards numerous possible associations: Japanese lanterns, Mexican piñatas, a cocoon, George Nelson’s bubble lamps, Marilyn Monroe’s classic subway grate photos, the precision dancing of the Rockettes, the spaces of imagination children occupy, flip books, a jellyfish, a corset, an alien vessel, a yurt, or the blur of a spinning top frozen in motion. In all instances, a space of projection, thought, imagination, and empathy.

While dynamic on the exterior and in response to the sounds and movements of the city, the Sonic Trace Chamber delineates a calming space within the interior to pause, reflect, and record one’s story. The singular “patterns” are cut from lightweight industrial felt sheets. These felt sheets, due to their acoustical properties, are deployed to isolate the interior space from the adjacent exterior environment. The layering of the felt elements controls sound transmission, while permitting light and ventilation. Lifted slightly off the ground and containing air space between each felt “pattern”, occupants have the opportunity to visually engage the outside environment, yet maintain the required sound isolation and focus.

Project Team: Aaron Neubert (Principal), David Chong, Jeremy Limsenben, Matt Gehm

Publications: Architecture & Culture, No. 407, April 2015, Evolo, July 2014