They jump up, then look down. Jump up, look down.
The most common of fixtures captures the attention of a small boy in fluorescent orange shorts, a stylish hipster couple holding hands, a baby boomer pair with cameras. They bend over to listen. They stomp their feet. They pass over or stand on one of the most common of objects on any city sidewalk – the grate.
Downtown Denver has public art that’s hiding in plain sight. In a city teeming with street art, Soundwalk is easily overlooked. Six stainless steel grates, spaced 50 feet apart, make unexpected sounds as you step on them. A yodeling woman, clucking chicken, huffing gorilla, subway car, gurgling water, fog horn, crashing waves – over 100 sounds. The sound comes from speakers under the grates. Tape recorders in a nearby building play the sounds when activated by motion detectors.
The day I went to Soundwalk I was accompanied by two pals. We had lots of laughs, but had the most fun pointing it out to others. Watching people discover and react is part of the fun. Some are completely fascinated, some perplexed, others oblivious.
Jim Green, sound artist, uses sound in unexpected places to surprise and delight passersby. Jim has installed sound art in other Denver locations including the Denver airport train, Convention Center, Art Museum and construction site fences. In other cities he has installed talking drinking fountains, musical warning lights, amplified floors and vestibules.
“I have used sound as my primary medium for thirty years and since 1984, focused on site-integrated work in public. The intent is to playfully integrate unexpected sound into existing environment. I am drawn to common environments and find them successful sites for my playful style of public art. My people-oriented approach uses sound to engage the public with humor and surprise to produce a social, interactive experience. I believe public art functions best when it humanizes public space. I also have extensive design team experience which includes teamwork with other artists, architects, engineers, contractors, administrators and community.” — Jim Green
LOCATED on the NW side of the 1500 block of Curtis, it is between 15th and 16th. Soundwalk is always open, always free and appeals to people of all ages. “My children call it silly street.”, says local resident Debbie. TIP– Ask others what they know about the sounds.
It’s a fun art experience, so get out & GO
Thanks for stopping by, MaryGo