London Streets Become an Experimental Symphony

In an age of ever louder sounds surrounding our daily life, designer Mark McKeague asks an interesting question: “can the city become a symphony?” We’re not talking about simply using jackhammers and the sound of passing busses to create some form of Stomp like cacophony of crashes and bangs, but rather using modern technology to create synthesized sounds which could be quite beautiful.

McKeague has created a simulation of central London’s city streets, using the movements and interactions of daily traffic around iconic structures like Big Ben to generate a soundscape as unique as the place where it is created. In the simulation video below we see sheet music like streets traversed by note like cars. Based on an algorithm which explores the cars’ interactions both in relation to each other and the traffic lights on the street, McKeague has created otherworldly sounds reminiscent of the score to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

How could this all be possible in reality? As McKeague explains, “electric cars are increasingly using synthesized sounds in order to mimic the recognizable noise of the internal combustion engine. I explore an alternative in which the sound that the cars generate changes according to its relationship to other road users and the environment.” It’s an intriguing idea, whether the strange musical treatment is pleasing to you or not. McKeague is currently studying Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art in London. Find out more about his work here.


Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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