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Syracuse Stage plaza, featuring ‘singing sidewalk,’ dedicated
Want to feel like a child again? Come and see one of the newest features along the Connective Corridor, the redesigned Syracuse Stage plaza, on Saturday, Sept. 29, at noon during the Syracuse Stage Open House.
Timothy Bond, Syracuse Stage producing artistic director, and Linda Dickerson Hartsock, director of community engagement and development for Syracuse University, will dedicate the new plaza, with a demonstration of 40 motion-activated, soundscape bricks.
The plaza features the “singing sidewalk” and eight innovative, high-intensity illuminated panels. The project came to life through the work of a creative team, including SenSyr, LLC, the company of Syracuse University physics professor Ed Lipson; Paul Gelling, SenSyr partner and chief engineer; Joe Sisko, assistant director of UPSTATE in SU’s School of Architecture; and Jeffrey Woodward, managing director of Syracuse Stage.
The red-colored, “singing” pavers, an extension of SenSyr’s prior work with custom pressure sensors, were a technical challenge, given the thermal-expansion variations in a four-season environment. The LED panels contain electromagnetic sensing technology, much like radar, and are programmable for color variations based on motion sensing, all based on coding developed by Gelling, who also designed and implemented the electronics.
“The new plaza is a wonderful and welcoming addition to the Syracuse Stage/SU Drama complex and the East Genesee neighborhood,” says Woodward. “Every day, I see families, people from the neighborhood, students and our patrons playing on the plaza with the interactive pavers and screens. It’s great fun.”
Besides funding the deployment of these technologies, the Connective Corridor also supported “performance art” audio programming for the singing sidewalk, orchestrated by Emmett Van Slyke, a producer/composer/musician and owner of Black Lagoon Productions.
“I approach each sound set for this project with the intention of creating a smooth transition from the concrete day-to-day world of everyday life, to the metaphysical escape of the theater experience,” says Van Slyke. “As they enter the plaza, the audience triggers sounds that enhance their theatrical experience, and upon leaving the show they are smoothly transitioned back into the world they briefly left.”
Saturday’s plaza celebration will feature a new paver composition entitled “Encounters with the White Whale.” Syracuse University students will perform in conjunction with the original composition, which begins with the sounds of a port as a ship is leaving, with calm seas and the eerie drone of a whale song in the distance. As the piece continues, a storm blows in and in its ferocity, the ship is destroyed, with the survivors washed up on the shore and awakened by the sound of surf and seagulls. The composition concludes with the taunting and playful sound of the whale song off in the distance.
The original composition by Van Slyke uses every effect in a new soundscape, created in conjunction with “Moby Dick,” which launches Syracuse Stage’s 40th season.
The plaza’s interactive system is designed to be changeable, and students and faculty are invited to propose new and different ways to use the technology. Ideas can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.