The New York Department of Transportation's Summer Streets 2013 arts festival featured many unique installations but none more unusual than Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's "Voice Tunnel," which opened the 1,400-foot vehicle tunnel on Manhattan's Park Avenue to pedestrians for the first time ever.  WorldStage filled the interactive art installation's needs for an extensive lighting package and a custom audio system that delivered the once-in-a-lifetime experience to art lovers of all ages on three Saturdays in August.
The tunnel, which runs on Park Avenue from 33rd to 40th Streets and date back to the 1830's, featured a sound and light installation that came alive when pedestrians spoke into a microphone at the center of the tunnel triggering 300 pulsating spotlights and 150 loudspeakers.  Called "part architecture, part performance art" by one critic, "Voice Tunnel" invited the public to play with the very unique space around them.
And the feeling is mutual.  "I've worked with WorldStage in the past and been very pleased," says Lozano-Hemmer.  "Our collaboration process for 'Voice Tunnel' was great - I got WorldStage involved at the beginning to make sure my numbers and logistics were right.  When I work with WorldStage I can get all of the lighting, staging and sound from a single source.  My projects are all about the integration of these elements in unique ways, so to work with a company that's comfortable with all the AV disciplines is very beneficial."
WorldStage mounted the spotlights along the tunnel floor base, sitting on 18" curb at either side of the tunnel and spaced six feet apart, to produce glimmering arches of light.  Pedestrians were able to influence the lights' intensity by speaking into an artist-supplied intercom at the tunnel's center, which recorded their voices and looped them.  The trailing voices of the last 78 participants were heard as pedestrians strolled through the tunnel; the voices were played back on 150 loudspeakers, one beside each light arch and synchronized with it.  As each new participant spoke into the intercom, older recordings were pushed one position down the light array until they left the tunnel.  In this way the content of "Voice Tunnel" changed constantly.  Lozano-Hemmer described the voices as "quiet...more like little memories of the tunnel." 
WorldStage staff audio engineer Kate Brown led the team that worked with the artist's programmers to craft a unique audio solution for the installation.  She opted to use a digital audio network run over fiber optic cable to eliminate noise induced by the extensive runs of lighting cable and achieve a distance not possible over copper.  Each group of 8 to 16 self-powered speakers was connected to a Yamaha Rio digital stage box.  The Rios were connected to the fiber switch network, which was linked to the artist's computer.  The computer was outfitted with a RedNet sound card to output 75 streams of audio into a matrix that Brown configured using Dante network protocol. The 150-channel matrix output then fed the individual speakers.