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Artist Visualizes Manhattan's Musical History Through Sound

Soundscape: The Physical Sounds of Manhattan is London-based designer John Davies' attempt to map and visualize the development of popular music in New York City.

Davies chose a song representative of each neighborhood (with the exception of apparent cultural wastelands Inwood, the Financial District, and the Upper East Side—sorry, yahoos!) and created a sculpture of the Manhattan skyline from the songs' soundwaves, laser-cut from perspex. The vertical topography of the island roughly corresponds to the peaks and troughs of the soundwaves and are adjusted in height to reflect the subjective "influence" of each song. For example, the East Village is dominated by The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop," while the Upper West Side showcases "Blue in Green" by Miles Davis. The result is a tangible, three-dimensional illustration of Manhattan's musical past.

Accompanying the sculpture is a vinyl record compiling the songs and a book explaining Davies' process. In conversation with Vice's Creators Project, Davies argues that one can track the "early gentrification" of Lower Manhattan in certain places.

"Greenwich Village folk scene in places like Cafe Wha? and Cafe Au GoGo in the 60s move directly east into the East Village in the late 60's," he says. "Early 70's venues like the Fillmore East, famous for psychedelic rock (Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane), move directly south. There, you have the start of the punk scene in places like CBGB's in the Lower East Side that kicked off in the mid 70's. The young creative generation moving round—suppose it would be somewhere in the depths of Brooklyn nowadays."


· This Crystalline Sculpture Visualizes Manhattan's Musical History [Creators Project via ANIMAL NY]
· Knot1 Designs [official]