I’ve previously discussed how important the role of sound and music is in constructing environments (The Nostalgia of Sound).  Unfortunately at many exhibitions, shows or events, the use of music is limited or prohibited entirely, so I have been looking at alternative ways for audiences to be able to interact with sound.  The silent disco concept is one that has been widely used at festivals and student events for a number of years, where individuals share a quite space, but listen to the same music through headphones.  Thereby having a human interaction and forming a community, but without disturbing the ‘neighbours’.  (It’s also quite amusing to watch people if your not listening to the music yourself and trying to guess the tracks from the various dance moves!)

The RosaPark ad agency, took this concept in a new direction when constructing an interactive advertising campaign for Thalys trains.

They built a series of billboards, featuring a city that Thalys travelled to.  Each map was featured around 1000 headphone jacks, with different sounds recorded from each district.

The YouTube video demonstrates how the concept worked:


As headphones are now a ubiquitous object in most people’s pockets/bags, the accessing the sounds was simple and didn’t require customers to use any additional or complex hardware.  I found this idea fascinating, and have been thinking about how something similar (although on a smaller scale), could be intergrated into a portable environment. Could small mp3 players be used instead of a memory board?  Using this form of technology may also help to address issues that could previously posed barriers to using sound, including the prohibition of music at some events and hygiene when sharing equipment.  It would also provide an interactive experience for a consumer with the product or event, turning them for passive observers to engaged participants, something I’m aiming to achieve.



de Boer, J (2015) “Plug Your Headphones Into This Billboard And Travel To Another City” posted 30 June 2015 available at http://popupcity.net/plug-your-headphones-into-this-billboard-and-travel-to-another-city/ [accessed 18.01.17]