Must See Art: Voice Tunnel by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Park Ave Tunnel Entrance
Geoffrey (Far Left) is Excited About Entering the Voice Tunnel (All Photos By Gail)

New York Art Fans and Urban Adventurists are running out of time to visit one of NYC’s most unique temporary art events, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Voice Tunnel, which takes place in the Park Avenue South Tunnel between 33rd and 40th Streets for just one more Saturday! Geoffrey and I stopped by this past Saturday and really enjoyed ourselves.

Voice Tunnel Lights

Voice Tunnel is an interactive light and sound installation which transforms the 1,400 foot long Park Avenue Tunnel with 300 theatrical spotlights that produce glimmering arches of light along the tunnel’s walls and ceiling. Participants are able to influence the intensity of each light by speaking into a special intercom at the tunnel’s center which records their voice and loops it. Louder speech will increase the lights’ brightness proportionally, creating a Morse-like code of flashes throughout the tunnel. The individual voices will be heard as pedestrians walk through the tunnel, on 150 loudspeakers, one beside each light arch and synchronized with it.

At any given time, the tunnel will be illuminated by the voices of the past 90 participants: as new participants speak into the intercom, older recordings will get pushed away by one position down the array of light fixtures until they leave the tunnel, so that the content of the piece is changing constantly.

Voice Tunnel Lights 2

Please note that there are brief periods — though no more than few seconds each — of absolute darkness at regular intervals, so if you have a fear of darkness or a claustrophobia problem maybe this is not going to be for you. I found it exciting! If I couldn’t see well enough to walk forward, I just stood still for few seconds until the waves of light started up again.


Here we are exiting the tunnel at Park Avenue South and East 40th Street, not far from the MET Life Building and Grand Central Station.

Admission is free, but you need to get your hand stamped for entrance and everyone entering Voice Tunnel has to sign a waiver granting tunnel operators the right to use your likeness in any publicity associated with the project, so if you’re wanted by the FEDs maybe you want to skip this one. Here are some other guidelines to keep in mind:

Voice Tunnel Rules

Voice Tunnel is open for one more Saturday only: August 17th, from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Admission to Voice Tunnel is limited, so try to arrive early for a better chance of entry. It is recommended that participants arrive no later than 11:00 AM. DOT may close the line at its discretion. Enter the line at 32nd Street – exit at 33rd or 40th Street. No large bags, pets, bicycles, skateboards or roller skates. Strollers will be permitted. Bike valet is available at 32nd Street. When we visited, the line stretched up 32nd Street to Lexington Avenue and 34th Street, but our wait time was under 30 minutes. Sponsored by Summer Streets and the NYC DOT. Don’t Miss It!

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