Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Listen to the lost sounds of summer under a glass covered walkway at the Seattle Center

Vistors to Seattle Center walk along the International Fountain on a Thursday afternoon. Vistors to Seattle Center on a Thursday afternoon.
Parker Miles Blohm
/
KNKX
Vistors to Seattle Center walk along the International Fountain on a Thursday afternoon.

Imagine all those sounds of summer you aren’t hearing right now. That’s what Seattle artist Robb Kunz did. Then he combined those noises that remind us of our pre-COVID existence with other sounds he's collected, creating an outdoor sound collage on a glass covered walkway at the Seattle Center. It will be up through the end of July.

The sound installation, which you hear through overhead speakers, is called “Sound Traveling the Speed of You.” Kunz got the idea for it when he was working at the Pacific Science Center and using the walkway every day to get to work.

“It just kind of struck me that this is a nice little, self-contained short experience,” he said.

It takes just 45 seconds to go from one end of the walkway to the other. So he started mixing bits of recordings he’d collected over the years into short tracks that could play in a loop. 

He was working on the piece before coronavirus hit, but once it did he decided to add common sounds that have been put on pause as activities are canceled. He added sounds of playgrounds, soccer matches, kids in swimming pools and even kids on a roller coaster.

The walkway isn’t far from the Key Arena construction site and the International Fountain, which can make it difficult to know if you are hearing the sound art installation or something outside the space. Kunz said he likes that you don't quite know what sound is coming from where.

The overhead speakers emit a variety of sounds as visitors stroll down the covered walkway.
Credit Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX
/
KNKX
The overhead speakers emit a variety of sounds as visitors stroll down the covered walkway.

“That does open up your ears and you engage in active listening, not just passive,” Kunz said.

He said he prefers this sort of experience to everybody listening to something through their earbuds, which he said separates you from others. He said when everybody hears the same thing as they walk through a public space, it feels “more democratic.”

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.