Ben Houge


“Night Signals” transforms one long wall of a parking garage on Lansdowne St. into a richly textured media space that features real-time audio recordings of passing traffic. By remapping and foregrounding the movement of cars and trucks, the transportation system of the city is exposed, and spectators can consider their position and complicity in the great civic organism. As an active extension of the urban environment, this installation will transform stressful traffic noise into a meditative mantra.



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Ben Houge is an internationally active American artist who teaches real-time sound composition at Berklee College of Music and has performed and exhibited in the US, China, Africa and Europe. His piece “Shanghai Traces” was shortlisted for the Guggenheim's YouTube Play Competition, and he has recently been awarded a Knight Foundation Grant for his Food Opera project, a dining experience scored in real-time.



Long before the concrete of the Massachusetts Turnpike, just outside the window, was poured, even before the Green Monster settled in, the Boston and Albany Railroad line ran parallel to Landsdowne Street, separated only by this parking garage, and its tracks are still in use today.  Ben Houge’s Night Signals is an extension of and a response to this speeding horizontality. Designed to blend with the ever-present sounds of passing traffic that articulate and define the city’s circulatory system, this generative sound installation that lines the north wall of the garage records, processes, and subtly shades these sounds in real-time, reframing and re-presenting them alongside their acoustic source. Taking a tip from his experience in video game audio, Houge imagines sounds of varying velocities and sizes hurtling through virtual space, made fleetingly audible at the speakers, which serve as portals onto a parallel reality. As a direct response to the architecture of the garage and its urban context, the speakers are positioned at the equally spaced support columns, framing windows long boarded over with billboards, providing a unique opportunity to experience space as sound antiphonally echoing the full length of the garage.